Developing a disaster recovery plan is essential to protecting your business from the unexpected. But many businesses fail to account for critical areas during their planning. In this post, we review six disaster recovery planning mistakes you can’t afford to overlook.
With the rising frequency of cyberattacks and natural disasters, the future of protecting your business hinges on developing a disaster recovery plan. Yet so many businesses continue to make mistakes that leave them vulnerable to disaster.
For unprepared businesses, the risks are severe.
90% of businesses that experience a disaster and don’t resume operations in five days fail within the first year. The unprepared enterprises that do survive face millions of dollars of damages.
Disaster recovery planning has never been more important. Here’s six mistakes to avoid while develop your disaster recovery plan.
#1 Not Backing Up Your Data (Correctly)
Data backups are the backbone of any effective disaster recovery plan. Without a comprehensive data backup plan in place, you stand to lose financial documentation, client information and other mission-critical data.
Losing organizational data in a disaster can cost a business hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.
The good news is that this is easily preventable.
There are a lot of considerations that go into a data backup plan (deployment models, physical vs. cloud, recovery prioritization, frequency). But most organizations can deploy a cloud-based backup plan that stores all of their data offsite while being easily accessible should a disaster occur.
#2 Not Preparing for Multiple Types of Disasters
Disasters come in many forms. While there is some overlap, preparing for one type of disaster can still leave you vulnerable to the ones you didn’t consider.
Responding to ransomware attacks requires a much different approach than addressing water damage to IT infrastructure. An effective disaster recovery plan will prepare for multiple different contingencies and necessary responses.
For example, a ransomware attack and flood will both require recovering data off of a cloud backup, while a severe power outage will involve restoring access to key communication platforms. Preparing for more than just one type of disaster better protects your business from the unexpected.
#3 Not Communicating the Plan to Personnel
As important as a recovery plan is, it’s not going to do much good if no one at the company knows what it is or how it works. A plan isn’t implemented until you communicate it and get buy-in from employees at every level of the company.
Personnel outside of IT will play vital roles in addressing the attack.
These include, to name just a few:
- Sounding the alarm on cyberattacks
- Engaging in public relations
- Assessing financial damages
- Communicating with clients and customers
Compared to other aspects of disaster planning, an easy (and free) way to bolster your defenses is to effectively educate and communicate to employees on how to respond to different types of disasters.
#4 Not Testing and Updating the Plan.
Just as a plan isn’t useful if no one knows how to use it, a plan isn’t effective if you don’t know that it works.
That means testing the plan after you create it to see if there’s a need for additional measures.
This is also helpful for checking if the recovery timeline you set is realistic. It’s easy to underestimate how long it will take to reinstall hardware or download a terabyte of backup data from the cloud.
Similarly, if you don’t update the recovery plan, it won’t be useful for long.
Remember that new enterprise software you just purchased? Add it to the plan. Personnel changes? Reassign responsibilities. Added a new location? You’ll need to integrate it into the plan.
The only way to know you’re actually ready for a disaster is having a realistic and up-to-date plan that’s been thoroughly tested.
#5 Not Preparing Remote Access
During a disaster, employees will lose access to the hardware, communication channels and applications they need to do their jobs. Businesses that fail to prepare for this will see their productivity grind to a halt.
If the office is shut down or hardware is compromised, employees will need a computer to work remotely. Common options include remote access on personal computers and company laptops. This is made easier if you included data on employee computers in your data backup strategy.
In a crisis, communication channels are more critical than ever, but they’re also at their most vulnerable. Having a communication and connectivity solution in place will give you flexibility and increased uptime- both during and outside of a disaster.
Enterprises everywhere rely on applications to get business done. Fortunately, the widespread adoption of SaaS and cloud-based software has made it easier to access applications during a disaster. Still, it’s worth investigating if you have any limitations to your software stack.
License-based applications will require additional licenses for employees working on alternate computers. Software that’s installed on the computer and unavailable off the cloud will require workarounds.
#6 Not Learning from Experience
Businesses that fail to learn from a disaster will be doomed to repeat the same mistakes the next time another one strikes.
When the dust settles from a disaster, take a moment to reflect on the experience and evaluate the effectiveness of your recovery plan. Some useful questions to ask include:
- Did the plan work?
- What areas were successful and worth further investment?
- What parts of the plan came up short?
- Given the damages we incurred, what areas could use work?
- How did our service providers and systems perform?
By answering these questions and learning from the experience, your business can seize the opportunity to reflect on and improve your recovery plan before the next disaster strikes.
A comprehensive recovery plan is crucial to protecting your business from disaster. Avoiding these mistakes will safeguard your organization from the unexpected.