10 strategies for getting going again quickly after an IT failure. 

My last blog highlighted the costs associated with network or IT systems downtime. One study cited found that data systems downtime costs an average small business 545 hours per annum. A second study found that the average cost of network downtime for businesses is $5,600 per minute. These, together with several other studies and anecdotal reports, pointed to the frequency of and the costs associated with downtime. Downtime is a clear and ever-present threat for most businesses. It is the first threat that ‘Managed IT’ consultants must address. 

A common cause of network or IT system downtime is a disaster that leads to the system shutting down. This missive outlines ten things all businesses can do to recover from a disaster as quickly as possible. Common disasters include: 

  • Natural disasters – everything from a storm to an earthquake. 
  • Hardware failure – unexpected systems malfunctions – minor to major. 
  • Human error – everything from minor mistakes through to poor judgement. 
  • Software failure – unexpected software failures or bug – minor to substantials. 
  • Security breaches – external parties accessing and potentially damaging systems.  

The impacts or consequences of such disasters can include: 

  • Lost productivity. 
  • Lost data. 
  • Loss of reputation. 
  • Loss of sales. 
  • Lost staff confidence. 

Given these potential consequences of a disaster – recovery as quickly as possible is essential. The sooner the network or IT system is up and running, with all data restored in full – the better. For this to be achieved, it is essential to document or have a ‘Managed IT’ consultant document, a ‘Disaster Recovery Plan’. The optimal ‘Disaster Recovery Plan’ addresses three phases: 

  • Preparation. 
  • Response. 
  • Review. 

Embracing the notion that it is better to be safe than sorry, it is wise to assume that a disaster will occur someday. Preparation is essential. Preparing for a potential disaster should involve: 

  • Maintaining a comprehensive inventory of all hardware and software. 
  • Assiduously monitoring the performance of all hardware and software. 
  • Ensuring that all data is fully backed up and secure – externally, if possible. 
  • Defining the businesses tolerance of downtime and data loss. 
  • Having in place the human resources to address the disaster. 
  • Documenting a comprehensive recovery plan detailing chain of responsibility. 
  • Documenting a communication plan to keep stakeholders informed. 
  • Testing the recovery plan to ensure it works as it is planned to. 
  • Having in place the insurance required to mitigate recovery costs. 

Preparation is the key to all disaster recovery. Documenting and committing to a comprehensive ‘Disaster Recovery Plan’ is essential if recovery times and costs are minimised. Every enterprise should have such a plan and the means to implement it. 

Responding to a disaster should ideally involve: 

  • Clearly defining the recovery objectives and timeframe. 
  • Assessing the damage, identifying the problem and the impact. 
  • Assessing the human contribution to the disaster. 
  • Initiating an insurance claim.  
  • Agreeing the plan of action required to ensure full recovery. 
  • Amassing the resources required to implement the plan. 

Central to minimising the recovery time will be determining the optimum ‘recovery method’, with the options including: 

  • File-based recovery. 
  • Full systems recovery. 
  • Virtual machine recovery. 
  • Bare metal recovery. 
  • Localised recovery. 
  • Cloud-based recovery. 

Selecting the right ‘recovery method’ can directly bear the costs associated with the recovery and the time it takes to achieve. For most businesses, this will require the services of a ‘Managed IT’ consultant. Ideally, that consultant will be familiar with the enterprise. 

Once the disaster is past, and the recovery is complete, it is important to: 

  • Review the outcomes, the process, and the strategy for getting there. 
  • Review the insurance outcomes and the need for policy changes. 
  • Review the performance of the team responsible for recovery. 
  • Consider the need for longer-term strategic changes to IT arrangements. 

As with any plan, it is important to review the ‘Disaster Recovery Plan’ after full implementation to identify areas for improvement. A ‘Disaster Recovery Plan’, like any plan, should be reviewed and refined as required – with an eye on preventing future disasters and reducing the time and costs associated with recovery. 

For many, this will look like a complex process. That is because it is a relatively complex process. But it is also an essential process if downtime is to be minimised and recovery is to be accelerated. The complexity of this process draws most enterprises to engage a ‘Managed IT’ consultant – to take responsibility for all aspects of a network, including reducing and addressing disasters. That said, some businesses have the expertise and resources to address these issues in-house. Either way – an enterprise that wants to minimise downtime and recovery costs needs to address all of the issues addressed above. 

Here are ten tips to help you on the journey. To ensure rapid IT recovery: 

  1. Maintain a comprehensive and up to date hardware and software inventory. 
  2. Assiduously monitor the performance of all hardware and software. 
  3. Ensuring that all data is fully backed up and secure – externally, if possible. 
  4. Documenting a comprehensive recovery plan detailing chain of responsibility. 
  5. Testing the recovery plan to ensure it works as it is planned to. 
  6. Clearly defining the recovery objectives and timeframe. 
  7. Assessing the damage, identifying the problem and the impact. 
  8. Agreeing the plan of action required to ensure full recovery.  
  9. Review the outcomes, the process, and the strategy for getting there. 
  10. Consider the need for longer-term strategic changes to IT arrangements. 

In summary, most businesses will one day have to deal with disaster recovery. When they do, the critical objectives will be to recover as quickly and as cheaply as possible. Achieving these objectives will almost certainly require a comprehensive and tested ‘Disaster Recovery Plan’. While some businesses develop such plans in house, their complexity generally warrants the engagement of a ‘Managed IT’ consultant. 

To learn more about minimising downtime. CLICK HERE. 

Alternatively, give me a call. I am always happy to chat.  

Ben Latter
0488 445 044
[email protected]