Your IT systems help you manage your stock, run your warehouse, manage your orders, bill your customers and resellers, and pay your staff salaries on time.
An IT disaster therefore rapidly turns into business disaster. IT disaster recovery (DR) plans are the way to put things right when they go wrong and before they can do lasting or significant damage. But that means getting the plan right to start with.
Here are seven mistakes that all too often throw things out of whack for Los Angeles distributors.
1. Not making a DR plan in the first place!
Benjamin Franklin said that there were only two things to be sure of: death and taxes. Make that three things now. Death, taxes… and hard drive failure. Sooner or later, a disk will go. This seemingly ordinary event is responsible for more IT disasters than almost all other causes put together.
If earthquakes, hurricanes and lockouts seem too unlikely, try botched upgrades, operator error, and of course disk crashes. You need an IT disaster recovery plan.
2. Confusing DR with high availability
If it’s always on and available, it can’t go wrong, right? Duplicated servers and virtualization may save you from some disasters, but for others – computer virus infections, for instance – you may end up with copies of the same problem. Disaster can still strike high availability installations. You still need that DR plan.
3. Forgetting to follow the money
Your IT must serve your business. Your business has priorities. In the short term, these priorities might be to keep generating orders and bringing in cash. IT systems supporting sales and accounting or billing are then the systems that must be recovered before any others.
If you use a CRM application to manage leads, then the CRM system recovery takes priority. But if your sales people depend on Excel and Word, then get these apps back into service pronto.
4. Overlooking systems in dispersed locations
Maybe the logistics team has a server tucked away in its offices with a vital shipping application. Or perhaps your distributor has a branch office in another state with its own local IT. Crucial systems may exist outside your primary office location. The disaster recovery plan has to catalog and take into account data and applications wherever they are.
5. A DR plan without testing
The only way to know if a DR plan will work is to test it. That means realistic testing (check with the boss first) that covers everything involved in an IT recovery process. If part of that process is to recover backup tapes from safe storage on the other side of town, then that has to be part of the test as well.
Under realistic testing, your plan will either work or fail. If it fails, you’ll know what you have to fix BEFORE you fail for REAL.
6. Obsessing over the wrong objectives
IT disaster recovery planning uses certain standard measures to check if your company will get what it needs. RTO (Recovery Time Objective) says how long it will take for your IT to become operational again – or the maximum amount of downtime you can accept.
Sometimes this objective is defined according to wishes instead of reality. Run your tests (see above) and find out what a realistic RTO is. If the result isn’t good enough, make it better – but don’t just wish it better, make it better.
7. Forgetting about people
Your systems come back. Your applications run again. Your data survived. You’re in business again – but only if you let employees know that they can resume work. During an IT crisis or recovery period, people need to know what to expect, how to cope, and when to start normal operations again. Put it all in the DR plan! (and don’t forget to test it.)
How robust is your IT disaster recovery plan? Have you tested it? Share your thoughts in the Comments box below.
And to follow-through on the tips introduced in this short article, be sure to download your free guide, How COOs at Los Angeles Distributors and Manufacturers Get More Done: A Guide to Productivity, Data, Staffing, Delegation, and Making It Home for Dinner Most Nights.