A businesswoman works on her disaster recovery plan

What is a disaster recovery plan? (And why you need one.)

Disasters come in all shapes in sizes. There are natural events like hurricanes and floods that most business owners consider in disaster planning. But there are also other less dramatic occurrences, such as an employee losing a laptop or downloading a virus, that can result in a disaster for your business network.  

Successful businesses have a disaster recovery plan in place to help mitigate the impact of these events. Companies without one are forced to scramble if and when a disaster strikes. If you’re reading this, chances are that you may not be up to speed on disaster recovery plans.

What is a disaster recovery plan?

A disaster recovery (DR) plan is a documented guide designed to limit the negative impact an unplanned event has on a company’s network. As part of a business continuity plan, the key focus of a DR plan is to minimize interruption to customers by quickly restoring mission-critical technology functions and data via restoration of connectivity and backups.

It is more important than ever for SMBs to have a disaster recovery plan these unexpected events. While big businesses used to be the only ones with a disaster recovery plan, technological advances have made it affordable for companies of all sizes and industries.

SMB owners absolutely need a disaster recovery plan

Implementing a disaster recovery plan isn’t a luxury. It can be the only thing standing in the way of a business being forced to close its doors forever in the aftermath of a disaster.

The Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, for example, are no strangers to powerful storms. Each year, hurricane season claims hundreds of businesses up and down the Atlantic Seaboard. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that 40 percent of SMBs fail to reopen after a natural disaster.  

Of course, the biggest disaster for most companies is a security breach. The 2018 Cisco SMB Cybersecurity Report found that 54 percent of cyberattacks on SMBs caused financial damages of $500,000 or more.

However, a disaster recovery plan empowers companies with vital access to the data, technology and tools needed to resume operations. This limits downtime that can be crippling for SMBs. Consulting firm IDC found one non-security related downtime event can cost SMBs anywhere from $82,200 to $256,000 on average.

Regardless of what causes the disaster, why pay this cost down the road when you could spend a fraction of that on a disaster recovery plan today and enjoy peace of mind?

3 steps to start a disaster recovery plan

Creating a disaster recovery plan is actually easier than you might think. It requires some work but investing in one now can save you significant time and money in the future. Here are 3 steps to start a disaster recovery plan.

1) Identify backup priorities

It is important to know what core technology systems and data are needed for your company to remain operational. Once this has been identified, you can then establish vulnerabilities and determine backup priorities, locations and schedules. Organizing what, how, when to back up your data and applications, as well as where to store and manage the backups, is essential to ensure quick and effective restoration in any disaster.

2) Assign roles and responsibilities

There is a human element to disaster recovery. Without planning, your staff may not know who to contact if your systems experience failure or interruption or especially if the physical workplace is no longer accessible. Build the foundation of your disaster recovery plan by assigning disaster recovery leaders who will coordinate essential activity, communications and restoration of systems, services and customer support. Make sure employees know who these leaders are and what their roles will be in the process as well.

3) Work with an IT expert

A managed service provider (MSP) has the expertise and tools to assist with preparing, implementing and testing your disaster recovery plans. From managing cloud-based data backups to regular technology reviews and training, an MSP has experience in creating successful disaster recovery plans for SMBs. This means you can tap into their experience to develop a strong, thorough plan that will help your business withstand whatever life brings.

Once you have your disaster recovery plan in place, you’re that much less likely to become a statistic. Companies that are prepared are better able to face challenges and survive even the worst disasters.