The future can be unpredictable, but advance preparation and strategizing can dramatically mitigate the impacts of potential disasters, be they natural or man-made. This is especially true when it comes to disaster recovery planning. With the right preparation and planning (and disaster recovery partner, you can ensure that your organization will be able to recover quickly from a disaster event and resume business operations as soon as possible.
As we look towards 2024, consider these unique challenges to consider as you fortify your organization with a comprehensive disaster recovery plan.
Focus on Position, Access, and Unity of Effort
Designing a company’s management structure to respond effectively to crises involves concentrating on these three areas:
Determining where and how the company’s management structure should be positioned to respond effectively during a crisis.
Establishing the best way to ensure that key decision-makers have access to critical information and resources.
Unity of Effort
Creating processes and procedures that will enable all levels of employees to work together as one team.
As you might imagine, each of these areas is a complex one that needs to be addressed with care. In addition to the planning and training activities described in this article, companies should consider utilizing scenario-based exercises to test their management structure’s response capabilities. Such exercises can help identify weaknesses and provide opportunities for corrective action before a crisis occurs.
Assess Your Unique Vulnerabilities (Through a Disaster Recovery Lens)
Every business has unique weaknesses. Knowing which disasters are most likely to affect your organization can speed up the recovery process. The best way to determine your organization’s unique vulnerabilities is to conduct a thorough risk assessment. This process involves identifying the threats that could impact your company, determining how likely it is that those threats will occur, and calculating the potential impact of each one. Once you have completed this analysis, you can focus on planning for specific events and taking steps to mitigate their effects.
Be Prepared for Supply Chain Disruptions
In recent years, there has been unprecedented fuel price instability leading to severe supply chain disruptions. Organizations should have a plan in place to navigate such situations. Supply chain disruptions can occur as a result of natural disasters, political instability or even supply chain management mistakes. You should have a plan for dealing with these situations and avoid the panic that often results from them.
Here are some steps you can take to prepare for a supply chain disruption:
- Identify your most critical suppliers and customers or stakeholders. In particular, analyze the impact of disruptions on key suppliers or customers that provide products or services essential to your organization’s operations.
- Determine the critical activities in your supply chain network. These activities include those that are necessary for providing service (such as goods assembly) and those that support these services (such as materials procurement).
Routine Testing and Updating Your Disaster Recovery Plan
Regularly testing and identifying areas of improvement in your plan is crucial. This is the only way to ensure that your plan will be effective when a disruption occurs. Review your plan at least annually and evaluate it against current conditions. You should also update your plan if there are any significant changes in your organization’s business environment or strategies. The following questions will help you evaluate your plan:
- Is it current? Has the business environment changed significantly since you last reviewed your continuity plan? If so, has your plan kept up with those changes? Are there any gaps or weaknesses in your plan that need to be addressed?
- Does it accurately reflect the roles and responsibilities of key staff members? Do they understand their roles and what is expected of them during an emergency situation?
- Is it comprehensive? Does your plan address all of the likely risks to continuity? If not, what gaps do you need to fill? Does it identify potential recovery sites for each mission-critical application? Is there an alternate location for each site in case of a major disaster or event that renders your primary location unusable?
Formulating a Business Impact Analysis
A Business Impact Analysis (BIA) is the cornerstone of any continuity plan. It lets you determine how much time and effort you need to put into building a comprehensive recovery strategy. It also helps you decide where to invest resources in order to minimize downtime and ensure that your company recovers from any disaster within hours, not days.
To start, you’ll need to answer a series of questions about your business and its critical applications. These questions can be conducted from an application or service perspective, or from the perspective of your entire organization’s infrastructure.
Through your BIA, you’ll also realize your most critical processes, applications, data and infrastructure that are essential to your business’s survival. With that knowledge, you’ll be able to determine how long each of these components can be down before you begin losing money—and how much it will cost you if they’re unavailable for a given period of time. For example, if your company relies on a particular application for sales orders and customer support, then without it you won’t be able to process payments or respond to inquiries from customers who need help with products or services.
Your BIA can include a variety of factors, such as:
- Physical location (i.e., how close are your office locations?)
- Staff availability (i.e., who is responsible for bringing systems back online after an outage?)
- Other business functions (i.e., what other services do these applications provide?)
Planning ahead is essential to succeed beyond any major disaster — and in 2024, it’s only going to prove to be more crucial.
It’s important to remember that there are many variables to consider when it comes to business continuity planning, especially when it’s for a post-disaster situation. The key is to build a strategy that will help you recover quickly from any type of disaster and keep everything running smoothly in the aftermath.
If you’re serious about protecting your organization or operations from the worst disaster aftermath, then it helps to take a proactive approach by adding expert help to your arsenal for the most optimal (and stress-less) results. Being prepared for disaster recovery can be the difference between surviving and thriving. By taking this initiative and working with an expert who knows what they’re doing, you can create a plan that will help your organization recover quickly from any type of disaster and keep operations running safer, faster, and better in the aftermath.