Small Business Preparedness

To minimize the impact of disasters on employees, property, and operations, businesses must make the right preparations. These include: creating a disaster plan, identifying priorities, training employees on emergency preparedness, and reviewing the business’ insurance coverage. Here are resources to help prepare for disasters and organize your response.

Quick Guide: Small Business Preparedness

January 01, 2015

Top 10 Preparedness Tips

  • Organize a staff team to create your plan.
  • Gather critical documents and information needed for decision making.
  • Identify and prioritize the company’s most important operations and processes.
  • Identify hazards and potential disruptions to your operations.
  • Keep it simple: design a plan that is easy to understand and implement. .
  • Create a communications strategy and plan to use it post emergency. Maintain an up-to-date emergency contact list for employees, vendors, suppliers, and other key stakeholders.
  • Recruit and train employee volunteers that can effectively manage the response.
  • Back up and store vital records and data at an off-site location.
  • Take action to mitigate the potential impact of a disaster on equipment, buildings, facilities, inventory, and storage. Consider your insurance options and whether to purchase a generator.
  • Exercise, test, and update your plan at least annually.
Only 33% of small businesses have business interruption insurance. (National Association of Insurance Commissioners)
  • Top 20 Preparedness Tips for Businesses  (DRB Toolkit) – Covers what you need to do before, during and after with tips on how to protect everything from your employees to the company brand.
  • Are You Prepared? How to Make a Disaster Recovery Plan For Your Business  – A 10-step guide to creating a disaster recovery plan.
  • 7 Steps You Need to Take Before Disaster Strikes  (AmEx) – Provides simple, straight-forward steps derived from the response to Hurricane Sandy and other disasters.
  • Business Interruption Preparedness/Recovery – Five steps to ensuring business continuity during a disruption.
  • How Small Businesses Should Plan for Disasters – Case studies on disaster response from Hurricane Sandy.
“Small businesses are at particular risk as they often lack the resources to survive a catastrophic event. And when small businesses are unable to rebuild, the entire community continues to suffer. Jobs are lost, neighborhoods decline, and individuals and families endure further hardships.” ~United Way, Larimer County (CO) after 2013 floods

Preparedness Guides

  • 7 Steps to an Earthquake Resilient Business  – Focused on earthquake recovery, this booklet explains what businesses can do before, during, and after disaster.
  • Preparedness Planning for Your Business  (FEMA) – Website and tools for assessing, planning, responding, and improving future readiness.
  • American Red Cross Ready Rating Assessment  – A program that provides a 123-question assessment to help businesses identify gaps and strengths and where they should focus attention.
  • Disaster Recovery and Continuity Guide – Guide to prepare and assist businesses affected by a disaster.

Checklists—General

  • Emergency Preparedness Checklist for Small Businesses  (Red Cross) – 3-step preparedness checklist.
  • IOWA Business Emergency Preparedness Plan  – Checklist with examples of best practices for creating a preparedness plan.
  • Business Disaster Planning Checklist – Useful list to help business plan ahead before a disaster.  
  • Minimizing the Risks to Your Business Using Security Measures and Disaster Planning  – Guide to securing business property following a disaster.

Checklists—By Hazard

  • Prepare for a hurricane’s effect on your business, employees and community  (SBA/Agility) – Guide to preparing for a hurricane.
  • Tornado Preparedness Checklist  (SCORE) – Guide to preparing for a tornado.
  • Tornado Preparedness and Response  (OSHA) – Planning and employee training guide for tornado preparation.
  • Flood Preparedness Checklist  (SCORE) – Guide to preparing for a flood.
  • Earthquake Preparedness Checklist  (SCORE) – Guide to preparing for an earthquake.
  • Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety – Step-by-step guide to earthquake preparation.

Business Continuity Planning (BCP)

  • Planning for Business Continuity after a Disaster  (IRS) – Short video giving four key areas for businesses to focus on when planning.  
  • DRB Toolkit © (Disaster Resistant Business Toolkit) – Step-by-step, fully customizable planning tool guides to help all types of businesses build a disaster plan, train employees, run exercises, and prepare operations. Provides tools, templates, and videos for beginners and experienced planners alike. Use discount code: USChamber
  • Planning and Responding to Workplace Emergencies  (OSHA) – Factsheet of requirements and tips for emergency response and protecting employees.
  • Preparing Your Business for the Unthinkable  (Red Cross) – Short guide with helpful suggestions to get started.
  • 2011 Crisis Preparedness Study  – Slideshow for businesses about the importance of Business Continuity Planning.
  • Preparing for Disasters (IRS) – Short video about how to protect tax and banking information following a disaster.
  • Preparing for a Disaster (Taxpayers and Businesses) – Tips for safeguarding documents and tracking valuables after a disaster. Includes a Loss Workbook tool from the IRS.
  • Being Prepared: Is Your Business Ready for a Disaster? – Slideshow of information about disaster recovery; includes information on government assistance, statistics about business recovery, and assistance for small businesses.
71% of small businesses say they are “very dependent” on 1 or 2 key people, but only 22% have “Key Person Insurance” ~National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)

Insurance is not a tax; it is a risk management tool critical for all businesses. It can reduce the financial impact of accidents, fires, and other unplanned disruptions. Insurance protects businesses from events out of their control and improves chances for survival. Here are some tips to keep your business running smoothly:

  • Review your coverage and design an insurance program that fits your business and risks. Bring in an insurance professional to explain different types of available coverage. Keep in mind that some policies may not need to cover every aspect of the business but simply the most critical elements that you need to remain operational. Find the right balance.
  • When disaster strikes, file a claim as soon as possible. To do so, plan ahead for what items you will be required to provide so you do not miss an important step in the process. Take pre-disaster photos of your business and equipment. After an event occurs, document damage with photos or videos.

Review Your Coverage

  • What Types of Insurance Should a Small Business Consider?  – Discusses everything you need to know how to pick the right coverage for your business.
  • Types of Business Insurance  (SBA) – The 5 basic types of insurance that businesses need to consider.  
  • Insurance is Financial Risk Mitigation  (FEMA) - Information on National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP); includes resources such as a link to an insurance coverage review  form .
  • Earthquake Basics Insurance – Details insurance options available for businesses facing the threat of an earthquake.
  • How to Develop a Small Business Disaster Recovery Plan – Overview of helpful insurance plans for small businesses. 

Filing a Claim

  • Let Us Help Guide You Through Your Business Insurance Claims  – Checklist to assist with filing a claim.   
  • After A Loss: Filing Your Business Insurance Claim  – List of steps to take after filing an insurance claim.
  • Disaster Resource Guide for Small Businesses  – Step-by-step guide to filing a claim. (Ignore Missouri specific information) 
  • Important Insurance Lessons from Superstorm Sandy  – Helpful tips on working with insurance companies during the claims process. 

Communicating with Employees, Suppliers, and Customers

During disasters, communication is one of the most needed activities to inform employees and suppliers, answer customer questions, reduce rumors, and provide expectations to the public. It is also one of the first systems to break or experience challenges.

