Disaster Recovery and Contingency Planning

Do you have a published plan in place?  Consider a catastrophic failure of IT systems in your business, where would you start to get back working at 100% again?.

922-300x210On the 27th of September 2013 fire destroyed a business in Slacks Creek after an accident inside the factory. Staff barely had time to escape before the blaze engulfed the premises destroying it and the adjacent building. The intense fire ensured the two factories were flattened and fire crews could do nothing but save surrounding premises. While these type of events are rare it shows that sometimes the responsibility is out of our hands and companies need to take steps to prepare for disasters on any level. For many companies this means preparing disaster recovery and business continuity plans. You don’t have to be a large corporation to develop these plans, you just need to analyze the risks and plan.

In every business disaster recovery and contingency plans always involve computer systems and more important data. Some simple planning now can save you and your business a headache should a major event occur. I always try to talk to business owners about this subject because every business is different and therefore every plan needs to address different requirements. Some will simply backup data while others have redundant systems and comprehensive procedures in place. Most have given this subject very little though.

Example: A real estate company I work with in Brisbane have a Brisbane north and south office. Both premises are free standing, fairly old buildings in the suburbs. We perceive one of the high risks to this business is fire and to a greater extent natural disaster be it cyclones or storms.  Many factors for the risk are out of our control as they do not own the buildings, however we have limited risk through clever planning, simple design, devices and body corporate cooperation.  Simple ideas and a small level of planning can benefit small business greatly.   But the risk remains so the plans put in place clearly action a number of protocols aimed at all business processors if needed.  These plans will be business saving ideas and should get the business back to operation  within hours of a major event.

For many of the small and medium business I often talk about

  • Contingency plan – one for each core unit of the business
  • Procedures – includes staff, systems, materials
  • Mitigation, preparation, response recovery arrangements
  • What are the critical business functions
  • Impact Analysis
  • Action Plans
  • Recovery Time Objectives
  • Communication
  • Coordination

Basic stuff really. There is plenty of information freely available on the internet with easy downloadable forms to help with planning and allot of information about how to go about creating plans and the requirements to be considered.   It all starts with a little brain storming.

In summary the process of contingency planning can be simple and starts with some simple questions.

  • What are the risks to your business
  • What can you do to mitigate these risks
  • What contingencies can you plan to ensure a fast and smooth recovery to risks