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What is an IT Disaster Recovery Plan?

How would your business cope with an IT disaster?

What is an IT disaster recovery plan and why should you consider implementing a disaster recovery plan for your business? Well, imagine this scenario – you’re in the peak of your sales season and your network crashes! How will that impact your business?

  • Lost sales.
  • Lost customers.
  • Losing customer data and files.
  • Loss of public trust.

A disaster recovery plan assumes the worst case scenario and creates an action plan to deal with the fallout of a disaster.

Business Impact Analysis

A business impact analysis (BIA) is the first step in considering whether or not a business needs an IT disaster recovery plan. A BIA predicts the negative outcomes of a business disruption and gathers information needed to develop strategies to mitigate those risks.

The BIA should consider the impact of:

  • Lost revenue.
  • Delayed customer deliverables.
  • Increased expenses.
  • Fines & penalties.
  • Breach of contract.
  • Customer dissatisfaction or defection.

Once you’ve evaluated the duration, operational impact, and overall financial impact of a disaster, you can decide on an appropriate plan of action. Some businesses aren’t heavily dependent upon technology or computer networks so it wouldn’t be reasonable to invest thousands of dollars in an IT disaster recovery plan.

However, businesses that deal with sensitive data (i.e. a law firm or an accounting firm) would face financial ruin if they were to lose all of their client’s data.

Developing an IT Disaster Recovery Plan

After evaluating the operational and financial risk of an IT related disaster the next best step is to develop an IT disaster recovery plan.

Start by compiling an inventory of all necessary hardware (e.g. servers, desktops, laptops, and wireless devices), software applications, and data that is needed to keep the business flowing. The plan should include a strategy to ensure that all critical information is backed up and accessible in the case of a disaster.

It’s helpful to prioritize IT functions as it relates to restoring company data, reinstalling necessary applications, and accessing secondary hardware. Start by prioritizing critical operation functions (e.g. collection of sales, access to client data, etc.) and then pinpoint the IT functions behind those operations. In the case of an IT disaster you can focus on restoring those functions first to reduce the overall financial impact to the business.

Data Backup

Businesses that generate large amounts of data throughout the workday are susceptible to data loss. Data can be:

  • Lost,
  • Corrupted,
  • Compromised,
  • or stolen.

The loss or corruption of data alone could result in significant business disruption.

A data backup and recovery plan should be an integral part of the IT disaster recovery plan. To start, a data backup strategy begins with the identification of critical data (e.g. customer files, sales reports, books and records, etc.)

Once you’ve identified the critical data you can then select and implement hardware and software backup procedures. These procedures will lay out the scheduling and execution of backups as well as establish periodic validation that data has been accurately backed up. IT professionals can help identify data on network servers, desktop computers, laptop computers, and wireless devices that should be backed up for easy access in the case of data loss.

The data backup plan should include regularly scheduled backups from wireless devices, laptop computers, and desktop computers to a network server to ensure the backup files are up-to-date and relevant in the case of an IT disaster. Depending on the importance of the information, some companies backup their servers hourly.

Consulting an Advisor

Odds are you aren’t an IT professional and therefore don’t know where to start when it come to an IT disaster recovery plan. That’s ok! There are many functions of a business that are outsourced or entrusted to in-house staff.

Understanding the importance of an IT disaster recovery plan is a critical first step in ensuring your business stays afloat in the case of a disaster. Don’t let your business be one disaster away from financial ruin.

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