Over 58% of businesses without an adequate data recovery plan file for bankruptcy within six months of a major disaster. Here are five steps that can help any company avoid becoming one of them.

Hurricanes Katrina in 2005 and Sandy in 2012 are both painful reminders that a disaster can be devastating to any business or organization, regardless the size of the company. The company's CIO, as well as other company executives, needs to have a fully vetted data recovery plan in place before a disaster strikes. This ensures that organizational data usage and business practices have continuity if and when a disaster occurs. Here are five steps that, if deployed, can benefit any company.

  1. Make sure all disaster recovery plans coincide with the application recovery plans. Making the disaster recovery plan a step within the process of application development ensures the CIO and related personnel not only know how an application fits into the overall IT plan, but also what that application can and cannot do. Determining the exact amount of time needed for a company to fix data loses and connectivity issues, by continuously testing applications in both networked and isolated conditions, will prove invaluable if a disaster does strike.
  2. Document all disaster recovery plans. Not having a documented recovery plan is like having no plan at all. A company cannot depend on one or two people to be responsible for remembering how things should go during and after a disaster. That is why every stage, method, and practice of the recovery plan should be documented. An organization should have clear guidelines as to how its data is backed up and recovered, and these guidelines need to be reevaluated at least once or twice per year.
  3. Practice, practice, practice. Any plan can look good on paper, but looking good in reality is quite another story. A practical run-through of all recovery plans will reveal flaws, strengths, and other pieces of information that just reading through it could never do. CIOs should make sure to not only take note of what went wrong, but develop ideas as to how to fix these problems as well.
  4. Any employee should, if necessary, be able to implement the recovery plan. Making sure all employees are well versed in the deployment of the recovery plan is essential to any company's success. The reality is that high level employees may not be available to enact the recovery plans which could hinder data recovery efforts. Making sure that all employees at every level are regularly trained in the chain of command protocols for a disaster could save companies millions of dollars.
  5. Ensure the company has adequate staff in place to keep the organization running. Having all company data backed up on servers could become useless if there are not enough people to retrieve and utilize that data. The disaster recovery plan should include an updated directory of people needed, both virtually and physically, to operate the organization should disaster strike, along with alternate means of communication should traditional means fail.

In short, a good disaster recovery plan should have within it everything the employees of that company need to know in order to keep the company going after a disaster.