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Setting yourself up for success prior to the next disaster

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For data and information managers, being prepared for disasters is part of the job. You have backup plans in place, you’ve ensured for redundancy and chances are, you’ve been at it for a while, have lived through an event and have come out of it on the other side with lessons learned. Despite all the planning you’ve done to mitigate the next disaster, no one could have predicted the catastrophic event that happened with COVID-19. We’re not only talking about the virus, but also its impact on how a business functions, especially when people have switched to remote working for the unforeseeable future.

With the new workforce lifestyle, we’ve seen a number of problems that have arisen due to poor planning, including limited access to network connection, internet speed, data loss, and the inability to be on location. The COVID-19 pandemic tested many managers whose role it is to ensure business continuity, and whether it’s the next pandemic that forces us all to shelter in place, a hurricane or an earthquake, technical difficulties can overwhelm any business. So, how can your company prepare? Now is the time to re-evaluate your risk assessment and develop a disaster recovery plan that details quick mission-critical functions that quickly resume business without major losses in revenue or business operations.

The more your company can embed automation into your processes in a recovery plan, the less manual labor to ensure the system is running smoothly, which will encourage a fluid transition to remote work and require less daily maintenance. To ensure that your systems can run efficiently and securely in the event of an emergency or disaster, use the following guidelines to create a successful disaster plan that will help you quickly recover and continue business as usual.

Set up testing prior to a disaster

A testing schedule is crucial for any disaster recovery plan as there will be inevitably be issues when transitioning a workforce to remote working so it’s worth getting ahead of the curve by setting up “work from home” test days. On test days companies will be able to ensure that laptops, network access, etc., are properly in place for each employee to work from home. Businesses can also face other disruptions such as network outages, data loss, and security vulnerabilities and threats. Can your network handle—or do your employees even know how to use VPN to get into your critical apps from home? Another important step is to educate employees on where information should be stored when working from home. For example, do they use the cloud rather than their laptop to access information outside of the office? The more steps a company can provide to work from home sufficiently, the smoother the process to getting back on their feet.

Access lessons from prior remote working

Once the COVID-19 pandemic is under control and organizations return to work, companies should take the time to assess what worked and what did not in order to understand what gaps need to be addressed. Some important questions that should be asked when thinking about include:

  • Were there bottlenecks that surfaced that could be automated? For example, was the internet speed impacted by how many users were on or was the network connection good enough to support critical business functions?
  • Were there issues with network access? Are there VPN devices, high speed internet lines to the organization, or onsite servers to host user connections?
  • Can infrastructure be consolidated? Is there one platform that employees or IT members can use to find all the solutions that they need for access to their work?

If you answered any of these questions with a yes, consider putting automation in place so that more IT team members have access to tools for unlocking accounts or conducting other necessary updates. It’s important to think about all processes currently in place to consider what could be automated to avoid the need for physical human intervention as much as possible.

How automation benefits remote working

Automating disaster recovery is crucial for a successful disaster recovery plan. Without automation, employees must be taken away from more productive work and resources must be diverted to focus on a disaster recovery. Additionally, during a disaster like COVID-19 with a mandatory remote work policy, automation is the best solution to have businesses running without in-person maintenance. Additional advantages of automation of disaster recovery include:

  • Ensuring there are tools in place to allow business to be maintained and even pushed forward when employees can’t during times of disaster
  • Removing the possibility of human error
  • Allowing for an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality during both normal operations and during a time of emergency

Getting through difficult times is not easy, but with the right process and tools, your business can come out on top when the dust has settled. Remembering that automation is key and choosing the right technology is a step in the right direction toward ensuring your remote workforce is successful for when the next disaster strikes.

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