6 things to consider when implementing a disaster recovery plan

by Scott Koegler
Digital assets are critical components to today’s businesses.

Whether your organization’s products are digital or you rely on digital content, safeguarding assets is imperative because disasters can wipe out your computer systems and the information they hold in an instant. Your disaster recovery plan needs to be well thought out, and able to bring your company back to operation quickly without skipping a beat.

If your company is just in the planning stages of implementing a disaster recovery plan, you should consider six issues as you evaluate options. If you already have a disaster recovery plan in place, review it against these issues to see if anything should be adjusted.

1. Define your key assets

For most organizations, the most important digital assets include their enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, product and marketing plans, and a trove of internal documentation.

Prioritize your assets into three categories: business critical, important, and noncritical. Categorizing your assets will help you focus on recovering the most vital ones first so that your business can begin functioning again as quickly as possible.

2. Decide on a recovery window

Based on your asset prioritization, determine how long your business can afford to be offline.

The most important segment is your business-critical assets. Your recovery window should identify the longest period of time (in hours) that your business can thrive without having access to its most important information.

3. Define a recovery solution

The options for backup range from old-school tape backup to disk backup. But real disaster recovery requires remote storage so that data is safe and accessible, even if the primary location is totally destroyed.

In addition to local backup, be sure to include data replication to an offsite location.

4. Draft a disaster recovery plan

Document your plan with enough detail that someone with technical understanding but no knowledge of your enterprise structure can execute the plan and get systems up and running without having to ask questions of current staff.

5. Test the plan

Testing a disaster recovery plan is critical and the only way to assure it is viable. But testing in a vacuum is likely to leave unexpected issues when a real recovery is needed.

Develop a real-world environment and have someone outside of the company, such as a consultant under a non-disclosure agreement, execute your disaster recovery plan by following your documentation.

Once recovery is complete, execute the applications, and access the data in real-life conditions. Expect to find issues that need to be resolved before declaring your plan complete.


6. Schedule and follow up testing regularly and adjust as needed

Operations and data change constantly. It isn’t enough to rely on a single test of your disaster recovery plan to assure success.

Document your restoration and testing procedures and run the tests on a regular basis. The frequency of your testing depends on your evaluation of the rate of change in your systems.

At minimum, you should test your disaster recovery plan once every 12 months. More frequent testing may be called for depending on your business plan and the state of your business. The rule of thumb is to not scrimp on testing.

Every disaster recovery plan is different and depends on your enterprise’s needs. Make your plan fit your business and make certain it’s viable and can get your business up and running after a major disaster strikes.

Should a disaster strike, AT&T can help get your communications back online.

The AT&T Network Disaster Recovery team commands more than 320 technology and equipment trailers that can be quickly deployed to respond to events, such as hurricanes and wildfires. The team works closely with local AT&T network personnel along with regional and local officials to restore and maintain communications until permanent repairs can be made.