When creating a disaster recovery plan, no two companies will share exactly the same approach. However, there are some common elements that most successful disaster recovery plans should include. As you get started in creating or updating your company's disaster recovery plan, here's a checklist with essential items to consider. We’ve broken down the list to our top eight:
1. Determine RTO and RPO
The first step is to determine your RTO and RPO. These objectives guide the rest of the disaster recovery project and provide quantifiable key performance indicators in testing.
Recovery time objective (RTO) represents the amount of time your business needs to recover and resume normal operations after a disaster. It can be measured in hours, minutes, or even days but in an ideal recovery scenario, you can resume normal business operations long before your listed RTO.
Recovery point objective (RPO) measures how much data you can afford to lose in terms of time. This essentially means you need to determine whether you can afford to lose the last hour of data, the last day of data, etc. This interval varies depending on which industry you are in and how fast your business operates.
2. Take inventory
In order to resume business operations more efficiently, having an inventory of all assets, including hardware and software, can help you replace items faster.
Remember that not all assets provide the same value to your business as you take inventory. Instead, sort them into three categories:
- Critical — business cannot function without them
- Important — used at least once daily, but some operations can go without
- Unimportant — used less than once per day
A disaster recovery plan must provide the means to address and restore functionality to systems and assets in the listed order. Ideally, it will restore all critical systems and as many important and unimportant systems as possible.
3. Identify and assign roles
In an emergency, having personnel with preassigned roles can streamline performances and improve your RTO. This way, teams can focus on tasks within their sphere of control and not get distracted easily.
These roles can be as simple as declaring an emergency or contacting third-party vendors to replace equipment or as complicated and critical as regular data backup maintenance to prevent an emergency.
It is just as important for other employees to know which roles members of your disaster recovery team fill and how to contact them. When they know how to reach team members and why they should make contact, employees outside the team can contribute to the recovery process.
4. Itemize disaster recovery sites
Offsite recovery facilities help ensure business continuity during an ongoing catastrophe. It’s important to know where your alternative facilities are located, whether they are vulnerable to the same threats as your primary facilities, and their type. These types are broken down to hot, warm, and cold sites.
- A hot site provides the most thorough alternative for a primary place of business. It’s equipped with the data and infrastructure necessary to perform all business operations.
- Warm sites can access critical systems but lack the most up-to-date customer information and act as a temporary measure.
- A cold site stores valuable backups and maintains records of transactions and applications but cannot be used to operate the business in any capacity.
5. Review where data is stored
If physical copies are your only method of data storage, they are vulnerable to natural disasters. On-site servers face the same threats as these physical copies but they remain an essential part of your storage plan.
When updating your data backup options, remember to follow the 3-2-1 rule:
- Three copies of the data
- Two types of storage media
- One backup stored offsite
Between failures in technology and the sheer variety of disasters, this redundancy may seem excessive. But as long as these updates ensure your data restores business continuity, the investment is worth the effort.
6. Identify sensitive data
In addition to the location of your data, you must also consider what data you store. Ensure that you store any sensitive consumer data so that it remains compliant with regulations. This data can include credit card information, intellectual property, or private health information.
Regulatory bodies are indifferent to disaster status, as they should be. If your primary storage medium is compliant, but your backup is not, you still face fines and penalties for compliance failure.
7. Lay out a communication plan
In the days following a disaster, transparency provides security. It’s important to contact everyone at every level within the company, as well as external vendors, stakeholders, customers, and the media.
You should communicate your status with unambiguous language and provide reassurance to concerned parties. This approach helps continue business relationships after catastrophe with minimal resentment.
In short, this communication plan combines your disaster recovery plan with your PR efforts and marketing talent.
8. Conduct disaster recovery drills
The final step to a successful disaster recovery plan is to test them regularly and account for any changes the business needs in case a new disaster develops.
Regular drills and testing make it easy to find opportunities to improve your plans and ensure maximum business continuity. Your disaster recovery team should analyze the results of each test and iterate for future tests, which makes improvement easy.
Make backup and recovery part of your disaster recovery plan
By backing up all of your critical SaaS solutions (Salesforce, ServiceNow and Microsoft Dynamics 365) daily, OwnBackup minimizes your RPO, or the amount of data your organization will lose, and RTO, the time it will take to recover.
Our High-Frequency Backup feature goes even further by backing up highly transactional, frequently changing data as often as every hour. Smart Alerts notify you when data is changed, deleted or corrupted, based on your set rules or statistical outliers. You can also recover specific data from any backup in your history without impacting new data, effectively mitigating downtime in the process.
Contact us today to learn more about how our backup and recovery solutions can streamline your business's recovery efforts.