Disaster Recovery Plan

A disaster recovery plan is a documented process to recover and protect a business IT infrastructure in the event of a disaster. Basically, it provides a clear idea on various actions to be taken before, during and after a disaster.

Disasters are natural or man-made. Examples include industrial accidents, oil spills, stampedes, fires, nuclear explosions/nuclear radiation and acts of war etc. Other types of man-made disasters include the more cosmic scenarios of catastrophic global warming, nuclear war, and bioterrorism whereas natural disasters are earthquakes, floods, heat waves, hurricanes/cyclones, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, tornadoes and landslides, cosmic and asteroid threats.

Disaster cannot be eliminated, but proactive preparation can mitigate data loss and disruption to operations. Organizations require a disaster recovery plan that includes formal Plan to consider the impacts of disruptions to all essential businesses processes and their dependencies. Phase wise plan consists of the precautions to minimize the effects of a disaster so the organization can continue to operate or quickly resume mission-critical functions.

The Disaster Recovery Plan is to be prepared by the Disaster Recovery Committee, which includes representatives from all critical departments or areas of the department’s functions. The committee should have at least one representative from management, computing, risk management, records management, security, and building maintenance. The committee’s responsibility is to prepare a timeline to establish a reasonable deadline for completing the written plan. The also responsible to identify critical and noncritical departments. A procedure used to determine the critical needs of a department is to document all the functions performed by each department. Once the primary functions have been recognized, the operations and processes are then ranked in order of priority: essential, important and non-essential.

Typically, disaster recovery planning involves an analysis of business processes and continuity needs. Before generating a detailed plan, an organization often performs a business impact analysis (BIA) and risk analysis (RA), and it establishes the recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO). The RTO describes the target amount of time a business application can be down, typically measured in hours, minutes or seconds. The RPO describes the previous point in time when an application must be recovered.

The plan should define the roles and responsibilities of disaster recovery team members and outline the criteria to launch the plan into action, however, there is no one right type of disaster recovery plan, nor is there a one-size-fits-all disaster recovery plan. Basically, there are three basic strategies that feature in all disaster recovery plans: (a) preventive measures, (b) detective measures, and (c) corrective measures.

(a) Preventive measures: will try to prevent a disaster from occurring. These measures seek to identify and reduce risks. They are designed to mitigate or prevent an event from happening. These measures may include keeping data backed up and off-site, using surge protectors, installing generators and conducting routine inspections.

(b) Detective measures: These measures include installing fire alarms, using up-to-date antivirus software, holding employee training sessions, and installing server and network monitoring software.

(c) Corrective measures: These measures focus on fixing or restoring the systems after a disaster. Corrective measures may consist keeping critical documents in the Disaster Recovery Plan.

The Plan should include a list of first-level contacts and persons/departments within the company, who can declare a disaster and activate DR operations. It should also include an outline and content stating the exact procedures to be followed by a disaster. At least 2-4 potential DR sites with hardware/software that meets or exceeds the current production environment should be made available. DR best practices indicate that DR sites should be at least 50 miles away from the existing production site so that the Recovery Point Objective (RPO)/Restoration Time Objective (RTO) requirements are satisfied

The recovery plan must provide for initial and ongoing employee training. Skills are needed in the reconstruction and salvage phases of the recovery process. Your initial training can be accomplished through professional seminars, special in-house educational programs, the wise use of consultants and vendors, and individual study tailored to the needs of your department. A minimal amount of training is necessary to assist professional restorers/recovery contractors and others having little knowledge of your information, level of importance, or general operations

An entire documented plan has to be tested entirely and all testing report should be logged for future prospect. This testing should be treated as live run and with ample of time. After testing procedures have been completed, an initial “dry run” of the plan is performed by conducting a structured walk-through test. The test will provide additional information regarding any further steps that may need to be included, changes in procedures that are not effective, and other appropriate adjustments. These may not become evident unless an actual dry-run test is performed. The plan is subsequently updated to correct any problems identified during the test. Initially, testing of the plan is done in sections and after normal business hours to minimize disruptions to the overall operations of the organization. As the plan is further polished, future tests occur during normal business hours.

Once the disaster recovery plan has been written and tested, the plan is then submitted to management for approval. It is top management’s ultimate responsibility that the organization has a documented and tested plan. Management is responsible for establishing the policies, procedures, and responsibilities for comprehensive contingency planning, and reviewing and approving the contingency plan annually, documenting such reviews in writing.

Another important aspect that is often overlooked involves the frequency with which DR Plans are updated. Yearly updates are recommended but some industries or organizations require more frequent updates because business processes evolve or because of quicker data growth. To stay relevant, disaster recovery plans should be an integral part of all business analysis processes and should be revisited at every major corporate acquisition, at every new product launch, and at every new system development milestone.

