If your business doesn’t have a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) in place or you’re looking to upgrade your current plan, strap in because, in today’s blog, we are talking all about DRPs. We will teach you how to begin putting these types of plans together and what they should include. So, let’s get started!
What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?
Let’s get the first important question out of the way—what is a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP)? Well, DRPs are complex documents that contain a wealth of information about the IT operations of an enterprise, formatted in a way to help businesses quickly and efficiently respond to technological disasters such as data breaches. A DRP captures all the information that describes an organization’s ability to withstand a disaster and the processes that must be followed to achieve disaster recovery. In simple terms, it’s a giant guide that your company can follow if and when something bad happens.
A DRP is so important for every business because, in this digital age, an organization’s digital data is practically its lifeline. Think of how much information and how many assets each organization holds digitally. On top of that, many businesses operations are partially or wholly digital, meaning everything relies on a smooth, working technical system. But cyber threats are also increasing. And then there are things like natural disasters, power outages, hardware failures, the list goes on. So much can go wrong, so businesses need to be prepared for these potential events to get back up and running as quickly as possible. That’s where a DRP comes in. It helps provide a process that business leaders and employees can follow in an organized and efficient way in an emergency.
How to Put Together a Disaster Recovery Plan
Now that we understand the importance of a DRP, let’s learn how to put one together.
1 – Include Relevant Systems
The first step in creating a DRP is to identify and include all relevant systems in your plan. A DRP is focused on technical systems. It doesn’t take into consideration any non-IT, personnel, Human Resources, or real estate-related disasters. Areas that should be taken into consideration include:
- Network Infrastructure
- Servers Infrastructure
- Telephony System
- Data Storage and Backup Systems
- Data Output Devices
- End-user Computers
- Software Systems
- Database Systems
- IT Documentation
Listing out these systems will provide a roadmap of what to check on in the event of an emergency when the pressure is high and efficiency is critical.
2 – Create Teams and Responsibilities
The next crucial step in creating any DRP is to determine teams and identify responsibilities. Different groups will be necessary to assist the IT department in restoring normal functionality to the organization. This will go from the top of the executive suite to employees assisting with communications or finance. Potential teams that you should determine if your business needs in its DRP include:
- Disaster Recovery Lead(s)
- Disaster Management Team
- Facilities Team
- Network Team
- Server Team
- Applications Team
- Operations Team
- Management Team
- Communications Team
- Finance Team
You should list out responsibilities for each team. For example, the Disaster Recovery Lead will likely have tasks that include determining that a disaster has occurred and triggering the DRP process, initiating communication of the disaster to other leaders and teams, overseeing all other DRP teams, updating business leaders throughout the DRP process, and more. On the other hand, the Communications Team will likely have tasks such as reaching out to the media if necessary, notifying the relevant authorities, communicating with affected individuals or business partners, and more. The more detailed and specific the tasks are, the more likely each team will have clarity for their role during an emergency, making everything run more smoothly.
3 – Develop a Disaster Recovery Call Tree
After determining what types of DRP teams and tasks your organization will have, you should create a DR Call Tree so that the DR Lead can quickly and easily initiate the DRP by getting in touch with each team leader and individual. You can add as many levels as necessary for effective communication at your organization.
4 – Identify Any Recovery Facilities
Another element of a useful DRP is identifying all recovery facilities if your organization needs them. If your organization cannot pause operations due to any outages, it’s essential to have provisioned separate dedicated standby facilities. If you determine that this is something your company needs, you’ll want to list out what facilities you have in place along with the capabilities and resources for each facility. For example, does the facility have a fully redundant server room? Does it have office space for DR Teams and IT to use during a disaster? You’ll also want to include a map with directions and transportation instructions with contact information for any facilities. All of this information will be helpful to have immediately and easily accessible.
5 – List All Data and Backups
The next section of your DRP should list the data your organization has access to, where it resides, and where it is backed up. To do this, you’ll want to identify the data name or group, the data type, the backup frequency, and the backup location. Data is one of the most critical pieces of any business, so having all of it mapped out will be extremely helpful and necessary.
6- Develop a Communications Plan
Whether your organization has created a separate Communications Team or has put another team in charge of communications, this is a critical aspect of any DRP. During any disaster, there will need to be people communicating with internal stakeholders and external stakeholders. You’ll want to detail the communication plan of attack beforehand to make sure it’s as simple as possible. List out various parties that might need to be informed, such as employees, shareholders, business partners, parent companies, clients, the media, etc. Don’t forget to list out all authority contacts, such as the police and fire department. This will give the team tackling communications a straightforward process instead of coming up with everyone they need to contact at the moment.
Another thing that you’ll want to include in this section is a guide for how communications should go. Detail how the Communications Team should contact people and what they need to address in their communications to the organization. This will likely be different depending on the group—employees will likely need different information than vendors—so have a guide for each different level, along with all of their contact info.
7 – Rank IT Systems
One of the most crucial elements of your DRP will be the section that ranks and breaks down the components of every IT system at your organization. This will serve as the ultimate map to getting back up and running. To do this, you’ll first want to rank every IT system in order of importance. Then, you’ll want to break up each system’s components also in order of importance. This way, during a disaster, you will know exactly where to start trying to bring systems back online. You can start with the most critical systems and work your way down until everything has been recovered and restored.
8 – Track Plan Testing and Maintenance
Now that you have your basic plan in place, you need to test your DRP. You don’t want an actual disaster to be the first time you’ve looked at or used your DRP. Instead, you should be continually testing and updating your plan to ensure that it is tailored to your organization’s individual needs and is as accurate as possible. Over time IT systems change, business leaders change, data changes, so make sure this is all kept up-to-date and maintained in this section.
DRP plans are vital, and every business should have one. Hopefully, this has given you some primers for creating your own DRP. To make it even easier for you, we’ve created a detailed template to get you started. Download this Disaster Recovery Business Continuity Plan template and listen to our podcast, where we discuss some critical aspects of any DRP plan to help start preparing your business for potential disasters. We are always here to help you in creating your DRP—contact us to learn more about DRPs today!