To plan for potential business interruptions and to create a crisis communication strategy as part of your larger Business Continuity Plan. Here are some tips:

  • Keep your Emergency Contact List updated with every possible mode to reach each person (phone: work, home, cell, significant other’s cell; email: work, personal, alternate; family contact; evacuation plan and contact; social media: Facebook, Twitter; etc.)
  • Consider an alert mechanism that can keep your employees, customers, vendors, suppliers, and stakeholders informed and regularly updated in multiple ways (e.g. email, text messages). Test regularly.
  • Use existing social media platforms to communicate online (e.g. Facebook, Twitter).
  • Have procedures to work with the media following a crisis.
  • Identify a spokesperson to be the voice of your company in talking with the media.
  • Developing messaging and talking points specific to their intended audience (e.g. employees, vendors, community members).
  • Communicate accurately and often with customers to keep them informed of any delays in delivery, alternatives, expectations, and any compensation.
  • Monitor outside communications to determine what is working well and areas to improve your communication strategy.
  • Update the communications strategy often. Train employees and provide new hires with the communications strategy.

Crisis Communication Planning

  • Is Your Company Prepared to Respond after a Disaster?  (SBA) - Tips to get your company’s crisis communications plan started.
  • Crisis Communications  – (SBA/Agility) Checklist for developing a crisis communications plan with recommendations for during and after an emergency.
  • Disaster Recovery: Developing the Perfect Communications Plan for Your Business  – Guide to completing the Crisis Communications checklist.
  • Crisis Communications Plan  (FEMA) – Background information about Crisis Communications Plans and their importance.
  • Developing an Emergency Communications Plan: A Template for Business Continuity Planners  –List of eight essential topics that a crisis communications plan must cover.
  • Crisis Communications and Disaster Response  – Tips on communicating with employees and stakeholders post-Disaster.                                       
  • 2011 Crisis Preparedness Study  - Helpful statistics about Crisis Preparedness; includes recent case studies.
  • Reputation Management  –Slideshow of the basics for pre-planning crisis communication and how to address events strategically.

Integrating Social Media into Your Communications Plan

  • 5 Tips for Integrating Social Media into Your Disaster Plans – Helpful tips for using social media following a disaster.
  • 8 Tips to Avoid Social Media Disaster – How to plan for and respond to potential damage to your company’s name and brand.
  • Social Media Disaster Prevention and Response Tips – Case studies of businesses using social media to preserve their name and brand following a disaster.

Employee Assistance

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can be useful in handling productivity decline following a disaster.  

  • Consider how your company can help employees and families access medical care, food, housing, and other essentials.
  • Plan to connect employees with resources.  Those hit hardest may not have working phones or the ability to call area resources to find new housing, child care, a kennel, a rental car, or other necessary services.
  • Plan for the possibility of employees requiring financial assistance through the form of emergency grants or an advance on future wages. 
  • How to Set-Up an Employee Assistance Program?  – Five steps to set up an EAP.
  • Employee Assistance & Support  (FEMA) – Steps on setting up an EAP and opening a family assistance center.
  • A Manager’s Handbook: Handling Traumatic Events  – Chapters six and seven specifically provide information for businesses looking to set up an Employee Assistance Program. Includes tips on minimizing employees’ stress.

Additional Resources

Depending on the type of hazards your business may face there are a variety of resources to help. These include FEMA, SBA, business continuity publications, local fire departments, Chambers of Commerce, Economic Development organizations, professional organizations and many more. Most  have a strong online presence with tools available via the internet.

  • FEMA.gov  – Presents many kinds of preparedness information and materials.
  • Ready Business (FEMA) - Helps companies develop a five-step preparedness program that addresses the impact of many hazards.
  • Protect your Property or Business from Disaster (FEMA) – A downloadable list of publications detailing how to minimize property losses caused by various types of natural disasters.
  • DisasterAssistance.gov  – If you have personal (non-business) losses, register with FEMA here or call FEMA: (800) 621-3362 or TTY (800) 462-7585.
  • Disaster Declarations  are made by states to keep track of what is happening and provide immediate resources.
  • If there is a federal emergency declared, click here  to find your nearest Disaster Recovery Center.
  • SBA: Disaster Loans  Links to articles, factsheets, and forms related to the Disaster Loans program; includes mail-in and online applications.  
  • Emergency Preparedness (SBA) – Articles on planning and resources.
  • IRS Videos on Disaster Subjects  – Informative videos to help businesses affected by a major disaster.

Recommended

  • Disasters Strengthening the Backbone of Healthcare: Navigating Supply Chain Challenges in the New Era By Rob Glenn
  • Disasters The Business Community Convenes to Mobilize Support for Israel Following Terrorist Attacks By Sydney Lewis
  • Disasters Earthquake in Afghanistan
  • Disasters American Express Commits $12.75M in Grants to Aid Small Businesses in Climate Resilience and Disaster Recovery
  • Disasters Responding to Hurricane Otis

View this online

Resilience in Crisis: Building a Disaster Recovery Plan for Your Small Business

Colin Hanks

  • What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?
  • Assessing and Understanding Risks
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Training the Team
  • Establishing Recovery Objectives
  • Documenting the Plan
  • Integrating Business Continuity
  • Infrastructure and Data Protection
  • Communication Strategies During Disasters
  • Testing and Updating the Plan
  • Budgeting for Disaster Recovery
  • How Can Veeam Help?
  • Related Resources:

In a time when threats range from natural disasters to cyberattacks, it’s critical for small businesses to prepare for the unexpected. Developing a comprehensive Disaster Recovery plan is not just a safety measure; it’s a vital part of ensuring your business’s resilience and stability. In this guide, we will explore the essential steps and measures a small business must take to not only anticipate but also navigate through such crises.

A disaster recovery plan for a small business is a tailored strategy and set of procedures designed to help you respond to and recover from various disasters or disruptions effectively. These plans help protect your company’s operations, safeguard important data, ensure business stability, and can have a positive impact on your bottom line. While the fundamental principles of a disaster recovery plan apply to businesses of all sizes, the specific elements of a plan for a small business may differ due to limited resources, budget constraints, and a smaller scale of operations. Let’s explore.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40% of small businesses never reopen after a disaster and another 25% fail within one year. To effectively manage these risks, small businesses must first conduct a comprehensive assessment of potential threats. This involves:

Identifying Potential Disasters As previously stated, the spectrum of threats encompasses a wide range, spanning from natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and storms to challenges like supply chain disruptions, cyberattacks, and technological disasters. Identifying these potential disasters is critical in preparing an effective response.

Conducting a Business Impact Analysis A business impact analysis (BIA) helps in understanding the potential impact of a disruption on your business. This analysis focuses on critical business functions (such as Operations, Product/Service Development, Financial Management, etc.) and helps in prioritizing recovery objectives and possible consequences. Here is an overview of what a business impact analysis involves:

  • Identifying critical business functions
  • Identify potential disruptions
  • Assess impact severity
  • Set recovery time objectives
  • Prioritize critical functions
  • Identify dependencies
  • Gather data and input
  • Document BIA results
  • Develop business continuity plan
  • Regular review and updates

For small businesses, the key is to keep the process simple, practical, and focused on the most critical aspects of your operation. While the scale may be smaller, the goal remains the same: to ensure that your business can continue functioning in the face of unexpected challenges or disasters.