Your business doesn’t remain the same; businesses grow, change and realign. An effective disaster recovery plan must be regularly reviewed and updated to make sure it reflects the current state of the business and meets the goals of the company. Not only should it be reviewed, but it must be tested to ensure it would be a success if implemented.

Harvest Is Over – Better Get the Ladder

When business is good and customers are eager to buy, it sure is a great time. Business seems bountiful and everlasting. You’re hot. The phone is ringing, orders come through a cornucopia of the internet, customers stand in line… easy pickings… like harvest time in an orchard and all you have to do is just walk over to a tree and pluck another apple… one customer after another… you feel that you are a business genius. Here’s some advice from someone who has been there: better enjoy it while it lasts.

Because, after a while, the orchard is picked over. Sometimes there is a drought. Insects or disease or a frost attacks the crop. Customers now are standing in line somewhere else for the next shiny thing. The market swings in other directions away from you. The easy pickings are long gone. Customers have dwindled. You are no longer a genius, what oh what to do? Wringing your hands doesn’t help.

In the orchard, some starve because they can’t get to the harder-to-reach fruit, even standing on your tippy-toes, sigh, and give up; survivors build ladders to climb higher. In business, some give up and close shop. Those who have the resources and the gumption to survive evolve by changing product, marketing harder and smarter, perhaps even changing their business model. They change their offerings and bring out new, improved colors or sizes or capacities or groupings. They take groups of products or services into and put them into different combinations or bundles with new pricing.

Survivors have a way of going after an increasingly more elusive harvest. They have larger crops in good times when the picking is easy and can sustain themselves when there is a drought or other calamities. Whether the tool of survival is a ladder, a marketing plan, a customer retention plan, customer service training, sowing, fertilizing, weeding, pruning, and harvesting… it all needs to get done year after year.

Increase your reach now, plan your evolution when business is good, before the drought, before customers defect for the latest fashion, before the next shiny thing comes and replaces you in the marketplace, before something else gains favor. Always be aware of events that arise and affect your market and circumstances beyond your control. Keep your eyes and ears tuned to the changes happening around you and your business. Do that and you will survive and prosper in good times and bad.

The King James Onlyists’ Nightmare

Last Sunday night’s big event came as a shock to the small church – the St James Congregational Baptist Church in Silock, Alabama. An elderly group of five men and women were participating in a Bible class when a young preacher ran and told them to leave their class and walk with to the nave.

“What is it, Pastor?” one of the ladies asked the question everyone was wondering. “Just follow me as quickly as you can!” he said urgently. “You’ll be in for a shock.” As they approached the door to the right side of the nave, everyone could see a bright light beaming radiantly from the square mirrors.
As they went in, they looked and saw a bright angel. Everyone fell on the floor and began worshipping him. “No!” the celestial being said in a booming voice. “You must not worship me for I am only a servant of the Lord, much like yourselves.”

The angel turned down his brightness gradually so that he appeared as a human being. “Is this better?” he asked the stupefied congregation. “Please. Everyone sit. I have come on a mission. Your little group has been chosen to come with me in a time machine to watch some of the greatest events in the Holy Bible.”

Everyone sat up in astonishment as a large translucent box gradually appeared behind the angel.
“I know all of this is hard to take in, but the Lord has scheduled three events of the Bible that you as a group must choose… What scenes do you want to see?”

Although the five people and the pastor still had their mouths and eyes were stretched open as wide as possible, one of the elderly women asked, “Can I see when God found out Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden?”
“So be it,” the angel said.
“I’d like to see is Moses parting the waters.”
The angel said, “So be it!”
Then a man said hesitantly, “Can I see Jesus as He was being tempted by Satan?” “So be it,” said the angel. “Now, let’s all get into the time machine and watch these scenes.”

All five parishioners and the pastor got into the machine together with the angel and they suddenly vanished. In a matter of moments, the time machine arrived in the Garden of Eden. They stepped out into the garden, they saw Adam and Eve looking down in shame before God who was in the form of a mist. The angel told them they would be invisible where they went.

As the scene unfolded God spoke to Adam and Eve in a language, the elderly travelers couldn’t understand the language that they were speaking. The angel knew what they were thinking and said to them, “They are speaking in an ancient form of Hebrew.” Suddenly, the group stared at each and they looked upset and the angel knew why.

Thirty minutes later, after they saw the two other Biblical scenes, they looked extremely discouraged and all looked a little depressed. One of the elderly ladies got angry and said, “Why wasn’t everyone in the scenes speaking in English straight from the King James Bible?” An elderly man shouted, “This setup must have been a scam! Those people from the Bible must have been actors!” “Everybody knows everyone in the Bible spoke old English from the King James Bible – the perfect Word of God!”

