Most businesses these days depend heavily on technology and automation. Continued operations of a business/organization depend on being aware of potential disasters before they strike. Having a strategic disaster recovery plan to minimize disruptions and recover operations quickly is key. A smart disaster recovery plan should include a set of actions to be taken before, during and after a potential disaster. The plan should be periodically tested, to make sure there is continuity of operations and availability of resources at the onset of a disaster.
The main purpose of disaster recovery planning is to protect a business/organization, in the event that all or part of its operations and/or computers become disabled. Being prepared in a disaster situation is of paramount importance. Thorough planning will minimize the disruption of operations and maintaine a higher level of operational stability and recovery after a disaster.
Comprehensive Disaster Recovery Planning
Your disaster recovery planning should include the following objectives:
- Reliability of standby systems
- Established sense of security
- Minimized risk of delays
- Standards for plan testing
- Minimized decision making in a disaster
It’s imperative that all businesses/organizations be armed with a sound recovery plan before disaster strikes. Even a few days of disruption could cause major financial loss if not threaten the survial of many businesses without having solid planning to act quickly on.
As stated above, an organization’s ability to recover from a disaster or disruptive event – either a natural disaster or a human-made disaster – and resume critical operations as quickly as possible is referred to as disaster recovery or business continuity.
For an expedient disaster recovery to happen, an organization must have an emergency plan ready to implenmemnt in the event of a disaster. Implementation of a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) should happen long before disaster strikes, outlining essential emergency plans for swift and successful disaster recovery.
The development of a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) should include five main stages, as follows:
- Solution Design
- Testing and Organization Acceptance
Analysis consists of three parts: Impact analysis, threat analysis and impact scenarios.
- Impact analysis-Ddifferentiation between non-critical and critical organization functions. A function could be considered critical if the damages are regarded as unacceptable. A function may also be considered critical if dictated by law. The impact analysis results in requirements for recovery for each critical function such as time frame that critical functions must be resumed after the disaster, business requirements for recovery of critical functions and technical requirements for recovery of critical functions.
- Threat Analysis-Consideration of potential threats is recommended for identifying the unique recovery steps necessary to specific disasters -such as fire, earthquake, flood, hurricane, Cyber attack, utility outage or terrorism.
- Impact Scenarios – Form the basis of the business recovery plan recommended. In general, planning for the most wide-reaching disaster or disturbance is preferable to planning for a smaller scale problem, because just about all problems on a smaller scale are elements of larger disasters.
Solution design is to identify the most efficient and cost effective disaster recovery solution, which meets two main requirements from the impact analysis. This would include the minimum application and application data requirements and the time frame in which the minimum application and application data must be available
This stage is the execution of the design components identified in the solution design phase.
Testing and Organizational Acceptance
The purpose of testing is to make sure that the business continuity solution satisfies the organization’s recovery requirements. Plans may fail to meet the organization’s expectations due to a inaccurate or insufficient recovery requirements, errors in solution implementation and/or or flaws in solution design. It’s highly recommended that testing be conducted biannually.
Maintenance of a business continuity plan should be broken down into three activities at different times.
- Confirmation of the information in the BCP for all staff become aware of and specific training for individuals who’s roles are critical in response and recovery.
- Testing and verification of technical solutions established for recovery operations.
- Verification and testing of documented recovery procedures – biannual or annual maintenance cycle is the standard recommendation.
An effective disaster recovery plan or business continuity plan must be well written, understandable to all key personnel as well as be easily accessible to those people in the event of an emergency situation.