Technology is at the centre of many businesses today. While it helps streamline business processes, your company data is at risk as a result of IT errors.

Time has shown that organisations, even larger ones, are not immune to IT disasters. Many companies like Facebook and Uber have lost lump some of the data and others like Target Canada collapsed due to IT errors. Your company can help protect itself from such disasters by having a solid IT disaster recovery plan.

An IT disaster recovery plan is easy to follow document with clear guidelines to address potential IT disasters, customised according to the needs of your business. Essentially, this plan should entail the following elements.


1. Organise Your Inventory


The starting point to any disaster recovery plan is taking your inventory and organising it well. You should understand where your server rooms and network operation centres are located. Make sure you are aware of the location of critical equipment like power supply equipment, routers, and switches.

After determining the plan of your infrastructure, it’s time to move to your data. Know where each type of data is stored in each machine and label it correctly based on its function. The main functions you can tag your data into include transactional systems, decision support systems, knowledge management systems, and management information systems.

Organising your data into segments is essential to help you prioritise your restoration in case of an attack on your systems.


2. Perform a Business Impact Assessment


In case of an impact on multiple systems, you need to first recover mission-critical systems. A business impact assessment should help you with this. This assessment determines which are the most critical systems in running your business and gives these a priority when assigning recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO).

An RTO determines how long it will take to recover a system after a disaster. The most crucial systems should be recovered in the shortest time possible to prevent loss of data and losses. An RPO is the amount of data a company can risk losing in case of a disaster.

In most businesses, the cost associated with the collapse of a particular system is the main factor in prioritising systems. However, the prioritisation of systems may vary from one business to another due to other factors such as the vulnerability of the system.


3. Describe Your Response Strategy and Recovery Strategy


Every system in your business requires its unique response and recovery strategy. These strategies should be clearly defined. The response strategy will spell out what to do immediately after a disaster occurs. When you experience a server failure, for instance, your response strategy will be to switch to a backup server. A recovery strategy, on the other hand, comes in to help reverse the effects that come up after a disaster. In the above case, a recovery strategy could be to retrieve backups from a cloud server.


4. Assigning Roles and a Proper Communication Plan


Being prepared during a disaster can help avert more losses. You should ensure your employees understand their roles to prevent chaos during an emergency. If your employees are well informed of their roles in the recovery process, they will work with speed to get the systems running in no time. There should also be clear and direct instructions. While details are essential in any IT disaster recovery plan, ensure instructions are straightforward and easy for the employees to understand.


5. Specify Backup Procedures


This part should explain the steps for backing up data. The employees should know what data to back up, where to back up data as well as how often to back up the data.

You should make sure all the critical data like financial statements, employees’ information and inventory records are backed up all the time.


6. Test and Maintain The Data Recovery Plan


Finally, the IT disaster recovery plan should be actively rehearsed and updated. So many things change in a short time, so test your systems thoroughly to ensure you maintain the best disaster recovery practices. Make regular adjustments to your plan especially after a change in your systems, like an update to a critical software. You should also consider testing your plan whenever you have a change in staff, and testing your backups regularly.

You can also consider conducting an IT security drill to check on the preparedness of your staff and ensure you have a solid IT disaster recovery plan.

Having a great well tested IT disaster recovery plan is the first step to protecting your company data and infrastructure. It will help you prevent cyber crimes, human errors, natural disasters and it will protect you from hardware failure.


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