“All business owners remember every catastrophic tech failure they experience. Few ever anticipate and plan for one.” - Amy Webb, founder of the IT Future Institute
Webb’s statement is unfortunately true: all too often we see businesses that never planned for an IT disaster suffer costly consequences. For many business owners, technology isn’t the first thing on the mind, if at all. When something has always worked, it’s hard to imagine a time when it won’t.
The answer to this question is always yes.
How to Start Putting Together a Plan
You’ve decided you need a recovery plan but you don’t know where to begin. What do you do?
A good place to start is to think about all specific pieces of technology your business uses to function. Go through each department and note what technology it relies on to function. A good plan starts with having a deep understanding of the extent your business uses technology to satisfy customers. For example, your sales department may need CRM, phone, email, laptop and a printer to operate properly.
Once you have a good idea of what you need to protect, you can begin to educate yourself on how to do it. A great place to start is our large library of IT resources for small business, including a helpful disaster recovery checklist. We also cover more information on backing up data here.
Now that you’ve read up on disaster recovery best practices, it’s important to put that knowledge into the context of your business. Webb, in her Inc. article, suggests listing all the hardware, software and services you use daily. Then, ask yourself: what you would do if you or your staff lost access to them?
The point of this question is to help you think through each scenario and figure out plan B. Think through every possible scenario and write down the solution. Webb suggests writing down the names of key vendors or tech professionals and their contact information.
Once you have this information, you’ll be ready to start developing a solid disaster recovery plan.
Executing Your Plan
While the method above gives you a sense of where to start, more should be done to ensure your business is completely ready to handle a technology disaster. At Switchfast, we make sure we always have the answers to these five questions:
- When was the last time your backup was tested?
- How long does it take to recover from your current backup solution?
- How long can you realistically be down? One hour? One day?
- What is the financial cost of downtime to your business?
- When a disaster occurs, is there an offsite copy?
The answers to these questions aren’t always easy to find, but it is important that you spend time to determine them. Backup is imperative to a small business trying to survive a technology failure.
Once a failure has occurred, we follow six steps to efficiently get everything back up and running:
- Assess the problem and its impact on the business
- Establish recovery goals
- Select the appropriate recovery types
- Verify the recovery and confirm the functionality with users
- Restore the original systems if needed
- Self-assess afterwards
Following this plan can save your company from costly loss and quickly get your business back in order. We often see businesses, especially small, take their chances with technology failure and the results are devastating. Don’t become one of those cautionary tales. Disaster recovery isn’t easy, but it’s always worth it.
Written by Nik Vargas