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How to Improve Your Disaster Recovery Ability

A quick guide to reducing risk using a Disaster Recovery Plan

Does your business have a disaster recovery plan? If you are one of the many businesses or organisations without a plan, then taking a few minutes to read this article is a smart move. If you already have a disaster recovery plan you may still gain some additional insights so keep reading.

As you know, information is the lifeblood of your business. Any disruption to the access or flow of your information puts your business at risk. The sad fact is that disasters happen every day and range from minor mishaps to large-scale destruction. If you do not have a disaster recovery plan for your organisation, your risk is heightened considerably.


The Four Stages of Disaster Planning

You can divide your disaster planning into three broad stages. The first stage is the Prevention Stage, the second is the Preparation Stage, the third is the Response Stage, and the fourth is the Recovery Stage. The first two stages come into play before a disaster, with the remaining two coming into effect during and after the disaster.


Disaster Prevention

As the saying goes, ‘prevention is better than cure’. This is true for disaster response plans. The better your prevention actions are the lower your risk of experiencing a disaster. The prevention stage is concerned with assessing risk, reducing risk, implementing preventative measures, and monitoring both risk and risk reduction measures.

The first step is assessing risk. It is important to determine if there is any history of disasters occurring at your office location/s.

The next step will be identifying and rating all the possible risks. Below is a summary of possible risks (this is not an exhaustive list).


Risk Types

  • Natural Risks
    • Flooding
    • Lightning
    • Hail
    • Wind Storms: Hurricanes, Tornadoes, etc.
    • Earthquake
    • Veld Fires
  • Structural or Building Risks
    • Leaking Roofs
    • Plumbing Failures
    • Collapsed Buildings
    • Sprinkler Failures/Malfunction
  • Industrial Risks
    • Hazardous Material Spillages
    • Gas Leaks
    • Explosions
    • Fire
  • Criminal Risks
    • Theft
    • Arson
    • Sabotage
    • Vandalism
    • Strike Action
    • Bomb Scare
  • Technological Risks
    • Hacking
    • Software crashes
    • IT issues
    • Load Shedding
  • Accidental/Medical/Psychological Risks
    • Injuries
    • Contagious/Infection Diseases
    • Death

Once you have identified and rated possible risks you will need to assess what can be done to eliminate or reduce the risk. Finally, it is important to keep a close eye on both the various risks and the prevention measures in place.

When it comes to your company records and data, the following protection measures are a good place to start:

  • Offsite Document Storage
  • Regular Data Backups
  • Offsite Data Storage
  • Document Imaging and Scanning to digitise vital records

Other risks may require measures such as

  • Generator installations
  • Increased Security Measures
  • Building Renovations


Risks need to be reassessed from time to time and rerated as needed.

If you take the time to implement this stage properly you reduce the need for the remaining stages, which is not to say you should forget about them and pay them any less attention.


Disaster Preparation

Sometimes despite all the precautions you take, a disaster still occurs. This is why it is important to be prepared for it.

This is the stage where you create both a Disaster Response Plan and a Disaster Recovery Plan.

Make sure that you have identified all your vital records and data. This is the key information that keeps your business running.

Make sure that your preventative measures are in place and active and that there is a plan of action in place that details how each type of disaster will be responded to. It is also important to have emergency lists of backup resources, materials, communication lines, services, etc.

It is also important to have an emergency disaster response committee/team setup so that responsibility can be taken and actions controlled should a disaster occur. Make sure your response and recovery plans include contact information and chain of command.

Lastly, one cannot stress the need for regular training enough. The better the people of your organisation are trained to handle disasters the easier it is to reduce its impact and speed up recovery. Make sure you create a training plan and schedule.

Also, remember to regularly review and update your disaster response and recovery plans.


Disaster Response

If you have carried out the first two stages well, then your disaster response plan will be that much easier to implement and should reduce the chaos of the situation and smooth the way through the disaster.


Disaster Recovery

Now that the disaster has passed, it will be time to roll out your Disaster Recovery Plan. These will be the series of actions you take to get your business back up and running in the shortest time possible. Like your Disaster Response Plan, the effectiveness of your Disaster Recovery Plan relies on the work you have done in the first two stages.


Iron Mountain offers a comprehensive range of solutions as well as expertise in helping you reduce the risk disasters represent. Contact us today to discuss your needs and take your first steps towards reducing your risk and improving the continuity of your organisation.


 Image Credit: Copyright: believeinme33 / 123RF Stock Photo


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