Businesses today rely heavily on electronic data and IT systems to operate efficiently and effectively. Losing access to such data and IT systems could have a significant negative impact, disrupting productivity, causing revenue losses, and incurring additional expenses. To mitigate these risks and ensure business continuity, businesses need a disaster recovery plan (DRP).
What is a disaster recovery plan?
A DRP is a documented set of procedures that outlines how your company will respond to and recover from a disaster. Disasters include natural disasters (e.g., hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes), cyberattacks, and physical damage to your office or data center.
A well-crafted DRP can help minimize downtime and disruption to your business operations, protect your data, and ensure compliance with industry regulations.
What are the key components of a disaster recovery plan?
Here are the five essential elements that must be part of every DRP.
1. Disaster recovery team
Your company's DRP should identify the members of the disaster recovery team and their respective roles and responsibilities. This team is responsible for developing, implementing, and maintaining your DRP, and it should include representatives from all key areas of your business, such as IT, finance, operations, and customer service.
2. Disaster risks
Identify and assess the different risks most likely to affect your business. What are the most likely types of disasters in your area of operations? Does your organization have any unique vulnerabilities? What are the impacts of each type of disaster on your business?
Once you understand the risks, you can determine the necessary recovery strategies and resources required to get your business back on its feet within an acceptable timeframe. For example, if you are located in an area prone to flooding, you may want to invest in flood insurance and back up your data to a cloud-based service.
3. Critical business functions and recovery time objectives
Your DRP should identify which business functions are critical to your daily operations and how long you can afford to be without such essential functions. These factors will help you determine your recovery time objectives (RTOs). For example, if your payroll system is critical to your operations, you may have an RTO of 24 hours. This means that you need to be able to restore your payroll system within 24 hours of a disaster.
4. Backup and recovery procedures
Your DRP must outline your backup and recovery procedures, which should answer the following questions:
- What data needs to be backed up? Identify the data that is critical to your business operations and the data that is required to comply with industry regulations. This may include customer and employee records, financial data, and intellectual property.
- How often should the data be backed up? The frequency of backups will depend on the criticality of the data and the acceptable level of data loss. For example, you may want to back up your payroll system daily, but you may only need to back up your customer database weekly.
- Where should the data be backed up? The data should be backed up to a secure location that is separate from your primary area of operations. This could be a cloud-based storage service, a secondary data center, or a tape library.
- Who is responsible for these backups? This person or team should be responsible for creating and implementing the backup procedures, testing the backups regularly, and restoring the data if needed.
- How will the data be restored in the event of a disaster? Your DRP should identify the systems and data that need to be restored, their respective restore locations, and the steps for restoring the data from the backup and bringing the systems back online.
5. DRP testing and maintenance
A DRP is not a set-it-and-forget-it document. Disaster risks and your business’s needs are constantly evolving, so you need to test and update your DRP regularly to ensure that it is still effective. Conduct disaster recovery drills to ensure that your staff is well prepared and to identify any gaps in your plan. Make the necessary changes to address these gaps and to accommodate changes in business processes, technology, and emerging disaster risks.
Ensure that you have the necessary resources and personnel in place to implement your plan, and invest in regular training for your employees to ensure that they understand their roles during a disaster.
With a robust disaster recovery plan in place, you can rest assured that your business is better prepared to face the uncertainties of the future.
Fidelis can help you create and implement a disaster recovery plan that is tailored to your business’s unique needs. Reach out to us today.