Most disaster recovery (DR) plans are focused centrally on protecting and recovering data, although recovery is not always as fast and easy as it might be. That’s why DR plans must look at the bigger picture to consider the business as a whole, and especially the people that work within it.
Linking technical goals to business continuity planning make sense and it’s the smartest way to keep business up and running or bring it back after a crisis. To do that means having readily available personnel who know how to respond. Skilled, DR staff must be available at all times with well-defined guidelines for critical tasks to complete during recovery. It’s good to even have nontechnical staff trained who can step in and help if needs be.
The bottom line is a disaster recovery plan must expressly target system recovery that enables business continuity.
Whether you have a physical site in place for staff to assemble during a disaster or work remotely, there are still other problems that can hamper a recovery. Network bandwidth, latency, security settings, and user or administrative credentials, can lead to DR failures or weaknesses. Too often these things are assumed, so if testing hasn’t been regularly done, problems can arise.
A solid, reliable DR plan must start with a layering of business processes and associated applications. The structuring should be based on the business continuity plan and a thorough business impact analysis.
Business continuity and disaster recovery are most successful when every participant is fully aware of how to respond and enact to what’s needed. Consistent updates are vital to ensure the DR plan is accurate and accessible. If not, IT staff may end up faltering or using incorrect information as they work toward rapid and complete recovery. A good checklist consists of the following:
- Updated emergency contacts are available.
- Workable backups that have been tested to ensure performance.
- Mirrored systems that clearly mirror data.
- The proper vendor and insurance contact information on hand.
- Along with each update of the DR plan, hard copies are created and stored properly.
Business and IT must ensure the safety of people throughout a potential emergency and know who and where those people are.
Because unexpected events can render even the best plans inoperable, consider having a shortcut to various recovery tools and instructions that is located in a safe place, such as a secure data center. It can also be kept in multiple locations, so individuals trying to launch a recovery can easily access it to start the restore, unlock systems and data, and resume operations. Be sure the designated people have access, know how to log in, and fully understand their role in the process.
There will inevitably be an unanticipated challenge that has not been planned for. That’s why exercising and practicing the plan is so important. Build the confidence of the team by taking time to practice and test your DR plan often with the people who will get it done properly.