Information technology is used every day by businesses to maintain operational efficiency. From emails to voice over internet protocol, electronic data interchange to customer orders, employee schedules to communication, your company utilizes documents, files, servers and applications. The move to hybrid and remote workspaces has also seen a rise in cloud-based environments and new technologies.
However, this can open the door to disasters affecting your operations.
When a disaster strikes and your business is on the line, you need a plan to recover quickly and not lose everything. According to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),25% of businesses don’t reopen after a disaster.
That’s where a disaster recovery plan comes into effect.
Difference Between Disaster Recovery Plan and Business Continuity Plan
To understand a disaster recovery plan, you first need to learn about a business continuity plan.
A BCP is an overall proactive strategy to ensure the company maintains its operations before, during and after a disaster hits. This big-picture approach includes measures to try and prevent a disaster from initially occurring. A BCP includes extensive risk assessment and business impact analysis.
A DRP is a subset of the BCP, but it outlines specific steps on how a business will prepare for, respond to and restore its IT systems, operations and infrastructure to full use. This reactive process focuses on minimizing a disaster’s adverse effects so the organization can quickly reduce damages and resume operations while maintaining security and compliance. DRPs usually rely on replicating and backing up data to minimize downtime and data loss, but we’ll get to that later.
Creating a DRP is critical and essential to any company surviving a disaster. And what exactly is a disaster? A disaster is any unexpected, unplanned event that slows, disrupts or stops a business from operating efficiently and accessing its data, apps and systems. Disasters include:
- Natural disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, wildfires, tsunamis, thunderstorms)
- Security breaches and cyber attacks
- Software and hardware failure
- Human error
- Illness or death of an executive
- Pandemics and epidemics, like COVID-19
- Military, terrorist or biochemical attacks
- Technological hazards (power surges, power outages, pipeline explosions, transportation accidents, loss of communication systems)
- Insider threats or sabotage
Benefits of Having a DRP
Many benefits come with having an effective DRP.
- Cost savings: Save your business money from having to restore everything. Avoiding revenue loss can sometimes make the difference between your company surviving or going out of business.
- Faster recovery: Get your organization up and running after a disaster so it feels like nothing happened. A prolonged disruption increases the chance that the business will never recover.
- Stronger business continuity: Every second of downtime leads to lower productivity, bad customer experience and damaged company reputation, as well as lost data. Downtime can also cost businesses more than $10,000 per hour, which goes back to cost savings.
- Enhanced security and compliance: Most DRPs use practices and procedures that strengthen your overall security posture and meet cybersecurity compliance.
- Reduce panic: Without a set DRP, people can panic and make rash decisions, often leading to more damage and harm.
- Beat out the competition: Customers are more likely to choose a business with a robust DRP than one without a plan.
How to Make a DRP
There are a few steps that go into creating and implementing a DRP.
- Form a disaster recovery team: This assigned group should consist of IT specialists, managers, employees and other key stakeholders in the company who can bring different perspectives on the company’s potential vulnerabilities. The disaster recovery team should identify each member, along with their contact information, and their roles and responsibilities, such as crisis management, impact assessment and recovery and IT applications. You should also designate alternatives in case someone can’t be reached. The disaster recovery team should know the DRP forward and backward so they can quickly resume business operations. Finally, the disaster recovery team should know how to communicate with the following if a disaster occurs:
- Each other
- The authorities
- Other employees
- Media outlets
- Family members
- Conduct a risk evaluation: The next step in creating a DRP is to look at what disasters could disrupt your business operations and how severely they could impact your company. Identify all the functional areas of the business, and then look at all the potential disasters that can affect them and the severity of the different disasters. Some disasters are more likely to occur than others, and some disasters will have more negative effects with more losses, so you can create sub-DRPs for minor and major disasters. By looking at how disasters impact the functional areas, you can strategize which measures and resources will be needed to resume business operations and which areas need priority over others.
- Identify backups: As previously mentioned, backups are vital for DRPs. Determine what data needs backups, who should perform the backups, where and how the data is backed up and how the backups will be retrieved and implemented. Include the recovery point objective (RPO), which looks at the frequency of the backups, as well as how much data your business can afford to lose and still survive, and the recovery time objective (RTO), which looks at the maximum amount of downtime after a disaster before it causes significant damage. Calculating RPO and RTO sets the limits the DRP has to operate efficiently. Continuous data replication and rapid recovery through cloud-based disaster recovery can reduce RPO and RTO costs. This step is also when you should consider implementing best practices like encryption and the 3-2-1 rule andair gapping.
- Create an IT inventory: Have a comprehensive list of the software, hardware and cloud-based systems used during normal business operations, including how they’re used and how critical they are to the business operations – this helps you determine which items need to be recovered first. This is a great time to see if you have the technologies needed to help with RPO and RTO. Include the manufacturer, model and serial number and cost of equipment in the list, and note if you lease or own the items. Put all this information into a spreadsheet or table that is widely accessible by the disaster recovery team.
- Test and update: Don’t wait for a disaster to occur to see if your DRP actually works; continually test and update your DRP to address evolving threats and new business needs, technologies and processes. Keep in mind that your DRP will evolve as your company grows and different risks become relevant. Regularly run tests, drills or training sessions depicting a range of disasters to see if any vulnerabilities or risks exist. You should also see if your disaster recovery team is properly prepared to handle the disaster. Based on the results, update and improve your DRP so you can fix your plan before a real disaster occurs. You should conduct tests every six to 12 months.
Create a DRP with Thriveon
Ensure your business is protected by having a robust DRP – don’t wait until it’s too late. If you need help developing a DRP or you want to check that your existing one is strong enough, reach out to Thriveon.
Our managed IT services are all about eliminating issues before they start so your company has faster response times and improved data security, which goes hand-in-hand with disaster recovery plans.
Schedule a meeting today and find out how we can help protect your organization.
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