Disaster recovery plans are developed with the intention to serve as a protective measure to keep invaluable data safe when unprecedented disasters such as hurricanes occur. When implemented properly, they should be failure-proof – requiring organizations to be prepared for the worst possibilities by developing comprehensive disaster recovery plans that minimize the impact of the calamity.
So why do these disaster recovery plans fail more often than not? Well, there are 4 major parts of developing a fool-proof contingency plan: mitigation, planning for the disaster, response to the disaster, and disaster recovery. Many organizations do improper implementation or execution of these phases and almost always cause their disaster recovery plans to fail.
Why Are Disaster Recovery Plans Necessary?
When unforeseen disasters such as natural disasters, data corruption, data theft, or loss of data occur, organizations need to act fast to quickly recover the data and make well-defined plans to help return operations to normalcy. In the absence of disaster recovery plans, there could be significant delays in resuming operations which could cost the organization nearly $260,000 per hour. This implies that most data companies that can’t afford such a high loss are just a single cyberattack away from shutting down.
A disaster recovery plan (DRP) should be in place to protect the company from collapsing in the case of a calamity. A DRP entails everything an organization needs to undertake to safeguard its interests before, during, and after a crisis. Although not all disasters can be avoided, having a DRP can help the organization recover.
Reasons Why Disaster Recovery Plans Fail
There could be a myriad of reasons why disaster recovery plans fail, ranging from lack of communication to improper execution. These include:
1) Infrastructural limitations to implementing the plan
Sometimes, the team responsible for drafting the disaster recovery plan doesn’t take into account the infrastructural limitations of the organization. These limitations could be in the form of inadequate backup servers and insufficient data management capacity.
A plan that can’t be implemented is the equivalent of having none in the first place. There should be a match between efficiency in restoring operations with the feasibility of execution.
2) The team is unbriefed about the disaster recovery plan
Many organizations make the blunder of getting stuck for far too long in the development hell of making elaborate disaster recovery plans but don’t take the time to brief the entire team about the contingency plan.
This lack of communication and necessary training of employees could be detrimental as there would be a lack of clarity and consensus at the time of the disaster. It’s always recommended to make sure every key personnel has multiple copies of the plan, both soft and physical.
3) Unaccounted resource requirements such as power
Sometimes, real-time resources aren’t taken into consideration when developing a disaster recovery plan. For instance, there might not be power available during a hurricane and therefore not having generators that can sustain operations for a long time could cause the plan to fall apart.
The same principle could also apply to not having backup servers free for restoring operations. Realizing this during the crisis could add to the panic and chaos which in turn increases the downtime of operations.
4) The disaster recovery plan has grown out-of-date
Disaster recovery plans don’t age like fine wine: many times, these plans are developed and then shelved without necessary follow-up steps. An out-of-date strategy that doesn’t bear relevance to current working conditions makes the job of data recovery more difficult than not having one in the first place. It’s important to remember that the DRP is only as good as the quality of testing, management, maintenance, documentation, and communication of the plan.
5) Convoluted disaster recovery plan
Data recovery plans often also fail because they’re overly detailed, too complicated, and difficult to comprehend. When there’s a lack of power and time is worth its weight in gold, convoluted instructions drastically reduce the efficiency of the plan. This causes the downtime to increase considerably. Ideally, the plan should be easy to follow and communicate to teammates.
6) Misalignment between disaster recovery plans and company needs
DRPs also fail when they are developed by a team for purely logistical purposes without taking into consideration the needs of the company. If they’re drafted without consulting management seniors of the company, there might be a misunderstanding as to which operations should be prioritized when restoring operations during a disaster.
7) Incomplete documentation of the plan
This is another major reason why disaster plans fail more often than not. The DRP could be missing crucial information and instructions upon which the success of the entire plan could depend. Incomplete documentation is a fatal flaw when it comes to developing and drafting a comprehensive data recovery plan.
8) Incorrect testing standards
The success or failure of disaster recovery plans primarily lies in the testing standards used by the organization. A common finding amongst disaster recovery plans that failed is that they were tested in environments that did not bear much resemblance to real-life cases. Ideally, they should be tested as simulations in specific test conditions for different situations that could happen.
How to Reduce Chances of Disaster Recovery Plans From Failing?
There are certain measures that the organization and company could take to reduce the risk of failure of the disaster recovery plans. These include the following:
- Ensure that there’s sufficient backup of critical data that’s saved on a cloud at frequent intervals of time. This ensures the data is available for access even in times of disaster.
- Include staff employees, important personnel, and seniors from the management team when developing the disaster recovery plan so that everyone is on the same page.
- Conduct frequent tests and update the documentation regularly.
- Maintain simple but effective documentation that’s easy to read.
- Get a wide range of reliable consulting opinions to garner insight as to how the plan can be further optimized.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. Ensure that the team knows how to proceed without panicking at times of disaster. It might even prove to be beneficial to conduct test drills with the team.
- Keep copies of the plan available to multiple employees and at several locations so that there’s not a scramble to find it when it’s needed.
Reliable Disaster Recovery Plans by Abacus
Disaster recovery plans that reduce the downtime of operations are an essential part of any company that deals with data. A high-quality DRP minimizes downtime, reduces damage to the organization, and protects the data under a variety of conditions. While certain organizations may have the adequate resources and personnel required to develop disaster recovery plans, it could pay to acquire the assistance of specialists to draft them.
Abacus provides multi-layered, multi-faceted security measures and well-executed disaster recovery plans to assist businesses before, during, and after a disaster. Our specialists have years of experience in identifying key vulnerabilities in data management and IT services. To learn more about the recovery plan that’s right for your company, get in touch with us today.