Essentials checklist for your business’s disaster recovery plan

Essentials checklist for your business’s disaster recovery plan

Protecting your information technology infrastructure is vital. Your organization can’t afford to be unprepared in the event of disasters such as regional power outages, cyberattacks, or hardware failures. Every minute of downtime can cost thousands of dollars.

When disaster strikes, a business’s disaster recovery (DR) plan should minimize negative impacts and ensure business continuity. Its objective is to protect and preserve two assets upon which your business relies, data systems and IT hardware.

Do you have a proper DR plan in place? We've trimmed it down to essentials that any organization can follow. See if your DR plan measures up.

A business impact analysis

A DR plan must identify the most critical IT components and systems needed by your business to operate or deliver services. The purpose of this assessment is to prioritize what needs to be protected from incidents or restored first after a disaster.

Your business impact analysis should also identify serious threats to the IT infrastructure, such as fire, human error, loss of power, data breaches, system failures, and malware. Ideally, you'll have a list of threats for each IT system (e.g., loss of power may not be a big problem for your phone systems if employees can connect to cloud phones using their mobile devices).

An inventory of all IT assets

Similar to a business impact analysis, your DR plan must include a regularly updated inventory of all physical and digital IT assets, listed by order of importance. The inventory should include photos, vendor technical support contracts, contact information, and other pertinent documents. This information, combined with reference photos, will streamline the insurance claims process to help with possible losses.

As part of the restoration strategy, you will also need to collect relevant network infrastructure documents, such as network diagrams and equipment configurations, as well as information on all the software systems that your teams use and how to get them back online. Technical information such as these gets your IT infrastructure back on track as quickly as possible.

A simple IT contingency and recovery strategy

This step-by-step game plan guides your organization to recover systems, data, and other critical assets quickly after a disruption. Hence, it should be easy to understand and put to action by employees.

It should include detailed guidance and procedures for all employees and indicate the key roles in restoring damage. It will describe quick response procedures or what needs to be done immediately following an incident. Contact information of all key personnel for the recovery plan implementation is another important feature.

It should supply information such as a policy statement, an overview, and other pertinent information to DR.

Assigned roles and responsibilities

Identify who will be on your emergency response team or or anyone else who will be involved in recovering critical IT infrastructure. Your DR plan should also outline all employee responsibilities in the event of an incident and designate a proper chain of command. Your staff must understand their role when a threat materializes.

Recovery time objective and recovery point objective

Your DR plan is designed around meeting these two objectives. Recovery time objective (RTO) is the maximum amount of time that your business can be offline, or the length of time it targets to resume operations. Meeting your RTO will determine how much money, time, and effort is spent on your DR plan.

Recovery point objective (RPO) dictates how recent your backup data should be. Think of it as the maximum amount of data your business is willing to lose. If your business can afford to lose 15 minutes of data in the event of a disaster, then your data should be backed up every 15 minutes.

Backup system

Of course, RTOs and RPOs won’t mean anything without actual data. Your backup system is essential to your DR plan. This is what restores and protects data needed by your business to operate. Thus, a backup system is crucial for resuming operations after a disaster.

It is recommended that backup systems follow the 3-2-1 rule: There should be at least three copies of data on at least two different storage devices with at least one storage device in an off-site location. It’s also recommended to take frequent data backups by automating the process. Every 15 minutes is the ideal frequency to minimize data loss.

Regular testing or training

A good DR plan is built on routine testing. It helps gauge the DR plan’s effectiveness and the organization’s preparedness. Simulating a disaster will also prepare personnel for putting the DR plan into action and help identify gaps. It’s a good idea to test at least twice a year and include a gap analysis report or a report with recommendations on the DR plan’s strengths and weaknesses.

Scalability or flexibility

The DR plan should be regularly updated to reflect the current organization, including its business goals and IT infrastructure. Thus, a DR plan isn’t static. It needs to be relevant to your business and evolve over time. In order to plan for scalability or flexibility, include business goals and growth estimates over the next three to five years.

DR plans aren’t a simple endeavor. The bigger the organization, the more complex a plan becomes. But for a managed services provider like Spectrumwise, disaster recovery is an expertise summed up by many specialized solutions: data backup, data recovery, and business continuity planning. We have the knowledge and tools to help you prepare. Contact us to find out more.

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