Now is the time for disaster recovery planning

By Jonathan Crowl

| Banking

As people affected by the recent slew of devastating natural disasters begin the hard work of rebuilding their communities, relief is pouring in from all around the world to assist in this recovery. Among these disaster recovery efforts are businesses of all types that have to try to piece their operations back together and overcome the financial hits that can come with unforeseen disasters. For some of these businesses, the financial losses from this prolonged downtime and the costs of getting back up and running will be too much to overcome.

Other businesses spared from this fate should take these tragedies as a cautionary tale. Every company should have a plan in place to guide the response in the aftermath of such a natural disaster. In addition, your company’s mobile and IT infrastructure should have its own strategy in place to protect data, facilitate recovery and even keep certain business-critical functions running throughout the event.

Here are some tips to guide you in your IT disaster preparation:

Develop a recovery plan with IT

Every midsize to enterprise-level organization needs a business continuity plan in place to establish protocols for responding to a disaster. However, IT needs its own plan to outline how it will handle data, software, hardware and vendor services in the event of a disaster.

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Your company should make this IT recovery plan in coordination with its business continuity plan. It’s essential because so many business activities depend on technology. These plans should outline how to restore hardware and other lost technology services, as well as estimated timelines to complete various recovery steps. Ready.gov offers a list of IT resources for businesses if your organization needs help building a comprehensive disaster readiness plan.

Identify business-critical functions and give them top priority

IT leaders must work with business teams to create resiliency plans to keep these functions up and running, even as other components are out of order from the disaster. If a storm brings these critical functions down, IT will know these high-priority systems are the first to restore. Once the disaster event has passed, there will be chaos as different teams set about completing certain objectives.

Additionally, it’s possible some members of your response teams will be unavailable to oversee and manage these processes as they take place. Your team must document the procedures for business-critical recovery in detail and back them up at an accessible cloud-based location so employees can use them to get the company back up and running. In a 2017 article on disaster preparedness, businesses are recommended to update this document periodically over time — ideally, whenever the company’s information architecture changes — so the recovery plan is always up-to-date.

Arrange a data backup solution

The company needs to complete this well in advance of a potential disaster to confirm the backup is in place and functioning properly. Your organization will need to properly store and protect data, not only to save it from destruction, but also because the disaster could make unsecured data vulnerable to theft. In fact, a company’s entire mobile architecture is at risk during a disaster, because security features might be forced out of commission due to outages from the emergency event.

In addition, certain sectors such as healthcare and banking will need to take additional measures to ensure data backup services are in compliance with personal information management expectations. For example, healthcare companies have HIPAA regulations they have to follow when handling patient information, and any data backup service these companies use will need to be in compliance with these same regulations. Identify these additional restrictions well in advance of a disaster to give yourself time to line up appropriate solutions.

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Work with vendors to line up hot site support

Not all of your company’s technology is housed at your offices. These vendors might be able to maintain certain aspects of your company’s digital operations, such as a mobile app, even while the rest of the company is brought offline due to a disaster event. It’s wise to talk with vendors in advance to understand their roles if a disaster forces your company’s operations to a halt.

In some cases, vendors might be able to serve as additional backups for data or assist with bringing certain services back online. When you’re shopping around for new solution vendors, it’s worth asking how they respond when business partners go offline due to natural disasters. What sort of response and support do they offer?

Disasters are never easy to plan for, and the hope is that a disaster recovery plan never has to be used. However, if this type of event does happen, your ability to protect data and quickly restore your operations could save your business millions at a time when relief has never been needed more.

Written By

Jonathan Crowl

Reporter

Jonathan Crowl has served as a tech writer and reporter for a number of tech publications and corporations. Specializing in mobile technology and digital startups, he is based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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