Creating a Disaster Recovery Team

In a small business, some team members may wear multiple hats, and the roles may be adapted to fit the specific needs of the organization. The key is to ensure that responsibilities are clearly defined, and team members are trained and prepared to respond effectively to disasters or disruptions. Communication and coordination within the team are essential for a successful disaster recovery effort.

Training the Team 

Ensuring the preparedness of your disaster recovery team is crucial for effective response in case of a disaster or disruption. To achieve this, consider the following steps for training your disaster recovery team:

  • Familiarize team members with the disaster recovery plan
  • Orientation and introduction
  • Role-specific training
  • Scenario-based training
  • Tabletop exercises
  • Drills and simulations
  • Cross-training
  • Documentation and reporting
  • External training and certification

Developing the Disaster Recovery Plan

Now that we’ve covered the basics of a disaster recovery plan, risk assessment, and assembling a disaster recovery team, it’s time to focus on developing the actual recovery plan. Here’s a straightforward, step-by-step guide to help you create an effective disaster recovery plan for your small business:

Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs) are essential components of a disaster recovery plan for small businesses. They help determine how quickly you need to recover your systems and data following a disruption.

Recovery Time Objective: Is the maximum acceptable downtime for your critical business functions and systems. It represents the time within which these functions and systems should be restored after a disaster.

Recovery Point Objective: Is the maximum allowable data loss in terms of time. It defines the point in time to which data must be recovered after a disaster. The choice of RPO should consider data value, storage capacity, and backup frequency.

RTOs and RPOs should align with your business’s unique needs, risks, and      resources. Striking the right balance between minimal downtime and data loss and what your business can realistically achieve is essential for an effective disaster recovery plan .

For small businesses, the importance of documenting a recovery plan is just as significant as it is for larger organizations. It can be argued that it’s even more critical for small businesses due to their typically limited resources and vulnerabilities. A well-documented recovery plan ensures the efficient allocation of resources, aids in survival during crises, maintains customer trust, helps with compliance, supports employees, and preserves critical relationships with suppliers and partners. Additionally, it can ease the process of obtaining insurance coverage or financing, mitigate the impact on the local community, and facilitate smooth transitions in ownership or management. In essence, a documented recovery plan is a cornerstone of small business resilience, safeguarding operations, assets, and reputation in times of adversity.

Integrating business continuity into a disaster recovery plan is especially crucial for small businesses. It means addressing not only IT recovery but also the entire organization’s ability to continue essential operations during and after a disaster. This holistic approach minimizes downtime for both technology and critical business functions, ensuring that limited resources are allocated effectively. It also enhances communication, flexibility, and adaptability in managing crises, while compliance and resilience improve stakeholder confidence. For small businesses, this integration is a cost-effective way to safeguard operations, build trust, and enhance long-term sustainability in the face of disruptions.

To secure your business from losses during a disaster, it is imperative to establish essential infrastructure, make use of diverse tools, and put in place efficient solutions. These encompass:

By investing in these critical infrastructure components, tools, and solutions, small businesses can significantly enhance their ability to protect against loss during and after disasters, ensuring a quicker and smoother recovery process.

To streamline communication protocols during and after disasters for small businesses, it is vital to develop a comprehensive plan that outlines roles, responsibilities, and contact information. Utilizing multiple communication channels with redundancy, maintaining updated emergency contact lists, and prioritizing message types are crucial. Investing in communication tools, conducting regular system tests, and designating a spokesperson for external communications enhance efficiency. Additionally, establishing clear chains of command, creating remote work policies, and training employees while maintaining feedback mechanisms contribute to effective communication. Post-disaster reviews help refine communication plans, ensuring that small businesses can efficiently coordinate both internal and external communications during critical times.

Regularly testing and updating an organization’s disaster recovery plan ensures its effectiveness when a crisis strikes. Testing not only identifies weaknesses but also helps employees become familiar with their roles during an emergency. Common exercises include tabletop exercises, where team members discuss hypothetical scenarios and their responses, and full-scale simulations, which mimic actual disaster situations. These tests evaluate the plan’s strengths and uncover areas for improvement. However, it’s crucial to base these exercises on realistic scenarios and to review them periodically to address evolving threats. Additionally, post-exercise debriefs, and incident reviews should be conducted to analyze what went well and what needs improvement. This feedback loop allows for continuous enhancement of the disaster recovery plan, incorporating lessons learned from testing and real incident outcomes to better protect the business and its stakeholders in the face of adversity.

Budgeting for disaster recovery is a critical aspect of small business preparedness. Small businesses should set aside a specific part of their annual budget for disaster recovery. This money should cover creating and maintaining a disaster plan, as well as training and equipment. It’s important to focus on protecting the most crucial parts of the business. Small businesses should also investigate insurance options like business interruption, property, or cyber insurance to help cover costs in case of a disaster. While insurance premiums may be an extra cost, they can provide financial help when a disaster strikes. A well-planned disaster recovery budget helps small businesses prepare and reduce financial stress during emergencies.

But what about those small businesses with limited budgets and resources? For those with limited budgets and resources, outsourcing your disaster recovery plan and solution to a managed service provider (MSP), is a great alternative. MSP’s can provide specialized expertise and a deep understanding of industry best practices, cutting-edge technologies, and evolving security threats, allowing small businesses to benefit from a tailored disaster recovery strategy without the need for extensive internal investments. Additionally, outsourcing to an MSP can enhance the efficiency and reliability of a disaster recovery process, ensuring quick response times and minimizing downtime in the event of a disruption.

We encourage small businesses to prioritize disaster recovery planning. At Veeam, our mission is to help every company bounce forward. As part of that we have put together a range of solutions tailored to small businesses’ needs, including Veeam-powered DRaaS , , and managed backup & DR services . See these solutions in more detail below.

  • Veeam-Powered DRaaS: Allows you to work with trusted service providers to customize a disaster recovery plan that fits your needs and budget. Built on Veeam Data Platform, our partners support customers from plan development to testing, documentation, and full management.
  • SMB Backup and Recovery Solutions: Gives you the freedom to manage and shift your infrastructure, storage, and backup restores as needed, while giving you the confidence to recover any data you need, even from cross-platform workloads – instantly.
  • Managed Backup and Disaster Recovery Services: Delivered through our VCSP partners, this solution gives you access to experts to proactively manage your data protection, accelerate time-to-value, and reduce the complexity of daily IT operations.

Start developing your disaster recovery plan today with Veeam’s expert support and bounce forward knowing you have a trusted partner to keep your business running smoothly. Start developing your disaster recovery plan today with Veeam’s expert support.

  • Veeam-Powered Disaster Recovery as a Service (DraaS)
  • Veeam SMB Backup Solutions
  • Veeam-Powered Managed Backup & DR Services

Colin Hanks

What is the 3-2-1 backup rule?

Small business ransomware: what you need to know, cybersecurity best practices for small business.

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  • Small Business Disaster Recovery Plan Template

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Small Businesses Should Have a Disaster Recovery Plan [Free Downloadable Template]

No small business owner wants to think about a disaster coming along and wiping out everything they've worked so hard for. But the tragic truth is this: Up to 60% of small businesses never reopen their doors following a disaster, according to the  Federal Emergency Management Agency . 

