Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery.
In this day and age when natural disaster is competing with terrorist attack, cyber-crime is at its peak, these are not times when businesses will let down their guards. As they say “as sure as death and taxes” business managers must be sure of the continuity of their businesses in the face of challenges. Businesses must be insulated from both external saboteurs and also disgruntled employees.
If you are not sure of your business continuity; you are probably not going to be in the business for long. A business manager who is not sure of his business continuity plan is putting his business on a ticking time bomb. He is not only putting his job at risk but also his employees’ jobs when the revenue is no longer there. A well-thought-out business continuity and disaster recovery plan describing an alternative to absence of technology or quick recovery when your technology fails is paramount.
What is business continuity
First of all, What is business continuity? Business Continuity is the creation of systems, plans and actions to protect or recover business from potential fatal loss or provide alternative means of operation in the face of interruption. Business continuity is a key part of risk management of an enterprise. Many a times, disasters come unannounced and the magnitude may be unprecedented. A continuous improvement and checks on our business continuity plan will do the business well against the eventualities.
An integrated business process is a system of many parts working together for a common goal. Therefore, failure of any part of this system will impact the objective of the whole system. Even more so we must identify the risk of single point of dependency that will impact or incapacitate the entire enterprise from delivering its goal. We need to mitigate those risks while they are yet to happen and diminish the time of recovery when disaster occurs.
What are those critical processes that are indispensable for our business to continue? We need to conduct BIA Business impact analysis. Is there any failover system? Do we have alternative sites where our business can continue in case of landslide? What is the distance between our DR sites and main site? Is our DR site Cold, Warm or Hot? Do we have a minute by minute backup of our systems?
Clear KPIs for ICT
Do we have a well defined KPIs for our ICT and by extension service providers, vendors or contractors etc? What is our Recovery Time Objective RTO? The time interval from the time the disaster occurs in which IT should recover all systems, application, and database. The amount of time allowed for the recovery of a business function. What is our Recovery Point objective RPO? – How much data is the organization willing to loose. This indicates the earliest point in time that is acceptable to recover the data.
How often do we conduct test of our backup restore? Because backups are useless if they have never been tested. Some companies perform restore test quarterly and should be supervised. What is our Maximum Tolerable Downtime MTD? – Which is the sum total of RTO and WRT (work recovery time). MTO (Maximum Tolerable Outage) defines the maximum time that an enterprise can support processing in alternate (or emergency) mode.
The battle between the safe makers and the safe breakers is continuous. Therefore, complacency, procrastination will not run today’s business. Business owners and managers must be proactive, twice as wise to outsmart potential risks.