On May 21, 2015, OnRamp Founder Chad Kissinger and GCS Technologies President Joe Gleinser took part in a panel discussion titled “Disaster Recovery—Surprising Challenges.” In the course of this conversation, Mr. Gleinser briefly outlined his top three challenges for developing a successful Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) plan as seen in this video clip:
The top three challenges Mr. Gleinser identified were:
- Making the Formation of a BC/DR Plan a Business Priority
- Ensuring the Completeness of Planning
- Going it Alone
For both business continuity and disaster recovery, the time to plan is before the emergency happens. Let’s take a more in-depth look at these three challenges to help you overcome them before disaster strikes.
Making the Formation of a Plan a Business Priority
When you are planning your yearly budget, the fires already burning always get higher priority than those that haven’t started yet and arguably might not happen. As a result, BC/DR is often prioritized lower than other immediate needs in Operations, Marketing, or Infrastructure.
But the cost of deferring spending on creating and implementing a comprehensive BC/DR plan can be disastrous financially and may even be at the expense of your business. Ask yourself how long your business could survive without any access to your data, systems, and ability to do business with your customers. What happens if you lose that data entirely and have to rebuild from scratch—could your company remain in operation if you don’t have a plan?
The US Small Business Association (SBA.gov) The US Small Business Association (SBA.gov) website states: “According to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, an estimated 25 percent of businesses do not reopen following a major disaster,” and recommends several steps to create and implement a plan.
Your BC/DR plan is just like any other insurance coverage your company invests in. You may not need it tomorrow, next week, or even next month. But when you do need it and don’t have it, the results are catastrophic.
Completeness of Planning
Mr. Gleinser talked about clients he had seen who believed they had a good solution in place— only to discover in the case of an actual disaster that their plan was incomplete or that implementing it was not possible due to misconfiguration or other error.
A BC/DR is a living, breathing document. This is not a “one and done” effort or expense. As your systems, software, and personnel change your BC/DR documentation needs to be updated and maintained accordingly. Creating a plan is only the first step in the process. Without testing and updating you can end up with a great plan that doesn’t work.
The five primary steps of the lifecycle are:
Developing the plan requires an in-depth analysis of your business processes, your data needs, and technology infrastructure. Implementing that plan happens in stages—backing up data has to occur regularly, but other aspects of the plan won’t go into effect until/unless a disaster occurs. Testing to ensure that data and systems can actually be restored during an emergency needs to happen annually at a minimum.
As changes like updating systems, adding personnel or new software take place, you should evaluate your plan’s effectiveness and make sure the plan reflects the changes. However, quarterly assessments are recommended at a minimum.
Maintenance is key to ensuring that all necessary information is up to date. If your plan doesn’t reflect changes that have occurred to your organization or your infrastructure? It will doom your recovery and continuity efforts.
Going it Alone
Enterprise systems and large corporations have entire departments whose responsibility is solely Business Continuity or Disaster Recovery. But most businesses are not in a position to dedicate financial resources or manpower to something that has no immediate ROI and may not ever even happen.
Mr. Gleinser pointed out that BC/DR implementation always occurs due to a disaster. When disasters occur, whether the cause is a natural disaster, man-made, or even an IT systems failure, stress is high. Murphy’s Law seems to apply—weather, employee availability, unforeseen complications—what can go wrong, will.
Having a good partner in times of crisis, one who is not trying to handle any aspects of business other than backup and disaster recovery, and who offers reliable expertise in this area can be a life-raft amidst the flood of emergencies that spring up following a disaster.
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