Every business owner must prepare for the possible ramifications of facing a natural disaster or some other unexpected event with the power and scope to cause problematic business disruptions. Just a few of the issues that could compromise data for companies of any size include power brownouts, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, flooding, fires, hardware or software failure, or a cyberattack.
You have probably taken at least one critical step toward protecting your organization’s stores of data by designing a comprehensive disaster recovery plan (DRP). But your due diligence to protect data doesn’t end there.
It is no secret that, in today’s technologically focused business climate, your organization’s data is indispensable. Your access to it, as well as its protection, is paramount to your business’s success. Any interruption of your ability to secure and retrieve your data can prove costly or worse. Only a small percentage of companies fully recover from a catastrophic data loss. Nearly half of the companies that undergo some sort of disastrous event never reopen while the other half end up closing shop within two years.
While your initial commitment to the creation of your personally tailored DRP is praiseworthy—particularly in light of the fact, as of November 2016, per The Wall Street Journal, 4 in 10 firms do not have a DRP—it is not enough. You need to periodically review and update your disaster recovery plan.
Why Do You Need to Review and Update Your DRP?
Just like you periodically get a health checkup for your body or a tune-up for your car—no matter how well they are currently functioning—you need to ensure that your organization’s computing system is running at optimal capacity and is fully ready to take on any disaster that may be on the horizon.
Your company’s operating system is not static, and neither are the dangers that may await you from various disasters. Basically, the plan you created last year—or two years ago or more—could be perfectly fine for any issues that may arise. But they may not be. And that is a gamble simply not worth taking for companies committed to serving their customers and maintaining a healthy business.
Without scheduling regular updates and reviews, you risk overlooking defects in your DPR strategy that could result in devastation for your business.
How Often Do You Need to Review and Update Your Disaster Recovery Plan?
There really is no set industry standard frequency mandated for reviewing and updating your disaster recovery plan, but to keep everything running smoothly, you should review, test and update your DRP on an annual basis, at the very least. It is even better if you carve out time for quarterly updates and reviews for peak efficiency and protection.
However, there are intermittent issues that may arise that make it important to review your disaster recovery plan between official updates and reviews. There are a few key factors that can help you determine when you need to go off script and schedule an extra update and review.
Environmental Factors That May Affect Your Disaster Recovery Plan
Despite the general discussion of natural disasters when it comes to DRPs, here we are discussing environmental factors that relate to any changes within your organization. A few possible environmental changes that may affect your DRP include:
- The Physical Relocation of Your Business.
- Changes in Key Staffing Positions.
- The Purchase, Installation and Implementation of New Hardware or Software and the Engagement of a Cloud Service Provider.
This factor may either eliminate certain risks or translate into new risks, such as the potential for hurricanes along the Atlantic Coast or tornadoes in the Midwest.
Perhaps a member of your DPR team has left the company. It is important to make sure their replacement is up to speed as quickly as possible. It is also simply important to keep your regular staff up-to-date on standard system maintenance and any potential issues that may arise and how to detect them.
Since all technological considerations are paramount to accessing and protecting your data, it is critical that you schedule a review and update to make sure any new additions are compliant with your DRP.
External Factors That May Dictate the Need for A DRP Review
External factors may include those mandated by regulatory and other legal or regional requirements. Stay abreast of your regulatory obligations to make sure you remain compliant. This factor alone may dictate the standard frequency that you choose for your organization’s updates and reviews.
What Does a Review and Update Of Your Disaster Recovery Plan Cover?
Your update and review of your disaster recovery plan is meant to help make sure you avoid potentially devastating effects of possible disasters over which you have no control. It is essentially a good faith exercise in due diligence to make sure you are able to protect and access your data in the event of a disaster, which benefits you, your customers and any other stakeholders.
With those considerations in mind, it may make it easier to focus your reviews and updates to work toward a positive outcome in the wake of a catastrophic data loss.
Following are just a few items you may include in your diagnostic review and update of your DRP:
- Regularly Update Your Disaster Recovery Plan.
- Book at Test Date.
- Perform Routine Exercises to Test the DRP’s Effectiveness.
- Check All Contact Information.
This step serves an active and ongoing resource that you will rely on in each your reviews. Your initial disaster recovery plan was current and accurate the day you completed it, but each change that occurs—no matter how small, regarding staffing, hardware or location, etc.—is likely to alter your plan. Note every change as it occurs in a specified log that you will use as a reference in your upcoming review to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Testing your disaster recovery plan is helpful for everyone. Your DRP is not a static manual that should lie dormant on a shelf. It is instrumental in ensuring proper staff training and provides peace of mind for your stakeholders since it lays out your commitment to the protection of their data in a potentially catastrophic event that could negatively impact their data.
Prepare Q&As and other practical exercises to make sure your disaster recovery plan is fully functional on demand. You may perform exercises that test your recovery time objectives and access to off-site data, for starters.
Determine all the primary, secondary and emergency contacts, and make sure their information is current in your plan. Additionally, make sure you have all staff contact information, as well as that of vendors and key government agencies.
With these diagnostic considerations, among others, your update and review session is intended to determine whether you have a comprehensive disaster recovery plan that will allow your business to function throughout a disastrous event, or bounce back quickly after the occurrence of one, with as little lasting damage as possible.
We Can Help You Determine the Frequency of Your Disaster Recovery Plan Updates, Reviews And Much More
Our disaster recovery experts at I.S. Partners, LLC. can help you determine the optimal frequency for your disaster recovery plan updates and reviews, as well as everything you need to cover to ensure that your company can withstand any adverse event.