7 Best Practices to Improve Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning

Whether you are new to using business VoIP phone systems or you already have a modern PBX communication system, this blog will help you improve Disaster Recovery (DR) planning with RingOffice 3CX phone systems. Business continuity and Disaster Recovery planning go hand in hand when it comes to maintaining a seamless communication system for your business.

Regardless of how well businesses plan for unfortunate events, natural disasters, network outages, hardware failure, security and data breaches, and identity theft remain very real threats. It is, therefore, important that effective and proactive business continuity and Disaster Recovery plans be made to protect against business disruption and loss.

Read more about the security of on-premise vs cloud phone systems here.

When devising a Disaster Recovery strategy, all potential causes (disruptions, outages, disasters, etc.) and all potential effects to business operations should be accounted for. Disruptions in your data centers, networks, or cloud services can not only impact your workforce but also affect customer satisfaction and the overall success of your business. Hence, regular evaluation of risk assessments, prioritization of business data and applications, robust data backup strategies and disaster recovery action plans are vital to ensure business continuity.

What is Disaster Recovery Planning (DRP)?

Disaster Recovery Planning is an integral subset of security planning and business continuity milestones. In business phone systems, it is the process of creating a plan to ensure that the phone system can withstand minor disruptions and be quickly and effectively restored in the event of a disaster or major disruption. This may include, among other things, steps such as creating backups of system data and configurations, identifying critical phone lines and users, designing redundancies, implementing failover transitions, and testing the plan regularly to ensure that it is effective. The goal of disaster recovery planning for business phone systems is to minimize the impact of disruptions on the business and to ensure that essential communication channels are quickly restored.

If there is one thing that the Coronavirus pandemic has taught the world, it is that business functions or operations can be disrupted in the most unforeseen ways. DRP empowers businesses to maintain a backup mechanism that allows them to be prepared to operate seamlessly even in unfortunate breakdowns.

RingOffice 3CX phone systems come with 24/7 monitoring of server health and performance metrics to ensure system faults and capacity issues are proactively mitigated. Additionally, RingOffice takes daily backups of all Managed Cloud 3CX Phone Systems to protect customers in the event of a major disaster or outage. RingOffice can also help design redundant and resilient networks and infrastructure.

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity with RingOffice 3CX Phone Systems

Based on years of experience with our multisite clientele, we have concluded that the following 10 best practices can prepare businesses for disasters and contribute significantly to business continuity.

1. Defining the KPIs for Disaster Recovery

Once you have performed the business impact analysis (BIA), it is essential to document the metrics for disaster recovery strategies. These metrics or KPIs can vary from organization to organization, however, you can always define some quantifiable measures that can help your business gauge the impact of a disaster while or after it is taken care of. In terms of business communication systems, it is usually defined in the form of the following metrics.

  • Recovery Point Objective (RPO)
  • Recovery Time Objective (RTO)
  • Work Recovery Time (WRT)
  • Maximum Tolerable Downtime (MTD)

Recovery Point Objective – RPO

RPO is an important consideration in disaster recovery planning for cloud communication systems, as it helps to ensure that the system can be quickly restored and that data loss is minimized.

Recovery Point Objective in cloud communication systems is a metric that defines the maximum allowable data loss in the event of a disaster or disruption. It represents the point in time to which data must be restored in order to minimize the impact of the disruption on the business.

For example, an RPO of zero means that no data loss is acceptable, and all data must be restored to its most recent state. An RPO of two hours means that a maximum of two hours of data loss is acceptable, and the system must be able to restore data up to two hours prior to the disruption.

Recovery Time Objective – RTO

Recovery Time Objective plays a vital role in disaster recovery planning of cloud communication systems. It ensures that the system is brought back online quickly and the interruption to the business is kept to a minimum.

RTO in cloud communication systems is a metric that defines the maximum allowable time for restoring normal system operation in the event of a disaster or disruption. It represents the amount of time within which the system must be restored and functional.

For example, an RTO of zero means that the system must be restored immediately with no service disruption. An RTO of two hours means that the system must be restored within two hours of a disruption.

Work Recovery Time – WRT

WRT is an important consideration in disaster recovery planning for cloud communication systems, as it helps to ensure that the employees can resume their regular work as soon as possible and the disruption’s effect on the business is reduced as much as possible.

Work Recovery Time (WRT) in cloud communication systems is a metric that defines the amount of time it takes for employees to resume normal work after a disruption or disaster. It is the time from when the disaster occurred to when the employees can perform their normal duties.

Maximum Tolerable Downtime – MTD

Maximum tolerable downtime in cloud communication systems can vary depending on the specific needs and requirements of the organization. However, generally speaking, it is considered best practice for cloud communication systems to have minimal downtime, as even a short period of inactivity can cause significant disruptions and lost productivity for businesses.

One common standard for maximum tolerable downtime is 99.999% uptime, also known as “five nines” availability. This means that the system is operational 99.999% of the time, or only 5 minutes and 15 seconds of downtime per year. Another standard is 99.99% uptime, or “four nines” availability, which equates to 52 minutes and 36 seconds of downtime per year.

Ultimately, the maximum tolerable downtime will depend on the specific business needs and the level of criticality of the communication system in question. For example, a hospital’s communication system would likely have a lower maximum tolerable downtime than a retail store’s system.

