10 Questions: How Much Does Disaster Recovery Matter To Your Business?

Every company needs disaster recovery (DR) planning but how do you determine what’s appropriate for your organization?

Whether you’ve had a scare with a recent DR event, heard about one in the news, or have been meaning to revisit your plan, now is a great time to ask these 10 questions:

1. How long can your email, phones and key applications be down before it significantly impacts your organization?
For some, being connected to your customers, the internet, and the apps you use to run your business is critical to your operations. For others, being offline and out of touch for a while is not a big deal. The first step in DR planning is to know how long — in minutes, hours, or days — you can still function without your IT network.

2. If your network goes down, how much income will you lose?
Calculate how much your organization will be impacted in dollars for each hour or day you’re not in operation. A major disaster like a flood or fire can leave you without network access or even access to your location for days or even weeks. Monetizing the downtime will help you make realistic, sound, business-based decisions.

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3. If you can’t deliver service or communicate with your customers, will your brand suffer?
For some organizations, brand reputation can take a huge hit when business is disrupted. If you’re in financial services, distribution, telecommunications, or healthcare, for example, even a short downtime can cause customers to lose faith. On the other hand, if your customers won’t react strongly to delays or not being able to reach you, then your reputation probably isn’t at risk.

4. Do your customers, partners, and vendors rely on you to keep their information secure?
Being responsible for other people’s confidential or financial information is an important ethical and fiduciary duty. If you have data on your network that could hurt those you do business with if it were stolen or lost, such as credit cards, Social Security Numbers or proprietary information, your level of responsibility directly corresponds to your DR planning and execution.

5. Do you want to do business with companies that require certain IT standards?
Many enterprises and other organizations are requiring that companies they do business with comply with the same cybersecurity standards that they do. This raises the bar for everyone as it helps secure sensitive data. Compliance requirements are now included in RFPs so a company can’t bid unless its DR plan is up to par. For some companies, this alone is reason enough to implement a strong DR plan.

6. Is it likely your competitors have better DR solutions than you?
If disaster strikes your area, the organizations that recover the fastest will probably gain market share. And, depending on the type of services you provide, even companies that aren’t in your same region may be able to fill the void left by your company while it’s down. Your overall competitive landscape should inform your thinking about DR and our recovery speed.

7. Are you using a modern DR solution or tape backups?
Many organizations still use tape backups. If your organization hasn’t updated to a newer DR solution, think about the time it actually takes to retrieve the tapes and get back up and running. For some companies, it’s OK to lose a day or two of work while restoring data, but for others losing even a couple of hours can create problems. How fast you need to recover and to what point in time you need to recover from are the two critical pieces of information on which to base your DR plan.

8. How will your employees realistically respond during a disaster?
Everyone responds to stress differently. Some employees will remain calm and methodical as they do their tasks while others will not. If you think your team might react unpredictably or get confused about their roles while the disaster is happening, think about how this could impact your recovery. A DR plan that’s appropriate for your company will be based on realistic expectations.

9. Will you be able to execute your DR plan if your IT people are sick or unavailable?
You rely on your IT team for your IT needs, but during a disaster (and especially a natural disaster) their families will be affected in the same way as everyone else’s. While it may be their job to hold down your IT fort, their first responsibilities are to their loved ones. It’s also impossible to hold down the fort if they don’t happen to be in the fort at the time. Disasters don’t always happen during office hours and before or after lunch, and facilities-related events like power outages or sprinkler system malfunctions will keep everyone away from your offices, your IT team included.

10. Are you confident that your organization can fully recover after a disaster?
The unfortunate reality is that 40% of businesses never reopen after a major disaster and, according to FEMA, only 29% of those that do are still operating two years later. The main difference between those that recover and those that don’t can be as basic as understanding what’s really at stake. FEMA has a series of online toolkits for specific types of disasters but your best bet for DR planning that’s right for you is to work closely with experts who have hands-on experience with DR execution. The only way you can truly be confident in your ability to recover is to test it.

DR planning involves much more than having backups — that’s just one small piece of the puzzle. To have a successful recovery, think through all of the questions above, all of the steps it would take to get back up and running again, and then practice those steps to make sure they work. Leapfrog helps clients work through the process of understanding their DR business needs, priorities, and options and developing a DR plan that meets their needs (including insurance) without going overboard. Our team has helped our clients recover from hundreds of disasters, large and small, remotely from our headquarters in Atlanta. If you would like to discuss the 10 questions above or have questions of your own about planning and recovering from disasters, including how you can do it all remotely using the latest cloud-based DR as a Service (DRaaS) solutions, please let us know. We’re here to help.

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