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What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?

  • A Disaster Recovery (DR) Plan is the strategy an organization uses to recover business operations quickly in the event of a disaster
  • Businesses must define what classifies as a disaster and the impact a disaster could have
  • A disaster should be defined more by the impact it has on the organization than the event itself
  • Disasters with the highest likelihood and impact should be the main focus of your DR Plan

A basic definition of a Disaster Recovery (DR) Plan is: “A strategy that outlines what an organization does to recover as quickly and effectively as possible in the event of some sort of catastrophe.” 

However, what most people really want to know is what should be included in their plan and what makes sense for their organization.

By the time you finish this article, you will have ideas on what to think about as you begin (or refine) the DR plan for your organization. 

So let’s explore DR planning a bit further…


Defining Disaster Recovery at Your Organization

The first step in coming up with your DR plan is to define the following:

  • What does your organization classify as a disaster?
  • What types of disasters might you reasonably face?
  • What impact could a disaster have on your organization?
  • How would you be affected if your workspace became physically available? Would you still be able to access your data?

Types of Disasters

When it comes to disasters, most people think of physical disasters like a fire, flood, or extreme weather situation that cuts power to the office. Disasters can also be technology-based, such as system-failures, cyber-security attacks, and unplanned data loss.

Natural or Physical Disasters

In the event of natural disasters, it isn’t necessarily your technology that is going to fail, but things surrounding it.  For instance, if your office catches on fire and takes out your server closet, you wouldn’t consider that a failure of the servers.  However, you still have to figure out how to work in this kind of situation.

In a cloud-based environment, perhaps a physical disaster is more of a logistics challenge than a technology challenge. 

Technology-based Disasters

Technology-based disasters require a little more expertise from a tech expert in terms of solutions and deployment, but that doesn’t mean management takes a back seat to the technology planning side.

Management needs to consider the impact of system failure. For example, if you lose access to your file server for an entire day due to basic failure, what kind of impact does that have on you? 

If you can illustrate the impacts of disasters to your technology solutions provider, they will be better able to craft solutions to address the risks accordingly.

The Impact of a Disaster

There are endless incidents that can occur.  For example, whether you are a large or small business, disaster recovery services not done properly can completely debilitate your business, while others will have very minor impact. It’s important to assign an impact-value and a suitable response to the disasters you define.

For example, you don’t need to jump into your DR Plan for events that can be easily managed and resolved.  A PC failing would probably not be considered a disaster (that is, unless the impact of that failure causes dramatic consequences). So you shouldn’t necessarily be building your DR Plan around situations like that.

There are other disasters to consider too, and they often depend on your line of work. 

Just remember this: a disaster is defined less by the event itself, and more by the impact it has on your organization.


Assessing Your Backup and Disaster Recovery Resources

The technology industry has a variety of powerful and sophisticated DR solutions that enable IT Solution Providers to develop workflows and contingency plans to cover many scenarios and get organizations up and running again quickly. But you have to be careful. 

What Resources Do You Really Need?

Most small to midsize businesses have limitations.  The expensive on-site/off-site instantaneous recovery solution for their entire infrastructure might be available, but the price to purchase and manage it is often too expensive to justify.

That’s OK though. And this is why it is important to come up with plausible scenarios with an impact analysis. 

The disasters with the highest likelihood and impact should really be where your DR Plan focuses, and the solutions you use should follow that same rule.

Your Action Plan

Consider your action plans.  When management decides it’s time to act on the DR plan, they need to be able to effectively execute it. Consider this:

  • Is the DR team big enough?
  • Do you have leadership to make big decisions?
  • Can tasks be delegated so that too much responsibility for recovery does not sit with one person?
  • Does the DR team have flexibility and ownership to be able to adjust as new and unforeseen factors come into play?

Fundamentally, the action plan should focus on assigning roles, responsibilities, and communication standards so that management knows what they are doing without feeling bolted down by a prescribed set of actions. 


Train, Communicate, Evaluate, Repeat


Keeping Up With Evolving Technology

The nature of technology and DR planning revolves around rapid change.  Products and tools continue to be upgraded as vendors “sunset” legacy products and drop support. This can lead to security flaws. 

IT security and risk management is also changing. As Social Engineering and Cloud Infrastructures transform, many of the rules regarding system design and potential cyber-security threats change.

Review & Test your DR Plan Regularly

A DR plan is never finished.  After the plan is developed, you will need to revisit it regularly because:

  • Technology Changes
  • Threats evolve
  • Systems Change
  • Businesses evolve

It is also a good idea to do some role playing, tabletop exercises, or other testing of the DR Plan, so that you can see where things might need to be improved or adjusted.

Communicate Disaster Recovery Plans to Staff

Not all staff members will have a significant role to play on the DR team, but at the same time it is essential that every staff member has access to the plan and understands it.

Communication and training on the DR plan needs to be a regular part of life at work, just like staff has regular communication about the company handbook. This is also a valuable practice, as your staff may also have helpful feedback on your DR plan, and how it can be improved.

Planning, Documentation and Communication are Critical to Disaster Management

While many people focus on the tools used for their DR plan, at the end of the day, it is the people and processes you put towards disaster management that will lead to the best outcomes. 

For more information about effective IT Disaster Recovery Planning and the tools available to you, visit: https://www.dpsolutions.com/it-support-services/backup-disaster-recovery