As anyone whose business relies on technology knows, even so-called “stable” systems are subject to problems at any time. Whether such issues are technological in nature (cyberattacks, user error, hardware failure etc.) or the results of a different cause (theft, power outage, natural disasters etc.), maintaining consistent services for customers is a critical and ever-evolving challenge.
Fortunately, with sufficient disaster recovery planning, disaster events such as those mentioned can usually be dealt with efficiently and with minimal disruption to one’s business operations. To this end, an effective disaster recovery plan (DRP) will help companies to recover from any kind of technological service disruption that affects their ability to operate as normal and serve their customers.
At EC-MSP, we believe that all service-disrupting events create a standard set of circumstances. This means we can group any number of disaster events under the same responses. In the case of disaster recovery plans, this standardisation means each plan becomes more useful, enabling businesses to respond in the most appropriate manner to any category of disaster.
For example, say a company loses access to its main servers. Whether due to a cyberattack or a power outage, the response in the disaster recovery plan for lost access to data would focus on restoring access to the servers or routing traffic to a backup server.
Taking this approach adds a significant return-on-investment to the time and cost of developing a DRP. No matter what kind of disaster takes place, EC-MSP’s grouping approach helps make each kind of loss something that can be planned for, whether
- File loss, system failure, or technical failures (such as human error, cyber attacks, or faulty hardware)
- System loss (such as a power outage or equipment theft)
- Full loss of site and system (such as in the event of a natural disaster)
- Staff loss (from wholesale headhunting, lottery syndicate, illness, etc.)
Understanding these problems enables disaster recovery plans to be developed around a company’s specific needs, risks, and recovery options.
What Are the Stages of a DRP?
There are two basic stages contained in an effective disaster recovery plan.
- Stage One: Determining hardware requirements. This includes identifying the type of disruptive event and then defining if the recovery process requires hardware (such as in the event of a power outage). This stage also includes elements such as contacting suppliers of replacement hardware.
- Stage Two: Component recovery. This includes elements like getting the internet, phones, servers, and other necessary hardware working again. This also includes data recovery or getting additional staff, depending on what’s needed.
Using this two-stage approach helps companies account for any elements that may be disrupted during a disaster and how each will respond. This can include:
- Backup facilities – Are they readily available, or do temporary facilities need to be contracted out?
- Office facilities – Is there an alternate location work could continue, or could workers telecommute from home?
- Staff – Are there additional staff members that could be called in? Does a temporary staffing agency need to be contacted?
- Safety – Could anything related to the disaster compromise the safety of staff or customers?
- IT recovery – What hardware needs to be replaced? Do suppliers need to be contacted to provide replacements?
- Telecoms recovery – How can communication like email or phones be routed to resume normal service?
It also includes specific actions each team member can take during a disaster, to begin recovery. Here’s an example of how various staff members work together during disaster recovery:
- Staff Member 1: With the help of the DRP, decides on the type and severity of the event. Then initiates staff contact, IT support, and other Critical contacts with information.
- Staff Member 2: Passes on the message and arranges office space for staff on a day-by-day basis (while coordinating with insurance company)
- Staff Member 3: Contacts current clients and advises of the event type and any changed sales process deadlines.
- Staff Member 4: Contacts suppliers to inform them of the event and any critical payments that may be delayed.
An actual disaster recovery plan would provide each staff member’s responsibilities in greater detail, but this should convey the kind of information that ought to be included.
How Long Does it Take to Put a DRP in Motion?
A good plan will identify each step that needs to be taken in any type of event and include estimated timeframes when necessary. This gives a clear, actionable estimate for your business when a plan is needed.
For example, a loss of location takes about 2 hours to action as workers begin working from home. A loss of system (such as in the event of a cyberattack or virus) begins implementing immediately but may have a 4 hour time frame to action.
Note that this is simply to begin putting a plan into action. Depending on the type of disaster and recovery needed, completing the recovery process can take significantly longer. (For example, a full loss of site and system would take more time to recover from than phone system failure.)
What Should Go Into Your Disaster Recovery Plan?
There are a wide range of factors that affect your business’s ability to go into recovery mode after an event. For example, does your business rely on on-site system backup, or does it employ cloud-based backup solutions?
The best option is to speak to a professional who can guide you on your specific use case and lead your business into a safe, effective recovery as quickly as possible.
Customers Want Access 24/7
Unfortunately, in the event of a disaster, customers can be somewhat impatient. They demand access to company services and data around the clock, making expediency during disaster recovery especially important. Developing a DRP helps ensure your business can continue to operate as quickly as possible and meet those customer needs.
When disaster strikes – no matter what happens – your business will have a clear, actionable way to get up and running as quickly and cost-efficiently as possible. The time to get you company’s plan in order is now. EC-MSP is considered by many to offer London’s top IT support, so our advisers are all very experienced and know how to help companies like yours to develop an optimal strategy. Get in touch with us today to begin the discussion.