disaster recovery planning

4 steps to an effective IT disaster recovery plan

IT disaster recovery doesn’t come with a FEMA trailer in the business world, but the concept is similar. Mother nature. Mechanical failure. Malicious cyber activity. All pose threats to business operations. If they strike, a business can suffer injury to infrastructure. IT disaster recovery is the process of restoring business systems to a functional state so corporations can get on with a productive life. Effective recovery takes four steps: prioritization, planning, preparation, and practice.

1. Prioritize business processes

Disaster recovery planning begins with an assessment of business processes. The goal is to establish a consensus on which are most important. Ask yourself, “Which processes, and therefore which business systems, are imperative for the business to operate?” All processes deemed non-critical can be excluded from the disaster recovery plan. Put them like objects in your closet that don’t spark joy—out of scope and out of mind.

Once a checklist of business-critical processes is defined, determine your recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO). RTO refers to the amount of time the business can tolerate being ‘down.’ RPO refers to the amount of data your company can afford to lose in terms of time. These two numbers will help you determine the appropriate technologies and processes for your IT disaster recovery plan.

2. Plan for the worst

Another critical step in disaster recovery planning is risk assessment. It’s important to know what events present a risk to the business so you can take appropriate steps to prevent them. And if they do occur, you want to be able to act quickly. For example, computer viruses and malware present a significant risk to many corporations today. Knowing this, you can institute firewalls and virus scanning software to mitigate an attack.

Some risks are unavoidable, however. Consider an ice storm that shuts down transportation and interrupts power across a region for multiple days. A business located in a region where this is possible may choose to replicate business systems in an area less likely to be impacted by such an event.  

3. Prepare and implement solutions

Next, we move on to preparation. This step includes researching, selecting, and implementing technology solutions that meet the business requirements outlined in planning. IT disaster recovery solutions may consist of daily backups to an offsite location or real-time replication of systems to a separate data center. Preparation must also include process development and communication. The best technology won’t do any good without an informed workforce who knows when and how to use it.

4. Practice, practice, practice

Ultimately, disaster recovery planning and preparation are wasted efforts if not supported in practice. In truth, failure to perform periodic testing is one of the most common causes of an unsuccessful plan. These tests do more than prove your plan works or satisfy an audit requirement. They can help you spot emerging faults and opportunities for improvement. Disaster recovery testing may take some creativity to execute, but even a limited scope assures your team that your plan and the system will perform if needed.  

Disasters can happen, but your business can recover and thrive with the right IT disaster recovery strategy. Companies like ERP Suites can help. Contact us to learn more about disaster recovery and other cloud-based technology solutions.