Every business needs a strong disaster recovery plan. Like any difficult topic, disasters are something that nobody wants to think about, but everyone needs to plan for. Recovery from disasters is the ability to continue work after any number of catastrophic problems, ranging from a computer virus or hacker attack to a natural disaster such as flood, fire, or earthquake. Having a plan in place takes a little time and effort, but the peace of mind it brings and the ability to continue work after the unthinkable are well worth it.
Disaster recovery must take into account how a business is run and the different elements required to keep the business going. These needs vary from business to business, and a good disaster plan should be designed for the individual business's needs. Using a generic strategy is better than nothing, but it may stress elements that are less important to your business, or worse, leave out critical aspects.
The first step to crafting an individual disaster recovery plan is mapping out the most critical aspects of day to day business. If a great deal of time is spent communicating with clients over the phone, then a backup phone system needs to be addressed. This can be as simple as having employee cell phones, so that if the office's land line is damaged, workers can call clients using their cell phones. It may also be as complex as having a backup call center located in another state, so that traffic can be routed to another location if problems arise at a certain call center.
Data safety is perhaps one of the most crucial and overlooked aspects of disaster recovery. Being able to call your clients on another phone system is little help if you do not have a list of clients, their orders, and their phone numbers. You cannot take new orders if you do not have access to your inventory system or are unable to put in new shipping orders. Data recovery often includes making frequent backups of all critical data and records, both digital and hard copies, and storing them in a secure, remote location.
It is also important to keep in mind the time frame for disaster recovery. If your company needs to be able to recover almost instantly from a disaster, much more complex and redundant steps must be taken than if you have the ability to spend more time recovering. If your company works in a real time, online environment, you need multiple backup systems standing by so that, in the event of a disaster, they can instantly come online. If your company works in longer time frames, then allowing for several hours or days to recover records, organize documents, and resume work may be acceptable.