Have you thought about what would happen if a flood, hurricane, or cyberattack hit your business? Do you have the proper mechanisms in place to recover from such a disaster? If disaster recovery was not part of your business plan, now is the time to develop your strategies.

Download Our Free Disaster Recovery Plan Template

About 75% of small businesses do not have a disaster recovery plan in place, according to  Nationwide . If you're a small business owner who doesn't have the money to hire an external firm to create a plan, you can create your own. Begin by analyzing the following:

  • The types of risks that can occur for your company
  • The likelihood of each occurrence
  • The critical systems/data that could be impacted

This initial analysis will help determine your budget for disaster recovery. To assist you with this process, you can download a  free disaster recovery plan template .

What should be included in a disaster recovery plan?

First, list the following:

  • Key personnel contact information
  • Insurance information
  • Vendor contacts (computer hardware, plumbing, HVAC, etc.)
  • Key customer contacts
  • Bank and financial information
  • Offsite data storage facility

Then, give step-by-step instructions for what to do in the event of a disaster. Include:

  • An evacuation plan
  • How you will notify employees and customers in the event of an emergency
  • Instructions for redundancy (how to access backups for things like power, equipment, supplies, and data)
  • A list of the software packages that will be part of the recovery

Last, you may wish to include an appendix of supplemental information such as floor plans, insurance policies, and technology service level agreements (SLAs).

A picture of a computer server

Secure Offsite Storage Now

Identify critical hard copy or electronic data for financials, customers, insurances, vendors, and employees. On a continuous basis, make copies of (or mirror) your data and store it in an easily accessible location that would not be affected by the same disaster.

Small businesses can easily scan their data and store in a cloud environment such as Google Drive or Amazon, which can be inexpensive and easily accessed. Alternately, small businesses can store hard copy reports, magnetic tapes, DVDs, or flash drives off site.

Pay Attention to Security

If your small business stores physical information at a secondary site and/or backup information in the cloud or on an external device, you must consider security. Consider:

  • The stored physical information is at risk from theft, accidents, or a natural disaster. Plan for things like door and window security and personnel access. Be cautious of drop ceilings and raised floors, from which intruders can gain access.
  • The backup electronic information, whether it's on your own network or a cloud provider’s multitenancy system, may be at risk of a cyberattack. Implement adequate security measures such as an IDS, IPS, honey pots, antivirus software, network segmentations, firewalls, vulnerability assessments, and user education. Ask your cloud provider about the type of network security and disaster recovery initiatives it has.

Plan Maintenance and Awareness 

Once you develop a disaster recovery plan, you must maintain it. To do this, establish a cross-functional team that drives maintenance and awareness initiatives. The team can host brown bag lunches to initially discuss the concept of disaster recovery plans, as well as trends. When there are changes in applicable regulations (e.g., HIPAA), purchases of new equipment, or changes in company direction, the team should evaluate the content of the plan.

Next, the team can invite risk assessments of the plan. If the cost of an external firm to conduct the risk assessment is a barrier, the team can invite employees to critique the plan or even another trusted organization to critique the plan. Last, disaster recovery training of personnel should be done initially and throughout the year.

Hot, Cold, Warm Choices

As part of your disaster recovery plan, you may wish to explore alternative sites to run your business if a disaster displaces you. Explore hot, cold, and warm choices:

  • Hot sites are most expensive, as they contain duplicated hardware and processing systems; updates are current.
  • A cold site is the least expensive, because it may simply consist of space, phone lines, and furniture.
  • Warm sites are in between with pricing and functionality.

Organizations need to consider costs as well as the acceptable delayed operational time.

If cost is a major concern, a cold site may be your only option. If so, contact a leasing firm for pricing. You could also explore other creative avenues that mirror a formal cold site—for example, perhaps you could strike an agreement with a trusted small business peer who would provide access to their conference room or vacant office available if a disaster occurred.

Most small business owners don’t think they will be the victim of a cyberattack or natural disaster—until one strikes. A disaster recovery plan is vital to making sure you can get up and running as soon as possible afterward.

Are you a business owner who wants to complete your degree?

Purdue Global offers  online business degrees , some with with accelerated tracks for working professionals. Earn your  management degree online  or learn more about the  ExcelTrack ®  bachelor’s degree or MBA—and get closer to achieving your goals.

Ellen Raineri, PhD, is a former faculty member at Purdue Global. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Purdue Global.

About the Author

Ellen Raineri, PhD

Earn a degree you're proud of and employers respect at Purdue Global, Purdue's online university for working adults. Accredited and online, Purdue Global gives you the flexibility and support you need to come back and move your career forward. Choose from 175+ programs, all backed by the power of Purdue.

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The road to recovery after a disaster doesn’t have to be painful. Learn the six steps you need to take to build an effective recovery plan for your business.

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It’s not always possible to avoid the business fallout of a disaster like a pandemic, earthquake, or cybersecurity breach. But you can build a recovery plan to get your business up and running ASAP. Here are six steps you can take to get started.

Review your insurance coverage

Having the right business insurance can be crucial to surviving a disaster. You should regularly review your policies to ensure there are no gaps in your coverage.

For instance, if you live in an area that regularly experiences earthquakes, you want to ensure your policy will protect your business against these risks. You also want to ensure that your insurance will cover the disruption to your company and pay for damages.

[Read more: How to Choose Cyber Insurance ]

Audit your business resources

Next, you want to audit all critical business resources , including:

  • Equipment and other assets.
  • Perishable resources or products.
  • Staff members.
  • Property or real estate.

Once your audit is complete, you’ll know what your business stands to lose if it’s exposed to different types of emergencies. For instance, your business could sustain a lot of physical damage during a flood.

But your business may suffer economic damage during a cybersecurity hack. Auditing your business resources will help you determine which areas of your business to focus on.

Have a plan to backup your data

You must have a reliable data backup plan before disaster strikes. Over 50% of businesses aren’t prepared for a significant data loss, and 60% of those companies end up going out of business within six months.

It’s best to have multiple data backup plans in place. For instance, you could buy and use an external hard drive to back up your company’s data. And you should also backup your data in the cloud so that you can access it from anywhere.

[Read more: What Is the 3-2-1 Backup Rule? ]

Over 50% of businesses aren’t prepared for a significant data loss, and 60% of those companies end up going out of business within six months.

Make a list of key employees

The next step is determining which employees are critical to your business functions. For instance, your IT team would be critical in keeping your electronic processes functioning properly in an emergency, whereas sales reps may not be as necessary.

When an emergency strikes, you should immediately reach out to the employees and internal partners that can help keep your business running. No one can fully recover from a disaster on their own, so utilizing the right people will make your recovery efforts much smoother.

Communicate with your customers

No matter what kind of disaster you encounter, it’s key to have a plan for communicating with your customers. For instance, if your company was the victim of a security breach, you should let your customers know what happened and what steps you’re taking to mitigate the damage.

Make sure your customers know what’s happening and how to get in touch with you. It’s also a good idea to pick one employee to monitor your social media networks and answer questions.

