15 Steps for Designing a Successful Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP)

Technology plays an essential role in practically every aspect of the modern-day business process. If your technology is interrupted or data is lost because of an unexpected disturbance, a Disaster Recovery Plan is key to minimizing damage and restoring your environment as quickly as possible.

What is a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP)?

A DRP should be included in your Business Continuity Plan (BCP) as a complete set of procedures to reduce downtime by focusing on the most effective way to recover. So, where do you start?

15 Steps for Designing a Successful Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP)

First things first, you’ve got to identify the most important business activities, and the applications or data needed to support them.

Disaster Recovery Plan - Evaluate Business Activities 1. Identify Critical Business Processes
What business processes are imperative to your company’s continued business, and how long can you survive without them?

2. Label Dependencies
Outline the applications your business processes depend upon the most and diagnose each application’s maximum downtime accordingly.

3. Define Vital Applications
Make a list of the applications with the most urgent restoration time.

4. Assess Your Current Data Recovery Strategy
Understand and consider high availability vs. failover vs. restore vs. backups, and closely investigate your current weaknesses or risks within each of those areas.

Next, you should have gathered enough information to determine your recovery time requirements.

5. Perform a Business Impact Analysis (BIA)
Conducting a BIA allows you to measure the impact of downtime for effected areas of the business, determine availability requirements, estimate the cost of downtime (lost sales, reduced customer confidence, etc.), and identify legal/compliance levels regarding data security.

Disaster Recovery Plan - Determine Recovery Time Requirements6. Define Recovery Point Objectives (RPO)
RPO is reflected by prioritizing your business’ data dependencies to ensure that the last point in time a valid replication or backup was made and data can be restored from aligns with your business needs.

7. Distinguish Recovery Time Objectives (RTO)
RTO the amount of time after data corruption or hardware failure has occurred in which full restoration is desired.

8. Designate Maximum Tolerable Downtime (MTD)
MTD depicts the absolute maximum length of time that your most important applications, data or hardware can be unavailable before irreversible damage has been done, or you begin to lose business.

Now, it’s time to test your hypothesis and become aware of your technology gaps or weaknesses. If risks are high, investing in more innovative solutions may be necessary.

Disaster Recovery Plan - Test Hypothesis9. Assess Risks
It’s crucial to your DRP’s success to be aware of the possible risks faced by single points of failure, such as data loss. Create a risk/impact chart to record risks and rank their priority.

10. Test Your Theory

Walk through a DRP scenario and perform a technology gap analysis of your current vs. desired RPOs, RTOs and MTD.

11. Redesign Accordingly
Is your DRP handicapped by old solutions, inadequate data recovery vehicles or poor archiving systems? Maybe it’s time to visit more innovative technology. Prioritize necessary investments to close gaps and address risk areas.

12. Implement New Solutions
Create an implementation timeline that outlines your plan to incorporate those new solutions into an effective DRP.

Once you have your ducks in a row, you can begin building a strategic response plan and delegate roles and responsibilities to a team.

13. Develop an Emergency Response Procedure
Create step-by-step instructions that define the criteria and procedures for responding, achieving full recovery and restoring normal operations.

Disaster Recovery Plan - Policies and Procedures

14. Align Procedures

Define severity definitions and assign escalation rules for procedures that may be needed in order to meet DRP timeline requirements and MTD according to various disaster scenarios.

15. Form a Team
Designate roles and train the chosen to respond accordingly. Oversee the success of procedures put in place to ensure your DRP is followed to avoid recovery failure.

By following these 15 steps, your DRP will prove to be thorough, dynamic and effective. Most companies don’t have in-house resources or staff to develop and execute a DRP / BCP. Services from Centre Technologies focus on an optimal cost-effective delivery of support for organizations with IT services that are stretched too thin, or companies not large enough to justify the in-house staff expense. If that sounds like you, contact us today for a free assessment of your technology infrastructure, and discuss your organization’s options for creating a DRP that aligns with your business objectives and goals.

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Originally published on February 6, 2014

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Centre Technologies Centre Technologies

Centre Technologies is a full-service IT consulting and managed services provider headquartered in Texas, with a focus on mid-sized businesses. As a trusted IT partner for well over a decade, Centre is recognized for its local experience and enterprise-grade cloud and cybersecurity solutions. Centre is committed to helping organizations harness the power of technology to maximize their operational efficiency and exceed their business goals. Learn more about Centre Technologies »

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