If you had to wake up tomorrow and run a 26.2-mile marathon, how would you do? It's doubtful that you'd be able to pull through without months of training, strengthening and drills.
Now let's put this in the frame of your business - there's a sudden outage, or a ransomware attack and your files are locked out, or a weather emergency and people can't get to work. What does this mean for your business and the continuation of your service?
This level of preparedness is key in the world of disaster recovery (DR) - Are you sure you could recover your operations in the event of an emergency? How would you access what you need, and how quickly can you get back to full operational status? In reality, most businesses don't know. They either don't have a plan in place, or aren't effectively testing to ensure the plan actually works (i.e. "training for the marathon").
Forrester finds that even in the most IT-savvy businesses, DR planning and testing is where most businesses fall short. Although most businesses claim to do a once-yearly test, anecdotal evidence tells that these tests are far from thorough - either not running through the entire recovery plan or not including all systems and applications.
So what can you do to be sure you have a comprehensive DR plan in place and are testing effectivly? Follow these best practices:
- Be clear about your objectives. Sure, everyone wants their business to "run" in the event of an outage or lost service. But what does "running" actually mean? Take the time to work with your team and define what's actually needed to get you and your team back on their feet - whether that's email access, internet connectivity, access to certain applications, access to files, etc. Make sure these are agreed on and documented.
- Include the full team. Make sure every member of your team is aware of the DR process and how they can continue to work in the event of a disaster. Manage the team's expectations, gather their input for what's important, and communicate the plan.
- Document everything. Your plan, including the processes for your team to follow, should be written and regularly reviewed. If you have any questions, walk through it with your IT team - nothing should be left to chance.
- Understand the plan in its entirety. Work closely with your IT team to be sure you understand exactly what constitutes a disaster, and how your technology will react in the event of different disaster types. Understand how you will be alerted and what steps to follow to keep the plan in motion.
- TEST. Test test test. As mentioned above, a plan is only good if it works. Ensure you're regularly testing the integrity of your backups - can you actually restore to your full operations from your backups? How long will it take to get you there? You won't know unless you run these tests on a regular basis.
Following the steps above and working closely with your IT team will help to ensure you're always prepared in the event of a disaster.