Do you have a business continuity plan prepared for your company? Small businesses are especially vulnerable to data breaches and hacks. That’s because their perceived lack of resources makes them an easy target relative to the security large corporations can afford.

But just because you don’t have the budget of a large multinational corporation doesn’t mean you can’t be protected. Having a plan in place to limit any business disruptions will protect you from the often ruinous loss of a data breach.

A disaster recovery plan (DRP) will help you restore your services and get your business running quickly and securely. Keep reading to learn the key ingredients to building one.

Set Your Budget & Resources

Your first step in disaster recovery planning is to set a budget and determine your resources. Let your needs dictate your budget. A recent study from the Ponemon Institute discovered that the average cost of a data breach is $3.92 billion.

Involve your IT department or service provider and explore your needs. Having your data regularly backed up to remote servers means you have instant access to all of your information should something happen to your primary network.

Involving IT staff means you have their input and experience to help guide your planning. Have them provide oversight to any plan so they can assess how successful it’s likely to be.

An example of this is having the bandwidth and processing power to support your backups. If they’re designed to simply host data, they likely aren’t going to be able to take over business functions.

Also, determine your recovery point objective (RPO). When restoring data, you need to determine how old data can be while still allowing you to restore service. Your RPO will determine how often your data needs to be backed up.

Having experts on hand to spot these areas of concern is important. A backup plan isn’t helpful if it can’t support the challenge.

Do a Threat Assessment

To protect your business, you need to know where threats might come from. Do an assessment of your business structure and identify any vulnerabilities.

Getting an overview of your network structure needs to be a full top-to-bottom analysis. Even details that may seem minor, such as insisting on best practices for employees’ passwords, can make a big difference.

Don’t get hung up on your worst-case scenario either. While it’s definitely something that needs to be planned for, it can distract you from preparing for smaller interruptions.

A power outage in your area is an unpredictable event that can cripple your systems. Running uninterrupted power supplies or equipping your business with generators are simple solutions that’ll keep your network online.

Yet these types of threats can often be overlooked. It’s often threats like hackers or malware that people associate with business disasters. But natural occurrences or other emergencies like fires or system failures need to be addressed and prepared for.

Build Your DRP Team

Once you know what’s needed to restore services, build a team to support it. Identify who has the skills to manage the tasks and bring them onboard. IT support is an obvious place to look, but also include your fire and safety team.

Include management, department heads, and team leads. It’s important that they’re aware of what the DPR is so they can provide reassurance. Making sure that information is shared at all levels will keep things organized.

Draft the DRP Documentation

In the case of your network going down, fast action is needed. Draft a copy of your plan and make it available to all essential staff. Make sure those involved know what their responsibilities are and that they have the resources they need.

Your plan should have a stated goal for everyone to follow, as well as a summary of the plan. Provide contact information for all DRP team members, as well as their responsibilities.

You’ll also want to include contact information for any third parties that may be affected. This includes software vendors, the property manager or facility owner, along with emergency services.

Include your recovery time objective (RTO), as well as your RPO for reference. Your RTO determines the maximum amount of time it should take to get your system back online. This covers the time needed to access your backups and get your services restored.

The plan should list what steps need to be taken following a disaster. This should include all the resources that are required. In this, list all the necessary software, including licenses and passwords, as well as technical documentation.

Make your plan easily accessible. The quicker staff can access the plan during an emergency, the quicker they can restore service.

Test the DRP

Before you can rely on a plan, you need to know it works. Schedule regular tests to assess its effectiveness, ensure your DRP team is prepared, and look for improvements. A change in software or procedures can make a plan ineffective.

These tests can take different forms. There’s always a risk in interrupting a live network, so even an overview of the DPR with team members has value. It keeps everyone informed and engaged.

Your IT department may be able to perform a simulation test. This test will simulate the process of switching to your backup servers without affecting your online network. This lets you assess how quickly information can be restored while observing the process.

Disaster Recovery Plan Overview

While testing your DRP provides you an opportunity to reexamine it, assessing it should be an ongoing process. Online threats are constantly evolving, so it’s important to stay current with matters that could affect your business.

Be aware that any major changes to your business should lead to an evaluation of your DRP. Time is a major factor in successfully restoring services.

Your DRP needs to reflect the needs of your business as-is. All changes need to be accounted for.

If you’re in need of a disaster recovery plan for your business, contact us. We’ll help you build a plan that meets your needs and will get your services restored quickly.