The goal of a disaster recovery plan, also known as a business continuity plan, is to ensure your business is prepared for the occurrence of a service outage caused by a natural or man-made disaster.
An effective plan should help you to restore the widest possible range of service within the shortest possible timeframe. If and when an incident occurs, all of your company’s locations must participate in preventative measures in order to ensure a quick bounce-back time.
For large businesses, this process is both difficult and complicated. Widespread coordination and leadership is required. Small businesses, too, face challenges in maintaining disaster recovery preparedness. With fewer staff and resources, small business disaster recovery planning can be a drain on time and money.
Though there are more than 5 million small businesses across the United States, few have overcome the challenges and met the requirements necessary to protect their viability in the event of a large-scale disaster. With growing volumes of data and many protection options, this task can be daunting for even the savviest entrepreneurs.
Business Continuity Planning
In the field of risk management, business continuity planning, also known as resiliency planning, is the process of developing a detailed prevention and recovery plan in order to address a number of potential threats to a company. Supply chain interruptions, damage or loss to critical company infrastructure, and loss of data are some common threats caused by natural disasters or man-made events. Some examples of natural disasters or man-made threats include: fires, floods, epidemics, IT outages, sabotages, cyberattacks, water outages, power outages, hurricanes or tsunamis, terrorist attacks, piracy, war or civil disorder, theft, telecommunications outages, and random failures of critical systems. For instance, during the SARS outbreak of 2002-2003, many organizations banned face-to-face interactions between staff inter-groups and rotated work locations in order to prevent and minimize contamination. This increased staff resiliency, lessening the need for quarantine measures.
Business Continuity Plans
Developing a business continuity plan takes several steps. The analysis phase requires three separate analyses. First, business operations are assessed to determine which operations are critical and which are non-critical. Critical functions are those which cannot be interrupted. In some cases, these are determined by law. The impact analysis should identify the technical and business requirements necessary to recover critical functions.
Next, a threat and risk analysis should identify the most likely threats to critical functions. These may include natural disasters as well as those caused by human activity. Impact scenarios are developed once the threats have been identified. Finally, the assessment should include a recovery requirement for each impact scenario.
After the analysis phase is complete, a solution must be identified. During solution design, business leaders and risk management experts should identify cost-effective ways to recover critical function. This may include identifying secondary work sites and a crisis management command structure, among other information. Once solutions have been identified, they are implemented, which may require property or material acquisitions, testing, staffing, and policy change. The testing phase should help to solidify the acceptance of the organization, while the maintenance phase involves re-assessment.