An IT disaster recovery plan helps you to keep your business going during difficult times, whether they’re caused by natural disasters, cyber attacks, or any other risk factor. In many industries, it’s a must for companies that want to stay competitive in all situations, for how hard and disruptive they can be.
However, putting together an IT disaster recovery plan takes months and requires many resources. Since you involve employees across multiple departments and a consistent budget, you should make sure you build the most suitable strategy for your business.
Here are five essential elements that your IT disaster recovery plan should cover to make sure your business functions in all circumstances.
A Business Impact Analysis (BIA)
A BIA is a solid foundation on which you build your entire disaster recovery plan. In simple words, you can’t build an effective strategy without performing a business impact analysis first.
This essential step in your way to crafting the IT disaster recovery plan helps you to understand how much interrupting the activity costs the company and whether you should invest in a disaster recovery plan, a business continuity plan, or a continuity of operations plan.
A team of specialists examines three security objectives: confidentiality, integrity, and availability, all vital for maintaining workflows and respecting your contracts and business agreements.
Completing a BIA allows you to identify your priorities and dependencies, in case of a disaster — what you need to do first to minimize loss and recover your system.
A Complete Analysis of Possible Threats and Solutions to Counter Them
Based on the BIA, you can identify all risk factors that can interrupt the activity of your company. You must analyze all these potential threats and come up with suitable recovery plans for each scenario.
For example, if an earthquake irremediably damages your servers, you should have an emergency solution ready to keep your company working until you buy new ones — either by having a disaster recovery agreement with your provider or by transferring your data using a cloud-based solution. Furthermore, if the earthquake damages your building, you might be in need of finding a location to run your business.
As not all scenarios affect your company in the same way, you should prioritize your actions by anticipating the most likely threats. Today, your company is more likely to be the target of a cyber attack than having to survive a natural disaster, to give an example — which means that the data disaster recovery plan should be your top priority.
The Human Resources Involved in the Plan
The emergency team is crucial for an IT disaster recovery plan. You must have a full list of contacts that includes phone numbers and addresses for both internal employees and vendors’ personnel that will be involved in the recovery plan.
Identify the key employees that can work during the disaster and make sure everyone knows their responsibilities in this process:
- What section of your company should be working;
- What processes can be interrupted;
- Who calls the emergency team;
- Who establishes communication with the authorities;
- Who speaks for your company to clients, employees, and in the situation of an incident, to the victims.
Write down precise instructions for every person involved in the IT disaster recovery plan. Don’t make assumptions; just because you think some steps are visible, it doesn’t mean your employees share the same thoughts.
In a crisis, people are more likely to make irrational decisions. So, all directions should be logical, in chronological order, and expressed in simple words, with no room for ambiguity or misunderstandings.
Up-to-Date Information That Reflects Your Company’s Status
The list of tasks and actions to be performed immediately after the disaster should be updated regularly. It’s the only tool that can help you to restore activities in the right order, so you should treat this seriously.
If any piece of this list is missing, you put your entire company at risk. Make sure all employees involved are still available for the tasks you’ve assigned. Plus, check all phone numbers, emails, and other contact information, to make sure your list contains accurate information only.
If your IT disaster recovery plan includes a list of assets stored in a safe location to be used as emergency equipment, make sure this document is precise as well. If new technology is available, you may need to update your plan and include new elements that can make data recovery more straightforward and faster than what you have planned initially.
Test Your Ability to Respond to Emergencies!
You can’t wait for a disaster to happen to test the efficiency of your IT disaster recovery strategy. You must test the plan and improve it where you find gaps, communication errors, or other elements that can put your recovery at risk.
Make sure all the documentation is easy to read and understand by an average user. This way, you let less room for human errors and grow your chances to remain efficient during a crisis.
Based on the tests, you can reconsider your priorities, as well. After a first test, you can identify the most critical elements for maintaining workflows — what inside your company is worth saving, regarding costs and benefits in the long run.
Don’t wait for a cyber attack or a disaster to make a plan! You must learn how to respond to such a situation before it happens, to keep your company working and maintaining your market share despite going through a crisis.