Your data is the core of your business. So what would happen if you suddenly lost access to it? Documents, business critical applications, organisational data….gone. Sadly, this scenario is all too common. Natural disasters, hardware failures, cyber threats and even simple user errors can all lead to the permanent loss of valuable data.
While you may already have backup policies in place to mitigate these threats, without a disaster recovery plan your business could still experience extended downtime and catastrophic data loss. With a disaster recovery plan as part of your IT strategy, you can rest assured that your lost data can be restored in a timely manner, helping you to keep your business operating even in a worst case scenario.
What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?
A disaster recover plan should be a crucial part of any business’ IT strategy. It is a well-documented process detailing your organisation’s response to any hypothetical scenarios that could impact your IT infrastructure. Every disaster recovery plan is guided by three main goals:
- Ensure uptime by minimising any interruptions to normal operations
- Limit the the damage and economic impact caused by interruptions
- Maximise productivity by providing personnel with emergency procedures and alternate means of operation in advance of any interruptions
While every business operates differently, one thing they have in common is that they all store and use data in some way. Therefore, every disaster recovery plan should address two man objectives:
- Recovery Point Objective (RPO) – This objective sets how far back to recover data from and defines the maximum amount of data loss (measured in age) deemed acceptable in the event of a disaster, failure or comparable event.
- Recovery Time Objective (RTO) – This objective defines the length of time it takes to restore company data and systems, resulting in business operations resuming as normal.
An effective disaster recovery plan will include a comprehensive backup solution, as it will automatically backup data to ensure that both the RTO and RPO standards are met.
The Benefits of a Disaster Recovery Plan
1. Ensure Business Continuity
No matter what business you’re in, unexpected downtime carries significant consequences. Every minute your business operations are offline means significant revenue loss and irreparable reputational damage. In addition to this, without access to the tools and information they need, your employees will be unable to carry out their duties. This can lead to a dramatic loss of productivity, as unfinished tasks and missed deadlines continue to accumulate. By implementing a disaster recovery plan and backing up your data to the cloud, you can maintain your business operations, even when disaster strikes!
2. Improve Information Security
One of the biggest cyber threats businesses face is ransomware attacks. Organisations who don’t have disaster recovery plans in already in place are often forced to pay an exorbitant amount just to regain access to their own data. By incorporating a data backup solution and restore policies into your disaster recovery plan, you can render these types of cyber attacks moot. Furthermore, cloud backup services also usually include enhanced security features and tools that detect unauthorised access and other suspicious activity. The earlier you can detect and respond to a potential security breach, the less chance of any negative fallout impacting your business.
3. Better Customer Retention
A disruption to your normal operations isn’t just detrimental to your business, but also frustrating for the customers who rely on your systems and services. Not only are they inconvenienced, but may also begin to question the reliability of your company’s practices and services. After all, if your business can’t protect your own data, how can they trust you with theirs? The longer the disruption to your operations lasts, the more inclined your customers and clients will be to take their business elsewhere. A brief lapse in service may be forgiven, but a prolonged absence could very well lead to client and consumer relationships you’ve spent years cultivating quickly souring. A disaster recovery plan demonstrates that your business is well-equipped to handle any disaster and will guarantee a continuation of service, no matter what the circumstances.
4. Cost Efficiency
A single data disaster can incur a number of associated costs that have the potential to bankrupt businesses. Some of the financial consequences your business may need to reconcile include: meeting the demands of ransomware hackers, the financial penalties incurred when businesses fail in their obligation to safeguard personal information from becoming compromised, and the loss of income caused by the disruption to revenue channels and worker productivity. You can avoid these costs by utilising a disaster recover plan. Plus, even if you never suffer a disaster event, having a disaster recovery plan can still impact your bottom line in a positive way. For example, cloud-based backup solutions are more cost effective to implement and maintain that other on-premises options and can heavily reduce your business costs. In addition, working with an external IT service provider to develop your disaster recovery plan can often be a more cost-efficient option than delegating the task to your in-house team. All ongoing monitoring and management of your data can be outsourced to your external partner, freeing up your internal IT department to focus their time and resources to maintaining your day-to-day operations and other projects.
5. Increase Productivity
As we’ve already discussed, losing access to your business critical data and applications can result in a major decline in productivity. No only can a disaster recovery plan circumvent this by keeping data accessible no matter the situation, but even just having a plan in place can lead to an increase in productivity! A disaster recovery plan reduces the likelihood of your organisational data becoming compromised, by helping all personnel understand their own role in data security and giving them a guideline to follow in the event that of a cyber attack. The more prepared your staff feel for these situations, the more efficiently they’ll be able to handle any situations that arise. By keeping your staff calm and well-equipped, you’ll improve their efficiency across the board.
What Makes an Effective Disaster Recovery Plan?
So now that we understand what a disaster recovery plan is and why your business needs one, the question is: where do you begin? Well every business is unique and your disaster recovery plan should be tailored to the needs of your organisation. But, to get you started, here’s a list of some of they key components that should be addressed in your disaster recovery plan:
- Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO)
- A comprehensive and current inventory of all IT assets (hardware and software)
- Identify all members of the Disaster Recovery team and clearly define their roles
- Identify and prioritise sensitive data and information
- Identify and prioritise all risks and threats to organisational data
- Identify where all assets are located and where they will be moved to in the event of a disaster
- A remote storage site should be dedicated to keeping copies of critical physical documents and storage media (such as hard drives)
- Implement a backup policy and conduct regular reviews and testing
- Develop a step-by-step recovery plan in response to every identified risk
- Run exercises and disaster recovery drills to test the effectiveness of and identify improvements to your disaster recovery plan