Yes, my business has a disaster recovery plan in place.
Well did you know you’ve only got one shot to see it succeed when a disaster occurs? It’s best to make sure it works.
Many small to midsize businesses have a disaster recovery plan in place. That’s great, however are you testing it to ensure that all the disaster response mechanisms work? Once a disaster recovery plan is in place, regular assessing and updating is important as business changes and processes change.
Are you wanting to create a disaster recovery plan?
Read the 17 Key Questions to Ask.
Here is a short guide that explains all the critical stages in testing a disaster recovery plan:
Decide on your testing schedule
Once a plan is complete, at a minimum, annual testing needs to be put in place. If significant changes are occurring within the company, then you may decide more frequent testing needs to occur. You may find that your company is implementing new IT solutions, expanding the workforce, updating workflows, or acquiring other businesses, in which case your testing needs to become more frequent.
Evaluate your company’s goals and what changes are planned to determine your testing schedule. IT systems are never static. So, each time the department installs a new application, upgrade or adds a new element, the disaster recovery plan is updated. Testing become more important when changes are occurring.
Set clear goals and objectives for the test
If you want a clear idea of what to look for and what to expect with your testing it is best to define the test’s goals and objectives. The path your business takes to recover is unique. Not only do you want to resume normal business operations after a disruption, but you want to identify all the elements in your recovery processes and base the test on their performance indicators. There are two key objectives in every disaster recovery solution:
Recovery Time Objective (RTO): A measure of how quickly you need to restore business operations before reaching a critical breaking point.
Recovery Point Objective (RPO): Describes the amount of data that can be lost during and after a disaster before that loss exceeds the business continuity plan’s maximum allowable threshold.
Select the test that fits your needs
Choose an approach that will give you the desired result while touching on the areas you need to test. The following disaster preparedness tests are used:
- Paper test: A representative of the disaster recovery team reads and annotates the DR document, explaining the documented procedures, checklists, policies, roles, and timeframes.
- Walkthrough test: A walkthrough test involves all interested parties. Participants identify and discuss any issues that need modifications.
- Simulation test: This is a mock drill scenario where the entire organization practices the recovery procedures in real life.
- Parallel test: In this test, the failover systems are assessed to determine whether they can perform as expected.
- Cutover test: The failover systems temporarily take over the primary system’s role to carry out all business operations using only the backup facilities.
Define the test parameters
A disaster recovery plan includes procedures for data availability, communications, labor access, and so on. At this stage, you can choose your test’s scope by defining the areas you want to cover. The scope also determines the stakeholder, third-party suppliers, and employees to involve in the test. In addition, you will want to identify any constraints such as funding and timeframe.
Run the test and document the results
What was the result of your test? By comparing the actual test results and the disaster recovery plan’s expectations, you’ll identify areas that need adjustments and any necessary procedures to add. Remember, the main reason for testing a disaster recovery plan is to uncover weak strategies while reinforcing and updating your disaster readiness.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40% of businesses do not reopen after facing a disaster. Many more businesses fail within a year or two after suffering major disruptions. Maintaining a disaster recovery plan that’s tested and always ready to go future proofs your organization and guarantees its continuity, even in crises.
Connect with experts
There may be some reasons you are not able to test. Time being one of them. Please reach out to us for help, we would be glad to prepare and help your company through the testing process.
Maybe you are amongst the 30% of businesses that do not have a disaster recovery plan, let alone test it. CoreTech would be glad to help you through the process of creating one, reach out to us today.