The hurricane seasons in both the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific are now both underway, and both end on November 30th.
If you work in areas likely to be affected by a hurricane, or support clients who do, now is definitely the time to make sure you’re ready for the potential aftermath. This means getting your house in order when it comes to disaster recovery.
There are loads of figures and statistics relating to disaster recovery and the fact that many businesses struggle to survive after experiencing a real-life disaster. Many of these statistics have been debunked or are poorly referenced, but nobody would deny that a business is at real risk of reduced long-term success if it fails to bounce back after a disaster.
The reality is that customers just aren’t that patient. They may forgive a couple of day’s downtime, especially in the aftermath of a widely publicised disaster, but unless you’re ready to serve them again pretty quickly afterwards, they will go elsewhere. Their initial sympathy will quickly fade away and be replaced with hushed comments such as, “well, I’m surprised they didn’t have a better plan in place really...”
So, the best piece of advice is simply not to be that company that fails to pick itself up and dust itself off after a disaster. If you want to avoid being that company, you need a plan in place. Here are some tips:
1. Treat disaster recovery planning as a serious priority, and not as something that gets continually pushed to the bottom of the “to do” list.
2. Never produce a DR plan as a simple one-off exercise. Revisiting the plan should be part of every IT project, otherwise you risk the plan becoming out of date. If you add a new system (or even just move some data), and fail to update the plan to reflect it, you could still end up in trouble.
3. Test the plan, and test it regularly. Yes, it sounds clichéd, but an untested plan is little better than no plan at all. The small things that trip you up will never be the things you expect.
4. Engage the full staff team in disaster recovery planning—don’t just treat it as an IT exercise. It should be the business that dictates what services are priorities for bringing back online. The IT team alone may not be able to make the correct assessment of this. Good DR plans take into account what services are needed in order to continue serving revenue-generating customers.
5. Don’t be too reluctant to avoid spending money on disaster recovery. There should be a budget for it. Rebuilding your business and your client relationships will cost a lot more than some cloud backups and redundant kit.
Only you know just how prepared your business (or clients’ businesses) are for a real-life disaster. Don’t bury your head in the sand – prepare for the worst and give DR the attention it deserves.