Does your business have a disaster recovery plan?
If not, you are in the 68 percent that doesn’t have this in written form.
About 50 percent of businesses would take about three months to recover from a natural disaster. How would you operate in the meantime?
If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that we need to be prepared. Keep reading to understand the disaster recovery planning process and learn how to create a disaster recovery plan.
1. Know the Difference Between Backup and Disaster Recovery
Before you start planning, make sure you understand that disaster recovery is not the same thing as a backup. The two do go together, but they’re not entirely the same.
What is disaster recovery? It’s the aftermath of either a natural or human-created disaster that has destroyed your business either physically or digitally. A successful disaster recovery plan will help your business recover from the disaster and keep continuity.
You need to identify your most serious threats such as staff error, fire, storm damage, power loss, or system failure. Identifying each of these scenarios will help you put a plan for the course of action of each.
Backup is the process of creating multiple data copies to ensure you have the information you need. It helps you restore the replicated data in a different location. Times you may need back data include natural disaster destruction, stolen files, human error, and even technical glitch errors with software or database.
2. Inventory Data, Critical Jobs, Hardware, and Software
As you start making your plan, you need a complete list of each software programs and applications you need to keep your business running. You also need to know which jobs need to be moved to a different location in order to keep the business running.
For example, you probably need customer service representatives if your building was destroyed, but sales may not be as needed in this situation.
You also need to know what data you need for your business operations, like customer records, vendor contacts, and network applications. Ask each department how long they could tolerate downtime for all applications. This will help you understand which are the most critical for business operations.
Keep a list of this inventory so you can also get the equipment and hardware you need to conduct business remotely or at a different site. This can include phones, computers, point-of-sale systems, backup servers, office safe, and daily start-up cash drawer.
3. Create a Communication Plan
The next thing you need to consider is how you will inform employees, customers, vendors, and the public in a timely manner. Communication is key in the event of a disaster, so you need to ensure you can communicate quickly and effectively.
It’s also important to include employee training in the communication plan. You should give all employees a brief summary of your plan, so they have some idea of where to look for further communications.
4. Develop a Critical Response Team
Determine which personnel will help you get back online and back to business. This can also include third party vendors like IT consulting, software company contacts, and internal staff.
Make sure everyone has a role and also a backup for each member in case someone is unavailable. You should also have multiple ways to contact your team members.
5. Write Down Your Disaster Recovery Plan
You want to avoid any confusion during a disaster. Your team will be under a lot of pressure to get everything up and running. Every person will have their own agendas while trying to carry out general business tasks at the same time.
No doubt, this will be stressful. This is why everyone should have a written copy of your disaster recovery plan in hand. It ensures that people don’t forget tasks and that everything is done in the proper order.
You should include touch on these subjects in each scenario plan:
- Team members responsible
- Details of the threat and the likelihood it happens
- Impact on the business
- Recovery objectives
- Required response steps
- Recovery and repair needed
The plan should include each step in the right order along with the who should complete each task. This allows your process to move smoothly.
6. Practice, Practice, Practice
The best way to find any loopholes in your plan before a disaster is to practice. Disaster recovery plans are only successful if they have been tested and planned out.
When you test a scenario, you may find out that you left something out, or getting your system back online may work differently than you planned. You can modify your plan if needed.
Make sure you test regularly because scenarios can change over time. When you change or update software, it’s critical to update your plan and test the updates.
7. Make Sure You Have Multiple Copies Onsite and Offsite
A disaster recovery plan won’t be much help if it gets burned in a fire, or you can’t find it. You need to make sure multiple people have a copy (and make sure it is the most recent version).
You will want to have additional copies digitally and at an offsite location. Store copies of data backups, necessary files, and critical software on a cloud-based service.
You may also want to use offsite record storage services to keep any hard drive as well as physical record files that are no longer an active part of your daily operations, yet need to be retained in a secure offsite location.
Ready to Start Disaster Recovery Planning?
If so, you are making a wise choice. After all, you want to protect your organization and employees.
Follow these tips when you start your disaster recovery planning. If you are unsure where to start, you can consider outsourcing to help provide direction. The right company can also help you monitor and update your plan as needed.
Looking for more business advice like this? Keep reading more articles to help you with your business planning in areas such as marketing, budgeting, and ways to grow.