No matter the size of your business, it is absolutely crucial to have an effective disaster recovery plan in order to get back up and running in as little time as possible. Whether you are modifying a current recovery plan or starting completely from scratch, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Follow these ten steps to learn how to make a disaster recovery plan that will help you quickly and effectively respond to disasters that take your business offline.
1. Evaluate your backup practices
In the case of a disaster, your organisation can’t easily use any information that has not been previously backed up (What are backups?). At the end of each day, make sure to completely back up not only any new data but all servers necessary for your business to stay up and running. Completing a full backup rather than a partial one will tremendously cut down on the amount of time it takes to get your business online again in the event of a disaster.
2. Keep hardcopy lists of crucial information
In the event of a particularly extreme disaster that causes your business servers to be down long-term, having an offline, hardcopy set of lists will help document everything needed to get your business back on track. Some important lists include documentation of all equipment, procedures for all technical aspects of your business, and applications crucial to the daily function of your business.
3. Create a plan for communication
Business employees should be notified of any disaster that disrupts business operations. To ensure you are able to do this, have an offline record of contact information for each of your employees so you can keep them updated in a timely manner. Additionally, keep a record of employees’ emergency contacts so that you are able to reach them in whatever way possible.
4. Keep customers in the loop
It is also incredibly important for customers to be aware of business plans after a disaster. Consider having a statement ready to be posted on your business’s social media pages and website for all likely disasters so that you can keep customers informed and updated as you work to get up and running again.
5. Protect confidential data
Establish a way to keep both employees and customers’ data confidential and safe from hackers while still accessible if needed during a disaster. This is particularly important concerning any identity records you may have for employees, as well as any sensitive information you have for customers (such as financial information, patient history, and so on).
6. Plan for remote operation
If an extreme weather disaster takes your business offline, your quickest plan for recovery will likely include running your business from a remote location. Determine a plan for the procedures necessary to do this effectively beforehand so the process goes as smoothly as possible. The most important part of this plan is creating a list of the most essential operations for your business on a daily basis and creating a plan for their execution – no matter the location.
7. Ensure you Are insured
The time to make sure your business’s insurance policy includes all necessary coverage is now, before disaster strikes. Check with your insurance provider to verify that you have all the needed add-ons for your business, and take note of all costs and deductibles you are responsible for. Additionally, make sure you have offline access to all the information you need to file an insurance claim.
8. Designate an administrator for disaster recovery
Determine who will be the designated head of operations for all locations of your business in the event of a disaster as well as a secondary option as a backup. In the most ideal situation, both your primary and secondary administrators will live fairly close to their appointed business location so that they can be at the office in a moment’s notice if needed.
9. Use Teamwork to Minimise Panic
When disasters occur, panic is a common and predictable outcome among employees. Not only should all employees be made aware of your business’s IT disaster recovery plan before the event of an actual disaster, having designated teams to help get operations back to normal will minimise much of the miscommunication and confusion as well. Have your disaster administrators create a prioritised list of tasks to be completed after a disaster and designate teams of employees to each task.
10. Practice the Plan
The best way to test if your disaster recovery plan is actually effective is to conduct regular drills. This will help you easily identify holes in your recovery procedures that you can quickly remedy before they cause major problems for your business under the stress of an actual disaster.
Creating a disaster recovery plan is an essential process no matter the size of your organisation. If you create a plan that is tailored to your business and its needs step by step then you can rest assured knowing your company is prepared should a disaster – big or small – ever strike.