In today’s technology centric business environment, an outage or disruption that lasts for just a few hours can result in harsh financial consequences to businesses. According to Gartner, the average cost of IT downtime is $5,600 per minute or more than $300,000 per hour and the numbers are even higher for large enterprises. An astounding 60% of businesses will fail within six months of a data disaster. If your IT delivery services fail, or even partially fail, would you be able to operate your business without access to your data? How much would several hours or even several days or more of downtime cost your business? Would you be able to recover? These are critical questions facing all businesses in today’s data driven economy.
If and when disasters like Hurricane Sandy, Harvey or Katrina strike, the majority of companies without an adequate DRP will never fully recover from the event. Fortunately, by implementing the following five controls, IT managers can mitigate these risks and develop plans that will help enterprises reestablish business operations as soon as practicable.
The 5 Ingredients of An Effective Disaster Recovery Plan
The DRP can only be as strong and effective as the individuals who design and execute it. In this regard, every employee will need to be briefed and understand their respective roles, as well as the proper steps that will need to be executed to ensure that downtime is reduced, business continuity remains, and recovery ensues.
Ingredient #1. Create an Inventory List for All Hardware and Software
Problems can arise when employees download a software that no one else has, and then forget to add it to the company’s inventory. By using a variety of tools, you can quickly make an inventory list for all hardware and software. Be sure that your list includes the following items:
- Hardware (Network, Servers, Desktop/Laptop, Telecommunications);
- Operational Software;
- Business Applications; and
- Warranties, Support and Vendor Contact Information.
By making an inventory list a part of your disaster recovery plan, you can more easily determine what items are lost and damaged, and be better prepared if a disaster strikes.
Ingredient #2. Define Your Organization’s Tolerance for Downtime and Data Loss — RPO/RTO
This particular ingredient is vital to any effective disaster recovery plan and also highly beneficial for day to day operations since a disaster is not the only event that can disrupt your IT systems and cause them to fail. As part of this step you will need to define the Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO). Recovery Point Objective “RPO” limits how far to roll back in time, and defines the maximum allowable amount of lost data measured in time from a failure occurrence to the last valid backup. Recovery Time Objective “RTO” is related to downtime and represents how long it takes to restore from the incident until normal operations are available to users. The latter two metrics will help you to prioritize what applications are of utmost importance to day to day operations and during and after a disaster. It will also help you to more accurately mitigate risk. To further reduce risks, you should categorize your applications into three tiers:
- Tier 1 items should include all of the applications that you need immediately. In other words, Tier 1 is for mission critical applications.
- Tier 2 items are applications that you will need to use within 10 hours. These items are essential, but not mission critical.
- Tier 3 items are those applications that aren’t needed for a few days.
Ingredient #3. Determine Responsibilities and Identify Backup Personnel
Your DRP should have a plan for everyone from C-level executives down to the lower tier positions. Each person should know exactly what they should do during and after a disaster. For example, some employees will be responsible for setting up workstations. Other employees will need to assess damage or redirect phone calls. As part of this plan, employees will need to know how they can proceed with work during a disaster. In this regard, be sure to catalog the following information:
- The names and position details (including responsibilities) for each employee.
- The emergency contact information for each employee.
- A list of backup personnel who will take on the responsibilities for each employee (should the employee be on leave during the disaster or otherwise unavailable).
- The contact information for a trusted IT service provider, such as Outer Edge Technologies (OET), who will spin up a “recovery environment” that will allow your organization to proceed with business as usual, while critical services are restored.
Ingredient #4. Create A Comprehensive Communication Plan
How will you communicate with your employees and customers if the regular phone lines aren’t available? How will your employees reach you (or your clients) if the email network is down? A good disaster recovery plan will feature a communications component that clearly dictates how initial communications will be established at the onset of a disaster. The communication plan should also outline how communications will continue after the disaster has occurred. As part of this plan, be sure to have all updated employee contact information so that a phone call tree can be created. Remember, communication is key to ensuring that your employees remain safe and updated throughout an unexpected disaster event.
Ingredient #5. Service Restoration Plan
The final ingredient for an effective disaster recovery plan is to determine how your IT services will be restored. First, you must determine what characteristics and events constitute a disaster. Second, you should consider partnering with a qualified MSP like Outer Edge which specializes in designing ,managing and delivering cloud based Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) solutions for small and mid-sized businesses. Our dedicated team will work with you to implement your unique RPO/RTO requirements and seamlessly spin up a cloud-based recovery environment, which will allow you to restore services and operations to their normal operating levels. If you want to ensure that your services will continue uninterrupted during a disaster, then you should complete an annual test of the recovery environment.
An Effective Disaster Recovery Plan Is Vital in Today’s Competitive Market
In layman’s terms, your IT disaster recovery plan is similar to having insurance for your technology environment. In addition to bringing peace of mind, a disaster recovery plan has the following benefits.
Reduce Expenses and Mitigate Risks Associated with A Disaster.
The estimated cost of downtime due to an unexpected disaster or otherwise can range from $100,000 to $1.6 million per hour. The good news is that an effective DRP can help you to reduce downtime, while simultaneously creating an environment that supports business continuity in the aftermath of an unexpected disaster. Your risk tolerance can be addressed by designing and implementing an RPO/RTO solution commensurate with your requirements.
Retain Productivity Levels.
A disaster recovery plan will help your employees remain productive, even if they are working from remote locations after a disaster. Additionally, by identifying backup personnel, you can create effective redundancies that ensure higher productivity levels, reduce risks, and keep your employees on task.
Greater Customer Retention.
In today’s competitive market, you need to do everything that you can to keep your customers happy and informed. A DRP can help to reduce downtime, so that you can meet the needs of your customers at all times. By reducing the risk of data loss and downtime, you can give your customers the peace of mind that they need to remain loyal clients, even when disaster strikes.
Related article: Cloud Technology Makes Disaster Recovery Possible for All Businesses.
The Bottom Line: Create an Effective Disaster Recovery Plan Before An Incident Occurs
Disaster can strike at any time. The good news is that being prepared is the first step that you can take to protect your valuable business assets. Through the above five ingredients, you can create an effective DRP that is customized to the unique needs of your organization and your customers. If you want to enjoy the benefits of an effective DRP that leverages the proven power of DRaaS cloud solutions, then we invite you to contact us online today at info@OuterEdge.biz or call 844-OET-EDGE to learn more about how we can help you with your IT needs and give your business a competitive edge!
The OET team looks forward to helping your organization maintain business continuity, reduce downtime, lower data loss, and mitigate risks before, during, and after a disaster.