Nobody likes to think about the worst-case scenario, but not doing so is a recipe for disaster. Like people, businesses may experience sudden and unexpected emergencies or situations that can severely affect their ability to function or even survive. Often, there exists little time to react – but every second counts. Many business owners address this risk by creating a disaster recovery plan.
A disaster recovery plan is a set of formal procedures created ahead of time which anticipate what disasters might befall a business and how to best respond to each. The US Small Business Administration (USSBA) considers the creation of a disaster recovery plan a critical responsibility for business owners. However, Unitrends, our backup and recovery partner, found that for the fifth year in a row, data loss and downtime continue to plague organizations of all sizes. With increased corporate data volumes and advanced hacking methods available to cybercriminals, developing a secure and well-tested backup and recovery plan is now a must.
Disaster Can Happen to Any Business, Anywhere, at Any Time
Nobody expects disaster to strike. That’s what makes disasters so dangerous and threatening. These sudden, unexpected events can leave employees, businesses, and customers reeling.
According to a study done by the University of Texas, “94% of companies suffering from a catastrophic data loss do not survive – 43% never reopen and 51% close within two years.”
Knowing how to respond in such instances makes the difference between the survival and failure of a business in the wake of a disaster. That’s why disaster recovery is essential. Having a plan in place:
- Cuts through chaos and confusion
In the immediate wake of a disaster, the best way forward may not be immediately apparent or possible, especially if people are panicking.
- Reduces downtime
A disaster recovery plan helps a business get back on its feet and resume normal operations as quickly as possible.
- Increases the likelihood that resources will be available following a disaster
The USSBA notes that small businesses have an increased chance of sustaining significant losses if they don’t have a disaster recovery plan. They’re less likely to have the resources needed to recover unless they’ve actively prepared for disaster.
- Decreases the chance that irreplaceable data or assets will be lost
Disaster recovery planning helps businesses develop strategies to protect irreplaceable data or assets.
The Most Common Types of Disasters
There is a wide range of circumstances and factors that might result in a disaster for a business. Among these includes (but aren’t limited to):
- Cyberattacks or data breaches
- Weather-related disasters, such as tornadoes or hurricanes
- Other natural disasters, such as wildfires, earthquakes or floods
- Structural or mechanical failures
- Power outages
- Cash flow or supply interruptions
Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan
Disaster recovery plan steps are always a little different depending on the specifics of each business. However, there are still a few common elements that all good disaster recovery plans consider:
1. Take an Inventory of All Hardware, Software, and Assets
Begin planning for disaster with a full inventory of all hardware, software, and assets that the company needs to function. Each of these will need its own plan to evacuate, cover, replace, or secure each in the event of an emergency. Some examples of items may include:
- Critical machinery, computers, and hardware
- Intranet or internal servers
- Employees – particularly those with specialized skills
- Customer or patient records
- Important documents
2. Identify Core Processes
All businesses have core processes that need to run for the company to stay in business. Identify each of these and determine the absolute minimum to run.
3. Develop a Disaster Response Team with Assigned Responsibilities
During a disaster, it’s crucial to have a dedicated team assigned to handle the response and recovery procedures. Define your team and its roles clearly, identifying which individuals – and backup individuals – should fulfill each role.
4. Draft Emergency Response Policies and Procedures
During an emergency, there will be several key actions to take – including legal requirements a business must fulfill. Document each of these responses in unequivocal terms. Include specific instructions for employee evacuation. Those instructions should include where to go, who to contact, and steps to reduce injury or loss of life. After this, the disaster recovery plan should include steps first to resume core business processes in a modified manner, and then salient steps to return those processes to regular operation.
5. Implement Document Backup and Define Restoration Processes
Include in the disaster recovery plan steps to backup important documents before a disaster. Likewise, specify when, where, and how to restore those backups should the need arise. Consider the use of enterprise content management software.
6. Test and Harden the Plan
Finally, harden the disaster recovery plan with routine testing. Consider role-playing or simulations to see precisely how well procedures function during a disaster. Use this knowledge to refine and improve the disaster recovery plan to make it more useful if or when it is needed.
Prepare for Disaster with Managed IT Services
A disaster recovery plan is a must-have for any business in 2020. There are many different types of disasters, and it’s impossible to prepare for all of them. However, with proper consideration, a company can avoid losing critical data and assets during the disasters most likely to occur in an area or industry.
Many companies also turn to managed IT services to ensure that they have the backups and support they need before disaster strikes. Companies with significant digital infrastructure should strongly consider enlisting the help of managed IT professionals to weather any storm and thrive in the face of adversity. ImageNet is proud to partner with Unitrends, an innovative leader in backup & recovery technology and methodology, to bring our customers best-in-class backup and recovery applications.
ImageNet Consulting helps companies prepare for disaster by ensuring their backups and recovery procedures. Contact us now to get started.