Disasters such as the bush fire in Australia always leave me feeling helpless. I just donated to The Rural Fire Service & Brigades Donations Fund. They are the doing such great work tackling the bushfires in Australia and supporting those affected. I implore you to do the same here.
The impact this disaster and others of similar ilk will have on the lives of those affected is unfathomable. In the aftermath, people will be left to pick up the pieces. The effort to rebuild will take a significant amount of time and resources – many regions are still recovering years later from past disasters.
One of our major suppliers was seriously affected by the storms that battered the South-eastern U.S., last year – so much that they closed their offices for six weeks. We only just found out during a conference call last week with our account manager. Kudos to them, the storms last year, though more severe than usual, was nothing new in that area, so businesses there have developed plans to mitigate the impact such a disaster would have on their business.
Just as you would stock your home with supplies and prepare your property ahead of a storm, it is vital for businesses to take steps to ensure the availability and redundancy of their IT systems following any natural disaster. My list below provides you with 5 ways to do this.
1. Begin planning for an emergency long before it happens.
One of my favourite adages is “fail to plan, plan to fail”. Businesses must have a plan that governs how they deal with any type of disaster and to limit the impact a disaster could have on their business, not just their IT systems. Having a Business Continuity Plan is a good place to start and a good one will include a subset to cover your IT systems (i.e. IT Disaster Recovery plan). A good business continuity plan should minimise downtime as much as possible so think of all the things that could go wrong following any type of disaster (fire, flood, earthquake, terror attack) and then put in place steps to mitigate those problems.
We have a good template to help you get started – just send me a message to request one. It is also a good idea to designate a Disaster A Team i.e. people responsible for enforcing the Business Continuity Plan. You should also have an I.C.E bag – an “in case of emergency” grab bag. Don’t worry our Business Continuity Plan template will help you put together an effective one.
2. Consider having a backup location.
Also known as a work-place recovery site (WPRS), this is an alternative site where your team can work from if they are unable to work from normal business premises. Ideally such a site will have the tools necessary for your team to continue working as usual, such as good internet connectivity, telecoms and print services. Our WPRS provision gives our customers access to their business-critical data as we maintain copies of their servers onsite for them. Customers can also divert their calls to our WPRS, so calls do not go unanswered.
3. Ensure redundancy of your IT Systems.
This is about ensuring you have multiple ways of using and accessing your IT Systems. So, for example you can access business critical information and applications from wherever you may be as well as send and receive emails from any location. By having a VOIP system such as 3CX you can make and receive calls no matter where you are as long as you have an internet connection.
4. Have Backup Equipment and Supplies.
Have a UPS to tackle a power outage or even a generator. Also have backup equipment such as laptops held at secondary locations, food supplies, blankets, torch and a first aid kit. A disaster recovery solution for your servers is also essential as well as regularly tested backups to ensure that if your server goes kaput, you can restore business critical files and applications within a short time frame.
5. Carry Out Regular Test Drills.
Do this regularly, at least once a year, to test your business continuity plan. Make believe there is a disaster and run a test drill. Really test all your systems to see if they will hold up. Not only will this practice keep the process fresh in the minds of your team, it will also allow you to rejig your plans if things don’t work as they should. We carried out a test drill during the festive period. We envisaged a terrorist attack where Supreme HQ was out of bounds for a week. The whole team worked remotely from home and I am pleased to report that operations where unhampered – we even reported our best SLA for the year. 100% of SLAs met with an average waiting time of 38 seconds. Mission accomplished!
I hope this article has been useful. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. In the meanwhile, you can speak to Supreme about your IT Support needs – call us on 0121 309 0126 for more information.
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