A Disaster Recovery Plan for small businesses... Why is it important? Because disaster hits everyone sooner or later. It’s not a matter of “if” anymore but “when.” Disasters come in many forms - a superstorm taking down your power grid, malicious hacking from within or without, or a simple malware infection - and can often cripple your business. Small businesses need to know what to do when disaster strikes.
One of the most common misconceptions about a Disaster Recovery Plan that small businesses tend to have is that they are for major disasters only. However, the most common threats to a small business’s service continuity include human errors, hardware and software failures, network outages and power outages. Because of the misconception, many Disaster Recovery plans only focus on major events such as natural or man-made disasters.
For your Disaster Recovery Plan to be effective, it should include well thought out actions to deal with all types of outages. An effective and workable plan can easily minimize your business’s downtime in a disaster, preventing your business from grinding to a halt. For any threat to your IT operations, a sound Disaster Recovery Plan will save you money by ensuring your organization is up and running again as fast as possible.
Disaster Recovery Plan for small businesses - Why is it important?
Because of the disadvantages of not having one and the obvious benefits of having one! It’s important to note both before you start working on your disaster recovery plan.
Impacts of not having a Disaster Recovery Plan
Unplanned data centre outages can cost small businesses an average of $8,000 an hour, and the average business disruption from a disaster is 18.5 hours before recovery. Which works out to an average cost of $148,200 per incident.
These are the potential impacts of a disaster when small businesses do not have a Disaster Recovery Plan. Yet, despite the severity of the impact, small businesses tend to dismiss the need for coherent disaster recovery planning because they believe such strategies are only for enterprise-scale IT budgets.
According to a research by Info-Tech, 40% of surveyed small businesses would rate their disaster recovery capabilities as “fair” or “poor.” 75% of the small businesses get a failing grade for their disaster recovery capabilities. Among those small businesses who do have a Disaster Recovery Plan in place, 46% of them feel that their plan is incomplete.
Thanks to software-based infrastructure and the Cloud, today's disaster recovery options are effective and cheap enough to be affordable for businesses of any size.
Benefits of having a Disaster Recovery Plan
A Disaster Recovery Plan will help you protect your business in both tangible and non-tangible ways. It will minimize the operational and financial impact of an unplanned business disruption at any level, from the loss of utility service to a catastrophe that takes down your entire IT network. An effective Disaster Recovery Plan addresses common outages such as hardware and software failures, as well as regional events, to provide day-to-day service continuity. It’s not just an insurance policy you might never cash in.
A Disaster Recovery Plan will also help your business maintain its good reputation with your clients. These days, more and more customers are demanding evidence of an effective Disaster Recovery Plan before they will do business with an organization. Organizations without a plan will risk a loss in sales because of their refusal to implement one.
3 Tips to create a Disaster Recovery Plan for small businesses
Tip 1. Your Disaster Recovery Plan should include an action plan for all types of outages
Your Disaster Recovery Plan is for all types of disasters, big and small, including human errors, hardware and software failures, network outages, power outages and natural disasters. We have seen that many disaster recovery plans only focus on major events and were therefore ineffective for the more common threats that will affect an organization. Your Disaster Recovery Plan should include well thought out actions to deal with all types of outages.
Tip 2. Make your Disaster Recovery Plan a part of your day-to-day operations and IT management.
Your Disaster Recovery Plan will be most effective if you make it a part of your day-to-day operations and IT management. Don’t think of your Disaster Recovery Plan as a separate entity that you bring out only when there is an outage.
Tip 3. Follow a step-by-step guideline when developing a Disaster Recovery Plan.
When developing a Disaster Recovery Plan, we recommend using the following 4-step approach. Not sure how to execute each item in the steps? That’s why we are here! Talk to us and we will help you throughout your disaster recovery plan project!
Step 1 – Define the parameters for your Disaster Recovery Plan.
• Get to know what IT services are important to your business.
• Create an inventory of your critical business applications and include who uses them (internally and, if applicable, externally).
Step 2 – Determine the impact of any downtime.
• Estimate and document the impact of downtime for each of your IT services and applications.
• Perform a vulnerability assessment on your critical applications.
• Determine the desired failover and failback for your Recovery Time Objective and Recovery Point Objective.
Step 3 – Create your Disaster Recovery Plan workflow.
• Identify your notification and declaration activities.
• Determine your recover, restore and return operations and create associated flowcharts.
• Identify any gaps that may prevent successfully completing a recovery and create a roadmap to address them.
Step 4 – Create the procedures for your Disaster Recovery Plan and document them.
• Develop a system recovery checklist to supplement your recovery flowcharts.
• Create a client-facing Disaster Recovery Plan summary document.
Improve the Success of your Disaster Recovery Plan
Developing and documenting a Disaster Recovery Plan will ensure your business can recover IT operations as quickly as possible in the event of any outage. But not knowing where to start is common feedback that we hear from our small business clients. Our team of experts have worked with many small businesses to help them create an effective Disaster Recovery Plan. Contact us today and we will be happy to discuss how you can minimize your organization’s downtime during disasters and incidents.