In today’s environment of bushfires, flooding, and pandemics, it has never been more important for businesses to have their disaster recovery sorted. Here are four steps to ensure your business is set up to withstand anything from network outages and downtime to unplanned office relocations and remote working.
- Put a disaster recovery strategy in place
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we need to prepare for the unexpected. No matter the size of your business, a disaster recovery strategy that considers your physical location, hardware and equipment, and in-house capability is a must.
When it comes to your physical location, it’s essential to think about what would happen if you and your team couldn’t access the office. Some things to consider here are:
- Is your equipment and hardware on-site?
- Do you have cloud backup or some other form of offsite backup of all your data?
- How would staff access the key information they need to do their job offsite?
- Could you still communicate with staff and customers if you weren’t able to access the office?
- Where would staff work?
When it comes to your hardware and equipment, it’s crucial to think about what you would do if you couldn’t use these due to network, power outages or even theft:
- Do you have a redundant power source or battery backup?
- Do you have alternate access to the internet?
- Is your hardware adequately insured?
- If your equipment was damaged or stolen, how would you replace it, and how would a delay in recovery impact your day-to-day operations? If you bought your equipment even a few years ago, you might not be able to source identical replacements, which can affect your ability to restore your systems at all, let alone restore them quickly.
Then you need to consider your in-house skills. Even if you have redundant power sources and alternate network access, do you have the necessary skills in your team to implement these at short notice without impact on your staff and customers, or do you need a partner who can manage this for you?
- Translate your strategy into an action plan
Your action plan is all about the practical implementation of your strategy and should consider a range of business continuity issues, such as:
- Communication: How will you communicate the situation to staff? Who will be responsible for this? Will staff know what they need to do and how to contact each other? For example, do they have each other’s mobile numbers, or are these housed in a network directory that may be inaccessible?
- Communication systems: Do you have a solution that enables staff to communicate with customers remotely? Can they still communicate with customers and each other remotely in a way that doesn’t disrupt business as usual, or are they all trying to use personal devices? Can your reception or contact centre still field and distribute calls remotely?
- Working location: Are all staff able to work remotely? Do you need a backup site that enables hot desking at short notice? Would staff know where to go?
It is critical that your action plan is documented and communicated to staff before they need it and not left housed in the company directory that may no longer be accessible.
- Get your set up right
A big part of your setup is making sure your data is protected and monitored. The most cost-effective way of achieving this can be moving to cloud services where the physical aspects of the environment are outsourced to another organisation that is a specialist in this area.
Utilising cloud services removes a lot of IT support headaches for an organisation and can allow those employees to be redirected to focus on software or customer service enquiries. But hosting in the cloud isn’t as simple as a lift and shift. Proper planning needs to take place to make sure the business can transition with minimum impact. There are also other things to take into account, particularly around security and compliance. This is where the right third-party partner is critical. They will manage your data and make sure the necessary security and compliance is in place to protect it from online threats.
A cloud-based communication system is also highly recommended. The right communication system will allow your staff to collaborate and contact customers remotely while still appearing to come from their office number. It will reduce disruption to business as usual and, most importantly, to your customers.
Even if your information and communication solution is in the cloud, you need to consider how staff will access it if your power or network is cut off. This is about having the right redundant power supplies and also making sure you have alternate internet access. Something as simple as roadworks cutting a cable can bring your internet down, so having a secondary internet cable run on a different route can alleviate this risk.
As we learnt during 2020, not all staff members have a suitable set up to work from home, so you may need a disaster recovery centre – a location all staff can access to work from, where secondary equipment, such as laptops, is readily available.
The right partner can really assist here. At Cloud Earth, we can manage all of this for you so that you have the right setup in place from the outset.
- Test your action plan
Even the best-laid plans can go awry, particularly if your team members are not across what is required of them as individuals and as part of the broader team. Testing your plan is like a fire drill – it might seem unnecessarily disruptive at the time, but if you ever need it, you’ll be glad you took the time to test it.
This can be as simple as turning off the main internet feed to your office and seeing what your staff can access and how much of their jobs they can still do. Or having your customer contact centre or receptionists work from home for a few hours to test your communication systems and call distribution capability.
If you’re looking to get the right disaster recovery process and systems in place, drop us a line. We know how critical business continuity is, and we help businesses of all sizes prepare for the unexpected every day.