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  • Writer's pictureMatt Oliva

Crafting a Robust Disaster Recovery Plan for SMBs

Do small businesses really need to invest in a disaster recovery plan when they're struggling to cover daily operations? To answer this question, let's take a look at the following facts: From 2018 to 2020, 50 disaster events occurred in the U.S., amounting to a total of $237.2 billion in damages. In 2021 alone, 20 disasters happened causing damages over $1 billion. Among the most destructive forces, hurricanes can lead to power failures, flooding, storm damage, and other consequences. Current data shows that around two-thirds of SMBs unable to recover from a disaster such as a fire, flood, hurricane, or tornado shut down within a year. Alarmingly for businesses, downtime costs have surged by 32% in the last seven years. For 44% of businesses across the country, an hour of downtime could cost over $1 million. Are you convinced about the importance of disaster recovery yet? Despite these facts, many businesses still hesitate to build a disaster recovery plan from the ground up. This can seem particularly intimidating for small businesses lacking the extra manpower critical in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. However, with modern disaster recovery solutions, the right IT partners like Disaster Recovery NJ, and careful pre-planning, small businesses can recover from disasters just as efficiently as larger entities. This article will walk you through the precise steps SMBs can take to devise an effective disaster recovery plan.

7 Key Components of a Solid Disaster Recovery Plan for SMBs

Identify Critical Systems The initial step in devising a disaster recovery plan involves identifying the systems that are integral to your organization. These are the mission-critical systems, without which your business can't function at its minimum viable capacity. This list should incorporate:

  • Backups of databases and file servers

  • Vital websites and web servers for your business operations or for delivering crucial information to your clients or employees

  • Essential mail servers for official communication

  • Virtual machines or terminals frequently used by your team

Identify Resources and Staff to Operate Them The following step is to identify the resources you need to have on standby and the staff proficient in managing them during emergencies. These can range from physical infrastructure, like a generator or fuel for backup power, to IT systems, or human resources with the necessary technical skills to maintain these systems. Make sure you identify and inventory these resources well ahead of time so you can deploy them immediately when a disaster strikes.

Define Roles and Responsibilities Assigning roles and responsibilities is a vital step in creating a disaster recovery plan. This should cover everything from who participates in specific processes, the frequency of meetings, and the tasks each person is responsible for. It's wise to enlist the help of an outside consultant such as us at SeedTech to review your disaster recovery plan (DRP) thoroughly and ensure its completeness.

Create a Communication Plan The initial step in resuming your business operations after a disaster involves ensuring that staff, customers, partners, and other stakeholders know their responsibilities during an emergency. This calls for an effective communication strategy, covering both internal and external communications. This strategy should keep everyone informed at all times, helping to manage the situation effectively.

Create Document Templates for Your Resumption Plan Document templates can greatly assist your team in creating and sharing recovery documents in an organized and consistent manner. Consider the types of documents your resumption plan will need:

  • Resumption Plan Documents: These are the backbone of a disaster recovery plan. They should encompass all crucial details such as contact information, roles and responsibilities, communication methods during an outage, key external contacts (like third-party service providers) for handling specific issues like legal or regulatory matters, and more.

  • Backup Templates: Always create backup templates for your resumption plans. These can streamline the process of creating new versions without starting from scratch each time, saving valuable time during updates. You might even automate this process using software tools like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.

Test Your Disaster Recovery Plan Testing is essential for evaluating the effectiveness of your disaster recovery plan. The core elements of the test should comprise:

  • Checking that your backup server functions as expected by practicing in a test environment.

  • Testing backups and restorations on an old system or virtual machine to smooth out any issues in the restoration process.

  • Testing alerts and notifications during simulated disasters or outages, so that everyone knows their roles and when they need to act.

Know That You Can Rebuild After a Disaster The best defense your company has against a disaster is thorough preparation. You don't want to be caught off guard. That's why it's crucial to test, document, and communicate your plan regularly.

Your organization's DRP must have a strategy to keep critical systems online during emergencies. This involves having updated, highly available backups stored offsite, on multiple devices, on the cloud, and at remote locations, ensuring that all backups cannot be affected by the same disaster. Regular communication among teams is crucial during and after a disaster. Everyone needs to understand the next steps at every stage. This includes knowing who's responsible for what tasks during each phase of recovery. To maintain transparency, document everything in writing and hold formal meetings with a quick problem-solving process in place.

TLDR: Why should any small business bother about disaster recovery when they can barely make ends meet for daily operations? Well, let’s consider a few facts: In a span of just three years, from 2018-2020, there were 50 disaster events in the U.S. that total $237.2 billion in damages. 20 of these disasters took place in 2021 with a total of over $1 billion in damages. Hurricanes rank among the top destructive forces that result in a cascade of impacts including power failure, flooding, storm damage and more. Recent statistics indicate that nearly two-thirds of SMBs that experience a disaster event like a fire, flood, hurricane, or tornado are unable to survive and go out of business within 12 months.

Most worryingly for businesses, downtime costs have risen 32% in the past 7 years. On average, for 44% of businesses across the nation, 1 hour of downtime could easily cost over $1 million.

Unfortunately, many businesses will continue to balk at the prospect of building a disaster recovery plan from scratch. It can be an especially daunting prospect for small businesses that do not have the luxury of “extra pairs of hands” that can become critical in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. We're here for you.

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