5 Disaster Recovery Plan Steps to Protect Your Business

June 23rd, 2021 | IT Risk Management, Security Policies

When a disaster hits, 40 to 60% of small businesses never reopen.

This year’s forecast of an active hurricane season is prompting businesses to plan and prepare a hybrid workforce of remote and in-office staff so they are ready to react quickly, and as securely as possible.

As businesses continue to adapt to the shift to remote work, another challenge is on the horizon. The NOAA predicts a 60% chance of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season from June 1st to November 30th, 2021. Your business’s ability to recover from a disaster is directly tied to how well you customize your plan around your unique operations and needs. In this post, we will cover why your plan should be tailored to your organization and what Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) Plan steps you should take to minimize the business impact of an unexpected event.

Why is Your Disaster Recovery Plan Unique?

The goal of a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is to recover and maintain business-critical operations and continuity when a major disruption occurs.

Unfortunately, there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to disaster recovery, but there are Disaster Recovery Plan steps you can take to build a strategy catered to your organization’s needs.

Your plan is unique to the people, processes, systems, and applications that allow your business to operate every day. To begin making a Disaster Recovery Plan, you must first consider all possible disaster scenarios and understand what your business needs to maintain critical operations under these conditions.

5 Steps for a Complete Disaster Recovery Plan

1. Understand Your Minimum Operating State (MOS)

A Minimum Operating State (MOS) is what your organization requires, at minimum, to conduct business. These requirements can range from the necessary staff and communication to business applications and processes. Once you have a clear understanding of what’s critical to maintaining your company’s MOS, you can build a realistic Disaster Recovery Plan that takes the following elements into account.

2. Understand Your Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

Your Recovery Point Objective (RPO) is the ability of your business to return to a previous point of operations, such as restoring the most recent backup before a disaster impact occurred. If your backups occur once every month, you may be missing critical data around clients and your own operations when it’s restored. The more granular your restoration capabilities and RPO, the easier it will be for you to continue business operations as normal.

3. Understand Your Recovery Time Objective (RTO)

Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is based on the level of downtime your business can tolerate while restoring your critical applications and systems. This is the amount of time it will take your business to return to its last Recovery Point Objective (RPO) after a disaster occurs.

4. Establish a Business Continuity Plan (BCP)

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) will be framed around your Minimum Operating State, Recovery Time Objective, and Recovery Point Objective. Your BCP should clearly outline the resources, steps, and expectations around restoring and maintaining business operations after a disruption with minimal downtime and costs.

5. Establish a Critical Operations Plan (COP)

The Critical Operations Plan (COP) is focused on the policies and guidance necessary to execute your Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans in the event of an emergency. It should outline who will be in charge of initiating emergency operations and how employees will help support the recovery and continuity of the business.

Key Questions for Building a Disaster Recovery Plan

Here are a few questions to help you understand what it will take to keep your business running when a disaster strikes and to outline your organization’s Disaster Recovery Plan steps:

  • How will you communicate and coordinate with the rest of your team?
  • Where and how will you conduct business if your main facility is unavailable?
  • How will your business maintain communication with key contacts such as vendors, employees, customers?
  • Who will be in charge of managing emergency operations, and how will they coordinate with the rest of your team?
  • How will your staff work if the main facility is unavailable? Will they work remotely and how? What materials will they need?
  • Where and how are you going to maintain operations if the main facility is unavailable?
  • What tools and systems are critical to your business operations?
  • Will your critical systems and tools be available if your main facility is damaged or inaccessible?
  • How will you restore your critical apps and systems, and how will the rest of the team access these tools?
  • What is the acceptable RTO for your business operations?
  • How long will it take to recover your critical applications and systems if the main facility is accessible?
  • How long will it take to recover your critical applications and systems if the main facility is inaccessible?
  • Are your business-critical IT tools dependent on at-risk resources such as on-site servers?
  • What’s required for your business to return to its most accessible RPO?
  • What loss of data or functionality may occur as a result of a limited recovery point (the inability to return to the most recent state of business operations and data accessibility)?
  • How are your business-critical applications and systems protected?
  • Do you have another location outside of the disaster impact zone your employees can access if the main facility is at risk? How will they get there?

Key Technology and Functions to Consider in Your Disaster Recovery Plan

It’s difficult to remember everything you should be considering as you develop your Disaster Recovery Plan. Here’s a list of the main IT tools and functions you should address to achieve business continuity.

  • Information Technology (IT) Equipment
  • Storage
  • Processing
  • Communications
  • Display
  • Sensor
  • Controller
  • Environmental Controls
  • Temperature/Humidity Controls
  • Power Supply
  • Software
  • Operating System
  • Networking
  • General-Purpose Application
  • Mission-Specific Application

These questions and considerations should spark additional discussions among your leadership team as you determine what a successful disaster recovery looks like for your business. We believe it is the responsibility of a Chief Information Officer to help your business build a strategic IT roadmap that plans for your needs, both the known and the unexpected. We have helped a variety of companies build their recovery and continuity plans. Let us do the same for you.

Ready to get started? Schedule time to talk to our IT consulting team to start building your plan today.