If an incident occurs, organisations should have a plan in place to limit the disruption to their business—whether that incident is a power outage or a natural disaster. A disaster recovery plan comes into play when you want to get your business back on its feet, to reduce the revenue lost and to avoid customer frustration.
What’s the difference between disaster recovery and business continuity?
First of all, Disaster Recovery isn’t the same as Business Continuity, however, they do work together to ensure your business operations can continue in the event of a disaster.
An IT business continuity plan looks at all aspects of your organisation and is in place to ensure your business can continue its day-to-day operations during, and after the incident.
On the other hand, an IT disaster recovery plan entails how to restore and preserve data. The goals of an IT disaster recovery plan are:
- Prevention, which includes having systems in place to reduce the risks; proper backups and generators in case of a disaster.
- Detection, so you are aware of any potential risks and threats; carried out through routine inspection.
- Correction, having proper insurance policies or having a meeting to discuss key learnings from previous disasters or from the detection process.
When creating an IT disaster recovery plan it’s beneficial to do this in conjunction with a business continuity plan so that all areas of the organisation are covered.
Why do you need an IT disaster recovery plan?
Downtime can be extremely damaging for a business’s operations, revenue and reputation. A disaster recovery plan aims to mitigate the risk of damage to these areas, by setting out steps that a business should be taking in the event of a disaster. When a plan isn’t in place, it means the downtime and cost of recovery could be severe.
Benefits of having a disaster recovery plan:
Cost efficiency in the long run: You’re constantly analysing and reviewing systems, in case of disaster which gives ample opportunity to update your systems and ensure you’re using the most innovative and up to date resources. The increased usage of cloud-based data management has also led to organisations being more cost-effective as they’re not relying on local storage (which uses up power and resources).
Increased employee productivity: By having a disaster recovery plan in place you should know exactly who should be doing what in the event of a disaster or breach. With these clearly defined responsibilities, effectiveness and productivity should increase. Having the right team handling the plan can minimise any confusion and if someone is unavailable, having more than one person responsible and trained up for each role is a must.
Greater customer retention: customers have higher expectations than before with demanding reliability and connectivity. If you have a good IT recovery plan in place, the downtime will be greatly reduced, meaning customers are less likely to be frustrated and you can meet their expectations.
What are the key features of an IT disaster recovery plan?
Your selected disaster recovery team will be tasked with developing, implementing and maintaining the recovery plan. The plan should include the individual responsibilities of each team member along with their contact information—and the plan itself should be made available to all employees.
Your plan should identify and assess the disaster risks throughout the organisation so that you are prepared for all possible emergencies. This will allow the team to fully identify the recovery strategies that need to be in place and what realistic resources would be required to recover from disasters.
It’s vital to determine the critical applications and resources within the organisation. This can include evaluating your organisation's processes and essential operations. This feature of the plan should detail how to remain at a normal operating level in the face of a disaster. Whilst it’s important to understand the short-term factors and resources to keep the organisation surviving, it’s important to recognise processes that should continue if it’s viable.
Define your backup and off-site storage procedures to pinpoint what to back up, who should do it, how to do it, the location of the backup and the frequency with which you should do it. This stage of the plan should also recognise which applications and equipment should be included in the backup such as the latest financial statements and contact information for all current employees.
Once the plan is agreed upon, you need to test and maintain it. It’s a continual process of assessing risks and updating strategies in case of an emergency. It’s good practice to routinely check your plan and the recovery team should update the plan accordingly.
To ensure your IT facilities keep business operations running smoothly, it’s necessary to have a disaster recovery plan in place. Not only does it reduce customer frustration in an emergency, but it minimises the downtime of your operations which in turn, limits the loss of revenue and damage to reputation. If you’d like to learn more about IT disaster recovery plans, get in touch using our contact form or call on 0800 040 7228 to find out more.