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Key Components of an Effective IT Disaster Recovery Strategy

Business Continuity and IT Disaster Recovery Blog

Key Components of an Effective IT Disaster Recovery Strategy

Given the importance of our IT systems to business today, ensuring that we can retain functionality is crucial to day-to-day performance. However, while we can do everything possible to secure our systems in the event of an in-house issue, we cannot often prepare for a disaster that is not of our making.

For example, a natural disaster or a mass issue with a city’s power grid are matters outside our businesses’ control. Should this kind of disaster strike, it can leave your business in flux.

It could even be something like a fire or a flood that has caused a massive outage of your IT systems. Another similar issue could be the risk of ransomware; if someone in your business falls foul of such a scam, it could require a full disaster recovery strategy to be put in place.

The best way to prepare for this is to have an effective IT disaster recovery strategy. These strategies are essential to ensuring that such problems can be overcome quickly. What, though, are the main components of such a strategy? How can one make sure they are not caught cold in such a distressing scenario?

What Are The Key Components Of An Effective IT Disaster Recovery Strategy?

System Priorities

Your business will need some systems to be active sooner than others. In a disaster recovery strategy, companies should focus on ensuring they clearly understand what systems hold the largest priority. Without certain systems, your business cannot function and/or runs the risk of massive data loss. Prioritizing getting these systems back up and running should be the first step of any plan.

Then, you can break down the systems, which can likely be switched off/inactive for up to 24 hours, and other systems that can be brought back in the coming days as things return to normality. Working with your IT team to figure out what systems are essential, and which are actually useful can help build a strategy that can kick into action as soon as you need it.

IT Inventory

Another part of your disaster recovery strategy will include having a clear and detailed inventory of your equipment and systems. This will include every piece of hardware that you have in-house. It would help to list all software and peripherals used within your network. This should include anything your staff, contractors, and freelancers use.

Yes, this means accounting for every device, whether it is within company premises or used by staff for remote working. Suppose your company uses this technology, though. In that case, it should be counted as part of your IT inventory, so it is easier to ensure everything is returned to the correct functionality after a disaster strikes.

Staff Training

If you want your disaster recovery strategy to be enabled smoothly, your staff have to be equally comfortable dealing with the post-disaster recovery strategy. Each member of staff will have some part to play in making sure the recovery happens as it should.

Staff should be trained accordingly to ensure they know the steps they need to follow and what protocols should be followed when it comes to factors like cybersecurity. The more training staff undergo, the easier it will be for staff to avoid contributing to the disaster and/or slowing down the recovery process.

Disaster Response Groups

Your business should also be able to rely upon a series of disaster response specialists who will work in different teams. These teams will help determine when a disaster recovery plan should be implemented and to what level the plan is needed. This should be made up of key IT specialists in your team, as well as others from the main departments of your business.

These team members will need access to contact details for the right individuals i.e. insurance companies, suppliers, customers, and potentially even media outlets. They should also be responsible for developing a financial assessment of the cost of implementing the disaster recovery strategy.

Recovery Time Objectives (RTO)

Every disaster recovery strategy should have a timeframe for how long it will take to get things back to normal once disaster strikes. These are really important metrics to have as they can give a good idea of how long your business might be interrupted and how soon you can expect to get some normality back in terms of performance.

Please make sure that your team can work a timeframe with a list of priorities based on the essential functions your business has. This can make it easier to liaise with other involved parties so you can offer a rough idea of when normality will be restored.

Testing & Review

Also, you should make sure that your disaster recovery strategy has a clear plan for testing and reviewing your operations. You should ensure that your recovery plan has been thoroughly tested to know if it can resolve the problems, you are likely to face in the event of such a disaster.

It would be best if you had – at a minimum – annual testing of all disaster recovery strategies. Ideally, though, you should aim for around once per quarter. These testing sessions help you to see how quickly things can be restored to normality and also provide a rough idea of how much time, data, and/or income you might lose while you restore things back to some form of working order.

Post-Disaster Analysis

Finally, the best disaster recovery strategies will come with a chance for analysis of what took place to be recorded. This will help learn from the disaster, what caused the disaster, and what actions were taken to restore normality post-problem. These analysis sessions can spot bottlenecks in the recovery process and help spot potential issues that could be resolved for a quicker, more effective recovery process next time.

BRCCI – Business Resilience Certification Consortium International (www.brcci.org)

We are thankful to the author for allowing us to post this insightful article on our website. BRCCI provides a comprehensive training and certification program in business resiliency, continuity and IT disaster recovery planning:

1. 3-day CBRM (Certified Business Resilience Manager) is a comprehensive, all-in-one, 3-day Business Continuity Planning and Management Training and Certification course which is designed to teach practical methods to develop, test, and maintain a business continuity plan and establish a business continuity program.

2. 3-day CBRITP (Certified Business Resilience IT Professional) is a comprehensive training on how to assess, develop, test, and maintain an information technology (IT) Disaster Recovery Plan for recovering IT and telecommunications systems and infrastructure in the event of a disaster or business disruption. The training provides a step-by-step methodology to ensure a reliable and effective IT disaster recovery and continuity plan consistent with the industry’s standards and best practices.

3. 2-day CBRA (Certified Business Resilience Auditor) It provides 2 days of intensive, Business Continuity Audit training to enable students to determine the effectiveness, adequacy, quality and reliability of an organization’s Business Continuity Program. Students will learn an audit methodology to evaluate compliance of Business Continuity and IT Disaster Recovery Programs with the current industry’s best practices and standards including:

  • ISO 22301: Business Continuity Management Systems – Requirements
  • NFPA: Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs
  • ITIL: Information Technology Infrastructure Library

For information on the above program, please contact BRCCI (www.brcci.org, 1-888-962-7224).

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