Over 80% of service desks have disaster recovery plans in place – yet only half know how to implement them, according to new research
October 2012 by Emmanuelle Lamandé
In a world where companies rely on IT to keep their businesses running, IT managers are taking no risks when it comes to disaster recovery, according to new research from the Service Desk Institute. The research, sponsored by LANDesk Software, surveyed over 15,000 IT Directors from across Europe between June and July 2012, and found that 80% of service desks have a business continuity plan and 61% test their plan every six months, compared to just 9% in 2011.
The new findings are encouraging and suggest that companies recognise the unprecedented financial and reputational damage that can result from service desk disasters. Just this year, high profile computer failures at RBS Group and O2 highlighted the fact that businesses simply cannot afford to let technical glitches escalate into full blown service blackouts.
According to the research, 78% of respondents view the service desk as essential to re-establishing service if a disaster strikes. Additionally, nearly half (48%) of respondents expect full service to be re-established in one hour, underscoring the importance of having a business continuity plan that all service desk staff are trained to implement.
The survey also reveals a lack of awareness about business continuity plans within businesses, with over half (53%) of respondents claiming none or only some of the service desk staff are aware of the provisions in their plan. This leaves massive room for error in the event of a disaster. Despite this communication shortfall, the research suggests that businesses are responding to the need to develop more efficient, more sophisticated business continuity plans. Of those surveyed, 76% now have scenario-specific plans in place, compared with just 52% last year.
‘‘In the past, research has shown a general sense of unpreparedness within IT environments, so we’re pleased to see that the industry has made improvements,” said Andy Baldin, vice president, EMEA at LANDesk. “These findings strike a positive note, revealing an increased awareness among IT departments that they can no longer take a one-size fits all approach to business continuity plans – different disasters require customised responses. However, the fact that a significant number of IT staff are unaware of their disaster plans, let alone how to implement them, signals a fundamental flaw in how businesses are approaching disaster planning. Businesses will lose out by neglecting basic training – the best laid plans can come undone by failure to communicate.’’
The findings suggest that businesses are relying on disaster recovery plans more than ever. Over 60% of respondents have used disaster recovery plans in a live environment, which demonstrates how vitally important it is to have substantial and tested plans in place. Should the unthinkable occur, a tested plan provides reassurance that a course of action can be taken to restore service quickly, avoiding widespread panic and uncertainty.
‘‘The high percentage of disaster recovery plan use reinforces the fact that technical failures of all kinds are increasingly common and the implications can be drastic – disasters are not just something that happen to someone else’s business,’’ continued Baldin. ‘‘It’s clear that the well publicised fall-outs from technical errors this year are making businesses sit up and take notice of their own disaster provisions, as our research suggests. ’’
As a response to the research, the Service Desk Institute has developed an easy three point guide to help IT departments create a business continuity plan that enables their business to recover quickly and efficiently, with minimal disruption to day-to-day activity.
1. Risk assessment – Establish what types of risks your business is susceptible to and what specific threats you should focus on. Then consider how likely these are to occur and their potential impact.
2. Reducing risks to the business – Steps to reduce the risk to business can include creating a back up and data storage strategy including off-site storage and mirror sites, conducting regular testing and appraisal of backup systems and eliminating single points of failure such as power supplies.
3. How to recover – In the event that disaster does strike, methods of recovery might include carrying out services manually until normal service is resumed, agreeing with another business to use their premises, using a standby or mirror site or working from home or other remote location.
The full research report can be viewed and downloaded online.
 The State of Business Continuity Preparedness Report by Forrester Research and the Disaster Recovery Journal – please see here.
 The State of Business Continuity Preparedness Report by Forrester Research and the Disaster Recovery Journal