A Disaster Recovery Plan (DR) is a document that outlines how an organization can return to normal operations after an unplanned event. This includes fires, hurricanes, and cyber-attacks. Unexpected disturbances can have a significant impact on small businesses. In fact, 40%-60% of companies lose access to their operational systems and go out of business. 93% of businesses without disaster recovery were closed within one year of a major data loss. Despite the fact that they are large numbers, 75% of small businesses do not have a disaster recovery plan in place. This makes them very vulnerable. Proper planning is crucial to ensure the survival of your business. It doesn’t have to be complicated. 90% of ransomware attacks can be prevented by having a solid data backup and a documented way to recover from it. These are some suggestions on how to create a disaster recovery plan.
Form a team to create the plan
You can assign people to a team to create and maintain a disaster recovery plan if you don’t have one. It avoids any confusions and ensures that you have someone to answer to.
Identify Your Essential Assets
This is a list of assets that your business requires to continue operating. This list can include physical assets such as buildings, equipment, or company data. It can also include intellectual property and key employees. This is the defining element of your company’s ability to operate for any length of time.
Identify potential disasters for each asset
You should identify all potential risks associated with each asset. This could include fires, hurricanes and political unrest. This should be as complete as possible, and take into account the details of your business, such as your industry, location, competition, etc. Although this list can seem overwhelming, it is important to have a plan that covers at least five of the most likely disasters for each asset.
Make a plan to safeguard your assets in every Scenario
Once you have created a list of potential disasters and assets, it is time to create solutions. There are many ways to do this, but the easiest is to make a table.
Plan for your employees
First, identify and train leaders on how to properly guide employees. In certain situations, the people who worked on the plan may not be able to communicate with others due to various reasons. It is important to train people to be able carry out the plan even if you aren’t there. Next, you will need to plan for the relocation of your employees and allow them to continue their work to keep the business running. This is the easiest way to go. Your employees can work remotely, which would allow everyone to continue to work, unless there is an emergency in your area.
Create a communication plan
You should have multiple communication options in an emergency. Communication can fail in natural disasters. You need multiple communication methods so you can still contact your employees to let them know. It is important to keep your contact information up to date and to have backup information in case you need to reach your employees. It is best to set up a system where people can update their information and then remind them every six months to correct any errors. It is also a good idea to keep a printout of important contact information, as email and other electronic mail might not be accessible.
Locate an alternative business location
In the event that your main office or workspace is unavailable, it is important to have alternate business locations. There are many options. Some are easier to use but more costly. Others will take longer to get up and running in an emergency. This may not be a complete building for a small business. It might be an office where key employees can work.
This space can be used for training, client meetings, or other special events. You may also want to allow your employees to work remotely as this is a COVID 19 issue. Employers who had the option of working from home were more able to adapt than those who didn’t.
Continually Test Your Plan
You can only test your plan in real-world situations to make sure it works. This is what you want to do:
- All your important assets can be protected
- There are many ways to communicate with your employees
- Know what your employees should do
- You have trained and assigned people to execute the plan
- You have other locations that are ready and functional.
Simulating these scenarios will help you feel confident about your knowledge. These can be done with different levels of realism. Some may be tabletop exercises that allow you to walk through a hypothetical scenario with key employees and then discuss the plan. Full-scale simulations can also be done. This involves switching over operations at your hot site to test if the business operations can continue without any problems. Regular simulations such as fire drills are a good idea to make sure everyone is aware of what to do and that all employees follow industry regulations. The DR plan should be reviewed as problems arise during drills to prevent them from happening again.
Define Your Tolerance Levels
It is important to understand your company’s tolerance for data loss and downtime. This includes knowing your Maximum Tolerable downtime (MTD), Recovery Point Objectives (RPO), and Recovery Time Objectives (RTO). This should be done for every critical asset you identified during your DR planning. Based on this information, you can determine what priorities need to be set and what a successful disaster relief scenario will look like.
Get your SLA
If you have outsourced technology or other important processes, make sure that your service agreement defines the level of service they will provide in an emergency. Also, be aware of what constitutes an emergency. It is important to establish a time frame for them to start work on a solution and a time frame for getting your systems back online. The contract should also outline what happens if they fail to keep their promises.
Make a plan for dealing with Media
You should have a plan in place for media engagement if the disaster was only your company’s experience. Make sure you know who has the right to speak and give them a briefing on what to do and not say. Ask your employees to refrain talking to the media until you have a better understanding of the situation.
Ensure sensitive information is properly handled
Even in times of crisis, ensure that sensitive information is handled with proper security. Sensitive information can include company secrets and personal information of consumers. It is important to ensure that only those who have a legitimate need to access the information will have it.
The most common types of disasters that you can plan for are
- Application failure
- Communication failure
- Data center disaster
- Building disaster
- Campus disaster
- Citywide disaster
- Disasters in the region
- National disaster
- Multinational disaster
- Failure of cloud infrastructure
The purpose of a disaster recovery plan is to help a company recover from an emergency situation and keep its business operations going. The process begins by identifying the company’s most important assets. Next, identify the potential disasters that could affect them. Finally, create a plan for restoring business operations in the case of such disasters. A disaster recovery plan should include contingencies to communicate with employees, move operations to a backup location and finally restore company services within the Recovery objective (RPO), and recovery time objective(RTO). This will ensure that your company is able to recover from a disaster without causing permanent damage.