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Disaster Recovery 101—Have a Plan!

Disaster Recovery 101—Have a Plan!

Whether it’s a storm knocking out your power lines, a computer virus disabling your software, or a fire, your operation can be disrupted by any number of threats. When that happens, a strong disaster recovery plan can make the difference between a brief hiccup in your operations and a costly blow to your organization. Because your operation involves several connected parts, a number of elements will go into a good disaster recovery strategy. How do you define a “disaster”? If you hear the word and immediately imagine an 8.5 magnitude earthquake or a category 5 hurricane, you’re correct – natural disasters are probably the most threatening types of disasters in terms of damage, potential loss of human life and disruption to operation operations. But the reality is that there are many other types of disasters that can cause significant operation disruptions. Savvy operation directors and managers should be prepared for disasters or disruptions, which come in many forms. Some disasters are man-made, such as industrial accidents, nuclear accidents or terrorist attacks. Natural disasters range vastly from blizzards and hurricanes to lightening, fire, or flooding. Even technical failures like a malicious computer virus should be considered disasters because of how detrimental the downtime can be to your operation. All of these scenarios, and many others, could create an immediate need for decision makers within your organization to flip the switch into recovery mode. Your disaster recovery plan should answer the questions “What do we do now?” and “What is the chain of command?” The process of creating a disaster recovery plan should involve operation management who are fully committed in investing the necessary time and resources. A plan can be relatively simple, or you might hire an external consultant to guide the process. Regardless of its complexity, here are a few key components of the disaster recovery planning process:

  • Prioritizing internal functions – In the event of a disaster or operation disruption, which operation functions will need to be up and running first? For example, depending upon your industry or size, you may need to develop a plan for getting your accounting department’s technology up and running first, followed by other departments. Your plan should outline the IT resources that will be required to address the most time- sensitive operation functions.
  • Restoring data – Is your data stored at an alternate site? Are you backing up to a cloud or web-based backup system regularly? Your disaster recovery plan should clearly spell out how your data will be retrieved.
  • Minimizing downtime – What is your strategy for minimizing the amount of time your IT systems may be down? How long can you afford to be down? For some operations, the answer is “zero downtime.” If this is the case for your operation, your disaster recovery plan must include a strategy for backing up and restoring your IT systems, or running two synchronized systems, which is costly but sometimes necessary.
Now go and develop a plan that is right for your organization.  The internet has many free tools that will help you along the way. Search for Disaster Recovery Plan and you should find lots of information to help you.