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As we begin a new year, it’s time to revise your various business plans. One of the most important is your backup and disaster recovery plan. Even if you avoided disasters in 2012, you should revise every year regardless. And if you were one of those unfortunate enough to have seen your plan in action, then you know what went well and what didn’t. Now it’s time to make changes that reflect that knowledge.
A lot changes for any business in a year and it’s important that your plan reflects those changes. Here’s a quick guide to revising your business continuity and backup and disaster recovery plan for 2013:
What worked, what didn’t?
For those who saw their plan in action, hopefully everything worked the way it was supposed to. But now it’s time to figure out what you could have done better. Ask yourself:
- Was I able to contact my employees following the emergency?
- Were my computer systems easy to recover?
- Should I prepare extra hardware in case of damage?
- What do I need for the next disaster that I didn’t have for the last one?
- What happened during this disaster that I wasn’t prepared for?
For those that didn’t experience disaster, it’s useful to look at the major disasters occurred in 2012 (super storm Sandy comes to mind) and imagine how your plan would’ve fared against such a calamity. What if your business flooded? What if internet connections, power, and local data centers are down? Although your area may not be susceptible to hurricanes, there are likely geographical threats you can focus on more closely.
Talk to Employees
Building on what you think worked and what didn’t, talk to some employees at various levels of your organization. Make sure they know what is expected of them in an emergency, ask if they have questions, and ask them if there’s anything they’d add that might be valuable to the plan. It’s important to involve several minds in the process. Every employee has a unique and valuable perspective. They’re a great resource to help with your revisions.
If you didn’t experience any disasters, it’s still useful to talk to employees about the plan and make sure they haven’t forgotten what’s expected of them. Be sure to ask if they have questions or if there’s anything new that needs to be addressed that you may have overlooked.
It’s important for your business to grow, but it can easily grow so quickly that your backup and disaster recovery plan can’t keep up. You revised plan needs to account for 2012 growth and anticipate the new growth you’re hoping to see in 2013. How many new employees do you have? Do new employees know how to deal with emergencies? What sort of new hardware and equipment is there? Are you taking regular backups of these systems?
A boy scout is always prepared, but can you be over-prepared? The short answer is probably no, but you also don’t want to spend company resources on over-preparation and you probably don’t need quadruple redundancy. It’s important to be practical when it comes to your business continuity needs so be prudent when determining what you realistically need and what might be considered overkill. It’s also important to make sure that if you downsized, your new plan reflects those changes as well—don’t pay for what you no longer need.
Share and Schedule Regular Tests
Once you’ve got the changes added to your plan, you’ve got to share them with your employees and make sure they understand the new policies or changes you intend to put into action. Be sure they know that there will be a test and that they will be expected to know what to do.
You can’t really be sure your plans will work unless you test them. Be sure to schedule a regular test of your backup and disaster recovery plan. It might be helpful to mimic a disaster scenario you might feasibly encounter. Be active with it and make it fun. As an example, Google literally attacks itself to see how well they can recover from various issues. The more realistically you can look at potential scenarios, the better you can test and prepare for the real ones when they happen.
Disaster Plan First
It takes time to build a backup and disaster recovery plan and many businesses might see it as a secondary concern compared to things like budget plans, product road-maps, and so forth, but you really never know when something will go wrong. By taking care of your backup and disaster recovery plan first, you can rest easy. You’ll know that in the event of misfortune you’ve got your plan set in stone and that your business is disaster-resistant before the New Year baby even puts the sash on.
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