It is amazing how much we depend on our technological world and yet it is just as amazing how very few businesses devote much time to disaster and continuity planning. Many business may have had to recover a few files or emails but how would they fair if they lost a complete server? Or if they couldn’t access their premises after a fire? How would you fair in those situations?
The secret to surviving beyond the disaster is planning before hand. The more that you can do the better you’ll be placed if an eventually like that transpires. One of the key tools for any disaster is a checklist, because in a disaster when stress levels are high, having a procedure to follow makes things much easier and the changes of mistakes is greatly reduced.
The best way to start any disaster planning is to create a scenario. Something like ‘What would happen if our email server failed?’ or ‘What would happen if our place of business was affected by fire?’. Once you have the scenario in mind then start brain storming what you could no longer do.
Next, start mapping out the steps required to resolve the problems. This may take a number of different paths so don’t get too lost on every possibility, focus the ones that going to get your systems back and running as quickly as possible.
Most importantly you need to document all the information during this process. Don’t necessarily discard anything just yet, get it all down on paper and make decisions about its validity on review. Keep capturing information and categorizing it before filtering it.
Once you have the information start your review. Work through everything you have with a critical eye. Remember, the aim is to get you systems back online as quickly as possible. Fill in the missing pieces and work out what further information you may need that you currently don’t have on hand.
Finally, when you have all the information together and it has been reviewed and organized you need to test it. Only by testing will you reveal steps or situations you have not considered. As you work through the test process ensure that you update any information along the way.
Once you are confident that everything with your plan is operational don’t just put it on the shelf and forget it. Successful plans need to be reviewed and updated on a regular basis. Obviously, it will be easier to do this after doing all the work initially but it still needs to be done to keep the plan up to date.
Disasters can’t be prevented but their impact can be minimized and the secret to that is thorough preparation and documentation. Take the time now to be one of the few who are prepared.