[Read more: 5 Crisis Communication Best Practices Every Small Business Should Know ]

Apply for the Small Business Readiness for Resiliency Program

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation partnered with FedEx to create the Small Business Readiness for Resiliency (R2R) Program . The R2R program encourages businesses to prepare for natural disasters before they occur and awards grants to businesses in qualifying areas.

You’ll start by downloading FedEx’s Emergency Preparedness Checklist for Small Businesses. This checklist will help you create an Emergency Action Plan for your business.

From there, you’ll apply online and provide more details about your business. If you apply before a disaster strikes in your area, you may be selected to receive a grant to help your business recover.

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Step-by-Step Guide: How to Build a Business Recovery Plan

By Tatyana Parham

In the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small businesses around the world are experiencing severe operational and economic challenges. In order to embrace small business recovery in such difficult times, business owners must proactively take the steps necessary to develop resilience in the face of a disaster. By creating a detailed business recovery plan geared towards the impacts of the pandemic, leaders are better equipped to respond efficiently and protect their employees, customers, and operations.

What is included in a small business disaster recovery plan? A business recovery plan is a strategic guide that details processes created to prepare, respond, and recover in the event of an emergency. As the COVID-19 pandemic has a unique set of challenges, as compared to other natural disasters such as floods and hurricanes, it calls for a nuanced plan-of-action that will mitigate risks and allow for an expedient recovery.

An effective business recovery plan clearly outlines policies and procedures that highlight key information such as disaster risk and impact, critical stakeholders and operations, communication models, and strategy for business continuity .

Here are some key concepts to consider when creating a disaster recovery plan for your small business:

Prioritize employee health and safety The health, safety, and wellbeing of your employees and customers should always be your top priority. Address any immediate needs and concerns first, including creating guidelines that support sick employees or those with sick family members. Consider expanding flexibility for typical work arrangements, and verify that you have the capacity to support a remote workforce. If telecommuting isn’t possible, ensure you have measures established that align with the current governmental health policies and support a safe working environment.

Identify COVID-19 risks and impact on your business Conduct a risk assessment:  Small business recovery begins with awareness of the potential risks that can adversely affect your business. A part of this may be to consider how operations will change in a worst-case scenario of 35 - 40% of your workforce being out sick, or how to reallocate your budget and preemptively avoid layoffs.

Other risks may include lack of access to public transport for employee commute, additional costs of establishing a remote workforce, national shutdowns prohibiting in-person contact, slowdown in sales, issues in supply chain and manufacturing, and even your business being forced to temporarily close. Prioritize critical business functions that are the most vulnerable, such as employee payroll inventory management, and outline how you can protect them. Once top risks are identified, you can assess which risks will generate the most substantial impact, so you can determine the most efficient use of your resources.

Analyze the impact:  Understand how the identified risks can affect critical business functions, and map out potential impacts this can have on your business. For example, if you have to temporarily stop operations for six weeks, how will that affect your quarterly and yearly financial statements, and how can you minimize financial loss through alternative sources of income? Identify the gaps in your current processes that prevent your business from operating sustainably. This process is called a business impact analysis.

Designate a recovery team After identifying your business’s prime vulnerabilities, designate a team of stakeholders that will be directly involved in recovery efforts. This team of key players should understand the business’s core competencies, and have the ability to consistently make choices that reflect the best outcome for the needs of the business. Be realistic about expectations for each individual, and ensure that you are a top leader throughout recovery in order to maintain employee confidence levels.

Establish transparent communication Consistently focus on transparent and timely communication with all relevant stakeholders to ensure regular support throughout the pandemic, including employees, clients or customers, suppliers, landlords, and investors. Create an employee communication plan specifically intended for the event of a disaster, and consistently provide updates based on CDC guidelines and organizational priorities. Regularly inform customers of any impact on products, services, and delivery, and maintain steady contact with suppliers regarding their continued capability to provide essential materials.

Revise business strategy for continuity As the pandemic progresses, significant shifts in consumer behavior will demand a different approach to sustaining your business. Proactively strategize how to minimize downtime and disruptions to daily operations. Perform a complete audit of your business and marketing plans to pinpoint what’s working, what’s not working, and what will best support your business in a worst-case scenario.

Creatively decide on a plan-of-action that will provide practical cost-effective strategies that reduce the impact of identified risks. Brainstorm how to protect cash flow and monitor utilization of resources, ensuring that you have more than enough to cover future expenses.

Continue to monitor external vulnerabilities that can impact the flow of business as well, including pressures on customers, partners, and suppliers. Devise multiple plans for multiple scenarios of varying intensity, to ensure full preparation for what’s ahead. Assess your wins and losses throughout the recovery process, and devise contingency plans that will enable your business to thrive moving forward. Although crises may have considerable impacts to the detriment of your business, they reveal opportunities for your business to generally improve in value, organization, or efficiency.

Maximize the use of alternative funding and support To support business recovery, stay up to date with available local and federal assistance programs that offer disaster relief. Visit our online hub for COVID-19 resources here .

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How to Write a Disaster Recovery Plan + Template

Table of Contents

What is a disaster recovery plan?

Disaster recovery plan vs business continuity plan, what are the measures included in a disaster recovery plan, how to write a disaster recovery plan, disaster recovery plan template, disaster recovery plan examples, how secureframe can help your disaster recovery planning efforts.

template disaster recovery plan for small business

  • July 27, 2023

Anna Fitzgerald

Senior Content Marketing Manager at Secureframe

Cavan Leung

Senior Compliance Manager at Secureframe

A study found that only 54% of organizations have a company-wide disaster recovery plan in place. This percentage is even lower for government IT departments (36%) despite the proliferation of ransomware and other cyber threats. 

Not having a documented disaster recovery plan can seriously hamper an organization’s ability to recover lost data and restore its critical systems. This can result in significantly higher financial losses and reputational damage.

To help ensure your organization can recover from disaster as swiftly and easily as possible, learn what exactly a disaster recovery plan is and how to write one. Plus, find some examples and a template to help get you started.

A disaster recovery plan (DRP) is a document that outlines the procedures an organization will follow to recover and restore its critical systems, operations, and data after a disaster. Examples of disasters that may disrupt the continuity of product or service delivery are natural disasters, cyber attacks, hardware failures, and human errors. 

In planning for disaster recovery, what is the ultimate goal?

The ultimate goal of disaster recovery planning is to minimize the impact of a disaster, and ensure business continuity.

Having a disaster recovery plan in place that is well-designed and regularly maintained can help organizations:

  • minimize downtime
  • reduce financial losses
  • protect critical data
  • resume operations quickly 
  • provide peace of mind for employees

A disaster recovery plan and business continuity plan both take a proactive approach to minimize the impact of a disaster before it occurs and may even be combined into a single document as a result. 

However, the key difference is that a disaster recovery plan focuses on limiting abnormal or inefficient system function by restoring it as quickly as possible after a disaster, whereas a business continuity plan focuses on limiting operational downtime by maintaining operations during a disaster. 

In other words, a disaster recovery strategy helps to ensure an organization returns to full functionality after a disaster occurs whereas a business continuity plan helps an organization to keep operating at some capacity during a disaster. That’s why organizations need to have both documents in place, or need to incorporate disaster recovery strategies as part of their overall business continuity plan. 

