Disasters come in different forms and sizes, from natural calamities like earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods to man-made crises like cyber-attacks, power outages, and terrorist attacks. Such events can cause significant damage to an organization and disrupt critical operations, leading to severe consequences like revenue loss, data destruction, and business closure. That is why disaster recovery planning is an essential element of any business continuity management.
A disaster recovery plan (DRP) is a documented and tested set of procedures and policies that an organization follows in case a disaster occurs. It outlines the steps an organization should take to minimize the impact of a disaster, restore essential operations, and resume normal functions. A DRP is a crucial risk management tool that helps organizations prepare for unexpected events, reduce their impact, and recover quickly.
The elements of a disaster recovery plan typically include:
1. Risk Assessment: This involves identifying potential hazards unique to an organization and determining the overall risk they pose. It also includes quantifying the likelihood of the occurrence of such events and assessing the impact they could have on the organization.
2. Business Impact Analysis (BIA): A BIA assesses how different disasters could affect various parts of an organization. It helps determine which operations are the most critical and what their recovery time objectives (RTO) are.
3. Recovery Strategy: A recovery strategy outlines the steps an organization needs to take to restore its essential operations and recover data in case of a disaster. This includes deciding whether to restore data from backups or to rebuild from scratch.
4. Plan Development: This is where the actual DRP document is created. It should include contact lists, escalation procedures, recovery procedures, and all other essential information needed to recover from a disaster.
5. Testing and Maintenance: Testing the DRP is essential to ensure its effectiveness. Testing could be in the form of tabletop exercises or full-scale simulations. Regular maintenance is also critical to ensure that the plan stays up-to-date with changes in the organization's processes and technology.
When creating a disaster recovery plan, several factors need to be considered, including the type of disaster, the organization's size, the location of the business, and the availability of resources. Organizations should also identify critical operations, systems, and applications that are essential to their business functions. This will help to prioritize recovery efforts and allocate resources accordingly.
One example of a company that successfully implemented a DRP is JetBlue Airways. In 2007, the airline experienced an ice storm that disrupted their operations, leading to flight cancellations and lost revenue. JetBlue learned from this incident and implemented a DRP that included diversifying their flight schedules, creating backup power systems, and investing in new technology to improve communication across the company. In 2020, this preparedness paid off, as JetBlue was one of the first airlines to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, implementing measures like quick response teams and contact tracing to keep passengers safe.
A DRP is essential to any business continuity management. Without it, organizations are vulnerable to disruptions that could have significant consequences. It is important to continually update and practice the plan to ensure its effectiveness when a disaster strikes. As Benjamin Franklin once said, "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."