How to Make an Effective Disaster Recovery Plan for your Business
Disaster recovery planning is the process of creating a document that details the steps your business will take to recover from a catastrophic event. Many businesses take the time to create a disaster recovery plan, but then leave it to sit on a shelf collecting dust, never reviewed or updated. Your business doesn't remain the same; businesses grow, change and realign. An effective disaster recovery plan must be regularly reviewed and updated to make sure it reflects the current state of the business and meets the goals of the company. Not only should it be reviewed, but it must be tested to ensure it would be a success if implemented.
To develop a disaster recovery plan, you must first identify the goals and objectives the plan will meet. Here are six goals and objectives to you can use to make sure your disaster recovery plan will be successful.
Reduce Overall Risk
The main goal of any disaster recovery plan is to reduce the overall risk to the company. Look carefully at the plan and ask the question "Is there anything missing that would prevent the business from restarting rapidly?"
In the event of a disaster, your biggest enemy is time. The plan must be concise and yet comprehensive. Look for holes that can jeopardize the successful implementation of your disaster recovery plan and delay getting the company back to a fully functional state.
Maintain and Test Your Plan
Many plans are written, but few are ever updated. Even fewer still are put to the test. A disaster recovery plan that was written five years ago when your business was half its current size is not going to help with a rapid recovery.
Review the plan every year to ensure new aspects of the business are covered. Test the plan at least every two years. Pick a Saturday and pretend that you have to bring back the office operations in less than 24 hours. You don't have to physically do it, but sitting around a table offsite without any access to the usual resources of the office can shed a lot of light on your disaster recovery plan's inadequacies.
Alleviate Owner and Investor Concerns
Once developed and tested, you should present your disaster recovery plan to the owners and/or board of directors. Record any and all feedback and make sure it is addressed in the revised plan. If they are more apprehensive after you present your disaster recovery plan, you need to revisit each and every item before you present it again.
Restore Day-to-Day Operations
The essential question you must ask when reviewing your disaster recovery plan is, "Can your disaster recovery plan restore the day-to-day operations in a reasonable time?" Your customers will be understanding and sympathetic if you ever experience a disaster, but they will not wait forever for you to get your feet back on the ground. Operations must be restored quickly before customers start leaving for the competition.
Comply with Regulations
If your business is in a regulated industry such as healthcare, food processing, education, and others, make sure your disaster recovery plan takes into consideration all government regulations. Just because you are operating out of a temporary office does not exempt your business from following regulations.
A disaster recovery plan must be written and developed with the goal of responding rapidly to any disaster. As mentioned, time is your biggest enemy after disaster strikes, so make sure a copy of the disaster recovery plan is stored off site, whether electronically or in hard copy form, and that it can be accessed 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
Create an emergency contact list with multiple phone numbers for each manager. Keep it readily accessible no matter the time of day or night.