Disaster recovery isn’t one of those things you usually spend a lot of time thinking about. In fact, for more business owners than would probably admit it, about the first time you gave serious thought to the notion of disaster recovery was the time you actually needed to recover from a disaster, and of course, at that point, it was too late to make any difference.
Disasters are going to happen. Worse, they’re usually exogenous, so there’s little or nothing you can do to prevent them. All you can do is plan for the worst, and believe me, planning and not needing your plan is better by far than the alternative. Below are some of the most common errors that can arise from either have no plan at all, or having a badly formulated disaster recovery plan. Correcting for these in your own company will, by definition, save you from these errors at least. It might not be utterly bullet proof, but the points below will help you cover the basics.
Not A Priority
This is the first, most fundamental employee mistake that your disaster recovery plan needs to address. Simply put, it needs to be a priority. It needs to be something that all employees are at least aware of, and that a select team are ready, or can be at a moment’s notice, to spring into action and begin implementing your recovery plans.
Too High Level
Generalized statements open to broad interpretation are, in some ways, worse than having no disaster recovery plan at all. If that’s what you’ve currently got, toss it out the window and start again. What you need are a series of hard hitting bullet points that step through the entire process. Check points and milestones. An audit trail so you can back up a few steps if needs be. If it’s not there, it’s going to lead to errors in execution as everyone rushes to interpret the vague instructions as they understand them.
Disaster recovery probably ought to start with your IT department because that’s where the data lives, but it can’t end there. The reason it can’t end there is because every other department in your company relies on that data, and therefore, every department needs to have a stake in the plan’s development. In particular, the thing that must be understood is the specific, prioritized data needs of your various departments so that a recovery prioritization can be worked out.
No Training or Communications Plan
In any disaster recovery effort, there need to be clear lines of communication and assigned roles that are well understood. Your people need to know that framework like the back of their hand. If they don’t, you can expect mistakes to occur when you begin executing against your plan. Those can be mitigated by making sure everyone knows what and where the communications channels are, and has been trained at least to a degree, on the particulars of your recovery plan.
This is probably the single biggest thing you can do to reduce or eliminate employee errors when it comes to the implementation of your disaster recovery plan. You’ve got to test it. Stress it. Build a test environment and put your recovery team through their paces, not just once or twice, but on a semi-regular basis. Often enough so that they’ll spring into action the moment they’re needed. If you do any less, why would you expect anything other than disaster all over again?