Losing valuable documents and data can be a company’s worst nightmare. Businesses cannot predict when they will be struck by an unexpected disaster.
From cybersecurity attacks to natural events such as fires or floods, disasters can cripple the flow of information and assets that keep your business functional.
Comprehensive disaster recovery plans are essential in getting businesses back up and running after an incident.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40% of businesses do not reopen following a disaster. By implementing a documented disaster recovery plan, your business is prepared for nearly any devastating situation.
Whether your business faces a natural disaster, cyberattack, or security breach, here’s what you should include when creating an effective disaster recovery plan.
What is a Document Disaster Recovery Plan?
A document disaster recovery plan (also known as a DRP or DR plan) is a structured approach to how your business can quickly recover and resume work after an unplanned event. The DRP is an essential part of a business continuity plan.
Disaster recovery plans operating on your organization’s current information governance program. The plan helps to prevent data loss, recover system functionality and minimize the aftermath of an incident.
Disaster Recovery Plan Goals
Disaster recovery plans set goals for before, during, and after an incident. The plan maps out consistent actions for teams to mitigate the fallout of both natural and man-made disasters.
Successful DRP plans address any possible scenario, giving the organization the tools to better prepare for recovery and advance towards digital transformation.
Some types of disasters organizations need to consider planning for include:
- Software Failures
- Power Outages
- Ransomware Attacks
- Data Center Disasters
- Communication Failures
- Building Disasters
- Citywide, Regional and National Disasters
If you want to avoid data loss, your document recovery strategy should provide your team with the resources needed to:
- Minimize Risk by performing risk assessments that uncover potential vulnerabilities in your document management system.
- Resume Operations by quickly making systems available to your organization and its customers. Your DRP should include solutions for remote document access and data storage.
- Maintain Compliances for specific regulations in your industry. Most recovery plans are customized to reduce your risk of failing to meet compliance requirements.
- Make You Feel Secure by addressing any concerns for business leaders, owners, stakeholders, and employees. Write down the top concerns from across your company, that way you know which liabilities need to be addressed in the event a disaster occurs.
6 Items to Include in Your Disaster Recovery Checklist
Every disaster recovery checklist needs to be unique to the situation. While there is no one set way to develop a DRP, they should always aim to prevent, detect, and correct potential data loss.
Though specific disaster recovery plan formats may vary, the structure of the plan should aim to include these 6 items.
#1: Set a Recovery Time Objective (RTO)
Recovery time objective or RTO is the set downtime after an outage before business processes and systems are restored to operation. If a business sets their RTO as 3 hours, they must be able to return to operations within that timeframe to avoid impacts to business continuity.
#2: Inventory of Digital & Physical Files
To ensure recovery of all documents, you first need to know what digital and physical files your organization has in its inventory. If your business already has a document retention policy in place, this process is simple.
If you don’t have a complete file inventory yet, you can start by categorizing it in one of three ways.
- Mission Critical: files you cannot do business without
- Daily: files you use within a regular business day
- Low Priority: files you won’t need for a few days
Categorizing your files and documents helps you know what you need to prioritize in the event of a disaster.
You’ll want to revisit your inventory on a regular basis, as you add more documents and files. Don’t forget to include any technical support information (such as user manuals for applications and hardware).
This will help you get back up and running even faster!
#3: Identification of Sensitive Documents
Essential documents and data often include sensitive information, such as Personally Identifiable Information (PII).
Document disaster recovery plans should include a list of all documents and data that if lost can have disastrous effects.
#4: List of Document Access Controls
After documents and files are categorized with privacy in mind, you’ll need to outline document access controls. The DRP should include a list of personnel and their responsibilities during a disaster recovery event.
Personnel on this list must be compliant with privacy regulations to have access to designated files.
Setting roles and responsibilities ensures everyone, from high-level executives to front-desk officials, understands the role they play in data recovery. You may also want to include information on tools in this list for accessing documents, files, and software.
Including a detailed list to guide password recovery or 2-factor authentication requirements can help speed document recovery up. When equipped with instructions for accessing documents, key stakeholders can act fast in protecting data in the event of an emergency.
#5: Choose Disaster Recovery Sites
Strong document disaster recovery plans must include a disaster recovery site. After disaster strikes, critical data and assets are moved to a predetermined recovery site location, all of your critical data and assets are moved and supported.
Disaster recovery sites can support your information in data centers or cold files storage until your DR plan can go into effect. Cold file storage is generally used for documents you don’t use all the time.
By relocating data to an offsite location, away from the disaster area, you can ensure files are available even if your current paper storage center is not!
The most important thing to consider when choosing a cold storage site for recovery is to ensure that backups and replications are automatically performed.
That way you can ensure no historical documents or files are overlooked.
#6 Internal Practice
You don’t want your document disaster recovery plan to fail you when you need it most. That is why it is best to internally practice your strategy at least once or twice a year.
By running practice tests, you can complete risk assessments and flag potential errors before they occur. The consistent practice also ensures file inventory, sensitive data, and access controls are updated.
Tools for Disaster Recovery Planning
A document disaster recovery plan combined with digitization ensures your company won’t fall behind or cease to exist after a disaster.
Companies can minimize business disruptions, eliminate downtime, and maintain full regulatory compliance following a disaster.
Critical business documents can be digitized to ensure your company’s vital information is readily available to employees. Even your mailroom can be digitized in the event of a disaster!
If it’s not possible to return to the office, remote employees benefit from having up-to-date access to documents from any device.
Digitizing for Document Recovery
Between computer viruses, cybersecurity attacks, natural disasters, or simple hardware failure, it’s not a matter of if you’ll need document recovery, but when.
Having a solid disaster recovery plan ensures information is readily available.
Outsourcing your document management program to secure imaging professionals is more than just backing up business information. It’s about ensuring vital protecting business information and ensuring business continuity when the unexpected happens.
Don’t frantically search for irreplaceable documents. Ask our team at Didlake Imaging to see how a document disaster recovery plan can ensure business continuity for your organization.