2. Document Disaster Recovery Protocols

While filling and handling paperwork seems like a nuisance nowadays, a documented disaster recovery approach is particularly important to ensure that recovery operations are quick and successful. The objectives, tactics, and steps of the recovery plan must be documented, along with the responsibilities and individuals involved at each stage. The plan should be easy to comprehend and have the approval of higher-level management. In the presence of documented practices, any kind of disaster occurring at any level can be handled and systems can be recovered minimizing potential losses or damages.

3. Risk Assessment

Risk assessment is an important part of disaster recovery in cloud communication systems. It involves identifying, analyzing, and evaluating potential risks and vulnerabilities that could disrupt or damage the system. This information is then used to prioritize and implement appropriate measures to mitigate or prevent those risks as part of disaster recovery documentation.

A risk assessment should include an analysis of the likelihood and impact of potential hazards, such as natural disasters, cyber-attacks, human error, and technical failures. It should also consider the criticality of the system and its components, as well as the potential consequences of a disruption or failure. This assessment will allow for a better understanding of the potential risks and vulnerabilities that the cloud communication system may face and take the necessary measures to minimize the impact of a disaster.

4. DR training and in-house drills

It is essential to nurture your workforce/employees through enriched DR training and regular implementation sessions. These sessions can be conducted as scheduled or can be purely spontaneous to gauge the capabilities and proactiveness of your in-house teams in dealing with disasters.

5. Document the efficiency of DR drills

After the completion of every disaster recovery training and practice, the steps taken to control the situation should be recorded with all the essential DR metrics mentioned above (RPO, RTO, WRT, MTD). These metrics should be supplemented with a detailed analysis of the results projecting the efficiency of the approach taken, and the tests performed to identify and mitigate the threats/losses. All the information collected in this process should be incorporated into your network infrastructure so that the occurrence of disasters of that type can be eliminated.

6. Network Security and DR Planning

Network Security is an integral part of disaster recovery planning. Optimizing the cyber security of your network and business systems in itself can prevent or reduce the probability of a disruption or disaster. It is, therefore, advisable to address security protocols as part of your DR planning.

A security breach can be the cause of a disaster. Therefore, your DRP strategy should take into account the security preparedness to prevent a disaster. Similarly, specific protocols should be implemented in case of a security breach to ensure that business continuity milestones are not disrupted.

7. Re-evaluate as you scale

Businesses tend to forget about their DR protocols once they are confident that they have documented everything and that the infrastructure is secure. That is exactly when the window to unfortunate events opens. Systems scale up or down many times in the lifecycle of any business. Whenever a business integrates a technology, system, workforce, or managed services, the system should be tested to ensure the changes do not affect the DR Plan. Moreover, with the advancement in cloud technology, it is always better to reconsider where you prefer to store your critical backups and what technology offers a rapid backup restoration.

8. Implement Backup Systems

Diversify your communication infrastructure by implementing redundant systems. This can involve having backup servers, cloud-based solutions, or alternative communication channels. Redundancy ensures that even if one system fails, there is a backup in place to maintain communication and minimize downtime.

9. Regularly Test and Update Your Plan

A disaster recovery plan is only effective if it’s regularly tested and updated. Conduct regular drills to ensure that all personnel are familiar with their roles and the communication continuity plan. Assess the effectiveness of your systems and update the plan based on lessons learned from each drill. Regular testing helps identify weaknesses in your strategy and allows for continuous improvement.

10. Foster a Culture of Preparedness

Instill a culture of preparedness within your organization. Educate employees about the importance of disaster recovery and business continuity planning. Encourage proactive measures such as regular data backups, reporting potential vulnerabilities, and staying informed about emerging threats.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why are disaster recovery and business continuity planning essential for businesses, especially in the realm of communication systems?

Disaster recovery and business continuity planning are crucial for businesses, as they ensure that communication systems remain operational during unforeseen events. These plans mitigate downtime, protect against data loss, and maintain seamless communication, safeguarding the overall continuity of business operations.

2. How do I identify the potential risks and vulnerabilities that could impact my communication systems?

Conduct a comprehensive risk assessment by considering various factors such as natural disasters, cyber threats, power outages, and human errors. Analyze the potential impact of each risk on your communication infrastructure and prioritize them based on severity and likelihood.

3. What is a communication continuity plan, and why is it important?

A communication continuity plan outlines protocols, roles, and responsibilities to be followed during a crisis. It ensures that communication remains organized, effective, and transparent. Having a well-defined plan minimizes confusion and enables a swift response to mitigate the impact of disruptions.

4. How can I implement redundant systems for my communication infrastructure?

Implementing redundant systems involves diversifying your communication infrastructure to include backup servers, cloud-based solutions, or alternative communication channels. This ensures that if one system fails, there is a backup in place, reducing downtime and maintaining continuous communication.

5. Why is regular testing and updating of the disaster recovery plan important?

Regular testing ensures that the disaster recovery plan is effective and that all personnel are familiar with their roles and responsibilities. Lessons learned from each test can be used to update and improve the plan, ensuring that it remains relevant and reliable.

RingOffice 3CX phone systems maximize business continuity and incorporate disaster recovery planning to minimize downtime through resilient design, network security, proactive monitoring, daily geo-diverse backups, automated failover, and speedy restoration. Contact RingOffice Solution Consultants for a tailored communication system that best fits your business needs.