3 Reasons You Should Update Your Disaster Recovery Plan

If your business has a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) in place, we applaud you.

DRPs are a fundamental resource for making sure your business can navigate disaster and quickly recover after the worst has passed.


Unfortunately, it’s also easy for DRPs to become outdated. For example, people get too busy and forget to make updates. Or plan overseers move on and the responsibility isn’t passed on. And any number of other reasons.

At a time when every week seems to bring a big man-made or natural disaster, however, the details in your plans matter. The best way to ensure your plans aren’t missing anything important is through a regular audit. In this article, we’ll examine three reasons for making audits an annual priority. 

Regular Plan Updates Pay Off
In the midst of unexpected chaos, proper preparation could save lives, help you better protect assets and keep your business going. So the time and money investments of regular DRP and BCS audits are minimal, compared to the costs of no plan or an outdated plan.

Disasters can go from bad to terrible in the blink of an eye. Take a simple example of a pipe-break on the floor of a tall hotel with businesses on the ground level. One day, during a routine fire department sprinkler inspection, a water main bursts on the top floor. The area immediately floods and water starts cascading downward, flooding rooms on every floor below the break, including businesses. With an up-to-date DRP, employees should be trained on what to do and how to contain the damage and impact on guests and businesses in other areas of the hotel. If managers and employees aren’t able to quickly coordinate a response with the fire department, however, the fire department may make a quick call to evacuate the hotel. Now a costly situation is growing worse by every minute that ticks by until at least unaffected areas of the hotel are returned to normal.

These types of situations happen all of the time and kinds of factors can impact whether your response framework will hold up in the face of a disaster. Let’s quickly look at a few of them.

Are Catastrophes the New Normal?
Let’s take a second to look back at just a few of the notable events in the U.S. in 2017:1

  • Hurricane Harvey
  • Hurricane Irma
  • Hurricane Maria
  • Western wildfires and California firestorm
  • Colorado hailstorm

And those are just a few of the larger natural events. Even when forecasters or experts provide forewarning about these types of events, it can be nearly impossible to prepare your business for a disaster on short notice without previous planning. Not to mention that man-made and natural disasters frequently happen without any kind of forewarning. 

3 Reasons Your Current Plan May Not Hold Up

  1. Your People: Employees are a huge variable in disaster response planning. You need to have clear leadership and may need to hold regular trainings and drills if people are going to keep calm and make the right moves in difficult circumstances. Depending on your type of business, all it takes is a lapse in leadership or training for a good plan to fall apart. 
  2. Changing Circumstances: Disaster plans should focus on the types of events that are most likely to occur during any given year, and that can sometimes change dramatically year to year. 
  3. Evolving Business Considerations: It’s not just that you may face different types of disasters over time, you also have to consider what’s happening up- and down-stream in your business. For example, are your suppliers facing new dangers and if so, how would you respond if they were cut off? Or what if key customers are hit by a disaster? How could you maintain operations while they recovered?

All of this discussion boils down to the fact that your DRP and BCS needs to be a living, breathing document rather than a stack of paper gathering dust on the shelf. And the best way to ensure your plan can meet business needs year after year is through a regular audit.

1 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/08/climate/2017-weather-disasters.html

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