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Disaster recovery plan

As well as the delights of beach bodies, Bikini also reminds of us disaster.

Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean was the site of nuclear weapons testing in the 1940s, later described as the ‘world’s first nuclear disaster’ as a result of contamination. It’s a reminder that in business it’s good practice to plan for disaster to minimise the fallout when things go wrong.

While disaster can strike a business in many ways, from fire to flooding, burglary or cyber attack, an effective Disaster Recovery Plan can prevent or minimise disruption. A Disaster Recovery Plan sets out actions a business can take to reduce the impact of these events, especially on IT systems, so it recovers as fast as possible.

Why is this important? According to the Business Continuity Institute, 40% of businesses affected by the 1996 Manchester bombing never opened their doors again.

Where do you start? The first thing is to appoint a team member with responsibility for the plan, who could be the IT director, an IT manager or whoever you think is the most relevant person in your business. The key here is ‘responsibility’. To be effective, a Disaster Recovery Plan needs to be comprehensive and up to date, so the person in charge needs to be accountable for actively maintaining the plan – with ultimate responsibility resting with the executive team.

The plan must be accessible. While there may be good reasons for confidentiality, there needs to be an identified group whose individual members can access the plan immediately. This ensures that there will always be someone present to implement the plan if disaster strikes – the plan will be useless if no one knows how to access it in an emergency. It also needs to be in paper as well as digital form in case a disaster disables IT and communications systems.

Networking documentation – detailing all aspects of your IT system – and a record of essential data and back-up processes will likely form the basis of your plan, so that you know what your IT system comprises, the information it holds, how and where it is backed up, and how you can restore it. In additions to these records, consult widely with your people to understand key processes. How and why systems are used is as important as the data they hold.

Assess and test your plan regularly. Perhaps backup restoration does not work and you need to fix it or a software update is disrupting a process. A plan will be worthless if it cannot recover you to where you were before disaster struck.

If this sounds daunting, speak to your IT support provider for help. FX7 Solutions can advise you on how to develop an effective Disaster Recovery Plan.

While IT is important, disaster can affect your business in many ways, both in the short and long terms. You may also want to develop a Business Continuity Plan to focus on wider issues, such as how to protect against the loss of key staff who you depend on and how to manage your business reputation and supply chain relationships in an emergency.

While the threats to your business are real, planning prepares you if disaster strikes, so that you can avoid the fallout and your business can pick up fast from where it left off.

Prepared by Jakub Kosiec of FX7 Solutions Ltd

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