Ask yourself this simple question: Do I have a disaster plan?
This question shouldn’t only preoccupy every IT specialist, but also every small-business leader and management team member.
After all, the livelihood of nearly every modern business depends on an effective IT disaster plan that can be implemented quickly. Not having a plan not only leads to lost business, but has even placed many companies in bankruptcy.
The good news is that a good plan can prepare your business for nearly any contingency, and will help you resume operations with minimal loss of productivity and sales. Here is what you need to know about building an effective emergency IT disaster plan for your business.
What’s at Risk with An IT Disaster?
For businesses, disaster can take many forms. A piece of ransomware can hijack your network and leave you without access to key data unless you pay the hackers behind it. Disaster can also strike from viruses, insider threats and worms, which either erase key data or steal it.
A natural catastrophe can also translate into an IT disaster when servers and data centers are physically damaged, often leaving data from these servers unrecoverable without the right strategy.
Many companies are simply unprepared for a network disaster. In fact, 72 percent of companies that experience major data loss are out of business within 24 months. Sadly, many of these data-loss scenarios are as simple as a business failing to back up its data, which 60 percent of small businesses do.
Although small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) often invest the least in an IT disaster recovery plan, they are often the hardest hit in the event of a disaster. All of this underlines just why SMBs need to take strides to ensure business continuity with a complete IT disaster plan.
What Goes Into an IT Disaster Plan?
A comprehensive IT disaster plan includes clear guidelines for restoring a network and operations after a disaster. The right plan will outline the following contingencies and guidelines:
- Accountability: Assign clear responsibilities for each staff member and department, and steps they should take in an emergency. Introduce a core team internally or using external stakeholders such as a managed IT provider that knows your network both in and out.
- Clear Data Collection: Collect detailed data about who manages your network, including information about suppliers, equipment, documents, on-site and off-site data locations, and information about software vendors. In addition, ensure backup storage and retention scheduling information are on file.
- A Detailed Plan: The plan should include step-by-step instructions for what to do when key applications stop running properly or specific incidents occur that have an outsized impact on network operations, such as loss of data and voice communications. These different procedures should cover all possible disaster scenarios and place priority on key services that need to be restored before anything else.
- Natural Disaster Planning: You must also examine issues unique to your locale from a natural disaster standpoint, such as flooding, tornadoes or earthquakes. A clear backup facility should also be documented to ensure your business can resume operations as soon as possible.
- Brainstorm Based on Your Business: Outline specific threats unique to your business and clear solutions for each one. For example, you may want to focus on disaster scenarios involving customer credit card theft if your business is predominately an e-commerce platform.
It’s also essential that your IT disaster plan have a clear procedure about contacting key personnel in the event an emergency occurs late at night, on a weekend, or on a vacation day. Often, SMBs have a limited amount of IT support. If their network goes down off-hours or while a staff member is on vacation, the disaster can take on new dimensions. That’s why a managed IT service provider like Dobson Technologies is often key to ensuring proper small business IT help on a 24/7 basis.
Details Make a Difference
Your business can often be subject to outside events that lead to a disruption in service, such as a telecommunications network going out of service. That’s why working with a managed IT service provider to build and implement your disaster recovery plan can help your company identify if it needs co-location facilities, off-site backup services, and 24/7 desktop and user care support.
Off-Site Storage Is Key
You should also have a professional service provider who can help you with your off-site storage solutions. Storing your data in the cloud introduces a fundamental part of your disaster plan, and can help ensure that viruses, ransomware, natural disasters and other serious incidents don’t lead to permanent data loss.
Keep Your IT Disaster Recovery Plan Fresh
Review the disaster plan regularly to ensure it’s still up-to-date and still appropriate for your specific business. At the same time, you should conduct emergency drills involving different scenarios, including parallel tests, simulation tests and checklist testing. If you have an outsourcing partner who does all the testing and disaster plan reviews for you, ensure that you receive periodic status updates on your IT system.
Dobson Technologies offers managed IT support in Oklahoma City to a wide variety of clients, including thorough IT disaster recovery plans. Dobson Technologies works with your company to prepare for every disaster, backs up your data, works with key company stakeholders, and performs risk analysis regularly. Schedule a meeting with Dobson today to discuss your technology needs and disaster recovery plan in detail.