What Are The Benefits of Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan?
At Acronyms, we often get asked what the benefits of disaster recovery planning are. In short, the answer is that your business will be prepared in the event of downtime, which will reduce the amount of time lost to it and will ultimately save your business money.
It is inevitable that at some point, your business will experience downtime. Therefore, it’s vital that you plan ahead. A reliable, forward-thinking disaster recovery plan is essential to protecting your business.
Disasters can happen suddenly and come in many varieties. This could be a cyber attack or a power cut, where you can no longer access your data and your operations stop. This inevitably impacts productivity across your teams. Businesses are increasingly dependent on their IT infrastructure in the digital age which is why more and more businesses are turning to bespoke disaster recovery planning to cement continuity in their day-to-day operations.
So, what is disaster recovery planning and how can it benefit your business?
What is disaster recovery planning?
Disaster recovery planning is the process of preparing for downtime to the IT systems in your business.
This plan is the means of gaining access to your digital assets and IT infrastructure following a disruption to your systems. It’s an essential component of your wider technology strategy, as incidents that cause downtime can occur at any moment and without warning. A disaster recovery plan, and the process of preparing for unexpected downtime, will often help your business understand what changes are required to improve and secure your network.
The process of disaster recovery planning relies on the replication of data in an offsite backup. This is usually stored in a place away from your company. If your systems go down due to equipment failure, a cyber attack, or a natural disaster, your business will be able to recover its digital assets as quickly as possible. Your disaster recovery plan should:
- Help your business recognise areas of improvement
- Help with creating a business continuity plan
- Provide insight into company operations and any weaknesses in systems
- Assist your employees with prioritising and storing data
- Help with data protection for your customers
What are the benefits of a disaster recovery plan?
Whether your business experiences a disruption due to a power cut or a data security breach, it’s vital to have a proper disaster recovery plan in place. The benefits of a disaster recovery plan is that it ensures business continuity, efficient operations, and data protection for your customers. Planning for a disaster will essentially help protect your business and improve its reputation.
You should should consider what you would do if parts of your IT system, or all of it, were rendered unusable due to unforeseen circumstances. Do you know how to restore your data in the event of such a disruption? Are the services your business offers protected in the event of IT problems? How would this affect your clients?
If a disruption occurs, you may be without internet access, your phone system or your billing software. You may not be able to function properly as a business. This is why it’s vital to plan ahead to protect the storage of your data and security of your operations, making sure the systems you need are accessible swiftly.
Benefits of effective disaster recovery planning include:
- Enhanced customer service and experience
- Protection against damage to IT systems
- Improved business continuity
Enhanced customer service and experience.
The trust and loyalty of your customers is essential for a successful business. If your customers trust you with their data and personal information, they are more likely to trust your services and what you offer. Improving customer relations is paramount if you want to achieve your goal and it’s important to provide smooth business operations for your customers if you want to build that trust.
Planning effectively for disasters will help you restore the data or services you rely upon if a disaster strikes, giving your business an advantage. A data breach will cause havoc to your company operations, so planning for data recovery, disaster response, and storage backup is a sensible step to take. The longer your operations are disrupted, the more likely your customers are to question your business reliability.
If you’re offline for a few days, this can have a negative impact on your reputation. Being prepared to recover your systems should there be downtime is paramount if you are to build good relations with your customers.
Protection against damage to IT systems.
Cyber attacks and data theft are on the rise, and these sort of disasters can cause damage to your IT systems. A well planned disaster recovery strategy however, can help you identify areas of weakness, that can be improved and protected, prior to any unforeseen circumstances.
Implementing an offsite backup, a disaster recovery strategy, and recovery solutions can ensure continued operations for your company. If your data is kept in a secure place away from your work, any disasters your business experiences will be mitigated and damage to your systems will be limited.
With the right support services in place, you can have peace of mind that your systems will be protected against potential damage.
Improved business continuity.
A forward-thinking disaster recovery plan can get your business back to operational as smoothly and quickly as possible, which in turn ensures your business continues operating.
Downtime can have long-lasting reputational damage, whilst hindering the productivity and morale of your staff. That’s why it’s vital to put in place disaster recovery solutions that can get your business operational as quickly as possible in the event of a disaster.
Without a disaster recovery plan in place, when downtime occurs, you’re likely to waste time wondering what to do. You’ll also be formulating a response under-pressure, meaning it might not be the be best response to your problems. A disaster recovery plan on the other hand is something you can fall back on when you need it, that can guide you through a disaster minimising disruption to the workflow of your employees.
What should a business disaster recovery plan include?
A disaster recovery plan can differ from business to business. This is because every business is different. They are exposed to different risks that they may need to prepare for and will have different essential systems in place that operate differently.
With that being said however there are some essential components that a good disaster recovery strategy should include.
Recovery Time Objective: Also known as RTO, your recovery time objective is the maximum amount of downtime your business can tolerate.
Recovery Point Objective: Also known as RPO, your recovery point objective is the amount of data your business can afford to lose.
