16 Things To Include In Your IT Business Continuity Plan

DRP switch buttonIntroduction

Business Continuity’s main objective is to keep your business up and running during and after a disaster. Companies that fail to plan run the risk of permanently closing their doors. Even if your plan isn’t perfect yet, it’s better than having none at all. If you have nothing—start now!

General George S. Patton once said, “A good plan executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

A vigorously tested, well-documented and communicated plan will save you from “winging it” during the recovery phase and get your business up and running quickly should disaster strike. This article discusses the 16 areas that we believe your IT Business Continuity Plan should include. Use it as a base and expand as needed—but, start now!

16 vital areas to cover in your plan

  Topic What It Is
1. Threat Matrix Identify the common and not so common threats your company may face and how you would respond in each situation.

 

2. Critical Processes Each business has at least a few critical processes that are needed to keep the company functioning. Identify them and make sure they’re well documented.

 

3. Who Can Declare A Company Emergency or Disaster Clearly identify those individuals within your company with the authority to declare a disaster and invoke the Business Continuity Plan.

 

4. Evacuation of Facility What conditions are employees empowered to evacuate the facility without management approval? Additionally, when do employees need approval to leave the building? Document both situations.

 

5. Communication Plan Communication with employees and customers is critical to your recovery. Fully document this extremely important part of your plan so everyone knows what to expect.

 

6. Backup Facilities If your company has an alternate backup facility, your employees not only need to know about it but also under what conditions and authority they should go there.

 

7. Emergency and Vendor Numbers Does your management team have access to emergency and critical vendor contact information? The time to look is not when the building is on fire! Keep a handy, updated list available.

 

8. Employee Contact Information Accessible employee contact information is critical and will avoid a lot of confusion during a crisis. If the only list is in your desk drawer and the office is on fire, it won’t do you much good.

 

9. Vendor List Your business should have a complete list of all vendors so they can be contacted to assist in the recovery.

 

10. Client Contacts You should have a list of the main contacts for each client in a handy location in case you need to contact them from an alternate location.

 

11. Notification Matrix When issues happen such as water leaks, power issues, etc. do your employees know who to call?

 

12. Insurance, Financial, and Legal Contacts Does appropriate management personnel have access to Insurance, Financial, and Legal contacts? You’ll want to contact them as soon as possible to start the process on loans, credit lines, insurance claims, etc.

 

13. Licenses & Permits Are the licenses and permits that are vital to your business safely archived? Do you have a list of what they are and where they are located? Are digital backups available?

 

14. Disaster Recovery Systems What type of disaster recovery system does your company use? How will your company survive if your facility and all computer equipment are damaged or destroyed? Having the information is the first step—being prepared with the best solution is the next.

 

15. Hardware Inventory A complete equipment list is important for insurance and reporting purposes and will help you identify critical hardware to purchase or repair to aid recovery.

 

16. Software Inventory Same thing with software. You need to know the critical pieces of software that your business uses and how to get copies in the event you need them.

 

Need a jumpstart to your Business Continuity Planning?

We created an MS Excel-based template that will help you quickly put together a basic plan. Our easy-to-use template guides you through the process, providing ready-made sheets to hold vital information. Simply fill in the forms. Each sheet has sample data to guide you. It’s FREE and easy.

To help you create an IT Disaster Recovery Plan for your business, click here to download our free MS Excel-based template.

Disasters come in many flavors—be prepared

When the word disaster is mentioned, most people think of natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, etc. They certainly can be devastating, but studies show that over 89% of incidents causing catastrophic data loss involve hardware failure, software malfunction and human error.

Make no mistake about it—losing all or a significant portion of your data is a disaster and has been responsible for putting companies out of business.

Conclusion

The type of IT backup system you choose may very well decide whether your business survives the next disaster or becomes a statistic. Take too long to recover and you’re in danger of going out of business.

Remember this: All backups are not created equal, so it is important that you, as the business owner or executive, know the difference between them and the risks involved with each.

The three types of backup solutions are:

  • File Level Data Backup
    • Backs up individual files only
    • Software programs (i.e. QuickBooks, etc.) that use the data are not backed up
    • Recovery software handles the restoration of data 1 file at a time, making it very slow
    • Can be Onsite, Offsite, or Both
    • Typical Time-to-Recovery depending on the event: Days to Weeks
  • Image-based Backup
    • Takes snapshots of entire system
    • Can be Onsite, Offsite, or Both
    • Onsite images allow for faster recovery times
    • Offsite:
      • Downloading can be slow depending on internet download speed
      • Harder to restore from cloud images without downloading the image first
    • Typical Time-to-Recovery depending on the event: Days to Weeks
  • Instant Failover– Business Continuity Server
    • Takes snapshots of ENTIRE servers to provide instant virtualization quick failover
    • Backups are saved onsite and replicated to the cloud for added safety
    • Offsite backups are stored in data centers that can spin up the servers if needed for offsite continuity
    • Onsite switch-overs from an inoperable server can take place almost immediately and business-as-usual continues with little or no downtime
    • Typical Time-to-Recovery depending on the event: Minutes to Hours

As you can see, the Instant Failover – Business Continuity Server option will allow for the quickest recovery, and in our opinion, is the best choice for businesses that cannot afford downtime.

To survive a disaster—a written, updated and tested IT Business Continuity Plan is vital as well as having a comprehensive IT solution in place to protect your company’s data from catastrophic loss. Start planning and install an appropriate IT Business Continuity Solution for your business now!

XSolutions is a Managed Services Provider (MSP) and provides 24/7/365 remote monitoring, scheduled workstation and server maintenance, Help Desk Services, IT Business Continuity Solutions, Cloud & Hosted Services and IT Consulting. Call us at (845) 362-9675 and see how we can help your company.