Backing up your data is one thing. Restoring it so your business can run is another. Businesses should have a comprehensive plan in place to restore functionality from backups as soon as possible. Things to consider include:
- Identification of required IT resources: Which systems, processes, and dependencies are affected when functions are down?
- IT decision-making on backups: Are processes aligned with business obligations?
- Testing: Do your backups actually work?
- Goals and priorities: Which functions need to be restored first?
- Timelines: When will specific functions be restored?
- Budget: Balance the investment vs. downtime costs.
- Recovery process: Define roles and responsibilities during the restoration.
- Communication: Develop a plan for communicating with employees, vendors, customers, and the public during outages and recovery.
- Annual reviews: Evaluate the strategy every year as your business evolves.
Most businesses know the importance of backing up data and systems in case of an attack, technology failure, or disaster. But too few have thought about the process of restoring those data and systems. In fact, in one recent report, only slightly more than a quarter of respondents were “highly confident” that their backup would support a successful recovery.
Having a detailed plan in place for getting your operations up and running from your backup is essential to ensure business continuity and reduce losses. These are crucial steps to consider when creating one.
Look at all critical and normal functions, then determine the impact on your business when each is down. IT will use that information to determine which systems, processes, and dependencies are involved as well as any downstream effects. This will provide a holistic perspective on operations that can help guide decision-making.
Examine what data and systems IT should back up and in what order, to what extent, why it should so, how often, and so on. The backup process should align with business obligations to clients—both contractually and non-contractually. As in the above step, IT should determine the overall impact of that information.
Conduct tabletop exercises with the IT team to identify any gaps in backup solutions currently in place. Consider how to validate the solution and how often to ensure it works.
Using the insights from the previous steps, determine IT priorities for your recovery strategy. These will also depend on the industry your business is in, whether it is B2B or consumer-facing, its size, and other factors.
A good place to start is to identify the essential functions to run your business. Other questions to consider include:
There’s no hard and fast rule for how much restoration should cost, but considering that network downtime typically costs thousands and even millions of dollars an hour, it can be useful to compare those potential losses to the investment involved in developing a restoration strategy. More robust strategies—which can include several fail-safes and redundancies, data backed up on-site, getting systems back up to full capacity quickly—will be more expensive. Keep in mind, too, that certain costs aren’t always immediately apparent—such as the damage to your brand reputation or customer trust if you can’t deliver promised products or services.
Ensuring your business and IT teams know how to communicate with each other and what to do when it’s time to execute the restoration plan is key to streamlining the process and preventing delays, confusion, and miscommunication. Documenting policies and steps as well as training employees effectively will prepare them to work efficiently and get your business back to normal faster.
Operating from backup systems often means applications run much more slowly, with reduced features, which can impact organizational productivity and capabilities. Leaders should clearly communicate internally and externally how and for how long functions will be impacted to minimize frustration and set expectations among employees, vendors, customers, and the public.
Just like you can outgrow an old smartphone, your original backup plan and systems may not be sufficient to handle your business as it grows and changes. Technologies can also change, causing complications and making recovery more laborious. Revisit your systems and strategy every year, especially if your business has scaled or expanded.
Investing in backup technology isn’t enough to prevent costly downtime in the face of a crisis—you can’t just press a button to put everything back in place. Make sure your organization can restore data and systems as soon as possible: contact us today to create a strategy aligned with your needs.
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