Imagine the unimaginable — a phishing email deploys ransomware, lightning strikes your data center, floodwaters inundate your office space. From cyberattacks and human error to power outages and natural disasters, there are numerous risks organizations face every day. While many business owners hope for the best, it’s a good idea to plan for these very real threats.

Strategic disaster recovery and business continuity plans can help your business weather any storm or threat actor. Keep reading to learn more about how you can set your business up for success when unexpected events occur. 

Why Your Business Should Prepare With BCP and DRP

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there were 18 weather-related events in the US that each caused $20 billion in damage in 2022 alone, totaling $400 billion.

But the bigger risk? Cyberattacks are growing in their frequency and sophistication. At IronEdge, we deal with business email compromise incidents each week. One report found that a cyberattack took place every 39 seconds in 2023 — which translates into over 2,200 cases per day (this is up from an incident every 44 seconds in 2022).

Although it’s not pleasant to think about, the hard truth is that every business will inevitably have to face one of these risks at some point in their lifetime.

This is why it’s so critical to have a business continuity plan (BCP) as well as a disaster recovery plan (DRP). The better prepared you are for an unexpected disaster, the faster your business can bounce back. A BCP and DRP can help guide you and your team through an incident while also having a positive impact on your company’s reputation and preserving client trust — even when the worst happens. 

Business Continuity vs. Disaster Recovery: What’s the Difference?

A BCP provides operational guidelines for your business to follow during an unforeseen disaster. Its goal is to either keep operations up and running or quickly restore operations during a major disruption. As a result, it’s an integral part of business risk management strategy

While a BCP provides a process for your entire business to maintain operations, a DRP offers the solutions to restore operations from an IT standpoint. A DRP is a component of the overall BCP — it specifically zeros in on data backups and restoring IT infrastructure after an unplanned event occurs.

Want to know more? Learn about the difference between BCP and DRP.

What to Include in a Business Continuity Plan

Now that you know the difference between these two plans, you’re likely wondering where to begin when it comes to the steps that each plan should include. We’ll start with the BCP.

1. Identify Potential Risks & Develop a Strategy

As part of your BCP and risk management strategy, you’ll first want to identify risks and outline specific objectives, procedures and an overall strategy to mitigate those risks. What processes will you implement to keep your business up and running during a disaster? Who will be assigned to certain tasks and be held accountable for them? Consider making a checklist and setting goals that are most critical to your business operations, such as identifying equipment needed and important contact information to keep your critical business processes afloat. It’s also important to have a backup strategy in mind in case plan “A” or plan “B” doesn’t work out.

2. Outline the Most Critical Operations

During a disaster, there are certain processes and business functions you can’t live without when forced to operate at reduced capacity. Determine what your most essential operations are and how you’ll safeguard them.

3. Communication and Defined Roles

You need all hands on deck during times of uncertainty. Designating clearly defined roles among your team is a must to keep communication flowing and restore operations as quickly as possible. Make sure to include clear contact information for your business continuity task force, including cell phone numbers and external email addresses.

4. Have Backups in Place

Always have backups in place. Even better, have backups for your backups in an offsite location to ensure your critical data is preserved and can be quickly recovered. What data do you consider irreplaceable? For many companies, this may include client and employee information, digital documents, sales plans, emails and other information necessary to running your business.

5. Plan for Relocation and the Safety of Your Team

Most importantly, plan for the safety and relocation of your team in the event that your current business environment is damaged or destroyed. Ensure that your team has the necessary equipment and communication tools to work from home, or another location, during a major disruption.

What to Include in a Disaster Recovery Plan

Your disaster recovery plan will need to include steps that are specific to addressing damaged IT infrastructure, providing solutions that will help get crucial networks up and running as soon as possible. 

1. Take Inventory and Write a List

Take inventory and include a list of your most critical company assets, including IT equipment, hardware, software, services and other important business functions. Prioritize your list with items you need to recover first along with items that can be delayed a few days. Be sure to keep your list updated as you add and eliminate items to your business processes.

2. Determine Data and Backup Protocols

Disaster or no disaster, implementing a proper data backup solution is essential. Determine what data you want to back up, who will be taking charge of the backups, and how often they will take place. Be sure to include the specific location of your backups to expedite the recovery process.

3. Identify Possible Disasters, Risks, and Relocation Sites

Consider all possible risks and disasters that could unfold and devise a plan for each scenario. From cyberattacks to weather events like hurricanes or tornadoes, assessing potential threats will help your overall recovery strategy be as robust as possible. Include plans for a temporary site relocation in the event that your current location is damaged. Have a list of the essential data and equipment you’ll need to restore operations, as well as a way to notify employees of the emergency protocols.

4. Assemble a Disaster Recovery Team and Contact List

No DRP is complete without a designated team to back it up. Each member of your disaster recovery team should be well versed with the plan in addition to having clearly defined roles and emergency contact info at the ready. Whether they’re declaring the disaster, contacting third-party vendors, or maintaining backups and notifying staff, everyone has a role to play when it comes to disaster recovery. Communication is key, especially during times of crisis. Be sure to clearly outline your plans with all staff members so that everyone knows their responsibilities and how to properly respond.

5. Update and Test Your DRP

Your disaster recovery team should be responsible for helping implement and maintain the DRP throughout the year. Update and test your plan regularly for maximum effectiveness — that way,  you’ll be prepared for any type of disruptive event. Any changes, such as software updates or new IT equipment, should be documented in your plan.

BCPs & DRPs Help You Weather Any Storm

From human error to natural disasters, every business will encounter an unforeseen disruption at some point in time. Having a well thought-out DRP and BCP on hand is critical to keeping your data safe, minimizing downtime, and easing anxiety the moment disaster strikes. Perhaps even more importantly, it also demonstrates to your vendors and clients that you can remain calm during a crisis, and that their information will be secure even during unexpected events.

For most of our clients, the hardest part is getting started. So many people feel overwhelmed or short on time. It’s important to start with small steps and see the process as more of a marathon than a sprint.

The best part? IronEdge is here to help you every step of the way.

Stay Extra Prepared with IronEdge

Get expert guidance to help you make faster, more informed decisions about the tools and processes you use.

IronEdge Group specializes in keeping business IT systems secure, so you and your team can rest easy knowing that your technology infrastructure is being monitored and supported around the clock every day.

Will your business be ready when disaster strikes? A partnership with IronEdge will help you protect your business and prepare for the unexpected. Reach out to schedule a free consultation today.

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