Building a disaster recovery plan for your financial organization takes a lot of planning. As businesses rely more on cloud technology and electronic data for their operations, the amount of data and information lost due to disasters increases.
If you don't take the time to correctly implement and document disaster recovery protocols, your organization can face serious challenges when an unforeseen disaster strikes. One way to get your business prepared and protected from catastrophe is to create and implement a disaster recovery plan (DRP.)
Your business needs a disaster recovery plan that can address any disaster. You should create a plan that is easy to follow, simple to understand, and customized to meet your business's unique needs.
Here is a disaster recovery plan checklist that your organization can use to mitigate any recovery issues post-disaster.
The Disaster Recovery Plan Checklist for Business Continuity Teams
A disaster recovery plan is a written, structured approach for a business that documents how an organization can resume work after an unplanned incident. A DRP applies to the areas of the company which depend on a functioning IT structure.
Some of the types of disasters you’ll want to plan for include:
- Communication failure
- Datacenter disaster
- Application failure
- Building disaster
- Citywide, regional, national, or multinational disaster
After a disaster, you want to minimize the effects so your business can continue to operate — or at least run with mission-critical functionality. Failure to create and implement a robust and well-thought-out disaster recovery plan could result in total data loss, or worse, a complete lack of function.
1. Identify Your Disaster Response Team
Every organization should have a designated disaster response team. A disaster response team is a group of individuals dedicated to developing and documenting a disaster recovery plan to ensure business continuity.
Your disaster response team should be a cross-functional group consisting of all levels of the business. Your senior leadership may not need to be involved in all aspects of the planning. However, they should participate in the discussions since they’ll need to sign off on budget proposals and policies.
Members of your disaster response team should include:
- Executive leadership
- IT management
- Critical business unit leaders
- Security and Compliance management
2. Conduct Business Impact Analysis and Risk Assessment
The first step to conducting a business impact analysis (BIA) is to list all your business functions. From there, you’ll need to identify the ones that are critical to normal day-to-day operations and any interdependencies.
Next, you’ll want to figure out how long the business can wait after an interruption before getting these crucial processes up and running again. You will need to document the impacts your business could experience during the downtime.
You’ll want to consider the answer to these questions:
- Would the business suffer severe financial setbacks?
- Would there be regulatory implications?
- Would there be a risk to the business’s reputation?
After the business impact analysis, you're ready to conduct a risk assessment to identify the business areas of exposure and possible threats that could cause a business interruption.
Types of threats to consider:
These threats should be analyzed to determine the likelihood of their occurrence and the level of impact they would have on the business should they occur. Take the time to consider what steps need to be taken to lessen the likelihood of occurrence or the level of impact.
3. Determine Recovery Objectives
When determining recovery objectives, consult with senior management and operations staff to understand the potential impact of disruptions on each critical system. Discuss the implications by scale and scope from one minute to days. Or, a single computer out to the entire network down.
Once this information is in place, you’ll want to discuss what your business should prioritize in disaster recovery. Here are five objectives to give you an idea of recoveries you should consider.
- Reduce overall risk and remain resilient. The main goal of your DRP is to reduce the overall risk to the business and maintain business resilience by anticipating, withstanding, and adapting to events, incidents, or crises with resumption, recovery, and restoration of critical operations following a business disruption. Ask the question, “Is there anything missing that would prevent the business from restarting rapidly?”
- Alleviate board of directors and investor concerns. Present a copy of the DRP to the board of directors and investors. Be sure to record any feedback given and, if necessary, implement a revised plan.
- Restore day-to-day operations. The question to focus on here is, “Can your disaster recovery plan restore the daily operations in a reasonable amount of time?” While customers are understanding and sympathetic, they’re also impatient.
- Comply with regulations. DRP is required by regulation in the financial services industry and is of a strategic nature.
- Include rapid response. The goal is to write a plan to respond rapidly to a disaster. Time is your enemy here, so make sure to store a copy of your DRP off-site for easy access when needed.
4. Enable Communication Channels
If disaster strikes, how are you going to communicate with your employees, customers, and other stakeholders? Do the employees know how to access the system they need? Can they perform any of their job functions after a disaster?
When creating your disaster recovery plan, you need to figure out how everyone will communicate. In a disaster, standard communication methods like email and phone may be affected. An alternative communication method may be necessary.
You need to keep communication channels open during the disaster recovery to ensure transparent communication during every phase of the disaster recovery. Transparency helps minimize fear and misinformation, and it helps to instill confidence in senior leadership.
5. Test and Update Disaster Recovery Plan
It isn’t enough to have your disaster recovery plan written. It must be tested and updated. Test your disaster recovery plan by conducting a real-time mock disaster drill. Take notes on how employees act according to the DRP.
Learn from the test and modify it as needed. Your organization's risk profile should influence the frequency, objectives, and documentation of the test. Tests should occur at appropriate intervals, when new risks are identified, or when significant changes affect your organization's operating environment. Significant changes can render your existing plan obsolete, so your DRP should be retested soon after the change.
How mature are your risk management and compliance programs? Our Risk Management and Compliance Self-Assessment will show you how you are performing against risk management and compliance. You can use these findings to identify gaps and take your business to the next level.