Recommended reading

template disaster recovery plan for small business

How to Write a Business Continuity Plan & Why It’s Important for a SOC 2 Audit [+ Template]

Just as no two businesses are the same, no two disaster recovery plans are. However, they do typically include some common measures. These are detailed below.

  • Data backup and recovery

A section of a DRP should be dedicated to data backup and recovery. This should list backup methods, frequency of backups, the storage locations, and the procedures for data restoration.

  • Redundant systems and infrastructure

Another section may explain how the organization implements redundant systems and infrastructure to ensure high availability and minimize downtime if a disaster occurs. This may involve duplicating critical servers, network equipment, power supplies, and storage devices using clustering, load balancing, failover mechanisms, virtualization technologies, or other measures. 

Alternate worksite

A DRP may identify alternative worksites or recovery locations where the organization can operate if the primary site becomes inaccessible. This section should also define procedures and infrastructure needed to quickly transition operations to the identified alternate sites.

  • Communication and notification

Another part of DRP may define communication protocols and notification procedures to ensure communication during and after a disaster. Protocols and procedures typically include:

  • notifying employees, customers, vendors, and stakeholders about the disaster
  • providing updates on recovery progress
  • maintaining contact information for key personnel and emergency services

Recovery objectives

A DRP may set acceptable time frames for recovering systems and data in terms of recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO). These objectives should be based on the criticality of systems and shape recovery strategies accordingly. 

  • RTO : The maximum amount of downtime allowed
  • RPO : The maximum loss of data accepted (measured in time)

template disaster recovery plan for small business

The 10 Most Important Cybersecurity Metrics & KPIs for CISOs to Track

Writing and maintaining a disaster recovery plan requires collaboration and coordination among key stakeholders across an organization and can seem intimidating. Below we’ll outline the process step by step to help you get started. 

template disaster recovery plan for small business

1. Define the plan’s objectives and scope

To start, define the objectives and scope of your disaster recovery plan.

Objectives may include:

  • safeguarding employees’ lives and company assets
  • making a financial and operational assessment
  • securing data
  • quickly recovering operations

Next, identify what and who the plan applies. Typically, assets utilized by employees and contractors acting on behalf of the company or accessing its applications, infrastructure, systems, or data fall within the scope of the disaster recovery plan. In this case, employees and contractors are required to review and accept the plan. 

2. Perform a risk assessment

Identify potential risks and vulnerabilities that could lead to a disaster, both internal and external to the organization. This should involve evaluating your reliance on external vendors and suppliers for critical services or resources and assessing their own disaster recovery capabilities to ensure they align with your organization's requirements.

3. Perform a business impact analysis

Next, determine the business functions, processes, systems, and data that are essential for your organization's operations. For each critical component, establish recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives. 

4. Define recovery measures and procedures

Define the appropriate measures and step-by-step procedures for disaster recovery based on the risks and business impact you identified. This includes identifying the individuals or teams responsible for recovery tasks, the resources required, and the order of recovery tasks.

As stated above, these recovery tasks may fall into the following categories:

  • Alternative worksite

You may also want to outline emergency procedures. These are the actions that should be taken during and immediately after a disaster occurs, and may include evacuation plans and communication protocols and coordination with emergency services.

5. Conduct testing and training regularly

Regularly test the disaster recovery plan to ensure its effectiveness and identify any potential gaps or weaknesses. Conduct training sessions for employees to familiarize them with their roles and responsibilities during a disaster.

6. Review and update the plan regularly

Review and update the disaster recovery plan periodically to incorporate changes in technology, business operations, and potential risks. Ensure that contact information, system configurations, and other relevant details are up to date.

Use this template to kick off your disaster recovery planning and customize it based on your organization's specific risks and objectives.

template disaster recovery plan for small business

Below you can find examples of disaster recovery strategies and procedures from disaster recovery plans created and maintained by universities and other organizations. This should help you in brainstorming and documenting your own recovery strategies and plans for different services, environments, and types of disasters. 

1. IT disaster recovery plan

Southern Oregon University has a comprehensive disaster recovery plan specifically for its IT services because they are so heavily relied upon by faculty, staff, and students. There are disaster recovery processes and procedures outlined for various IT services and infrastructure, including its data center, network infrastructure, enterprise systems, desktop hardware, client applications, classrooms, and labs. 

Some of the IT disaster recovery processes and procedures outlined in the plan are:

  • Secure facility as necessary to prevent personnel injury and further damage to IT systems.
  • Coordinate hardware and software replacement with vendors
  • Verify operational ability of all equipment on-site in the affected area (servers, network equipment, ancillary equipment, etc.). If equipment is not operational, initiate actions to repair or replace as needed.
  • If the data center is not operational or recoverable, contact personnel responsible for the alternate data center and take necessary steps to ready the facility.
  • Retrieve most recent on-site or off-site back-up media for previous three back-ups. Prepare back-up media for transfer to primary or secondary datacenter, as determined during the initial assessment.

2. AWS disaster recovery plan

AWS walks through disaster recovery options in the cloud in this whitepaper . It explains four primary approaches to cloud disaster recovery:

  • Backup and restor e: Backup the data, infrastructure, configuration, and application code of your primary Region and redeploy them in the recovery Region. This is the least costly and complex approach. 
  • Pilot light : Replicate your data from one Region to another and provision a copy of your core workload infrastructure so that you can quickly provision a full scale production environment by switching on and scaling out your application servers if a disaster occurs. This simplifies recovery at the time of a disaster and also minimizes the ongoing cost of disaster recovery by “switching off” some resources until they’re needed.
  • Warm standby : Create and maintain a scaled down, but fully functional, copy of your production environment in another Region. This decreases the time to recovery compared to the pilot light approach, but is more costly because it requires more active resources.  
  • Multi-site active/active : Run your workload simultaneously in multiple Regions so users are able to access your workload in any of the Regions in which it is deployed, which reduces your recovery time to near zero for most disasters. This is the most costly and complex approach. 

3. Data center disaster recovery plan

The University of Iowa also has a comprehensive disaster recovery plan , which includes several processes and procedures for recovering from a disaster that affects its data center. Some of these include: 

  • Have large tarps or plastic sheeting available in the data center ready to cover sensitive electronic equipment in case the building is damaged due to natural disasters like tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes.
  • If replacement equipment is required, make every attempt to replicate the current system configuration.
  • If data is lost, then request that the IT department recover it from an off-site backup or cloud deep archive storage.

Secureframe’s automation compliance platform and in-house compliance expertise can help ensure your organization has the policies, controls, and expertise in place to protect systems proactively from business disaster and to recover if they do occur. Request a demo to learn how.

What are the 5 steps of disaster recovery planning?

The five steps of disaster recovery planning are prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. That means when planning, you should identify measures and actions to:

  • avoid or prevent a disaster from occurring
  • reduce the chances of a disaster occurring or the impact of it
  • enhance your ability to respond when a disaster occurs
  • be carried out immediately before, during, and after a disaster
  • restore your business operations as quickly as possible

What are the 4 C's of disaster recovery?

