Your business needn’t be sitting on a fault line or at the bottom of a flood zone to be vulnerable to data loss. Any number of calamities can do damage to your data—from huge, howling tornadoes to tiny, silent trojan horses. Even a perfectly healthy hard drive can just up and quit, if the mood strikes. A Kroll Ontrack study found that mundane, completely avoidable hard drive crashes are the leading cause of data loss, at 66%.
And since data is the lifeblood of just about any business these days, the effect of a major loss can be fatal. It’s so scary to think about, many of us just don’t – avoiding the problem and ignoring it. An AT&T study found that 30% of companies have not put together a business continuity plan for dealing with the loss of data. Whatever the reason for the blind-eye toward disaster planning, the resulting risk is the same and the 70% typically find it hard to pity the 30% when they get hit with a server failure of any sort. But with a good plan in place, your business can be unstoppable. A catastrophe might slow it down for a bit, but it can bounce back.
You do it with a two-pronged approach. The first is a disaster recovery plan (DRP).
A strong DRP outlines the restoration of your data from safe storage and puts it back to work quickly. If you’ve been working with a reliable IT partner with off-site storage or co-locating your backups locally and in the cloud, you already know how to trigger a swift backup solution to restore any missing data. If you haven’t been leveraging a backup solution as part of your day-to-day operations, it’s time to get that in place now, and then include connection to it and recovery from it in your DRP.
The second prong of your strategy is a business continuity plan (BCP).
“Disaster Recovery Plan” and “Business Continuity Plan” are often confused terms and used interchangeably (incorrectly), while in practice they are very different things – both essential to safeguarding your business from the impact of disaster. A BCP is designed to make provisions to keep your business in operation and generating income while getting back on its feet after a calamity. Business continuity consultants (and yes, we have them) will work with your company to identify a new physical location for your business, communications channels, new sources of power and connectivity. Part of your BCP should include identifying and designating emergency management roles for key personnel.
In essence, the business continuity plan maps out the ways to continue business rather than folding. It is the sequential plan to expedite the resumption of business.
That plan, by the way, should not be collecting dust in somebody’s file cabinet. It should be communicated to your whole organization, and your BCP testing checklist should be tested regularly. In fact, the rate and provisioning for testing of the plan should be included in the plan as well.
Needless to say, the quicker you’re back in business, the better. According to a 2013 study by the Aberdeen Group, a small company can lose over $8,000 for each hour of downtime; a large one might kiss $600,000 goodbye in that same amount of time.
Once you’ve got your plans in place, it’s a good idea to see if your key suppliers are similarly protected. You don’t want to be the only business on the block that did things right. Maybe you can be forgiven for hoping your competitors have shaky or nonexistent BCPs, but everybody else should get with the program.
If you have any questions about backup solutions, disaster recovery solutions, redundant hardware, co-location, how to create disaster recovery plans, business continuity plans, or what they should include, give us a shout.
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