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5 Tips on How to Create an Effective Disaster Recovery Plan

Disaster Recovery Plan

Nature is unpredictable. In recent years, it has become even more so, with devastating natural disasters taking place with alarming frequency. Some of these events resulted in people and businesses losing everything. No one ever wants to encounter such a situation, but virtually everyone can benefit from planning for what to do should one arise.

Natural disasters are not limited to a few select locations; they can happen anywhere. Unfortunately, 68% of small businesses do not have a written plan in place to deal with these occurrences. Is it any wonder then that according to the Federal Emergency Management System, 40% of small businesses caught in a disaster ultimately end up shutting down?

These aren’t the only disasters that businesses need to contend with, however. How about theft? Maybe ransomware attacks? Perhaps other security breaches or data loss?  Without a disaster recovery plan, your business could find itself severely compromised, or even crippled. But what exactly is a disaster recovery plan?

A good recovery plan is simply an attempt to plan for these types of occurrences in order to protect your business. When creating your plan, you should be sure to include the following:

Clear Responsibilities for all Employees

Should you ever be forced to contend with a disaster—natural or otherwise—everyone should be aware of their role in responding to it. Tasks should be assigned to specific individuals who are made to understand their part in the recovery process. For example, who would interact with the media or law enforcement if necessary? Who would be responsible for sending emails and making necessary phone calls? Who would oversee the restoration of your business systems?

Those individuals who are responsible for each task should be listed by name. Assigning a task by employee title could lead to confusion. You should also have a backup named in case the primary person is somehow unavailable.

Take a Thorough Inventory

You should have a complete, up-to-date inventory of all hardware, software, and applications in use, prioritized by the most to least critical for your business. In the event of a disaster, your team should be aware of the most important components to restore.

You should have ready access to serial numbers, contact information, and technical support, and you should also keep a list of passwords used to access your backups, CRM systems, and any other cloud-based systems.

Method of Communication 

Having all duties planned out and assigned is only one part of preparing your disaster recovery plan. Given that regular means of communication may be unavailable during a disaster, you will need and alternate means of communication that you can fall back on.

You will need to be able to reach not only your customers and vendors, but your employees as well. Email and cell phones may be unavailable, phone lines may be down. Be sure to have a means in place—as well as a backup plan—or getting in touch with those you need to communicate with.

One method that you may wish to explore is a private social media group for those who are part of your recovery plan. Make sure that everyone who needs this information is in the loop.

Support from Suppliers and Service Providers

If you have Managed IT or an ECM provider, check with them to make sure you are clear on the support they will provide in the event of a disaster. You don’t want to assume they will be there when you need them most only to find out that they are not. They should be working with you to help expedite your recovery.

Review and Test Your Plan on a Regular Basis

Having a plan for disaster recovery is valuable, but that plan needs to be reviewed and tested on a regular basis in order to account for changes in personnel, methods of operation, or even hardware or software. Rapid advances in technology makes that last consideration especially important.

Beyond adjusting for potential changes, the need for practice exists to allow employees to continually review their role and remain prepared for it.

This all serves as more of a launching point than a complete plan. Preparing yourself for potential disaster is much more involved, but by starting with the above, you can lay the foundation of a successful recovery plan.