The 4 C's of disaster recovery are communication, coordination, collaboration, and cooperation. Below are brief definitions of each:

  • Communication  - developing and maintaining effective channels for sharing information before, during, and after disasters
  • Coordination  - aligning actions to other parts of an organization or other organization to prepare for and respond to disasters
  • Cooperation  - working with internal or external parties that share the same goal (ie. responding to and recovering from disasters) and strategies for achieving it
  • Collaboration - partnering with internal or external parties to identify challenges and responsibilities to recover from a disaster as quickly as possible

What are the three types of disaster recovery plans?

Disaster recover plans can be tailored to different services, environments, and types of disasters. So types of disaster recovery plans include ones for IT services, data centers, and cloud environments.

How do you create a good disaster recovery plan?

Creating a good disaster recovery plan requires a few key steps such as:

  • Performing a risk assessment and business impact analysis
  • Setting objectives, including recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO)
  • Creating an inventory of critical assets
  • Defining data backup requirements and recovery strategies
  • Establishing alternate communication methods
  • Assigning specific roles and responsibilities

What are the key elements of a disaster recovery plan?

Key elements of a disaster recovery plan are:

  • Objectives and goals
  • Recovery measures and procedures
  • Testing processes
  • A communication plan
  • Defined disaster recovery stages

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BCDR Plan Template

BCDR Plan Template

What Is A Business Continuity And Disaster Recovery Plan?

A Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) plan is an all-encompassing strategy that details how an organization will respond to and recover from potential threats and business disruptions. Taking a proactive approach, it ensures the continuity of critical business functions while minimizing the impact of adverse events, such as natural disasters, technological failures, cyber attacks, or any other incidents that could disrupt normal operations.

Comprising a series of documented business processes, protocols, and resources, the plan equips an organization to respond effectively to a wide range of disruptions for effective emergency management.

Through the implementation of a robust BCDR plan, organizations can minimize downtime, protect their reputation, maintain customer trust, and ensure their recovery strategies are effective. This enables the business to continue functioning as smoothly as possible in the face of challenging circumstances.

#1 Strategy Execution Platform Learn how to get more value out of your free template! Book a demo

Business Continuity Plan & Disaster Recovery Plan - Key Differences

When it comes to ensuring organizational resilience in the face of disruptions, two key components play vital roles: the Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and the Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP). While both plans contribute to the overall goal of maintaining operations and recovering from adverse events, they have distinct focuses and scopes.

👉🏻Understanding the key differences between a BCP and a DRP is essential for organizations to develop a comprehensive strategy that addresses both business continuity and IT recovery activities.

Business Continuity Plan (BCP)

The Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is a proactive strategy designed to ensure the continuity of critical business functions during and after a disruptive event. It encompasses a comprehensive approach to minimize downtime, manage the impact on the overall business, and maintain essential operations. The BCP focuses on a broad range of potential disruptions, including natural disasters, technology failures, cyber attacks, pandemics, or any event that could disrupt normal business operations.

Its key components include:

  • Identifying critical business functions.
  • Assessing risks and vulnerabilities.
  • Implementing preventive measures.
  • Establishing alternate work arrangements.
  • Developing resumption plans.

Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP)

The Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is a specific subset of the BCP that focuses on the recovery of IT infrastructure, information systems, and data in the event of a disaster. It provides guidance on technical aspects of IT disaster recovery to restore critical systems and information technology assets.

Key elements of the DRP include:

  • Data backup and recovery.
  • System restoration.
  • Alternative infrastructure arrangements.

Uniting Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery: The BCDR Plan

The Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) plan serves as the overarching framework that unites both the Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and the Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) . The BCDR plan integrates the strategies, procedures, and resources from both plans into a comprehensive approach to ensure organizational resilience. It addresses the broader business perspective covered by the BCP while also focusing on the technical recovery efforts handled by the DRP.

🫱🏻‍🫲🏼 By combining the BCP and DRP, the BCDR plan enables organizations to effectively respond to and recover from disruptions. It ensures the continuity of critical business functions, minimizes downtime, protects valuable data, and allows for a swift restoration of operations . With a well-designed BCDR plan in place, organizations can navigate through challenging circumstances, safeguard their reputation, maintain customer trust, and quickly resume normal operations, even in the face of adverse events.

What Is A BCDR Plan Template?

A BCDR (Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery) plan template is a pre-designed framework or structure that organizations can use as a starting point to develop their own customized strategic plans . It provides a standardized format and guidelines for creating a BCDR plan tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of the organization.

By leveraging a template, organizations can save time and effort in creating a structured and comprehensive BCDR plan that addresses their unique requirements, risks, and recovery objectives.

What's Included In This BCDR Plan Template?

  • 3 focus areas
  • 6 objectives

Each focus area has its own objectives, projects, and KPIs to ensure that the strategy is comprehensive and effective.

Once you have set your template, you can also create dashboards for real-time performance monitoring.

And yes - you get free access with no credit card required. ✅

Who Is The BCDR Plan Template For?

The BCDR (Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery) plan template is designed to cater to a wide range of organizations, from small businesses to large enterprises, across various industries. It serves as a valuable resource for senior management, continuity managers, recovery teams, IT professionals, and team members responsible for developing and implementing strategies to ensure organizational resilience. Additionally, stakeholders and service providers involved in the continuity and recovery process can also benefit from the template's structured approach.

By utilizing the BCDR plan template, organizations can create an actionable plan that outlines the necessary steps and procedures to ensure business continuity in the event of a disaster. It offers a standardized framework that can be customized to meet the specific needs and resources of the organization. This enables not only the management team but also human resources and other team members to actively participate in the planning and implementation of resilience strategies. By engaging stakeholders and service providers, the template encourages collaboration and alignment of efforts to effectively safeguard the organization's continuity and recovery.

What are the steps to use this BCDR Plan Template?

Once you have successfully created a free account in Cascade, you will immediately have access to pre-filled data that includes sample focus areas, objectives, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Here's how you can make the most out of this template:

1. Define clear examples of your focus areas

Focus areas serve as the overarching topics that should be addressed within your business continuity and disaster recovery plan. Identifying and defining these areas is crucial to ensure a comprehensive and effective plan that aligns with your organization's objectives and needs.

How to choose the right focus areas?

Selecting the right focus areas can be challenging, as it requires understanding where to start and how to prioritize the most impactful aspects for your business. To guide this process, consider the key elements typically included in a BCDR plan before defining your specific focus areas:

  • Business Impact Analysis (BIA) : This step involves identifying and prioritizing critical functions, processes, and assets. It also entails determining the potential impact of disruptions and establishing recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO).
  • Risk Assessment : Here, potential threats and vulnerabilities that could lead to disruptions are identified and assessed. These may include natural disasters, power outages, data breaches, or equipment failures. You can use a risk matrix to easily visualize internal and external threats and dangers to projects and organizations.
  • Prevention and Mitigation Strategies : To prevent or reduce the likelihood of disruptions, various measures need to be implemented. These could include redundancy in systems and infrastructure, cybersecurity measures, regular backups, and data protection strategies.
  • Response and Recovery Procedures : This section outlines the steps to be taken during and immediately after a disruptive event. It entails a clear delineation of roles and responsibilities, communication protocols, activation of emergency response teams, evacuation plans, and other pertinent actions ensuring employee safety and safeguarding critical assets.
  • Data Backup and Recovery : Procedures for regular data backups, off-site storage, and recovery processes are established to enable the restoration of data in case of loss or corruption.
  • Testing and Training : Regular testing of the BCDR plan is crucial to validate its effectiveness and identify areas for improvement. Training staff members on their roles and responsibilities, as well as conducting drills or simulations, contribute to readiness during an actual event.
  • Ongoing Maintenance and Review : Regular review, updates, and maintenance of the BCDR plan are essential to keep it aligned with the evolving business environment, technological advancements, and emerging threats. Incorporating lessons learned from previous incidents is also fundamental.
🔝 These key elements above can serve as your focus areas if they match your business needs!

