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Disaster Recovery Plans for SMBs: Importance + Free Checklist

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Consider this:

  • 75% of small businesses (SBs) don’t have a disaster recovery plan (DRP) in place
  • 90% of SBs that take more than five days to resume operations go bust within a year
  • But 52% say it’d take them at least three months to recover from a disaster

Given these figures, it’s no wonder that 40 to 60% of small businesses never reopen after a major disaster.

The question isn’t whether you can afford to implement a DRP. It’s whether you can afford not to.

Now, we know disaster recovery planning and testing are unfamiliar tasks for most IT teams and that getting buy-in from the whole organization isn’t easy.

That’s why we decided to create this guide. Here, you’ll learn the importance of disaster recovery plans, how an effective DRP works, how to secure approval from the C-suite, and more.

And if you need help building, implementing, and testing your DRP, you can count on our experienced team as a partner — contact us.

What Is a Disaster Recovery Plan in Cybersecurity?

In cybersecurity, a disaster recovery plan outlines procedures to restore business operations and minimize the impact on your bottom line after disruptive events such as power outages, ransomware, or server failures.

It’s a proactive strategy that ensures business continuity by minimizing downtime, data loss, and the impact on your bottom line.

Disaster Recovery Plan vs. Business Continuity Plan: What’s the Difference?

Both business continuity and disaster recovery plans are blueprints for what a business should do in worst-case scenarios.

They give organizations peace of mind and a sense of stability and confidence by safeguarding them against significant losses and disruptions. But that’s where the similarities end. 

Here are the main differences between a disaster recovery plan and a business continuity plan:

Importance of disaster recovery plan — Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) vs Business Continuity Plan (BCP)

The Importance of Disaster Recovery Plans for SMBs

Nowadays, all businesses rely on data and connectivity. This means that even small disruptions can have a profound effect on productivity and profit.

For example, one hour of downtime can cost anywhere between $10,000 and $5 million, depending on the size of the business.

Given these eye-watering figures, it comes as no surprise that 90% of businesses are forced to close within a year if they fail to restart operations within five days, and 25% permanently close following any disaster.

Worse yet, a 2022 research paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research concluded that smaller businesses close at a significantly higher rate than larger ones “when facing a large aggregate negative shock.”

In addition, the widespread adoption of cloud computing, cloud migration, and remote work have all increased infrastructure complexity and risks.

Consequently, between 2019 and 2022, 96% of organizations worldwide experienced at least one incident of operational downtime.

What can we conclude from all this?

  • Big or small, disruptions can happen anywhere, at any time — it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’
  • Smaller businesses are more vulnerable than larger ones
  • Downtime resulting from disruptions is incredibly costly
  • The longer it takes to resume operations, the higher the chance of permanent closure

An effective disaster recovery plan will minimize downtime, productivity and data loss, and reputational damage, ensuring business resilience and continuity — that’s why it’s so important to have one.

Plus, if you operate or serve individuals or businesses in the European Union, you must have a DR strategy to comply with local data privacy laws.

Why Do You Need a Disaster Recovery Plan? 6 Benefits of Having a DRP

The consequences of downtime resulting from a disaster or disruption can range from a hefty loss to full-on business closure.

Here are six key benefits of having a DRP and why you need one:

  1. Every second counts when it comes to business downtime. By safeguarding critical business operations, a DRP ensures you recover with minimal to no interruption.
  2. DRPs use data backups, advanced encryption, and several other methods to secure critical data and prevent data loss, limiting the impact of attacks.
  3. DRPs minimize downtime and data loss by using data replication and automated recovery processes.
  4. They also reduce recovery costs, including costs associated with downtime, loss of productivity, and data privacy penalties.
  5. DRPs help comply with legal and regulatory requirements since they consider potential risks and define procedures and protections for your data and workloads in case of a disaster.
  6. A proactive approach to disaster recovery reflects positively on your brand. Having a DRP in place boosts customer trust and your business’s reputation.

For all these reasons, an effective DRP will give you a competitive advantage in the market.

IT Disaster Recovery Strategy & Solutions 

An IT disaster recovery strategy usually includes emergency response, backups, and recovery procedures and is part of a broader business continuity strategy.

