7 Steps for Disaster Recovery Planning

August 3, 2023

Disaster recovery planning that’s well-thought-out is crucial for every organization, irrespective of its size or sector. A well-organized plan is important for both recovering after a disaster and safeguarding your organization’s resources. These resources include applications, data, and reputation. But what elements should you incorporate to achieve the most favorable results? And how can you make sure that your plan of action is most effective?

In this blog, we give you a quick, yet comprehensive, 7-step plan to handle unexpected situations and create a strong strategy for disaster recovery.

Step 1: Assess Potential Risks to Include in Your Disaster Recovery Planning

Commercial organizations and government agencies are exposed to various risks, including natural disasters, extreme weather events, transportation disruptions, and logistical challenges. A risk assessment helps you identify and prioritize potential dangers. This allows your disaster recovery plan to concentrate on the most critical situations.

All the things your organization uses are important, but some are more crucial than others for everyday operations. Therefore, the first step to creating your strategy is to identify and prioritize such assets. To do so, ask yourself:

  • What is essential for your organization’s day-to-day operations?
  • Which assets, if lost, would hurt your organization the most?
  • Which of these items must be recovered first to get your organization back up and running?

Once you have a list of essential assets, the next part of this step is to prioritize them. This allows you to determine what equipment, assets, applications, data, and more should be recovered first in the event of a disaster. It also helps your organization avoid wasting time and resources on lower-priority applications.



Step 2: Define Your Disaster Recovery Planning Objectives

Once the risks are evaluated, it’s imperative to establish clear recovery objectives for your operations. Determining the acceptable downtime for deployment and recovery is crucial to meet your needs during emergencies. Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs) are also vital in minimizing data loss and ensuring the continuity of logistical and supply chain processes.

What are RPOs?

Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs) are important metrics that help decide how much loss an organization can handle in a disaster. Commercial and government operations rely on different data streams, such as logistics, records, inventory, and project management. Defining suitable RPOs is crucial for maintaining operations and meeting disaster recovery needs, even during difficult times.

To discover recovery objectives in the context of a disaster recovery strategy, it is important to gather specific information and insights from stakeholders and key decision-makers within the organization.

Here are some questions that can help uncover recovery objectives:

  • Which critical systems and processes require recovery in the event of a disaster?
  • How long can these critical systems and processes be offline before it starts to significantly impact the organization’s operations and services?
  • What is the maximum acceptable amount of asset loss that the organization can tolerate during a disaster? (This is the Recovery Point Objective or RPO)
  • How quickly do we need to restore access to critical data, systems, assets and applications to ensure continuity? (This is the Recovery Time Objective or RTO)
  • Are there any specific legal or regulatory requirements that dictate the recovery objectives for certain items?
  • How much financial loss can the organization sustain during a downtime period, and how does this impact the recovery objectives?
  • Are there different recovery objectives for different business units or departments, and if so, what are the reasons for these variations?
  • What are the priorities in terms of recovering different systems and processes? Do we need to restore specific systems before others?
  • How frequently do we need to test and validate the disaster recovery plan to ensure it aligns with the recovery objectives?
  • How do the recovery objectives align with the overall goals and strategies of the organization?

To fully understand your recovery goals, it’s important to include key individuals from various departments. These departments include IT, operations, finance, and management. Including these critical roles in discussions will help gain a comprehensive understanding of the recovery goals. Regularly communicating and working together with these stakeholders will improve recovery goals as your organization’s needs change.


Step 3: Developing a Tailored Strategy for Disaster Recovery Planning

With each industry’s requirements in mind, it’s key to develop a specialized disaster recovery plan. This plan will outline specific procedures, responsibilities, and timelines for deploying, maintaining, and recovering during and after a disaster. Your plan should encompass contingency measures, redundant resources, and rigorous testing to guarantee seamless performance. When designing your strategies, keep in mind:

  • Outsourcing recovery activities to a third-party vendor
  • Investing in backup structures or systems
  • Training employees to manage disaster recovery solutions and activities

If you don’t have the time or resources to implement and maintain a disaster recovery plan, it’s time to outsource. The right team of experts can provide versatile solutions for all your recovery needs (e.g. portable storage buildings, base camps, temporary structures, etc.). From planning and design to implementation, training, and support, a third-party vendor can ensure you’re prepared for any eventuality.

Step 4: Implementing Redundancy and Backup Strategies (by Outsourcing)

When outsourcing, make sure the provider has backup plans and redundancy for critical services in case of a disaster. The right team will have backup systems and equipment to quickly use different solutions if there are any problems. Regularly backing up essential data and logistical information will further safeguard your operations.

Protective measures are designed to lessen the negative impacts of a disaster. Examples include:

  • Setting up backup systems
  • Securing physical locations
  • Implementing an organizational continuity plan
  • Training employees on disaster response and recovery

Step 5: Rigorous Testing and Validation to Solidify Your Disaster Recovery Planning Methodologies

Now it’s time to put your disaster recovery strategy to the test through rigorous simulations and drills. Testing the deployment, recovery, and maintenance procedures of your systems and turnkey solutions will identify any weaknesses or gaps. It will also provide valuable insight into what needs to be improved before an actual disaster strikes.

The good news is that it’s relatively easy to incorporate testing into your disaster recovery plan. You can start by conducting tabletop exercises with key stakeholders such as IT personnel, operations managers, and legal counsel. This will help you identify gaps in knowledge or processes and determine whether your plans are comprehensive enough to address all possible scenarios.

Step 6: Establishing Effective Communication Protocols

In times of disaster, communication is paramount. Be sure to establish clear communication protocols designing concretely seamless information flow between teams and partners. Having designated spokespersons and multiple communication channels will guarantee that everyone remains informed and can make informed decisions during critical situations.

Step 7: Maintain and Update Your Plan

Disasters aren’t static, and neither should be your plan for continuity and disaster recovery. Regular updates and maintenance of the plan are necessary to:

  • Reflect any significant changes in business operations or technology
  • Consider changes in the physical and cyber threat landscape
  • Keep the plan relevant, effective, and aligned with the organization’s current needs

While not exhaustive, these seven steps provide a comprehensive framework for creating an effective and robust Disaster Recovery Strategy.

Remember, having a robust recovery plan isn’t merely about getting back up and running after a catastrophe. Instead, it’s about laying the groundwork for resilience amidst adversity, preserving the organization’s reputation, and fostering trust among stakeholders.


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