IT Infrastructure Inventory: Your disaster recovery plan should include an inventory outlining your infrastructure including any hardware or software. It should also categorise each asset from most critical to least important.
List of Employee Roles: Your disaster recovery plan should define the role of each employee in the event of a disaster. It should include their name and contact details. Important roles include the member of staff who will contact third-party vendors, as well as who with liaise with management and customers.
List of Disaster Recovery Sites: Your disaster recovery plan must specify where your assets are located as well as where they should be moved to in the event of a disruption.
Disaster Response Procedures: A key element of your disaster recovery plan is the procedures and processes necessary for responding to a disaster. As the first few hours of an event are vital, your employees should know exactly how to minimise damage to your systems and network, as well as have the tools necessary to resume normal operations.
Protect Sensitive Data: All modern businesses hold sensitive data. Your disaster recovery plan should identify how this data is securely backed up and who has access.
Communication Plan: When disruption occurs, your business must have a clear plan for communicating essential information to those affected parties, including management, employees, suppliers and customers.
Physical Facility Needs: Physical facilities will need to be restored in the event of a natural disaster such as an earthquake or flood. Your disaster recovery plan should outline the bare minimum your facilities require to get back online, including your office space and IT equipment.
How does my business implement a disaster recovery plan?
The easiest and simplest way to implement a disaster recovery plan is through a professional IT support partner. Outsourcing the management of your disaster recovery plan to a professional IT company will help your business optimise and futureproof your network. They’ll also be able to help you and your employees update your business policies and audit your current IT infrastructure, which are two crucial steps you must take before you begin developing your new plan.
Update your business policies.
Regardless of the size of your business, it’s important to keep your policies up-to-date. They’ll need to be reviewed, amended and in some cases, removed completely to comply with changing markets and business needs. When updating your policies, it also pays to evaluate your older style IT infrastructure. Ask yourself…
- What’s changed since those policies were enacted?
- How has technology evolved?
- Have the expectations of your staff changed?
It’s also important to ask yourself what policies will be necessary going forward and consult your team to find out what works for them. Open with an honest conversation about how your current policies are affecting your workforce. Ask them, what policies worked well, and what your business can do to better support its staff.
It may even be worth redrafting your company’s entire IT policy.
Implement an infrastructure audit.
Think about every piece of hardware, software and server your company owns, and/or is a part of your network.
An audit will list the applications installed on each piece of hardware. It’ll also highlight aspects of your network that may no longer be relevant to your operations.
If your company is large, performing a thorough audit of your infrastructure is going to be a colossal effort. That’s why for this job, it’s best to break the task down into simple steps. Start by categorising your software and hardware types into allowed and not allowed, as per your amended policies.
What are the advantages of using an IT support company for disaster recovery planning?
With expert disaster recovery planning, you’ll benefit from improved continuity and data recovery. System disasters negatively impact the efficiency of a business, so by partnering with an IT support company, you’ll have peace of mind that your data is backed up and protected.
There are a number of advantages to working with an IT company to support your disaster recovery strategy which include:
- Reduced costs
- Having a single point of contact
- Resilient IT infrastructure
- Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
Partnering with an IT support company can reduce your overhead costs whilst enhancing flexibility across your organisation. A professional company can help implement disaster recovery, ensuring your data is restored and your systems are backed up. Hiring an in-house employee includes salary and job perk costs. Outsourcing your IT support to a company lowers these costs and ensures your team has access to technicians who can help.
Having a single point of contact.
When there’s a technical problem, do your employees panic and contact you? Partnering with an IT support provider will give your employees access to technical assistance in the case of a disruption or IT crash. Expert technicians can assist in disaster recovery, helping restore your company data, limiting any damage to your operations. The heightened level of accessibility can boost productivity amongst your staff and take the stress away of dealing with IT issues.
Resilient IT infrastructure.
An IT support company can ensure that the IT infrastructure you rely upon is resilient in the first place. They can also proactively monitor your systems, ensuring a resilient infrastructure and network for your business. This means IT issues are resolved before they escalate. The aim here is to ensure that you limit the likelihood of a disaster, as prevention is certainly better than cure. With disaster recovery in place alongside resilient IT systems, you’ll have peace of mind that should your operations go down you will get back on track as soon as possible.
Service Level Agreements (SLA).
One of the main advantages of working with an IT support company for businesses is a dedicated service level agreement. This is the contract between your business and IT support provider, putting in writing the level of service they will offer you and your team. An SLA means your IT support provider is contractually obliged to provide your business with a resolution time. If you want to implement a disaster recovery plan, having an SLA with an IT support provider will ensure a well thought out disaster recovery strategy. Should you experience any disruption, your IT service should be obliged to get your business back up and running within an agreed time.
Frequently asked questions about disaster recovery plans.
Why do I need a disaster recovery plan?
