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Building a Disaster Recovery Playbook: What You Need to Know

December 2023 by Kristy Gulsvig, Vice President of Marketing, Tevora

Strategic planning is a big part of creating a sustainable path to success for a business. However, building strategies around the growth of sales and profits of an organization isn’t the only thing required to ensure a business stays viable.
Disaster recovery planning is also an essential aspect of building a resilient business structure. There are any number of catastrophic events that can happen today that can completely immobilize a business, and smart organizations adequately prepare for these risks.

Having a well-documented and methodical list of processes and procedures in place that help a business recover from events like a natural disaster or cyberattack can be the difference between a business continuing to operate or shutting its doors for good.

Why Disaster Recovery Planning is Essential
While there is no shortage of priorities that businesses have, planning for a disaster should be one of the highest. Although no business wants to operate in constant fear of the unknown, having a complacent view of potential threats can lead to serious ramifications for a company.
Considering the state the world is currently in, dealing with an industry redefining pandemic and global cybersecurity issues, protecting business assets has never been more crucial. Disaster recovery playbooks are an effective way for businesses to achieve this.
Disaster recovery planning helps organizations expedite the recovery of critical systems, data, and networks that may be significantly compromised during a disaster. In the event of ransomware or a major server outage, businesses can ensure they have the necessary procedures in place to recover quickly and avoid lengthy periods of downtime.
Taking this proactive measure well in advance of any potential disaster allows businesses to minimize the impact of crises while making sure all teams involved in the process are fully aware of their responsibilities to help support recovery.

Components of an Effective Disaster Recovery Playbook
Creating an effective disaster recovery playbook isn’t an overnight process and involves careful planning and coordination with both internal teams and external partners. However, by taking the time to carefully cover all the necessary areas, businesses will have a clear roadmap to follow in the event of an unexpected business disruption.

Below are the core components that every disaster recovery playbook should have, regardless of the business’s size:
Organizational Roles and Responsibilities

Before starting to draft policies and procedures associated with recovery efforts, it’s important for businesses to accurately identify all of the individuals who will be part of the process.
Internal department heads, support staff, and even external security teams will all play a part in helping a business restore operations in the event of a crisis. This is why it’s vital to document everyone involved, as well as the specific role they will be playing once a recovery effort is initiated.

Critical Business Functions and Downtime Tolerance
Successful disaster recovery planning is much more than providing details about how a business can fix its operational status. It’s also about understanding exactly which systems are most critical and how long the business can stay viable without them.
Businesses should identify both their RTO (Recovery Time Objectives) and RPO (Recovery Point Objectives) when starting the plan recovery efforts. Both of these metrics will identify important priorities that will dictate where and when recovery teams focus their attention.

Asset Mapping
Because very few businesses are static, they often will adopt new technologies and grow their company infrastructure in various areas. This is why asset mapping is an important thing to not only include in recovery planning but also should be updated regularly.
The assets that are mapped in your playbook could include physical hardware, software, and databases that are disrupted across both on-premise and cloud-based networks.

Documented Procedures and Recovery Strategies
The effectiveness of a disaster recovery initiative largely depends on the thoroughness of its preparation. It’s essential for businesses to ensure that every aspect of their operations is accounted for. This means also implementing the right measures to larger disruptions in the future.
Completing a SOC audit, which verifies the proper implementation of operational procedures and best practices, is a good way to make sure your business covers all bases. These audits are usually conducted by a third party that specializes in disaster recovery planning and ensures the business is taking all necessary steps to fix any critical gaps in their operational and security readiness.

Make Sure Your Disaster Recovery Playbook is Effective
Disaster recovery planning should be part of every business’s DNA. Even though many businesses will be fortunate enough not to have to heavily rely on disaster recovery initiatives, there is enough evidence to support that those that do, have much better resilience in the face of both minor and major operational setbacks.
By taking the time to develop and regularly update a disaster recovery playbook, businesses can ensure they are building their success on a foundation that won’t easily crack.

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