Natural disasters, cyber threats, power outages, and equipment failures - disasters can strike at any time and wreak havoc on your business. Having a disaster recovery plan in place is essential for every business.
What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?
A disaster recovery plan, or DRP, is a comprehensive strategy that outlines the response to the unplanned events above and more. It lays out all the steps that should be taken before, during, and after a disaster ahead of time to minimize damage and speed up recovery by enabling everyone to act with a well thought out plan instead of needing to make snap decisions in the heat of the moment.
How to Create an Effective Disaster Recovery Plan
Creating and implementing an effective DRP can be an involved process, requiring research and inputs from many parties in an organization, but here is a solid foundation any org can follow to get started.
Conduct a Risk Analysis
Start by identifying the risks that could affect your business operations and assets. Ask yourself what kind of events could occur that would disrupt your business continuity, and what the consequences of such an event might be. We may not be worried about hurricanes or volcanos in the Midwest, but tornadoes and flooding sure can be a problem, and a fire can start just about anywhere.
Find Your Weaknesses
Once you have identified the risks, assess how vulnerable your business is to each one. Consider what existing measures are in place that may help minimize or prevent the risk and identify any areas where additional measures should be taken.
Identify What is Key
Make a list of all the key processes and applications that are essential to keep your business running. This will give you a better understanding of which systems need to remain fully operational during an emergency, which should be restored ASAP, and which can wait until everything else has settled down.
Set Recovery Objectives
Decide on specific goals that need to be met – your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO). These objectives include the time frame in which systems must be back up and running, as well as any other relevant criteria such as data integrity, customer service levels, and acceptable data loss.
Determine Your Backup and Data Recovery Methods
Establish how you will back up your data, what hardware and software will you use for this purpose, and how you expect to complete the restoration. Do not neglect to test these regularly or else this entire exercise may be in vain as you find there is no valid data to recover.
Create an Activation Protocol
Create a plan for activating the disaster recovery process once an emergency has been identified. This should include defining who is responsible for initiating the procedure and who needs to be notified about the event.
Create a Notification Process
Develop a system of communication that can be used to alert management, employees, partners, etc. in the event of a disaster. Make sure to include contact information, messaging templates to speed the spread of information, and any other relevant details.
Form a Response Team
Establish a team of individuals with specific roles and responsibilities to undertake during an emergency. Ingrain the roles in them by providing regular training so everyone is ready to respond quickly when needed.
Test, Improve, and Test Again
Once your plan has been created, it’s important to test it regularly to ensure that it will work effectively in the event of an actual disaster. Additionally, as things change within your business such as moving locations or updating systems, make sure you update the plan accordingly and test it again before relying on it. Don’t let all this hard work go into a binder that sits in a file cabinet collecting dust until it’s worthless!
A disaster recovery plan is an essential part of protecting your business, so take the time to make sure it’s comprehensive and up-to-date. With a foolproof plan in place, you can be confident that you are prepared for any emergency situation.