Disaster Recovery gets a lot of attention in the IT world. Working out recovery plans for major disasters such as hurricanes, snowstorms, or even tsunamis is important and can be challenging. Going through the “what ifs” for each scenario can be like writing your own action movie where an intrepid group of network engineers and systems analysts join forces to save your business.
Unfortunately for wannabe screenwriters, not only will that idea never be seen in theaters, most scenarios that impact your business aren’t going to be true “disasters” worthy of the big screen. Business Continuity Planning (BCP) for more mundane situations is equally as critical.
While providing IT management support during a recent engagement, we were faced with a host of problems related to failing network hardware. While the replacement gear was being procured and installed, it became vitally important to work with stakeholders to ensure business would continue with minimal impact. Creative use of a wireless credit card reader on a tablet to supplement the point-of-sale systems meant that customers never knew about the downtime. Implementing that kind of solution doesn’t just happen. Here’s some things to consider about your business continuity plan:
- Who Wrote the Plan? – While IT may be charged with executing portions of the plan, leadership throughout the organization needs to be involved. IT does not have the inherent knowledge to know what the hard requirements are for other parts of the business. Other departments don’t necessarily have the technical expertise around IT solutions and network dependencies. BCP work is a cross-departmental effort that will fail if IT writes the plan in a vacuum.
- How Long Can You Operate? – In the scenario mentioned above, we had a pretty good idea that the downtime would only last for a few hours. This meant that impact to those running the point-of-sale system was light and that the additional work by the finance department to import the sales data from the tablets was minimal. If on the other hand, we thought that the outage might last for days or weeks, another option may have been better. Make sure that when you figure out your plan B, you understand any time limitations and are ready to roll to plan C.
- Does Everyone Know the Plan? – If your end users aren’t trained on or aware of how you’d operate under different conditions, how well can they be expected to execute your plan? Training remains a critical component. Not only will it ensure everyone knows their role, but it will inevitably bring to light additional concerns or weaknesses in the plan. Technology alone is not going to make your BCP successful.
SAI’s IT Strategy and Operations practice has extensive experience around DR and BC planning. We’d like to hear about your concerns and challenges, and could provide insightful knowledge around gaps that may exist. Reach out at the link above or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.