To prepare for the worst, there are two areas that you need to address. One is Disaster Recovery (DR) – the processes put in place to prepare for everything from power outages and natural disasters, to terrorist attacks. Systems to manage data backups, data recovery processes, access to information stored offsite, including online and physical storage, are all integral components of a DR plan.
The second area is Business Continuity Planning (BC). Implementing policies and procedures that can help keep the most important pieces of your business running, ensuring your employees know where to go in the event of an emergency, and how to access their documents and applications are critical components to a full business continuity plan.
PEOPLE & PROCESSES: What is the chain of command and workflow in the event of a disaster? Each department should have a plan in place for their respective teams, and executive management needs to develop a detailed blueprint for communicating with each other and departments. Make a list of contacts at other vendor sites that may need to be contacted in case of emergency. Communication is key. You should also talk with your technology vendors about their disaster recovery plans to ensure your information is protected and accessible when needed.
DATA & DOCUMENTS: Where are our documents and important data stored now and how do we access these data files? Ensuring you have continuity of your business processes is critical during a disaster. As a first step, more and more businesses are looking to enterprise content management systems to store documents and data in a central location that can be accessed anytime, anywhere.
With centralized storage, you don’t need to worry about the destruction of or access to physical files – on or off-site. Employees can access from multiple devices via a web browser. With hosted service, small and medium sized businesses can enjoy the same security benefits of the larger corporations with the benefit of very low overhead, minimal startup investment, and the security of a redundant, disaster-proof data center. There is no specialized hardware to manage and there is no up-front capital investment.
COMPLIANCE & CONTROL: What are the industry regulations regarding document and data security? Every industry has its own rules and regulations about handling sensitive data – particularly legal, education, healthcare, manufacturing and state/federal government agencies. Ensuring you are storing documents and data in compliance with industry standards is an important step in protecting your business in the event of an emergency.
With enterprise content management systems, organizations can save time and money by eliminating on and off-site storage. Not only can all critical files be stored electronically, they can be accessed immediately, and business rules can be implemented to ensure that you control who accesses your data.
TRAINING & TESTING: Do we have the staff and budget in place to make training and testing of our DR and BC plans a reality? Many firms don’t understand the full costs of DR when managed internally, and are unable to manage it successfully. Full scale DR vendors exist, but many small to medium size businesses just can’t afford the cost. Most organizations also struggle to understand their cost of downtime.
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