A disaster recovery plan plays a pivotal role in getting a business operational following a disaster. In addition to the direct harm caused by a disaster, it is also likely to cause panic and confusion, which can mean a company’s efforts to get back on its feet are inefficient, or worse, ineffectual.
A disaster recovery plan can help with this. By having a detailed disaster recovery plan, that is known and understood by the entire business, a company can react to a disaster quickly. By reacting quickly, a business can limit the time spent out of action, which can often be at great financial and reputational detriment.
What constitutes a ‘disaster’ when it comes to disaster recovery planning?
In the case of disaster recovery planning, a disaster is a negative event that is likely to have a severe impact on your business. Disasters can include natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods, events such as cyber attacks or something such as a data leak or loss of power.
It’s important to consider that disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic can affect a lot of businesses, whilst some disasters, such as a burst pipe, can affect just your business. And don’t forget – all businesses face disasters. There isn’t a single business that this isn’t true for.
How do I test a disaster recovery plan?
You can test your disaster recovery plan a number of different ways. Some of the most commonly recognised ways of testing your disaster recovery plan are as follows:
Walkthrough Testing: A walkthrough test is a step-by-step review of your disaster recovery plan. You want to meticulously cover each step so that everyone is aware of what should happen in the event of a disaster, and what their role is, in the efforts to recover from it.
Tabletop Testing: Tabletop testing is a little more thorough than walkthrough testing. In this instance, you want to create a specific scenario such as an office flood. You would then involve representatives of each department within your business to walk through the existing disaster recovery plan by asking them how they would react to the scenario. This is a good method for finding holes in your disaster recovery plan and understanding areas that particular individuals or departments are struggling with.
Simulation Testing: A simulation test requires more time and effort than a walkthrough test or a tabletop test. However, they provide you with greater insight as to how prepared you are for a disaster. In this instance, you should simulate a disaster within your business to see if the procedures and resources in place, allow you to recovery in a timely, efficient fashion. Try to be as strict as possible with your simulation. For example, if you’re simulating a fire that damages a certain piece of hardware, don’t cheat and use the hardware if your plan doesn’t work. Instead, record the problem, explain why it doesn’t work, ensure you build in a functional response and test it again.
Technical Testing: There are several methods such as parallel testing and cutover testing that can be used by your business to test the technical aspects of your disaster recovery plan, without necessarily impeding the rest of the business. A parallel test involves the company running from the real system and the backup system in parallel, whilst a cutover test cuts from the real system to the backup system to test functionality. Whilst technical tests aren’t considered a full means of test, due to the minimal involvement of all employees, they are a good way of testing individual elements of your disaster recovery plan.
How often should my disaster recovery plans be tested?
In an ideal world, you’ll want to test your disaster recovery plan as much as feasibly possible without being too much of a detriment to your business. However, in reality, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to consider before scheduling tests.
Essentially you want to weigh up the risk and the potential damage of any disaster, against the time it will take to conduct a test. We’d recommend aiming to test your plan to some degree once a quarter. You will find there are certain elements you can test more regularly and those you’ll struggle to do once every three months. However, whatever frequency works for your scenario, ensure you run a full simulation that involves the entire business at least once a year. This will help ensure everyone is prepared and not just those directly involved in the disaster recovery plan.
How much do disaster recovery plans cost?
A disaster recovery plan can vary massively in cost from nothing up to thousands or even tens of thousands of pounds depending on the complexity of your systems, the size and context surrounding your business and the nature of what you do. For example, a disaster recovery plan for a 1,000-employee business, handling lots of sensitive data, in a known hotspot for earthquakes, will be far greater than that of a 5-person business selling tangible products, in a safer natural environment.
Nonetheless, there are lots of elements involved in planning that can and should be done in house to ensure everyone has a good understanding of your disaster recovery plan. Remember a disaster is going to be a high-pressured, stressful situation, in which leaders and employees might need to make quick and difficult decisions that could have a long-standing impact on the future of the business. You need them to know what they are doing, and so whilst it might be tempting to pay a company to create your entire disaster recovery plan, it might not be the best route if your employees don’t have much involvement in the process.
Whilst you shouldn’t limit your disaster recovery plan by cost (it might save your business one day!) you want to be wary of the downsides that come with outsourcing the entirety of your disaster recovery planning process.
Disaster Recovery Planning from Acronyms.
No business can afford to neglect its disaster recovery strategy if it is to benefit from reduced overhead costs and ensure a fast recovery in the event of a disruption. In the digital world, it’s essential to implement a disaster recovery strategy. The right plan can make a difference in the operations and success of your business.
Since 2003, Acronyms have been helping businesses with their disaster recovery planning. Our expert team of engineers, consultants, and technicians offer a range of digital solutions – including implementing disaster recovery plans. We tailor our services to the needs of our business clients and provide bespoke solutions without unnecessary jargon, bravado or overselling typical of the IT industry. We also offer services such as cyber security and managed IT. Our professional staff can access your IT infrastructure and implement the disaster recovery plan you need to provide continued operations.
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