It can be hard for company owners to think about what would happen if their company’s network failed. So much of the modern business world is held in a digital environment, and losing that can make for some devastating losses. According to Gartner, a single hour of network downtime costs the average organization $300,000. On top of this, an extended downtime event can cause irreparable damage to your image. Business continuity planning has become more critical than ever.
Thinking about that can feel like too much for some administrators, but thinking about – and planning for – the worst is the best way to stay safe in the event of a major catastrophe. As we head into the new year, let’s take some time to discuss the most important tips for ensuring business continuity in 2018.
Rethink Your Definition Of Disaster
When most people think of a disaster, they tend to imagine enormous natural events like a blizzard or tornado. These problems are certainly a possibility and need to be dealt with, but they aren’t the only issues you need to worry about. In fact, your biggest concern should be the person on the other end of the paychecks you send out.
Employees making mistakes is one of the largest causes of downtime across every industry, with a survey from Veriflow finding that 25 percent of respondents believing it to contribute to frequent downtime, hampering business continuity. The statistics are even worse in the data center. Rick Schuknecht, who is the vice president of the Uptime Institute, found that 73 percent of data center downtime can be attributed to a person creating the error.
Of course, this isn’t to say that your workers are incompetent. Rather, this is a reminder that even the best employees in the world are only human. They’re going to make mistakes, and it’s your job as an administrator to help lessen the impact of these issues.
A key piece of advice here is to create a culture where it’s perfectly acceptable to admit when you make a mistake. Many problems begin as minor issues that employees ignore in order to save face or their job, and this allows them to balloon out of control. Your people need to know they can come forward if something is wrong without the decision to do so blowing up in their face.
Setting Up A Business Continuity Response Team
Regardless of whether you hire an outside firm to handle your business continuity/ disaster recovery planning or keep it in house, you’ll need a team of dedicated employees ready to respond to a catastrophe. When things go wrong, one of the biggest contributors to continued downtime is panic. If no one is actively assigned to a task in the event of a disaster, they may succumb to the bystander effect and simply hope someone else will handle it.
Therefore, it just makes sense to designate a response team before a disaster occurs. Each person’s job will depend on what needs to be done during downtime, but specifically assigning tasks ensures that everyone knows what they’re doing.
3, 2, 1 Backup Is A Must
Although there are many factors to a solid disaster recovery plan, one of the most important is your data backup system. A downtime event can cause massive data loss, and it’s vital that you have this stored somewhere that’s easily accessible.
That said, you can’t just download company data and applications onto an external hard drive and call it a day. To make sure your information is as safe as possible, you’ll need to follow the 3, 2, 1 Backup Rule. This demands that every piece of data be copied three times, on at least two different mediums – like on a physical disk and in the cloud – and one needs to be kept off site.
That last point is perhaps the most important, as it helps secure your data in the event of a disaster that destroys your office. Such an event will already be a massive headache to handle without having to deal with data loss, so it’s best to simply store copies away from the company’s building.
Test Your Plan
When you finally come to actually creating a disaster recovery plan, it’s vital that you actually test it. That may sound basic, but a study from The Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council found that nearly a quarter of respondents had never tested their procedure. What’s more, nearly two-thirds of those who did test failed. So, to make sure your company’s plan is everything you thought it could be, you’ll want to test multiple times per year.
Business continuity is a scary topic, but avoiding it altogether is even more frightening. The new year is a perfect opportunity to re-imagine how your company reacts to a crisis, but you’ll have to act quickly and decisively to get the job done right.