Planning for Data Loss

Businesses today rely heavily on IT systems to look after their data, but what happens when these IT systems fail? If your business doesn’t have a plan in place to deal with data loss it could become one of a high percentage that never recovers when this happens.

Fortunately there are ways to prevent your business collapsing should a disaster occur. Having an effective Business Continuity Plan in place can allow you to be up and running again with minimal downtime, therefore reducing the losses from your company being unable to operate. These plans don’t have to be complicated either, and a number of steps can ensure they will always be ready in case you need them.

  1. Prioritise data. Go through every task that your business does each day and prioritise it depending on how long you can realistically continue operating without it, and how often the data changes. Once you have mapped out the activities you perform and definined the acceptable and unacceptable data losses you should be able to identify where the critical data lies. You can then use this information to plan what needs to be backed up and how often it should be performed to make best use of back up facilities.
  2. Communicate with staff. Ensure all employees know what to do in the event of a disaster so further minimise company downtime due to people not knowing what to do.  It is a good idea to make sure the whole company is aware of the Business Continuity Plan and what to do should it need to be operated. As the business and roles change, and the company takes on new employees, remember to make sure that adequate training about the plan is given.
  3. Test your plan. It’s no good having a back-up plan if it doesn’t work, so make sure to test your plan regularly. Not all companies can afford a complete test by turning off the main systems, but it is important to walk through and discuss the specific aspects of the plan. It is also crucial that you ensure your back-up is working and that you can retrieve usable data when you need to, and that you can do this quickly.
  4. Review regularly. Businesses are always changing, and any new procedures or staff can change how effective the plan would be. A regular review of the plan keeps it updated and most effective. Reviews should take place regularly, at least once a year, and any changes should be kept in a well-known location with the old copies of the plans destroyed. Make sure you keep the staff up to date with the latest plan and retrain them as necessary.