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How to Minimize the Effects of a Tech Outage

Tech Outage A tech outage is an unpleasant yet inevitable part of business operations, and it’s essential for any business, growing or established, to have a plan in action to minimize the damage caused.

We’ll help you learn how to minimize the effect of a tech outage and discuss what you should do to avoid devastating loss of service in your business. IT managed service providers in Denver have tools that make an outage seamless.

Establish a Plan of Action

The first and most important thing you should do before a tech outage is to establish a plan of action. For obvious reasons, having a plan in place can help you recover data more quickly and reduce the likelihood of it happening again.

Most tech outages result from human error, and, unfortunately, tech outages are almost inevitable. The extent of the damage caused by a tech outage is almost always directly correlated to how well you prepare for it.

Ensure you have a robust business continuity plan (BCP) to recover your data and keep your business running smoothly. That includes the following steps:

1. Establishing a disaster recovery plan for your IT infrastructure

2. Designating alternative communication methods

3. Defining different disaster scenarios

4. Creating a plan for recovering data

It’s not enough to have a generalized plan for data loss; you should also be prepared for different types of tech outages, including the following:

i) System outages- Tech outages in which your systems are compromised or offline for a period of time, leading to downtime.

ii) Data loss- Tech outages in which information, content, data, or application services are lost, either temporarily or permanently.

In both cases, it’s vital to assess the risk you undertake and understand how your business, both internally and externally, will be affected by data loss. What departments will be most affected? How will communication change during a tech outage? How will individual components of the business be affected by data loss?

Tech Outage In this evaluation, it’s imperative to identify your business-critical apps that are absolutely mandatory. Payment processing applications, for example, are business-critical in that they are essential to the regular operation of your business.

These and other applications should be considered the top priority in communications between IT and business leadership, both in your disaster recovery planning and immediately following a disaster.

Define Your RTO

Your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is how long your business can sustain being offline without severely impacting your revenue or traditional business operations. Before a tech outage occurs, you should outline a strategy that restores power before the RTO expires.

This may include setting up emergency power supplies that operate independently from
your traditional IT infrastructure or using a cloud-based service to continue operations, at least in a limited capacity, while you recover from a tech outage.

Shorter tech outages may only last a few minutes, which doesn’t typically affect business operations much. Longer ones that last for the better part of a day or multiple days demand more robust disaster recovery plans.

Define Your RPO

Your recovery point objective is the time between acceptable backups should a business interruption occur. In other words, if you lose power, the RPO is the timespan from the previous backup until the moment business operations begin to suffer.

This metric isn’t always easy to ascertain, but it’s important to consider how frequently you backup your data. Ensure your data backups are frequent enough that your business operations will not be adversely affected in the event of a tech outage.

What to Do After a Tech Outage?

You’ll notice that we’ve spent a fair amount of time discussing what to do before a tech outage, with little attention given to what you should do following an outage. That’s because, without a comprehensive Disaster Recovery (DR) plan in place, there’s little you can do to protect your business continuity. There are a few critical steps for safety that you should keep in mind, however.

Short-Term Outages

Tech Outage If a short-term outage occurs, lasting less than 15 minutes, then you don’t particularly need to do anything. Once the power returns, you must restart your essential systems and reestablish network connections. Open the blinds if necessary so that employees can move around and stretch their legs while they wait. If there’s not enough natural light for employees to move around safely, evacuate employees to the outside of the building.

If the power is restored shortly, consult with your business facility managers to determine what caused the tech outage. Afterward, it’s important to evaluate exactly what happened during the tech outage so that you can further minimize its effects next time.

Long-Term Tech Outages

Long-term tech outages are more of a problem because they necessitate further action and will often disrupt business operations. If you have a comprehensive DR plan in place, then you’ll want to follow these simple steps:

1. Ensure the safety of your employees - Escort them outside of the building and ensure that all are present. The facility managers and IT leads will need to determine if the employees should stand by to return to the office or go home to work remotely.

2. Launch emergency power systems - Depending on how comprehensive your DR plan is, you should have emergency backup systems so that you can continue working on a short-term basis, even if it’s with limited functionality.

3. Investigate the cause of the issue - Keep staff and employees informed about the cause of the problem and current business practices during the outage. If the issue is local to the facility, engage the appropriate electrical contractor to examine and repair the issue.

4. Evaluate the effectiveness of the DR plan - Once everything’s back up and running, evaluate with your team whether the DR plan was effective and what steps need implementation in the future to reduce downtime.
The Bottom Line
Tech outages are inevitable, and the damage caused by them is inversely proportional to how prepared you are. To minimize the effects of a tech outage, ensure you have a robust DR plan that is well-communicated with your employees. Back up your data often and refresh your DR plan guidelines with employees often to ensure the entire company can continue operating as efficiently as possible should disaster strike.

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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 21st April 2023.

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