How to Create a Small Business Disaster Recovery Plan – Part 1

How can you quickly create a small business disaster recovery plan? Follow these 6 steps. 

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From floods, fires, hurricanes, and earthquakes to man-made calamities like data breaches, DDoS attacks, and burglaries, there’s a lot that can go wrong and spell disaster for your business. Some businesses have a clear, well-defined disaster recovery plan for what to do when the worst-case scenario happens, and others don’t end up surviving.

Disasters may seem like events that happen to someone else, but the risks are very real. If your industry is subject to regulations about record-keeping or data security, you could be liable if you lose important information. In 2018, data is everything, and you can’t afford to start back at square one when it comes to your customers.

In this three-article series, we’ll take a look at how you can plan for the worst-case scenario, and what you should do to make sure that you’re ready for anything.

Step 1 – Understand The Difference Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

Before we dive into what makes a great disaster recovery plan, it’s important to get clear about our terminology. Mainly, there’s a key difference between a disaster recovery plan and a business continuity plan.

Business continuity refers to a strategy that makes sure that your business keeps operating no matter what. It ensures that, regardless of what happens, your business will continue to provide the product or service it has promised to deliver. It’s proactive, looking ahead to what happens and making a plan to keep core business operations functioning.

Disaster recovery, on the other hand, is reactive. It’s about making sure that, no matter what happens, your business will be able to recover the critical data necessary to make sure the future is secure. It’s about making sure that your data is backed up in such a way that, regardless of the nature of the calamity, you’ll be able to recover the critical information you need to keep doing business and meet key regulatory and reporting requirements.

Step 2 – Start The Disaster Recovery Planning Process

When you’re making a disaster recovery plan, you need to account for every element of your tech ecosystem. Your systems, applications, and data should all be covered. That includes the physical security of your servers and data storage but also anticipating the loss of anything from your physical access to the system to problems with your setup that would make access to it impossible.

The main issue here is making sure everyone accepts the possibility of the worst-case scenario happening. You need to convince your team that it’s worth planning for when disaster strikes, no matter how remote the possibility.

When it comes to making the plan, start with executive buy-in. Perform a top-to-bottom review of every IT system your business uses and account for every critical business function. Doing this well involves prioritizing cross-functional collaboration, which can only happen if you have executive buy-in.

From there, you need to conduct a thorough analysis of your business processes. You need to know your priorities in the worst-case scenario. What’s critical to your business, and what is most important to have access to if your capability is limited? Knowing your priorities will help you figure out how to protect your business.

Step 3 –  Map Out Your Disaster Recovery Strategy

After you’ve analyzed a disaster’s potential impact and understand the threat a critical systems failure presents to your business, it’s time to figure what to do about it. That involves a balance of budget, resources, tools, and partners.

If you run a small business, budget is an obvious concern. You need to find solutions that will make sense for your needs while also not breaking the bank. In part two, we’ll get into how you can pull that off.

Beyond what you can get, look also at when you can get it. Understanding how long it will take to get your business back online will help you know where to start when a disaster comes knocking. Even if you can’t get a particular system working right away, you can be transparent about when that will happen and how you expect to get back to normal operating conditions.

Step 4 – Test Your Plan

The final step in any good disaster recovery plan is to do a trial run and see how quickly your team can respond to a problem. The proof is in the pudding, so they say, and doing a test run can help you understand where you need to make improvements.

Practicing under stressful conditions also prepares your team for the real deal, because they get a chance to go through the motions and train what they’re doing as an automatic response. By the time an actual situation unfolds itself, they’ve practiced enough that everything will go smoothly.

Step – 6 Take These Quick Actions to Get Started Today

In this article, we’ve looked at how you can start putting together a disaster recovery plan that works for your business. In the next piece, we’ll discuss the key technology that makes resilience possible. Before you can do that, you need to know what systems are critical to your operations, how you can prioritize them, and what to do when the worst-case scenario happens.

  • Get executive buy-in to create a disaster recovery plan.
  • Perform a thorough review of business-critical systems to understand how they could be impacted.
  • Prioritize what you need to get up and running first.
  • Test your plan before you find yourself in a real-life situation.

Martin Jones

Martin Jones is a Senior Marketing Manager with the corporate Cox Communications social media team where he assists in leading strategy, campaign ideation and marketing execution for Cox Business social media & content marketing. Today, over 1 million fans engage with Cox Communications content, campaigns and Customer Care on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube. LinkedIn and Google+.