The inescapable nature of disasters is that they are unpredictable, both in the ways that they impact organisations and their timing. Planning of both the preventative and restorative measures is essential for business survival, and must take all business functions into complete consideration. Including the continued protection of all organisational data, processes and systems.
The forward thinking and planning of an organisation to create business procedures which act to preserve and maintain all essential functions both during and after a disaster are directly linked to business continuity planning.
The aim of a business continuity plan is to establish risk management processes and re-establish full functionality to the organisation with minimal downtime.
A well-developed business continuity plan will take into consideration a variety of internal and external events that are all unpredictable in nature, such as: natural disasters, fire, cyberattacks, employee actions (in error and/or malice) or technical malfunctions.
In planning for these unforeseen risks, backup and disaster recovery strategy and business continuity planning are closely related practices.
With similar goals and objectives, more and more business and technology experts are forming a collaborative approach to strategy development.
To ensure that your data backup and disaster recovery plan meets business continuity requirements, we have identified 7 planning stages along with 5 points that can be considered to aid in strategy development.
1) Business Impact Analysis
This analysis is a key stage in strategy development as it aids in the identification and prioritisation of the critical data, processes and systems that must be backed up.
2) Identify Preventative Controls
With the critical areas identified, time should be dedicated to establishing which measures, technologies and services could and should be implemented to ensure that that organisational data is not lost or damaged.
3) Identify Initial Responses
Time is critical in a disaster, and if employees are unclear of what actions should be immediately taken, critical response time could be wasted, exacerbating the problem. A clear strategy should outline processes for identifying critical situations, communication channels, initial responses and leaders.
In addition to quick response times, measures must be taken to contain the spread of the disaster. This is especially critical in cyber-attacks where the threat of contamination spreading to additional data systems is sever, increasing the potential risk of the disaster.
5) Plan Testing & Training
Testing your backup and disaster recovery processes will reveal gaps in your strategy while also ensuring that all backup and recovery objectives can be met. Regular training is also critical to ensure that all personnel are briefed in backup procedures, and can implement the recovery processes when required.
The maintenance of your backup and disaster recovery systems is something that goes hand in hand with regular testing. This should review both the hardware and software and its capabilities in meeting business backup and recovery objectives, along with any upgrades or adaption to systems changes.
In addition to traditional maintenance, consideration should also be made for regular review of other administrative details or documentation such as licencing.
7) Contingency Planning
This section of the strategy should detail the procedures that should be taken to restore business data and systems, but it should also outline the procedures and processes that should be taken when recovery times don’t meet RTO’s. This should identify any additional support, facilities, technology or equipment that would be needed to store business function in the interim stages.
5 Points to consider to aid strategy development:
- Identify how the backup and disaster recovery strategy should meet the overall business continuity objectives in order to remain compliant.
- Identify and understand any existing procedures and processes for their strengths, weaknesses and any gaps or oversights.
- Review the organisational history of outages and how they were handled, to highlight any other areas of concern.
- Consider the last time data backup and recovery procedures were tested in order to validate their suitability.
- Understand which threats are most likely to impact the business along with the potential impact each is likely to have on the organisation.
With such a key role in maintaining business continuity, it is imperative that that all organisations maintain a well-developed backup and disaster recovery strategy.
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