When we conduct building walk-throughs for our pre-disaster PREP plans, we often find that an important element has been left out of the pre-disaster planning process – the company’s IT infrastructure.
When we think of protecting our businesses from emergencies and disasters, what typically comes to mind is taking precautions against inclement weather, fire, and flooding situations. While these are important, you also need to think taking precautions to protect your IT systems.
“Preparing for the unplanned interruption in your business is a critical but often neglected task,” said Floyd Bell, President of Pearl Solutions Group. “We see that technology is completely woven into how we do work today. A good continuity plan starts with the thoughtful documentation of business processes and what technology it takes for team members to do their jobs well and ends with testing possible interruption scenarios.”
The key to shielding your business from IT disasters is to create and implement a strong disaster recovery plan (DRP) with backup and redundancy built into the infrastructure. If you’re not sure how to get started, here are 6 tips:
Begin With the Basics – First, define which facets are absolutely essential to keeping your business running. This typically includes your email, computer equipment, application access, and database backup. Next, determine how long it would take your company to restore itself after an emergency, and where and how you will access and use your IT essentials during the emergency. From there, figure out whom in the company will declare disaster, how your employees will be informed about the situation, and how you will be able to communicate with your client database while you get things squared away.
Put It In Motion – Once you have a solid plan put together, put it in play. You will want to monitor it frequently and update it as needed. A managed and edited plan will ultimately result in fewer technical issues and crises and can decrease downtime whenever disaster strikes.
Test It Often - According to a 2007 survey from eWeek of more than 500 senior IT professionals, a whopping 89% of companies only test their DRPs either once a year or not at all. This can leave businesses open to massive technology failure should a disaster occur. Make sure that you test your plan frequently by simulating circumstances that could constitute as a disaster. These test runs can help you evaluate and redress components that may be weak in your plan.
Think Redundancy – Redundancy is essential when it comes to protecting your data and giving those in the company an extra way to access the data you need. Make sure to put these redundant services into play at a secure, offsite location. This will ultimately decrease your recovery time dramatically and get you back in business faster.
Install and Regularly Update Virus Scanners – An infrastructure without a protection against viruses, spyware, and malware is the equivalent of a soldier walking out into a battlefield without any armor. Protect your infrastructure from these threats by installing proper virus scanners, and be sure to update them regularly. Taking this small step can stop an impending disaster before it has a chance to start.
Don’t Go It Alone – Often businesses lack the technical knowledge and ability to put these strategies into play and maintain them. It’s best to find a service provider that is thorough and experienced in DRPs and protecting your infrastructure. Partner with capable professionals to help protect your company from possible crises.
While there isn’t much you can do to prevent natural disasters from occurring, there’s plenty that you can do to help stop IT disasters in their tracks. Following these 6 steps can help you protect your company and keep your business running, no matter the disaster.