Why Disaster Recovery Plans Aren’t Just for IT

Why Disaster Recovery Plans Aren’t Just for IT

May 14, 2013

Authored By Alana Smith, TeamCain

As the seasons change, it’s important to keep in mind just how much of an impact the weather can have on your business. I came across this old entry that I wrote during a power outage at headquarters that just goes to show that disaster recovery plans aren’t just for the IT department:

As I type this, I am in the dark. We had a very big wintery ice storm blow through TeamCain HQ today – trees are falling all over and landing on power lines; you can see images from in and around the city below.

I can’t go home to work because the power is out there too! I only have 64% battery power left on my laptop so I’ll try my best to get this blog entry out...

Disaster recovery isn’t just for IT departments. Look at my situation today. I’m with TeamCain’s marketing department and I have many tasks to complete. However, due to the ice storm knocking out the power, I can’t send anything on to fellow associates in other areas - I have no internet and they are experiencing the same storm, so the odds that they are also without power is quite possible.

I read an article the other day that was an interview with Richard Dolewski, a certified disaster recovery planner with more than 25 years of experience in IT and the VP of Business Continuity Services for Velocity. Here are some tips he discussed in the article when it comes to disaster recovery planning. He is applying it to IT, but I believe that it can be applied to all aspects of an organization. 

  • Every company should have a disaster recovery plan in place, no matter what industry you are in

  • Make sure your recovery plan is up to date, complete and comprehensive – you’ll want to make sure to include the key players of each department to give their input. What might work for IT and Finance might not for HR

  • Test your plan every 12 months or so and make sure to answer the question “How quickly do we need to be able to recover?” In my case, I can’t really control the power outage but I know the utility crews are busy at work clearing the trees and trying to restore power to all. If you need to be able to recover quickly and you have multiple locations, it might be a good idea to leverage that concept. The East coast might be down but the West coast can take over.

  • Ensure your company executives support the plan and understand what it can deliver. If they are onboard, it will be a lot easier getting your employees onboard too. Also, discussing this with your employees might shed light on aspects of DR that you didn’t consider (like needing access to Item C before having access to Item A).

All in all, you’ll want to help your recovery team be in the best position to help you get back online in terms of their location relative to the recovery site, their expertise, and their understanding of their role in the recovery. It would also be smart to develop an off-line disaster recovery plan. Say for example you are just a small firm and so you don’t have multiple locations. Keep your customers informed via social sites like Twitter and Facebook. The magic of smartphones allows you to connect with these sites even if your office doesn’t have power (like me - I keep checking Twitter for updates on the outage) and so not everybody will be left in the dark.

Images from April 12, 2012. The image on the left was taken by me from our HQ window. The images on the right were found via Twitter.

Over To You: What precautionary methods do you and your company take when it comes to disaster recovery? How would you have approached my problem i.e. zero power? Share your thoughts and comments below or join the discussion via Twitter or LinkedIn