How to Create a Disaster Recovery Plan

Posted:
02/22/2023
| By:
Sagar Kamat

When it comes to the world of IT, failing to plan is planning to fail. In some cases, there are obvious threats. Data breaches increased by 37% from 2020 to Q3 2022, and this number is expected to continue to trend upwards into 2023 .

These are not the only issues that can impact your clients’ data and operations, though. Equipment failures, power outages, and natural disasters are all threats you need to be ready for as an MSP. To be able to manage and mitigate these threats, it’s essential to create and maintain a disaster recovery plan.

A disaster recovery plan is one of the most essential elements of an organization’s overall UMM strategy. A well-crafted disaster recovery plan outlines procedures for restoring normal operations after a natural or manufactured disaster has disrupted regular services.

This guide will describe all the steps for creating a comprehensive disaster recovery plan for your organization or your clients. These elements include the major parts of every plan as well as the best process for getting said plan established. 

What are the key parts of any disaster recovery plan?

While every disaster recovery plan won't be the same, every effective plan will include these main aspects:

  • Risk Assessment: A risk assessment will help you identify potential threats and vulnerabilities in your organization’s IT systems. It is important to understand the possible risks that could cause damage or disruption so that you can plan accordingly. 
  • Business Impact Analysis (BIA): A business impact analysis helps organizations evaluate the potential financial, operational, and legal effects of a disaster on their organization. This information can be used to prioritize resources for recovery plans and strategies. 
  • Backup/Recovery Strategies: Knowing how data is stored and backed up, as well as where it is, is critical for restoring it after a disaster occurs. To ensure data security, organizations should develop backup strategies, such as the 3-2-1 backup strategy, that involve storing redundant copies of data in multiple physical locations or cloud storage. 
  • Testing and Training: To ensure that the plan is effective, it must be tested periodically to verify its accuracy and reliability. Furthermore, all staff should be trained on how to implement the disaster recovery plan if a situation arises. 
  • Documentation: Finally, all documentation pertaining to the disaster recovery plan should be stored in an accessible location for quick reference when needed. 
  • Compliance: Depending on your industry, especially ones with heavy regulation like healthcare or finance, compliance in data governance is essential. You need a plan and solutions that can be flexible enough to match different compliance standards.

Creating a comprehensive disaster recovery plan is essential for any organization in today’s digital world where cyber threats are constantly evolving. 

Though these steps may seem daunting at first, with proper planning and resources, you can create a successful disaster recovery plan that will protect your organization from cyber threats. For even more detail on how to do this, check out our ebook, 3 Reasons to Rethink Your Backup and Disaster Recovery Strategy

What are the steps for a disaster recovery plan?

Once you have an idea of how to structure your disaster recovery plan, the next phase is formulating the process. If you want to learn more about the foundations of this concept, this article on backup and disaster recovery is a great resource.

Audit your existing resources

The first step in creating a disaster recovery plan is to audit your existing resources. This should include examining the current hardware and software systems, data storage capabilities, communications networks, security systems, and backup plans for any critical processes or applications.

For example, you should consider the following questions: 

  • What type of hardware and software is your business currently running on? 
  • Is there sufficient data storage capacity to store important documents, applications, and other critical systems? 
  • How secure is your network and how well protected is it from potential threats? 
  • Do you have any backup plans in place for any critical processes or applications?

Answering these questions will help you identify any vulnerabilities that your business may have, as well as any areas where additional resources or backup plans may be needed.

Determine critical operations 

The next step is to determine which operations are deemed critical in the event of a disaster. This will include identifying those processes, applications and data that absolutely must be operational for your business to remain functional. 

For example, if your customer runs an e-commerce website, you may want to identify processes such as customer orders and payment processing as critical operations that must be maintained in the event of a disaster. 

You should also consider how long each process can be down before it has a significant impact on your business operations.

Perform a risk analysis

Once you have identified the critical operations that must be maintained in the event of a disaster, you should perform a risk analysis to determine what risks may be associated with each operation. 

This will include examining potential scenarios such as power outages, hardware and software malfunctions, natural disasters, cyber-attacks, and other threats that could potentially disrupt your operations. 

Identifying these potential risks will help you create an effective plan for mitigating them in the event of a disaster.

Establish recovery objectives

It is essential to establish recovery objectives for each critical operation. This will involve determining how quickly the business must be able to restore operations, as well as any other specific criteria that must be met to ensure that the process can resume as quickly and efficiently as possible.

For example, if you have identified customer orders and payment processing as critical operations, you may decide that they must be restored within 24 hours or less in order to minimize disruption and prevent customers from leaving your business.

Set up a backup for crucial data

Throughout the disaster recovery process, it's very important to set up an MSP backup management plan for any crucial data that must be maintained in the event of a disaster. This might include customer records, financial documents, inventory lists, or other sensitive information. 

The backup should be stored in an offsite location so that it can be quickly accessed if necessary. It is also important to make sure that the backup is regularly updated to ensure your most current data is secure in the event of a disaster.

Determine necessary personnel 

A disaster recovery plan isn't as effective as it could be without the appropriate personnel to help implement the plan. This means that you must determine which individuals will need to be involved to effectively manage the disaster recovery process.

The team should include key personnel from each department or area of your business, as well as any external resources, such as IT support or consultants, that may be needed to successfully execute the plan.

Create a communication plan

Once the team is in place, it's important to create a communication plan that will ensure everyone involved is kept up to date on the status of the disaster recovery process. 

This may include regular updates via email, phone calls, or even text messages so that all personnel have access to the most current information. 

Additionally, it is important to establish clear protocols for how and when communication should take place to minimize confusion during a crisis.

Test and analyze your disaster recovery plan

Finally, it is essential to test and analyze your disaster recovery plan at regular intervals in order to ensure that it is effective. This may include running mock drills or simulations such as Table Top exercises to test how quickly the plan can be implemented and how successful each step of the process is. 

Testing the plan will also give you an opportunity to identify potential areas for improvement so that your disaster recovery plan remains as up-to-date and relevant as possible.

As an MSP, you need to make sure that your plan is not only battle-tested, but also up to date. ConnectWise is here to help with our webinar, Attacks and Disasters on the Rise—Does your DR plan need an update? 

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Streamline backup and disaster recovery processes 

A well-developed disaster recovery plan can help you mitigate the effects of disasters and minimize disruptions to your business. ConnectWise provides a comprehensive solution for backing up and restoring data quickly and easily, streamlining the backup and disaster recovery processes so you are prepared for any potential disruption. 

ConnectWise’s BCDR solution also provides automation and 24/7/365 NOC services to keep client data safe and protect your reputation. Watch the demo today to see firsthand how our platform can support your business.

FAQs

There are a variety of different types of disaster recovery plans, including IT Disaster Recovery Plans, Business Impact Analysis (BIA) Plans, and Incident Response Plans. Each plan is designed to address specific threats and features unique steps in order to minimize potential disruptions.

A disaster recovery plan should include a backup and restore strategy, an emergency response plan, personnel roles and responsibilities, communication protocols, testing and analysis procedures, and any other necessary components to ensure that the plan is effective. 

The responsibility for developing and maintaining the disaster recovery plan typically falls on the IT department or a designated team of personnel. It is important to ensure that all key personnel are aware of their role in order to effectively manage the disaster recovery process.

It is recommended that you regularly test your disaster recovery plan to identify any potential areas for improvement and make sure it is up-to-date and relevant. Tests should be performed at least once per year but can be done more frequently if necessary. Considering the processes, applications, and data change considerably over time, having a good cadence is important here.

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