Take disaster recovery seriously by developing a plan – today

Take disaster recovery seriously by developing a plan – today
Hurricanes. Floods. Tornadoes. Even random power outages. During 2011, we’ve seen all of these events wreak havoc with businesses across the United States. Each has brought a unique set of challenges, but all have one thing in common: they reveal whether companies have invested in a disaster recovery plan. Too often, businesses say that disaster recovery planning is important – and yet they do nothing about creating a viable strategy. Without an actual disaster sweeping down upon them, many business owners and managers push disaster recovery planning aside as something that can be handled tomorrow. Or, they simply believe that the chances are small they will ever need this kind of contingency plan. Yes, the chances of actually facing a disaster are rather small. But, if your business is hit hard, it could put your very existence in jeopardy. Just like you would not own a large warehouse and fail to buy property insurance, you should not operate a business without a disaster recovery plan. Fortunately, UC vendors like Avaya have done much of the heavy lifting for you. Following is a summary of steps you can take to ensure communications continue to flow, even in the worst of times.
  • Make a budget and a timeline. Yes, you must allocate some small amount of time and money to disaster recovery planning. Without a budget and deadline, the project will never reach completion.
  • Make an executive responsible for the project. Disaster recovery planning requires high-level buy-in. Again, if the top management does not make this a priority, it will be pushed aside to make way for projects that seem more pressing.
  • Reach out to multiple departments. Everybody has a role. The human resources department needs to help communicate to the team and suggest information flow. The facilities group understands the physical aspect of disaster recovery. These tie in to how IT does its job to keep communications up and running.
  • Understand this is an ongoing process. Yes, you must create a viable plan that is in writing. But that must be followed by updates and refreshes as technology, people and facilities change.
  • Identify risks. Are there ways your company can minimize the impact of a disaster? Ask IT and other managers to evaluate the risks you face if you lose power, lose your telephones, or even see your offices destroyed. Find ways to mitigate those risks with strategies such as off-site data backup, hosted applications and more. Identify the technologies needed to get your critical functions back up and running.
  • Define your recovery strategy. Determine how your key technologies will be put back online. Ensure that these technologies meet the immediate needs for communication and data access.
  • Write explicit instructions. Employees need direction in times of disaster. What should they do? What are they responsible for? How should they communicate. Tell them.
  • Make your plan accessible. Put it on the intranet and make it required reading for team members.
  • Train the team. With UC, most businesses can enable their employees to work remotely. If a major storm makes travel to the office impossible, workers who have electricity and Internet connectivity can still access email, phone systems and other information from home. But what if they’ve never worked remotely until that day? Set aside a day for each employee to work remotely and learn to use the systems. In addition, train IT and other personnel on your disaster recovery strategy.

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