When I began research on Disaster Recovery, I quickly found out that the topic is gigantic and that there are many paths that one could go down. This is one of those business areas that you can have a great depth of knowledge in, yet do nothing about due to its overwhelming nature.  Few firms actually take the resources, time and money necessary to develop a requisite plan. Further, we know of a 40-person firm that incurred a disaster that cost them 5 days of downtime and $250k. Which is all to say that it’s important to try and understand the areas where your firm is most vulnerable and how to remedy them proactively. For this reason, I propose 7 Must Do’s for Disaster Recovery Planning to help you get started:
Set up phone redirect. Your telephone system is often your chief communication tool and crucial to the livelihood of your business. We recommend that you have your phone system set up to re-route calls via your Telco provider so that, in the event that your telephone system goes down, your phone lines can be redirected. In some cases, the phone service provider will have a web-based interface that allows temporary forwarding of your line(s).  In other cases, you may have to call the provider to have them change it for you.  Configuring a failover option ensures that your firm always has an operational line to make calls. Google Voice is another great web based option to ensure that your phone line is always accessible. Google Voice is essentially a call routing system that allows you to either forward the call to a cell phone or send the caller directly to voicemail.  Google Voice messages are then transcribed and sent via SMS or email to your device of choice.  
2X your internet connection. We always advise that our clients maintain a secondary internet connection, either a business grade DSL line or T1 connection. With a second internet connection in place, if your primary internet connection goes down, most firewalls will automatically fail over to the back-up line so can you continue work as normal. This is preparedness.
Subscribe to hosted email. Email is critical to the functionality of business operations. Even a slight interruption of email can have a substantial financial impact on a firm. Simply stated, hosted email allows you to manage your email from any web browser or device of your choice.  Web-based email frees you from keeping track of licenses, downloading software, or managing it on your server, and guarantees the continuity of your email.
Test your data back-up. Ensuring that you have a proper data back-up is critical to withstanding a disaster.   Most firms check to see whether the back-up job, typically tapes, was successful.  Rarely do firms actually test the restore process.  It’s a bummer to learn that the backup tape media has gone bad right when you really need that client file recovered.
Verify that your servers and workstations are protected from malware or an external breach. Do you know how much information your firm is putting out there that could be used against you? Security assessments are helpful when determining the vulnerability of your firm and a roadmap for improvement. Think of it as a routine physical where the doctor checks your cholesterol levels. While not everyone’s cholesterol levels are dangerous, the doctor’s objective is to minimize the risk of a heart attack.
Create an online list of employees, clients, and vendors. People are your firm’s most valuable assets. It is crucial that you are able to contact your people if a disaster ever occurs. Online enterprise collaboration tools exist to unite people, data, and applications. Group texting or Twitter are other ways to contact your people for mass communication purposes. A firm’s client base is another asset of incalculable value. During disasters, clients need assurance that their records are secure and that their business is being attended to. We recommend that firms upload their current employee contact list, key vendor contact information, and business-critical software license keys on a quarterly basis.   It’s also a good idea to have a hard copy in the hands of your key trusted personnel in case the internet is unavailable.
Set a date for your next Business Continuity planning meeting. When we ask firms why they haven’t worked on their DR/BC plans, the most frequent response is that they “just didn’t around to it.”  Don’t let that be the case for your firm.
Once again, here are the 7 Must Do’s: 1. Set up phone redirection 2. Obtain a secondary internet connection 3. Use hosted email 4. Test your backup 5. Verify that your servers and workstations are protected 6. Create an online list of employees, clients, and vendors 7. Set a date for the next planning meeting. Now, get it on the calendar today and discuss these must-do’s with your team.

Ready to transform your business?

Join over 100,000 users that are cloud connected the Right Way.