However well prepared your company might be, there’s always the possibility that something will occur to interrupt business operations. Hence every company should have a disaster recovery plan that maps out how to respond to such events, so the company can return to normal operations as soon as possible.

That said, simply possessing a disaster recovery plan is insufficient. A business should test its plan regularly to assure that when disaster does strike, your recovery plan (and its close cousin, the business continuity plan) will indeed work.

Your disaster recovery plans should be tested annually, as well as whenever a fundamental change happens within your company (a merger, divestiture, restructuring, new IT implementation, and so forth).

What Are the Most Common Disaster Recovery Scenarios?

A variety of disasters that can threaten your company and trigger your disaster recovery plan. Some of the most common are:

Natural Disasters

Weather events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, or blizzards can stop your operations in their tracks. Some global events, like the COVID-19 pandemic, can force a company to overhaul the way it performs operations. Preparing for such events can be challenging, but it’s important that you have a contingency plan and recovery process in place for when they occur.

Cyber Breaches

Cybersecurity issues can be catastrophic for many organizations. Ransomware, DDOS attacks, and other malicious intrusions into your system can cause loss of data, interruption of service, and chaos within your company. Your DR plan should always integrate current information on cyber threats so you’ll be able to recover quickly should you become the victim of an attack.

Data Loss and Backup Failure

Your company likely has large quantities of data that are critical to daily business operations. Issues with your data centers can hinder your profits and potentially result in costly lawsuits. If you have your data backed up (which you should), you must still be aware that data backups can fail. Be sure to include data recovery in your DR strategy.

Network and Utility Failure

Internet service and power outages are also important to consider while drafting your plan; a loss of electricity or internet access can freeze your operations in a matter of seconds. Your plan should include backup power or other contingency options for essential utilities so that your company can always access the tools it needs.

How Do You Test a Disaster Recovery Plan?

Test your disaster recovery plan via the following basic steps:

Assess Your Priorities

When designing your test, first consider which aspects of your recovery plan are most important. What potential problems might arise? What is your recovery time objective (RTO)? What will you need to prioritize so that you can continue your operations and minimize further loss?

These elements are the ones that need to be protected by your disaster recovery plan. During the testing process, keep them at the front of your mind. If you are revisiting an existing plan, also examine how these priorities may have changed since the plan was first created.

Choose the Test That Meets Your Needs

Numerous scenarios are available to test your disaster recovery plan, depending on what you’re hoping to achieve and what constraints you may be facing.

The simplest is called a plan review, where your team examines your strategy for any inconsistencies or potential errors. You can also perform a walkthrough, where your team executes the steps that would be necessary during a crisis. Finally, you also have the option of creating a simulation test, either on a tabletop or by using computer software.

Keep Your Team Informed

To test your disaster recovery strategy successfully, you’ll need the cooperation of your entire staff. Your employees will have invaluable insight about what must be done in the event of a crisis. Your staff may also be necessary to perform your test accurately, and they will need to know any responsibilities they might have in case of an emergency.

Integrate ZenGRC into Your Project Management Plans

A successful disaster recovery plan will rely on a thorough understanding of the threats faced by your organization. Risk management is an integral part of your business continuity, and it can be challenging to track your risks while using outdated methods like spreadsheets. To protect your company fully, you’ll need a modern risk management solution that keeps everyone on the same page.

ZenGRC is an integrated risk management software platform that gives you a real-time view of your company’s entire risk landscape. You can organize your risk assignments, automate your control procedures, and create a single source of truth for your risk and compliance programs. Schedule a demo today to learn how ZenGRC can become an integral part of your company’s disaster recovery strategy.