What is a disaster recovery plan and why do you need one?

04 June 2020 by Tilly Holland

The ever-increasing amount of data that companies are accumulating has become a massive challenge in the last couple of years. Organisations are processing, transferring and storing more data than ever before. However, the increase in data comes with a more significant risk of being a victim of data loss. It is therefore crucial that organisations have a clear disaster recovery plan in place that enables the recovery or continuation of vital technology infrastructure if/when a natural or human-induced incident occurs.

What is a disaster recovery plan? 

A disaster recovery plan (DRP) is a documented set of guidelines and approaches that describe how an organisation could quickly resume work after a disaster, e.g. a natural disaster or human error. Part of business continuity planning, the disaster recovery plan should be applied to all aspects of a business that depend on a functioning IT infrastructure. The primary purpose of a DRP is to allow the organisation's IT department to recover enough data and system functionality to enable it to operate – even at the most minimal level.

To start a DRP, an organisation will need to complete a business impact analysis that will highlight the most critical business functions and the requirements to get those operational again after a disaster.

Organisations should not only develop a DRP but also test it, and train their employees to ensure they have a thorough understanding of it before a real disaster occurs.

What should you consider when developing a DRP? 

  1. A good disaster recovery plan should cover a broad range of potential incidents. For example, hardware failure, natural disasters, cybercrime, and human error.
  2. The process of creating the disaster recovery plan should involve as many employees from the business as possible. Including a variety of employees from different areas of the company in the development of the plan, will mean it is more likely you will discover vulnerabilities and pitfalls in areas you may have otherwise overlooked.
  3. Testing your DRP is crucial. When developing your plan, be sure to incorporate several planned test. Trying to cut costs and avoid testing will compromise your organisation's security. The cost of a disaster will be much higher than the price of rigorous testing, so make sure the budget is there in the first place.
  4. Ensure you keep your plan updated. Frequent updates are not only necessary for your organisation's software and hardware but also for your disaster recovery plan. Many organisations will have DRP's that comprise of more than 100 pages. In these cases, it is better to divide your plan into several separate detailed steps to ensure you can update each one frequently.
  5. It is not necessary to have a DRP that consists of hundreds of pages. For some organisations, a simple two to ten-page document usually is good enough to cover all the necessary steps on how to react in case of a disaster or data loss. However, this depends on the structure of your company and its rules and regulations. If your DRP ends up being a very long document, then we suggest you create a separate shorter version that is available to all employees that include the essential steps that they should take immediately.

Download our IT Disaster Recovery Plan template

The purpose of our template is to help small businesses familiarise themselves with the building blocks of an IT Disaster Recovery Plan (IT DRP) and to start thinking about what it would take to resume normal operations if their data and infrastructure were implicated in a severe IT-incident.

Download now 

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