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Developing a Disaster Recovery Plan — 5 Essential Elements

Mark Flesch

Whether it’s hurricanes hitting coastal regions or wildfires scorching the West, those in the path of these devastating events were unable to escape damage. In some cases, they lost everything.

Natural disasters happen in every state, and the human toll is compelling. The impact of downtime on businesses can be just as significant.

Would you be able to keep your systems up and running in the event of a major disruption or prolonged power outage? If not, you’re not alone. Studies show that 68% of small businesses don’t have a written disaster recovery plan or business continuity plan in place.

Natural disasters aren’t the only disruptive events that can halt an organization’s operations. You also need to plan for potential security breaches, ransomware attacks, theft, data loss and more.

What is a disaster recovery plan? Creating a business disaster recovery plan is a critical strategy that can protect your livelihood, and should include the following key elements.

1. Comprehensive Inventory

Conduct a complete inventory of any hardware, software and applications in use. Then, prioritize them in the order in which they should be restored if they go down. Include information about each piece of equipment including any serial numbers, technical support information and contact information. Also be sure to develop a list of any passwords to access cloud-based programs, CRM systems or data backups.

2. Clear Responsibilities

In the event of a natural disaster, everyone should immediately know any actions they need to take. That can only happen when those responsible for deploying the disaster recovery plan are identified by name and are familiar with your recovery process. Who will be in charge of getting systems back up and running? Who will make the phone calls or send emails? Who will speak with the media or law enforcement if necessary?

List these individuals by name, not title, so that there isn’t any ambiguity about key roles and responsibilities. Be sure to have their current email addresses and phone numbers. Also list a backup person in the event someone is unavailable.

3. Communication Plan

Now that everyone knows their responsibilities, they’ll need a clear understanding of how to communicate with one another. During a disaster, regular modes of communication are sometimes unreliable. If that happens, how will you communicate with employees, vendors and customers? You’ll need to outline procedures and business processes for contacting them, along with backup plans in the event email, cell coverage or phone lines are down.

As part of your written process, include plans for updating your website and any online portals to keep others informed about next steps. Some businesses even set up private social media groups for select individuals who need to be part of disaster recovery efforts. Communication is key for your entire workforce, so make sure no one is left in the dark.

4. Expectations for Suppliers and Service Providers

Check your service level agreements (SLAs) to understand any vendor or service provider assistance that is available. If you work with a Managed IT or ECM provider, for example, make sure they’ll be there for you when you need them. They should work diligently alongside you to resolve any problems as quickly as possible as part of your recovery strategy.

5. Regular Reviews and Testing

Once you’ve developed a disaster recovery plan, conduct periodic reviews and updates. Is someone who’s listed as being responsible for a critical task no longer with your company or have they changed roles? Have passwords to access or recover certain programs been changed? Have you contracted with a new Managed IT provider or installed new software? Technology changes at a rapid pace and, if current information isn’t listed, your plan could be rendered ineffective.

Just as important as making sure information is accurate is making sure people know what to do with it. Schedule regular practice drills, similar to how you might schedule routine fire drills. If not regularly reviewed and practiced, people can easily forget their roles and the steps they need to take.

There’s much more involved, but hopefully you’ve gained a better understanding of the significance of having a well-thought-out business continuity and disaster recovery plan. Having a plan helps provide uptime assurance and protection against any form of system failure. It could be the result of a natural disaster or due to ransomware, accidental deletion or hardware failure.

Enlisting a Managed IT provider can help you assess your needs. They’ll come alongside you to develop a robust and effective IT disaster recovery plan and can possibly even provide you with a basic disaster recovery plan template. Reach out to the experts at Elevity today and we’ll be happy to talk.

Learn More

Winter Storm Warning: Is Your Business Continuity Plan Ready?

Stay Up & Running: Minimizing Downtime with BDR

Backups vs. Disaster Recovery: What's the Difference?

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