Disaster Recovery and the Human Factor

Can technology do everything you need for disaster recovery of your IT systems, applications, and data? It can certainly do a lot, but it can’t do it all. Even the most advanced DR software or the most resilient cloud backup solution can only take you so far.

The human factor then means that people will change things without your technology being aware of those changes. Here is how to take account of humans in disaster recovery.

  1. Accept that humans are part of the equation and must be considered. Despite pipe dreams of lights-out manufacturing, robot-run warehousing and shipping, or artificial intelligence driving sales, marketing, accounting… (strike out the mention that does not apply), people are still needed.
  2. Bring human beings into your IT disaster recovery test process. Find out if they can use systems that are recovered after crashes, data corruption, cyberattacks, or whatever. Just as importantly, find out if they feel comfortable with using those recovered systems. You’ll know from the tasks they accomplish and the look on their faces.
  3. Remember that in today’s connected digital environment, people using your systems may be external partners, suppliers, or customers. Think of project management applications on a secure public cloud platform, an excellent way of running joint projects without concerns about confidentiality of on-premise systems. Your systems may get back up and running, but will your business projects do the same?
  4. Put people backups in place, like you put system and network backups in place. A named person may not be available to handle a critical part of a disaster recovery procedure. If your town was flooded out by a freak hurricane for example, that person may be struggling to keep his or her own family safe. Have a replacement identified and trained, in case.

Remember that people can act and make mistakes in ways that override your supposedly failsafe solution.

They may be unable to use systems that have been recovered, if interfaces or configurations have changed between times. Testing, factoring in, and backing up the “human components” is essential for your overall disaster recovery plan to work properly.

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