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Data is the lifeblood of business in the 21st century, which means organisations can only ever be as secure as the contingencies put in place should disaster strike.
Think of a worst case scenario in business information terms, maybe a fire or a flood takes out an entire office, the IT department reduces to a beige puddle – that’s enough to finish a firm off for good.
But if data is backed up with a proper, rehearsed plan and the right software, then losses can be limited, reputations can remain intact, and continuity can be restored.
A good data recovery plan should be based upon a business risk assessment for each critical infrastructure that’s responsible for management, maintenance and storage of data, whether that’s on the premises or up on the cloud.
This assessment should isolate the organisation’s vital data repositories, and outline a Disaster Contingency and Recovery Plan for each manager’s zone of responsibility. Core issues will include pinpointing business processes, the risks that apply to availability and the priorities that will arise in the event of disaster recovery.
No company is invulnerable from network failure, or malfunctions in hardware or software. A Contingency Plan will document each eventuality should systems become unavailable, and will provide a detailed map of recovery processes and pathways to restore full operation.
The Plan will also hold a description of off-site servers or any temporary hardware or software being used. Managers should hold regular tests and checks of this plan to accommodate for any technology updates or any other changes that might distort the document’s accuracy.
If systems become unavailable on a smaller scale, such as internet or phones going down, business continuity can still be very disrupted. Communication is crucial at these times, so all key personnel must have a plan to adhere to so that customers and off-site employees can still receive the information they need.
To this end, ensure all relevant parties can access a log of contact numbers, and a back-up line to emergency services. Accessible lists of personal email addresses of employees – those who run key departments in particular – are especially important if the firm in question runs its own servers.
The time it should take emergency recovery protocols to be carried out also constitutes a key guidance element. Consider how long teams have to get critical systems up and running before irreparable damage is done, and how much downtime your company can sustain before the bottom line is affected.
Recovery time objectives offer another handrail for businesses walking the path back to full restoration. Employees should be made fully aware that these are in place because time means money and reputation.
Information is one of the greatest assets of enterprises of all sizes. On the other hand, it’s actually quite difficult to destroy lose altogether.
When supported by robust software solutions, there’s no reason why a detailed recovery plan can’t pull a firm back from the most vertiginous of brinks to safe operating grounds in double quick time.