News publications and websites often report on the IT system problems of big corporations. What you may not realize is that small and medium-sized businesses could be the most vulnerable because their IT protocols are easier to breach. That’s why every business needs to engage a disaster recovery plan as part of their overall business continuity strategy.
According to the Disaster Recovery Organization, a disaster recovery plan is a blueprint of action that a company adopts in response to emergencies or calamities, whether natural or man-made, that could negatively impact businesses such as:
- Natural disasters – hurricanes, flooding, tsunamis, earthquakes
- Man-made disasters – explosions, fires, accidents, collapsed office building, cyberattacks, power outage, war
Why Does Your Business Need It?
When these calamities strike, can your business survive the loss of your IT systems and data, and continue to function? For how long?
Downtime damages a company’s reputation, incurs considerable revenue loss, interrupts productivity, and can have legal and regulatory implications. A startling statistic by PhoenixNAP reveals that 93% of companies without a disaster recovery plan which then suffer a major data disaster are out of business within one year. Meanwhile, 96% of companies with a back-up and disaster recovery plan survived ransomware attacks.
Details of the Plan
As you begin planning, you will discover how detailed the process for a disaster recovery and business continuity planning is. What does the plan contain? These plans will consist of your business procedures, assets, employees, and partners that will be needed should your company suffer any type of disaster. Often many of the details will be related to the type of disaster that is likely to threaten most businesses, but it must also contain solutions that are unique to your situation.
For instance, you are located in an earthquake- or typhoon-prone area. When any of these natural disasters hit, the power grid supply could be compromised, the wired phones and computer communications may not be operational. If this happens, it is possible to have mobile phones as a backup or to reroute the phone number to a location far from the business to keep this side operational. The plan will then detail protection procedures as well as the recovery.
Assessing the Risk
One of the first steps to disaster recovery and business continuity planning is to determine your risk factors.
- Where is your enterprise most vulnerable?
- What data is vital to my business?
- Do you safeguard the personal data of your clients?
- How well-trained are your staff to recognize risky behavior?
- How long can the data be unavailable?
- How current does the data need to be?
- What is the cost of a disaster to my company?
- What is the cost of my disaster recovery plan?
Once you determine the answers to these questions, you can begin to allocate resources to the key areas that will keep your business running.
Set the Steps in Motion then Test the Process
From the design of the plan, you must proceed to start implementing, train the staff, and test it. It is essential to test all processes in the plan to make sure that they are functional and can be adapted to any issues you encounter during the testing process.
Tests can include having each team member walk through their portion of the plan, simulating different types of breaches, and role-playing for specific disasters. It is important to be rigorous during a simulation to know if your disaster recovery plan needs modifications.
It is critical to make fail-safe plans for both your wide area and local area networks (WAN/LAN), as well as data storage and protection. Contingencies to enable staff to work remotely also need to be considered. Is there a secure way of managing the business files and do they have the adequate back-up equipment to carry on essential functions?
It is customary to update the plan every year, as circumstances and the technical aspects can change significantly over that period.
Matters to Consider in a Disaster Recovery Plan
Is the Cloud Your Answer? Determine if the information in the cloud is automatically backed up. Applications such as Office365, despite being cloud-based, can be corrupted. Back-up services may be costly, but important.
Protect Your Core Systems. When backing up your core operation, make sure the fail-over system is 150 miles away operating on different power grids and with an alternate IP provider.
Make Sure the Plan is Accessible. The best plans are not effective unless your staff can access them during a disaster. Will they be printed and displayed or stored at your main office? Will they be available online in a separate location? Make sure the plan is the most recent one, so your staff will have the best information possible.
Train People to Execute the Plan. It is critical not to rely on one person to oversee the plan. What happens if they are sick or on vacation at the time of the disaster? It is helpful to have at least one staff trained who is not onsite.
Excellent Disaster Recovery Services
Once you are convinced about developing and investing in a disaster recovery plan, your next step is to locate a trustworthy company to guide you through the process. Look for a firm that:
- is willing to tailor the experience to fit your needs;
- has been in business long enough to demonstrate their expertise;
- will offer testing on a regular basis; and
- has a location where you can continue running your business.
Contact us to inquire about how we can help you protect your livelihood.