Cyber crimes, security breaches, data loss, data corruption – these are all common scenarios for modern businesses. They can occur for many reasons, from human error to hardware malfunction, hacking, and viruses. 

When they do happen, they pose enormous threats to companies. Information Technology (IT) infrastructure breakdowns and cyber-attacks bring entire organizations to a standstill, disrupting vital aspects of an operation. 

💡 Read Crisis Management 101: How to Save Your Business When a Crisis Strikes

This is why marketing and communications teams must have a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) in place. DRPs reduce downtime after disasters and mitigate the financial and reputational impact of unplanned outages. Crucially, they also dictate how a company will return to business as usual. 

Unfortunately, our reliance on IT today means creating a DRP is becoming increasingly complex. There are a growing number of threats to protect yourself against, more considerable impacts incurred by IT disasters, and even more bases to be covered with your DRPs. 

To help you prepare, this blog will guide you through what a Disaster Recovery Plan is and the fundamentals of forming your own.

What is a Disaster Recovery Plan? 

A disaster recovery plan protects your business against disruptions to your IT infrastructure

Simply put, a DRP outlines the steps an organization will take to resume work after an IT disaster. This disaster could be anything from natural disasters and building damage to cyber-attacks and application failures.

Essentially, a disaster could be anything that disrupts your IT systems and infrastructure. Your recovery plan should cover the recuperation of every part of your organization that relies on IT infrastructure.

The aim of a DRP is to help organizations resolve data loss or corruption, recover normal systems functioning, and resume critical operations of the business. In essence, it’s a vital part of any business continuity plan

Of course, DRPs vary depending on the organization and the disaster they protect against. However, any strong DRP should cover the following fundamentals: 

  • Preventive measures like data backups and software security systems
  • Regular inspections of IT infrastructure and testing of the recovery plan
  • Rectifying measures that not only return business operations to the status quo but amend security weak points that caused the disaster
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Why are DRPs Important?

A company needs to establish recovery plans and protection policies to reduce the impact of disasters. Rapid incident responses become more essential as cybercrime and security breaches become more prevalent and complex.

In the event of an emergency, a DRP will help a business:

  • Reduce downtime: Minimizing the amount of time a business is offline following a disaster can help limit lost revenue and reduce the impact on customers.
  • Protect data: Safeguarding a business’s data from loss or corruption is essential for companies that rely on their data to operate.
  • Maintain customer confidence: A plan ensures a quick response and effective solution. This can be crucial for businesses that rely on customer trust to stay afloat.
  • Minimize financial impact: By ensuring all of the above, DRPs also help to reduce the disruption to regular business activity, loss of revenue, and the cost of data recovery.

This doesn’t just apply to big corporations either. Businesses of all sizes produce and manage large volumes of information and data, so all companies – including SMEs – should have disaster recovery plans.

4 Easy Steps to Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan

There are many factors to consider when formulating a disaster recovery plan. Remember, these will vary for different kinds of organizations. Nonetheless, the basic steps to creating a disaster recovery plan remain the same. 

Creating a DRP starts with identifying the systems and data that need protection

1. Identify Critical Systems and Data 

The first step in creating a DRP is to prioritize the systems and data in your business’s operation. This will help you determine the plan’s scope and resources you need to implement it.

For most companies, the critical aspects of IT infrastructure to consider are:

  • Financial systems
  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Human resources (HR)
  • Production and manufacturing
  • Data warehouses

2. Assess the Risk of Disasters 

Once you have identified the critical systems and data, create a business risk assessment matrix. This will determine the likelihood and severity of potential disasters. In turn, this dictates the level of protection needed for each and the frequency with which you should test the plan.

3. Develop a Recovery Plan 

The next step is to draft the recovery plan. Outline how the business restores its most crucial operations and digital assets in the event of a disaster. Remember to include steps for backing up data, restoring systems, and implementing crisis communication for employees and customers.

An essential part of this plan is the recovery time objective for each operation. This is the period in which you hope to restore business to regular operations. It should be dictated by the cost of downtime for your company’s critical digital assets and how long your company can survive without them. 

4. Test the Plan 

Once you’ve developed the recovery plan, it’s crucial to test it regularly. Establish the testing procedure and criteria, and assign team members to the task. This is essential to ensure that your plan is effective and employees know what to do in the event of a disaster.

Disaster Recovery Plan Best Practices

It can be challenging to create a DRP that’s clear, comprehensive, and robust. There are many bases to cover and multiple factors to consider, and the above steps will provide an excellent starting point.

But to make sure you don’t overlook any significant details, there are a few best practices to keep in mind.

Consider CRM

A huge part of disaster recovery is mitigating the costs to your reputation. An important aspect of this is customer relations – specifically how you handle crisis communications and complaints. Be sure you have a plan for how you will communicate the issue and urgent solutions to employees, customers, and stakeholeders.

In addition, ensure whoever is in charge of your company’s customer relations is well-equipped to handle a higher amount of calls than usual. One of the best ways to do this is with IVR systems

Interactive voice response solutions use voice-driven menus to direct callers to the right person quickly and efficiently. You can even programme the IVR in the event of a disaster to update callers on the situation and your recovery efforts.

By effectively managing customer relations during a disaster, you can protect your company’s reputation and maintain trust with your stakeholders.

Involve Key Stakeholders 

Crafting a DRP isn’t a one man/woman job. It requires input from IT staff, HR, business unit managers, a social listening team, and other key stakeholders. Monitoring a variety of perspectives will ensure the plan is comprehensive and addresses the needs of all personnel, internally and externally. A media monitoring tool can keep you aware of what’s happening inside and outside your business.

Outsource Your Disaster Recovery Needs 

If you don’t have the resources or expertise to develop and maintain your own disaster recovery plan, consider outsourcing to a third-party vendor. 

For instance, a solid data protection service will actually cover some of the bases of a DRP for you. Not only will this prevent hacking, malware, and other data-security risks before they impact your business, many now feature automated, cloud-based data-backups. These can save you extra admin and assure you that all vital data and IT infrastructure are well protected.

Update Tools and Data-handling Practices

As well as regularly testing and updating the DRP itself, you should also keep the hardware and software it depends on up to date. 

Newer, more advanced data security systems emerge each year, so make sure your company is using the latest version. Moreover, ensure you train your employees on data security. If they understand how to create strong passwords, spot phishing emails, and use secure electronic data interchange (EDI), it reduces the likelihood of an attack or breach. 

Finally, make sure your hardware is up-to-date. Newer technology is built with current security threats in mind, so often security measures are put in place for you. For instance, there are huge security benefits to your business using a VoIP phone vs landline, including end-to-end encryption, better access control, and advanced threat detection. 

Create a Disaster Recovery Plan Today

consequences of data disruptions, survey results from worldwide state of data protection
Failing to create a disaster recovery plan can have significant consequences for a business

As mentioned, crafting a strong DRP takes a lot of work. However, the cost of failing to do so could be catastrophic. 

Without a proper plan in place, your company could lose revenue from the unexpected loss of productivity, suffer extra expenses for repairs and restoration, risk its reputation among customers and stakeholders, and even be legally liable for resulting damages.

Sooner or later, it is almost inevitable that your company will experience some kind of IT security breach or infrastructure breakdown. If you want your company to bounce back and resume critical operations quickly, you’ll need a comprehensive DRP in place.

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