5 Effective Ways to Reduce Field Service Costs

There are five ways an organization can reduce their cost of field operations and delight the customers at the same time.

1. Go Mobile:
According to a recent Mobile Analytics Report released by Citrix, the total number of enterprise mobile devices worldwide had increased by 72% last year. Without mobility, service organizations can’t overcome some of the critical challenges like lack of real-time information, reduction in productivity, profitability and overall customer satisfaction. Customers, service managers, and field technicians can effectively use a single mobile platform for raising a case, managing work orders and invoices and get a real-time visibility of field support processes. Developing a customized app can streamline the workforce and push the productivity even further. Internet connection is mandatory to get the real-time visibility through mobile.

2. Minimizing fuel cost:
Fuel price is increasing every year globally. Every time a field technician covers longer distance, organizations have to bear the cost of fuel which reduces the profitability. With map integration, technicians can prioritize tasks based on distance, which helps to cut down on fuel costs. In a day, field technicians have to visit multiple places depending on the task assigned by service managers. Map integration not only helps field technicians to track the locations but also it helps customer and service managers to track the particular technician on the field as well. Map intelligence makes a big difference in travel optimization and cost reduction.

3. Knowledgebase integration:
It’s quite possible that field technicians may not be aware of a particular issue every time raised by any customer. Any unresolved issue generally leads to lower customer satisfaction. Organizations should integrate a knowledge base with the present application to look at similar issues and see how they were resolved. This knowledge base can be enriched every time when technicians face a critical and unique case and share their experience in the portal. Parallelly, customers can also have access to the knowledge base which helps the customer to resolve the less critical cases by themselves. It eventually leads to the reduction of service requests and overall cost.

4. Parts Management:
Effective parts management also plays a crucial role while it comes to the reduction of costs and productivity improvement. Most of the spare parts used in the day to day field service are quite expensive. A parts management application integrated with the current application can help organizations to enlist the relevant parts related to the particular products. It can also help to get the list of available parts of the warehouse, enable the field technician with the right tools and skill required. A knowledgeable and skilful service technician makes all the difference when it comes to customer delight and ensures service department with high first-time fix rate.

5. Timely alerts and notifications:
Alerts and notifications feature should be there in service manager console of the particular application which organization is using currently. It can play a major role when it comes to cost reduction and overall customer satisfaction. A manager should be informed of the cases which are not been resolved or an SLA is not met. It should also notify technicians when a new task is assigned or the task priority is changed. It helps to save ample amount of time and increase the overall service efficiency.

The key to managing service operations effectively is to assign the right technician with the job. Mobility can help with faster issue resolution, reducing time and cost for the organization. Customized solutions with the consideration of the above factors can improve the response time. It creates a positive impact for service managers, technicians, customers and overall organization.

Product Design and Development Firms

There is a common saying about the devastating loss that strikes when an idea dies in the mind before its actual fruition. It is, therefore, largely advocated that all ideas must be put into action and with the help of product design and development firms, individuals have been able to realize their dreams.

Who are these product design and development firms? These are designed to help turn ideas into tangible products. Many brilliant minds choke with ideas that they cannot bring to reality simply because they lack the manpower, the resources and the maybe lack some few essential basics. Product design firms help you design the product to meet the taste of the consumers as well as compete well market wise.

Benefits of hiring a product design and manufacturing agencies

Some of the innovators as discussed above lack some key essential requirements to manufacture their products. These firms take away these troubles and guide you all the way to the end to see your brilliance in action.

For a new product to succeed in this competitive market certain factors must be considered and this requires professionals to conduct market research and other studies. Product design and manufacturing companies carry out these market studies and provide strategies that help the product do well and be as profitable as possible.

In the manufacturing process, certain requirements must be met such as engineering and prototyping the product before the actual final product. This is one of the key roles played by these firms.

With the right firm, certain future problems may be avoided as they help with projections and prediction of the market and will help in redesigning the product to suit the market at all times.

Lastly, these firms help you deal with patent issues and offer guidelines pertaining to the set regulations on your product. This can save the innovator from a lot of legal issues that may arise along the way.

What to look for in a great product design and development company

Their client base, this helps you to know a lot about their level of professionalism and how great they are. The testimonies and reviews can help you make an easy judgment.

The number of years that the firm has been in operation, this helps you to understand its ability to give right market projections.

The company workforce, they should comprise of all the necessary minds such as market researcher, engineers, and all the right professionals. The right firm will always have the right people for you with experience and workmanship that complements your ambitions.