4 steps to an effective disaster recovery plan

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 serious injury to infrastructure. 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 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. Think of them as the 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, recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) need to be established. RTO refers to the amount of time the business can tolerate being ‘down.’ RPO refers to the amount of data the business can afford to lose in terms of time. These two numbers will help you determine the appropriate technologies and processes for your disaster recovery plan. 

2. Plan for the worst

Another important step in disaster recovery planning is risk assessment. It is 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 risk to many businesses today. Knowing this upfront, businesses can put firewalls and virus scanning software in place to mitigate attack.

Some risks cannot be avoided though. 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 replicate business systems in a region less likely to be impacted by such an event.  

3. Prepare and implement solutions

Next, we move on to preparation. This includes researching, selecting and implementing technology solutions that meet the business requirements established in the planning step. Disaster recovery solutions may include 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 they are not supported in practice. One of the most common causes of an unsuccessful plan is failure to perform periodic testing. It’s a mistake to think that disaster recovery tests are executed to ‘prove it works,’ or to satisfy an audit requirement. The purpose for testing is to identify faults or opportunities for improvement and to ensure the team will be able to perform effectively when needed. Disaster recovery testing may take some creativity to execute, but even limiting the scope of the test is beneficial.  

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

 

disaster recovery, recovery time objective, recovery point objective, replication

About the Authors:

Eric Oss

Eric Oss

Eris Oss has been implementing and supporting business systems for more than three decades. He cut his teeth on data entry and explored a variety of roles at JD Edwards before joining ERP Suites as a service delivery manager. This vast experience helps him connect with customers and business requirements at every level of IT and deliver targeted technical solutions.

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