5 Things Your Disaster Recovery Plan Should Include
No one can predict when disaster will strike, so you can’t do anything about it except prepare for the worst. The alternative is too damaging. A FEMA report stated that almost 40 percent of small businesses close their doors after a natural disaster, and a large number never opens again.
While a lot of businesses have a contingency plan in place for flooding and the like, they usually neglect to prepare for situations like cyber attacks, hardware failure, or human error. But in today’s world, this is akin to a major disaster. Not only can this halt business operations, confidential and crucial company data could be compromised or lost.
A solid disaster recovery plan is essential if you want your company to survive a disaster, whether natural or human-made.
If you’re unsure of how to go about it, consider these five things your recovery plan should include:
1- Begin with Data Backup Solutions
A good disaster recovery plan begins with data backups. You can get your business up and running again even when systems are down if you have a copy of your data. So the first and most important step is to ensure that you have comprehensive backup systems in place that record data changes regularly.
How often you backup your files depends on the amount of work you do. A daily backup is ideal for some companies, but other businesses may need to back-up hourly to avoid large data loss.
Companies should also have an alternate backup process. A lot of businesses now consider cloud backup as an essential complement to their recovery plan. There are several benefits to this solution:
- Saves time
- Easy access anytime and anywhere
- Easy to navigate interface
- Data secured offsite
2- Train a Disaster Recovery Team
Any disaster recovery plan will be useless if there’s no team backing it. Because no matter how comprehensive your strategy is, your staff will still be blundering their way around problems and support tickets if they don’t know how to work the plan.
The creation of your data disaster strategy and the selection of your recovery team go hand-in-hand. Select a group comprised of people from various departments when possible. Each member should be trained in the recovery plan and well aware of their designated roles. By involving them in every aspect of the recovery plan, your team will always be ready for any eventuality.
There should also be a good communication plan in place, and all pertinent emergency contact information for all members included.
3- Create a Third-Party Contact List to Contact
Put together a list of all the critical and relevant contact people outside of your company. The list should include every software and hardware vendor you work with, data centers, and internet service providers. Having a contact list of all third-party personnel on hand will make your disaster recovery plan more effective and efficient since you can contact them quickly.
Companies should also take the time to check if their service-level agreements (SLAs) with vendors cover emergencies or disasters. Businesses that have outsourced their technology or are storing their systems in a data center should make sure that they have a binding agreement that clearly states the level of service third-parties will provide in the event of a catastrophic circumstance. You can even include a time frame to getting systems running in your contracts. Taking this step will ensure that the other party will begin working on finding a solution to your problems promptly.
4- Develop Network Diagrams and Emergency Procedures in Advance
Develop standard operating procedures and any explanatory diagrams in advance. You don’t want to start outlining your recovery steps or creating visuals on how to deal with an emergency right when the disaster hits. You should have all the procedures and diagrams prepared so the right people can act immediately.
Your emergency procedures should also include information on where employees will go in disaster situations. Disaster recovery shouldn’t just be about your technology systems. After all, what good would your backed up data do if your staff has no place to work?
Secure an alternate work site if your main office isn’t available. Make sure your employees know where they should go. Provide a map to the location and diagrams on seating assignments. The temporary office should be fully operational, with the proper equipment to conduct business and communicate with the relevant people. Business owners should also be open to alternatives like employees working remotely.
5- Run Tests and Keep Updating Your Plans
Planning is an excellent way of anticipating problems and coming up with solutions. But the only way to check if your plan will work is to run tests. For instance, what if your most recent backup is full of corrupted files? What if one of your legacy systems and your backup software is not compatible? Conducting dry runs and going over hypothetical worst-case scenarios will expose possible problems before they become a reality.
Your company should also consider just how quickly technology changes. Evaluate your disaster plan regularly and take the latest technology into account. By using the newest tech tools alongside your disaster strategy, you can create a culture of innovation and prudence. It will also help make your company resilient to disruptions and unforeseen events.
Remember that designing a disaster recovery plan should not stop just because a catastrophe has been averted. It should be refined, updated, and tested continuously. Schedule reviews so that everything – contacts, recovery team members, and processes – are current and complement your company’s immediate business goals.
No disaster recovery plan is perfect. The only thing companies can do is to come up with the best method of action. But don’t just focus on significant disasters or large-scale hacking. You should also make room for human error or those small scenarios that could happen at any moment. A comprehensive recovery procedure can mitigate disaster and ensure your business is still up and running.