Disaster strikes when you least expect it, and it’s increasingly been shown that organizations can no longer afford to believe that such emergencies won’t happen to them. Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) planning has become a major priority for companies, but a number of them are still lacking the strategy necessary to ensure that their operations can continue in the event of a disaster. A 2016 survey by ITProPortal contributor, Matt Kingswood found that nearly half of respondents don’t have a comprehensive business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) plan. This number is significant considering the mounting pressure and consequences for downtime and disaster recovery.
As the price associated with operational issues continues to rise, it’s become more necessary than ever to create a strategy that will support organizations throughout their recovery process. Let’s take a look at the top tips that you should follow to build a solid BCDR plan:
1. Analyze Environments and Threat Tolerance
When creating a business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) plan, leaders must start by looking at their critical environments and analyzing the potential risks they might face. Business2Community contributor Jamie Keenan suggested creating a detailed list of threats and categorizing them according to the systems they are likely to impact. It will be important to err on the side of caution and consider all possible problems that might emerge. This will help your organization truly focus on recognizing issues and dealing with them before they occur or cause damage.
Prioritizing threats will be a significantly part of your continuity planning effort, as it provides necessary guidance to how much certain assets should be protected and what systems must be recovered first. If an IT system is considered a priority, it will need a faster reaction than other solutions. The speed of response for these individual systems also will be a key factor in the costs associated with the fault or disaster. Leaders must take a critical look at their infrastructure and determine what items are necessary for their operations and what resources could wait to be restored.
2. Align With Business Standards
This one should be self-explanatory, but it’s easy for organizations to skip this step during business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) planning because there are so many other factors to consider. TechTarget contributor Paul Kirvan noted that industry standards will provide a great framework for your strategy and will increase your chance of passing a future audit. Aligning the BCDR plan with this guidance helps maintain compliance requirements and establishes a solid starting point to rein in the plan’s scope.
It will be important to gain senior management support for the plan and use their feedback to form the continuity strategy. A lack of buy-in could result in the inability to begin the planning process in the first place. Having these individuals on your side will not only help create a stronger BCDR plan, but it will also help management enforce these processes more effectively across the board. With a clear pathway, employees can better understand their role in the business continuity strategy and how to respond quickly and effectively to any issues that might emerge during disaster recovery measures.
“Regularly test the BCDR plan to have peace of mind that it will fulfill its intended purpose.”
3. Test, Revise and Test Again
Once the strategy has been created, businesses cannot become complacent. Instead, they must regularly test their continuity plan to have peace of mind that it will fulfill its intended purpose. Your testing might depend of the type of organization, amount of turnover and any process changes that have occurred since the last evaluation. CIO contributors Kim Lindros and Ed Tittel noted that leaders can use tabletop exercises, structured walk-throughs and simulations to test specific disaster scenarios, identify gaps and ensure that staff understand what to do. It will be important to include new employees on the test team to detect lapses in information that experienced members might overlook.
Leaders must use the information gathered in testing sessions to revise and improve their BCDR plan. Perhaps employees require more training in certain areas or parts of the plan need to be expanded for better detailed guidance. Organizations cannot let the plan go stale and should at least revise it annually. This will allow managers to account for technology shifts, personnel changes and other adjustments. Feedback from the testing activities will be a major help in driving improvements to the plan and ensuring that the strategy is useful when it’s needed most.
4. Have the Proper Systems in Place
The biggest thing that a business can do is to have the proper systems in place that will ensure that operations will continue in the event of a disaster. This means ensuring that staff can work remotely and access critical resources if the physical office is not available. Organizations should also have backup solutions to streamline recovery efforts and restore assets quickly. With these types of tools, users will be able to reduce potential damages and serve customers during the recovery process.
Cyber threats are a particular concern for businesses, especially as techniques become more sophisticated and damaging. Implementing security protocols alongside reboot-to-restore solutions could be just the answer to deterring these types of events. These systems ensure that any unauthorized programs that were downloaded are automatically removed the next day, preserving configurations across employee computers and preventing cyber attacks.
Continuity planning should be a major priority for businesses. By having the proper systems in place, aligning with business standards, analyzing threat tolerance and testing the strategy, organizations can create a solid business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) plan that will see them through a variety of disaster scenarios and help them recover quickly.