Disaster is a word that can mean many different things. It can be used loosely to describe an everyday occurrence — like a ripped dress or a botched meeting with a new client. And it can also be applied meticulously to emphasize the scale of a rare phenomenon — like a 7.6-magnitude earthquake or a category 4 hurricane.
The point is a “disaster” cannot be placed into a box. A disaster is up to interpretation and can be the direct (or indirect cause) of a variety of happenings.
As a person, you are not immune to the threat of a disaster; however, you can prepare yourself enough to minimize the negative impact a disaster can have on you and your life.
The same is true for a business.
No business is immune to disaster; however, the more you prepare your business for the potential of a disaster, the more likely it is that your business can make it out of a disaster alive and well.
But what does this mean?
Every business will prepare for disaster differently. It will depend on what type of data your business creates, what industry it belongs to, what geographical region it exists in, the number of employees, clients, and partners it holds, and a variety of other factors.
However, what will be similar (or should be similar) is the creation of an IT Disaster Recovery Plan (which should not be confused with a Business Continuity Plan or a Data Backup Solution).
Here are quick definitions of the three:
- IT Disaster Recovery Plan: “Disaster Recovery (DR) refers to having the ability to restore the data and applications that run your business should your data center, servers, or other infrastructure get damaged or destroyed.” — Dell
- Business Continuity Plan: “Business continuity planning (BCP) is the creation of a strategy through the recognition of threats and risks facing a company, with an eye to ensure that personnel and assets are protected and able to function in the event of a disaster.” — Investopedia
- Data Backup: “Data backup is a process of duplicating data to allow retrieval of the duplicate set after a data loss event.” — Techopedia
Data backup is merely the duplication of your data, and realistically, it should be a component of both a BC plan and a DR plan. But where things get a little tricky is when you attempt to decipher the difference between Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery.
So think of it this way:
Disaster Recovery focuses more on your technology. How does your business gain access to its data and mission-critical applications, so people can continue working?
On the other hand, Business Continuity focuses on the business as a whole. How does your business get everything from its technology to its people to its physical self back into a state of full operations, with minimal downtime and confusion? In this situation, DR should play a role in BC … but DR is not BC in its entirety.
Let’s dig a little deeper into Disaster Recovery.
As more and more businesses rely on technology to handle the majority of day-to-day operations, the role of Disaster Recovery becomes an important one. The longer your business runs without technology and data, the more money and opportunities your business will lose.
But what exactly does a Disaster Recovery Plan consist of? Well, let’s break it down.
WHAT and WHEN
You can’t exactly recover your technology if you don’t even know what technology you have to begin with. That’ll make things extremely difficult.
This is why it’s important to notate within your DR plan what you have — everything from hardware to software.
Then you need to go back in and decide what hardware and software you absolutely need to get the ball rolling again. This should consist of an RPO (Recovery Point Objective — how long can your company lose data) and RTO (Recovery Time Objective — how long can your company go without service). Both RPO and RTO are expressed in time, but here are simple ways to differentiate the two:
RPO — thinking backward … how far back do you need to recover files or data for normal operations to resume?
RTO — thinking forward … how much downtime can pass after a disaster?
WHO and HOW
When you’re thinking about the RTO, RPO, and the WHAT and WHEN, the WHO should come into question.
Who is responsible for what and how are they responsible for it?
Each employee should know their role in a Disaster Recovery Plan, and in turn, each piece of the DR plan should belong to someone.
Say part of your DR plan is to set up new computers. Well, who does that? And is this the total responsibility of one employee or do they receive outside (or inside) assistance?
And then it begs the questions, where do these computers come from, how do they get these computers, and how do they communicate any of this with vendors and other employees?
Naturally, communication becomes a key element of concern.
How do all of your employees communicate with one another? Or at the very least, how do the major players in the DR plan talk to each other to successfully execute the DR plan?
Roles must be established; communication must be considered, and outside sources must be consulted.
WHERE and WITH WHAT
So in a disaster, you have people running around trying to do things and “things” running around with these people.
Where do all of these things go? And like mentioned previously, where do all of these things even come from?
Again, this will all differ depending on the type of disaster, the industry, the people, the geography … basically, everything.
For example, if your building completely burns down in a fire, then you have nothing. Complete disaster. There is nothing to come back to.
But for a plumbing company, this isn’t necessarily the end of things. (It would be a much different scenario if this company was a restaurant or a clothing store.)
At this point, the employees of the plumbing company simply need a place to make and receive calls, schedule appointments, and check-in with each other. So where does this all happen? At an employee’s house? At a location that allows you to rent offices by the day or week?
And when staff members start to trickle into this location, what devices do they use to handle calls and scheduling? Their personal devices? Or are there emergency funds set aside for laptops and phones?
At the end of the day, there are many things to consider in a Disaster Recovery Plan — but it will all vary depending on your individual business and the people and technology it consists of. If you need help building your DR plan, then reach out to the 3Points team today. We have decades of combined experience helping companies of all sizes and shapes prepare for the worst.