8 Steps to an Effective Disaster Recovery Plan

8 Steps to an Effective Disaster Recovery Plan

Not all disaster recovery plans are created equal. To ensure that your personnel, systems and data are protected, and your business can continue as usual in the event of an emergency or disaster, these guidelines will help you to create a plan that will have you on the road to recovery with little upset to your business.

1. Inventory, Hardware & Software

A complete list of hardware and applications should be included in your disaster recovery plan. Each of these should have the technical support information and contact numbers. This will help you be back up and running quickly.

2. Downtime & Data Loss

If you are a tradesperson, you could more than likely run your business without servers or technology for a while. However, if you were a company like eBay, you cannot be down for more than a few seconds. Take this into consideration when determining what kind of solution you will need for your disaster recovery plan.

When devising your plan divide your applications into three groups or tiers. The first tier should be composed of the applications you need immediately. These are critical apps you could not do business without. The second should cover the apps you will need within 10-24 hours. You will not need them right away, but they are still essential. The third will have programs that can comfortably be recovered within a few days.

Defining your applications in order of importance will aid the success and speed of your disaster recovery.

You should test your plan at least twice a year. Your tiers may change based on these results and testing may reveal unknown gaps to fill before real disaster strikes.

3. Outlay who is Responsible for What – or – Identify Backup Personnel

Every disaster recovery plan should precisely define critical roles, responsibilities and all involved parties during a disaster recovery event. Among the duties should be the decision to declare a disaster. Having clear and set roles will provide everyone with the understanding of tasks needed to be completed and who is responsible for what. This is especially important if working with a third party. All parties need to be aware of the plan and responsibilities to provide a smooth and efficient disaster recovery process.

Protocols for your DRP must always include whom to contact and in what order. It is crucial to list all disaster recovery personnel with the details of their position and responsibilities.

4. A Communication Plan

Perhaps an overlooked component of your disaster recovery plan is a good communication plan.

It may be that the mayor communication platforms such as phones and email will be affected and an alternative method of communicating with your staff will be needed. Your plan should account for initial communications from the onset of the disaster as well as provide updates to keep team members informed throughout.

Another thing to consider is to include a statement to be published on your company’s website or social media. If your customers know that you are aware of a situation and are adequately prepared, they will feel more at ease.

5. Know Where to Go in an Emergency – a Backup Worksite

In the event of a disaster your employees will need an operational place to work with all required equipment, space and communication, so have an alternative site in mind if your primary office is unavailable. Make sure all staff know where to go and how to access the systems from the location. Provide a map of the site. Seating assignments will also cause less disruption.

6. Make Sure Your Service-Level Agreements Include Disasters and Emergencies

This is for an outsourced IT firm or if you store your systems in a data centre or co-location facility, ensure to have a binding agreement that defines the level of service in the event of a disaster. This will make sure that they start working on resolving your issues within a specific timeframe.

7. Include the Handling of Sensitive Information

Specifying operational and technical procedures to guarantee the protection of sensitive information is a critical component in the event an emergency. These procedures should address how delicate information is to be maintained when your plan has been initiated.

8. Test your Disaster Recovery Plan Regularly

Many things can break a perfect plan, and the only way to find them is through testing.

A survey of 900 IT admins discovered that less than 40 percent of these companies tested their disaster recovery plan more than once a year and 36 percent did not test at all.

Lack of testing is more than likely to result in disaster recovery that doesn’t perform as required during an actual emergency.

Fortunately, there is recovery assurance technology that can automate disaster recovery testing without disrupting production systems and can verify your targets are being met with confidence in your DRP.

Test your employees. Your employees need to be well versed in the plan and be able to perform all tasks they have been assigned without issue. It is good to keep an attitude that when it comes to disaster recovery, you are only as good as your last test.

To ensure that your business’s data is safe, talk to us at Blue Sky IT Consulting.

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