Recently a new client called me frantically because one of the PCs in his office that stored critical client and employee information crashed and he didn’t know how to recover it. The financial information of his business was inaccessible. His employee’s salaries and clients financial information was lost with very few chances of it being returned.
This businessman, who we will call Steve to keep his information anonymous, had a successful business that was crippled because of lack of planning for a technology disaster.
Steve’s scenario is one I have seen all too often, the names and details vary but the results are always the same.
A multi-million dollar operation reverted back to pen and paper invoices and pen and paper record keeping for the next few weeks/months while the situation is rectified.
This can happen to any business that does not plan for an emergency situation. A well planned and documented disaster recovery plan should be put in place to back up critical information that will make your business valuable if the information is lost. This plan should be maintained and part of your annual budgets because you never know when you may need it.
The worst part about my Steve’s story is that he had a plan in place for this type of emergency, but his offsite back up was cancelled a few months prior because he did not see a justifiable return on investment. With an average cost of downtime ranging from $75,000 for a medium business and $800,000 for a enterprise, after experiencing the pain of a disaster changes your perspective on ROI and you learn the hard way how critical a well thought out plan could be. After this event, Steve went on record to say that cancelling his back-up plan was one of the worst business decisions he has ever made.
So how can you proactively avoid a similar situation with proper planning? Here is a list of key steps to developing a solid disaster recovery plan.
1. Conduct a comprehensive data assessment.
Know where the critical information in your company lives. Where is your customer information stored? What files are heavily used and what departments do they align with.
Not all data is as valuable or critical as other data. Be sure to know what is most important to your operation, this will be the focus to be back up and running first.
2. Choose a trusted partner to help with disaster proofing your business.
Use a trusted consultant that will help design and implement a strong disaster recover plan. Be aware there is no one size fits all solution for every business. It is important that you develop a customized solution and consider the data that is most important to your operation. This plan should be documented and distributed for your team to all be aware of the processes following a disaster.
3. Define an acceptable recovery time and make it part of your recovery plan.
Discuss and define how quickly you need to restore your data. There are many types of solutions, a solution that maybe inexpensive may not be the best solution if it takes days to restore your business. Understanding your critical needs will help you understand an acceptable timeframe and will also help you weigh your return on investment. Knowing and managing the expectation will make your job easier during a disaster.
4. Create and test your new disaster recovery plan.
Once you have established a well thought out and documented DR plan, be sure to test the plan when it is not critical.
Think through the most likely threats and replicate the scenarios. This exercise will help you iron out key details of your plan and ensure a successful implementation when a real emergency occurs.
Following these 4 steps will get you started on a strong DR plan. Remember that planning, documenting and testing the plan is important. A well thought out and proven plan will be much stronger when the time comes to execute during a real emergency.
For more information about how to disaster proof your data, contact me at 631-348-7200 ext. 227.