As for IT disaster recovery solutions, there are several options, including backups, point-in-time snapshots, and virtual DR, among many others.

Book a free consultation to get tailored advice on which solution better protects your business.

How an Effective Disaster Recovery Plan Works

An effective DRP will reduce damage and disruption by allowing you to recover ASAP when a disaster or system failure happens — ideally, in minutes.

To work as intended, you need to: 

  • Keep your IT systems in optimal condition 
  • Clearly define people’s roles
  • Establish a communication plan that includes the departments and employees involved in the plan as well as relevant vendors, partners, and customers
  • Test your DRP regularly
  • Guarantee that the preventive, detective, and corrective measures are done right

How to Create an Effective Disaster Recovery Plan — Free Disaster Recovery Plan Checklist

Having a disaster recovery plan is critical for maintaining productivity, data security, and business operations.

The problem is that building an effective DRP is difficult for anyone with little experience since it involves identifying potential threats, assessing risks, setting recovery objectives, detailing precise procedures, and a lot more.

We created a disaster recovery plan checklist to help you build your very own DRP. Click the link to download it for free.

Alternatively, you can partner with us to tap into our extensive experience in disaster recovery planning and implementation.

Our team will create a DRP tailored to your business’s unique needs that’ll give you full peace of mind. Visit our IT-managed services page to learn more about how we can help you.

How to Test Your Disaster Recovery Plan

Without regular testing, you don’t know if your DRP is any good.  You might be creating a false sense of security.

For example, in 2021, a study found that 58% of data backups fail because of outdated or poorly maintained systems. Similarly, backup paths often become unavailable in a disaster.

These are just two examples that illustrate why you need to regularly test your plan, list the issues that come up, and adjust accordingly.

Besides, nervous employees trying out your plan for the first time in a disaster scenario, where tensions will be running high, is a recipe for disaster. You must rehearse the plan to ensure everyone knows how to confidently execute it.

Here are the general steps to ensure DRP effectiveness:

  1. Prepare the test and brief your employees
  2. Come up with a realistic disaster scenario
  3. Test your employee notification system and plan activation
  4. Execute the systems and data recovery process
  5. Test the communication channels used to inform stakeholders
  6. Verify that critical systems are restored and meet recovery objectives
  7. Document observations, timeframes, successes, areas for improvement, and any deviations from the plan throughout the test
  8. Discuss the results with the team and brainstorm improvements
  9. Use insights from the test to refine your DRP
  10. Keep testing, rehearsing, and improving regularly

Testing your DRP is crucial to uncover vulnerabilities and fine-tune your disaster response.

Need expert guidance? We can also help you run DRP tests and rehearsals.

How to Get C-Level Support for Your Disaster Recovery Plan

“We don’t need a DRP. If things go south, the IT team will figure it out.” Does this sound familiar?

To get buy-in from the C-suite, you need to speak their language and effectively convey the value of your plan.

The top concerns decision-makers have surrounding IT downtime are:

  • Loss of customer confidence (52%)
  • Brand reputational damage (47%)
  • Loss of employee confidence (36%)

Plus, 79% of IT decision-makers see data protection and management as a competitive advantage.

Considering these stats, here are some key selling points that’ll resonate with C-level employees:

  • Highlight how your plan ensures minimal downtime, which reduces revenue loss, maintains customer, employee, and stakeholder trust, and protects your brand image.
  • Emphasize that it includes preventive measures that’ll safeguard data and minimize legal and financial risks.
  • Explain how the plan aligns with industry regulations and compliance standards.
  • Showcase how it gives your SMB a competitive advantage by ensuring operational stability and instilling confidence in stakeholders and customers.

By presenting these benefits, you’ll show the C-suite the tangible value your DRP brings to the organization.

Protect Your Business Assets with a Disaster Recovery Plan Today 

40 to 60% of small businesses never reopen after a major disaster.

A DRP minimizes downtime and ensures your core operations keep running. This way, you can reduce the impact on your bottom line, safeguard your business’s reputation, and maintain customer trust.

At ASi Networks, we help protect your business assets with cloud backups, data protection, replication services, and high-availability solutions.

Our #1 goal is to help you secure your network round the clock. Get a free assessment today.

Or, download our disaster recovery plan checklist to build your own DRP.