Disaster recovery plan: a must for every business entity

[By Conrad Simatimbe]

A DISASTER Recovery Plan (DRP) provides scenarios for restoring information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure and services in the quickest possible time.

It minimises interruptions in the aftermath of a disaster by providing ICT recovery and prevent data losses. It is an integral component of the Business Continuity Plan (BCP); and this we must state that it is the greatest benefit of having a disaster recovery plan in any given circumstance. This way, you are not just preparing to recover in the aftermath of a disaster but working to make your business more resilient and uninterruptible.

In the absence of a robust Disaster Recovery Plan, a business can wind down its operations once catastrophe strikes. The sources of disasters can be man-made like errors, breakdowns, system malfunctioning or natural disasters like floods and wildfires. A business can also be disrupted by a serious cyber-attack on its ICT infrastructure. This has potential to cripple the operations of any business. These can bring about business disruptions and obliteration of ICT infrastructure that holds critical business data and processes. There is absolutely every reason that business houses must have a plan to recover all possible business data when such eventuality befalls them.

It is commonly said that disasters strike when you least expect them. Imagine losing data at a critical moment as on the pay day; it is a month end and the business can’t run payroll. You work for a bank and all critical business systems have been hacked and are inaccessible, what do you do, where do you run to? You work for a national company like Zesco and the core network devices have been vandalised and the entire network compromised, the entire business looks up to you to get things done and keep the business transactions flowing.

In today’s business world, every minute counts and their reliance on technology can never be over emphasised. It is essential to always keep the ICT infrastructure disruptions as minimal as possible. No business entity can afford to be offline at any given time. Although disasters may not always be avoidable, having a recovery plan helps to reduce the potential damage and quickly restore business operations. Many disasters can quickly knock out your entire corporate network, databases and systems. In the absence of a disaster recovery plan in place, chances are that the consequences will be severe and unimaginable.

A Disaster Recovery Plan involves generation of policies and procedures that guide the governance of disasters in an organisation. These must be documented and approved by the biggest decision-making organ of the business – board of directors. This ensures that the document is fully supported by the entire hierarchy of the business. The DRP must be extensive and exhaust the entire ICT ecosystem of the business. It must by all means possible, include the emergency contacts, DRP scope, recovery team members and their leader, data backups, ICT systems, network equipment, critical members of the ICT functions and departments, and most importantly the plan must be reviewed regularly.

Always remember, there is no business that can survive without a reliable ICT infrastructure. Establishing and managing an elaborate DRP makes the business resilient even when strife strikes. In the next write-up, we will discuss the Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and we are looking forward to sharing with you in depth.

The author is a seasoned Computer Communications Engineer with vast experience in ICT policing, strategic planning and execution.

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