A Disaster Recovery Plan is a must-have for any organisation [free template]

Friday, 12 June 2020 by Ontrack Team

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As businesses depend increasingly on technology, data, and their IT infrastructure, the impact of system errors or downtime has never been higher.

When an unforeseen event or disaster takes place, it can bring business operations to a sudden halt. This can not only be incredibly costly from a financial perspective, but it can also have a negative impact on your reputation. So it’s important you get back up and running as quickly as possible.

The key to the effective management of any unforeseen is a comprehensive, well-considered disaster recovery plan. Not having a plan in place can put your business at risk of high financial costs, reputation loss, and risks for your clients and customers.

 

What is a disaster recovery plan?

A disaster recovery plan forms a crucial part of any business continuity plan. It is a formal document that outlines in detail how an organisation will respond to disasters impacting the business’ IT operations, including:

 

What are the benefits of a disaster recovery plan?

A disaster recovery plan aims to:

  • Minimise disruption to business operations
  • Minimise the extent of any disruption and damage caused
  • Limit the economic impact of the downtime
  • Plan and facilitate alternative operation methods in advance
  • Ensure the relevant team members are familiar with the emergency processes and procedures
  • Facilitate the fast restoration of service.

Ultimately, the key goal of a disaster recovery plan is to allow a business’ IT team to recover enough data and system functionality for it to operate, even if this means operating at the most minimal level.

A disaster recovery plan is essential for any business, regardless of its size or industry. The disruption caused by an unplanned outage can result in reputation damage, dissatisfied internal and external stakeholders, and loss of revenue. And, the longer the recovery time, the greater the impact.

A thorough disaster recovery plan won’t prevent disasters from occurring, but it will enable the organisation to rapidly recover, minimising disruption.

 

What should a disaster recovery plan include?

All organisations use IT differently, meaning there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all disaster recovery plan. Disaster recovery planning involves the analysis of a business’ specific processes and continuity needs.

The recovery plan is usually based on a risk analysis, business impact analysis, and recovery objectives.

Most successful IT Data Recovery Plans follow a similar framework, including the following:

Business impact analysis

This part of the plan will help you identify the IT services that are essential for the running of the business, and the impact on the business if they are interrupted. It also looks at business needs in respect of availability, recovery times, backup, data integrity, and data confidentiality.

Robustness analysis

Following the business impact analysis, a robustness analysis ensures that the right level of robustness is in place to support the business. Too little robustness is a risk, while too much is an unnecessary cost.

Communications information

In any disaster, communication is key. Your disaster recovery plan should include contact details for key internal personnel and key external contacts. Make sure all details are kept up to date and ensure that all team members understand their specific role in the implementation of the plan.

Software application profile

A comprehensive list of all software applications and whether they are critical to operations or not.

Inventory profile

A comprehensive list of the manufacturer, model, serial number, and cost of all hardware, including whether it is owned or leased.

Disaster recovery procedures

For potential risk, you’ll need to include details of the disaster recovery procedures that have been prepared. This should cover:

  • The scenario
  • Possible causes
  • IT services and data at risk
  • Potential impact
  • Preventative measures
  • Plan of action
  • Key contacts

Revision history

A record of all revisions made to the plan and the date they were made.

These core elements will ensure the plan is equipped to handle incidents quickly, minimise downtime, and limit damages, both reputational and financial.

 

How to develop a successful disaster recovery plan

When developing a DRP for your business, there are several things to keep in mind to ensure that it is effective, including:

Cover a wide range of potential incidents

From hardware failure and natural disasters to cybercrime and human error, it’s important your plan covers a broad range of potential incidents, rather than purely focusing on one type of disaster.

A team effort

When creating a disaster recovery plan, it’s important to involve as many employees from across the business as possible. This will allow you to identify potential issues ad vulnerabilities from every viewpoint, ensuring the plan is as watertight as possible.

Test, test, test

When you’re preparing your disaster recovery plan, it’s important to test it thoroughly, several times. This will ensure the plan is fit for its purpose and give you peace of mind that it will deliver the best results in the event that you need to implement it. 

Keep it up to date

Disaster recovery planning doesn’t stop when you’ve completed your initial plan. Factors within your business, such as software and hardware, are constantly changing, along with the nature of new and evolving threats. So it’s important to constantly review and update your plan.

Keep it simple

Your disaster recovery plan doesn’t need to be hundreds of pages long. Simple documents ranging from 2 to 10 pages are usually sufficient for the majority of businesses. If your plan needs to be long to cover all relevant regulations, it’s worth creating a shorter version to share with employees, focusing on the steps they need to take.

 

Download our IT Disaster Recovery Plan Template

Our IT Disaster Recovery Plan document covers the building blocks of a plan, so you can start thinking about what it would take to resume normal operations in the event that your data and infrastructure are implicated in a severe IT incident or disaster.

Download Your Free Disaster Recovery Plan Template Now

 

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