By clearly defining these focus areas, you can develop an actionable plan that encompasses all the critical aspects necessary for ensuring organizational resilience.

📃 Pre-filled examples of focus areas in this BCDR Template include business continuity, IT security, data backup and recovery, and communications. Tweak them easily to match your business’ priorities!

2. Think about the objectives that could fall under that focus area

Objectives represent the specific goals you aim to accomplish within each focus area. They serve as the milestones that contribute to meeting the overall focus area. When defining objectives, ensure they are specific, measurable, and realistic within a certain defined timeframe.

Examples of objectives for the focus area of Data Backup and Recovery could be:

  • Implement automated data backups for workstations, servers, and data centers.
  • Maintain up-to-date contact information for the data recovery team.
  • Ensure redundant connectivity for uninterrupted data access.
  • Establish secure off-site data storage for backup and recovery.
  • Conduct regular tests to validate data recovery procedures.
  • Develop alternate site strategies for seamless continuity of operations.
💡 Remember to tailor these objectives to your specific organizational needs and consider any additional factors that may be relevant to your focus area.

3. Set measurable targets (KPIs) to tackle the objective

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the metrics that you use to measure your success in achieving the objectives. KPIs should be measurable and achievable.

Examples of KPIs related to the objectives above could be:

  • Achieve a Backup Completion Rate of 95%.
  • Maintain Contact Information Accuracy at 95%.
  • Ensure Network Uptime of at least 99.5%.
  • Reduce Data Recovery Time to 2 hours.
  • Improve Recovery Testing Success Rate to 95%.
  • Minimize Site Recovery Time to 12 hours.

By defining these KPIs, you establish tangible benchmarks to monitor progress and evaluate the effectiveness of each objective. Regularly track and adjust these KPIs based on your organization's specific requirements and desired performance levels.

4. Implement related projects to achieve the KPIs

Projects, also referred to as actions, encompass the specific initiatives necessary to accomplish the objectives and reach the target KPIs. They should be specific and actionable within a set timeframe. They should also have clear owners that will make sure the project is implemented, to drive accountability in your teams.

Examples of projects for a BCDR plan could be:

  • Implement automated backups for all systems.
  • Review and update contact details of recovery team.
  • Establish backup connectivity for continuous data access.
  • Set up secure off-site storage for data backups.
  • Conduct periodic tests to verify data recovery.
  • Develop alternate site plans for seamless transition.

Tailor these projects to your organization's needs and allocate appropriate resources to achieve your objectives.

5. Utilize Cascade Strategy Execution Platform to see faster results from your strategy

Cascade Strategy Execution Platform empowers organizations to effectively track, manage, and report on their strategies. This comprehensive platform enables teams to swiftly develop and implement strategies, offering real-time progress updates. By leveraging Cascade, teams can accelerate strategy execution, ensuring heightened readiness to tackle disruptions or emergencies.

Some of our key features include:

  • Integrations : Consolidate your business systems underneath a unified roof to reach the pinnacle of clarity in your strategic decision-making. Import context in real-time by leveraging Cascade’s +1,000 native, third-party connector (Zapier/PA), and custom integrations.
  • Dashboards & Reports : Gauge an accurate picture of your strategic performance and share it with your stakeholders, suppliers, and contractors. Evaluate your margins at a glance to weigh revenue-generating initiatives versus cost-impacting.

example of a dashboard in cascade strategy execution platform

  • Relationships: Prepare for the unexpected by tracking the program dependencies, blockers, and risks that may lie along your strategic journey.

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Free Business Continuity Plan Templates

By Andy Marker | October 23, 2018

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In this article, you’ll find the most useful free, downloadable business continuity plan (BCP) templates, in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and PDF formats. Customize the templates to fit the needs of your business, ensuring you maintain critical operations at all times.

Included on this page, you’ll find a business continuity plan template , a small business continuity plan template , a business continuity framework template , and more.

Business Continuity Plan Template

Business Continuity Plan Template

Download Business Continuity Plan Template

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Use this template to document and track your business operations in the event of a disruption or disaster to maintain critical processes. With space to record business function recovery priorities, recovery plans, and alternate site locations, this template allows you to plan efficiently for disruption and minimize downtime, so your business maintains optimal efficiency. This template is available for download in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and PDF formats.

Additionally, you can learn the definition of a business continuity plan, the steps involved in business continuity planning, as well as about the business continuity lifecycle in our article about business continuity planning .

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IT Service Continuity Plan Template

IT Service Continuity Plan template

Download IT Service Continuity Plan Template

This template is geared specifically to IT business operations and aims to maintain IT processes despite any possible harmful disruption. Use this template to document recovery objectives, teams, and strategies in order to accurately capture all facets of the continuity plan needed for an IT team. This template is available in both Word and PDF formats.

Business Continuity Framework Template

Business Continuity Framework Template

Download Business Continuity Framework Template

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This template outlines the structure involved in creating a business continuity plan. It provides an easy, comprehensive way to detail the steps that will comprise your unique BCP. Use this template to plan each phase of a typical BCP, including the business impact analysis, recovery strategies, and plan development. This template can serve as an overall framework for your larger BCP plan.

Business Continuity Program Template

Business Continuity Program template

Download Business Continuity Program Template

Similar to the business continuity plan template, this template documents the steps involved in maintaining normal business operations during an unplanned disruption or disaster. Using this template, you can plan out the critical elements needed to continue business as usual, including recovery priorities, backup and restoration plans, and alternate site locations. This template is available for download in both Microsoft Word and PDF formats.

Business Continuity Procedure Template

Business Continuity Procedure Template

Download Business Continuity Procedure Template

Much like the business continuity framework template, this template helps users create a thorough, streamlined BCP by detailing the procedure involved in creating and maintaining a plan, as well as implementing one. Use this template to document everything from a business impact analysis to plan development, plan testing, and exercises. Download this template in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or PDF to get started.

Business Continuity Plan Template for Nonprofits

Business Continuity Plan Template For Nonprofits

Download Business Continuity Plan Template for Nonprofits

In the event of a disruption in business that affects your nonprofit organization, use this template to document a business recovery strategy, identify alternate business locations, and effectively plan for inevitable business downtime. This template is available for download in Microsoft Word and PDF formats.

School Business Continuity Plan Template

School Business Continuity Plan Template

Download School Business Continuity Plan Template

Plan for disruptions in regular school activities and operations in the event of emergency or crisis with this helpful template. This template, designed with schools, colleges, and universities in mind, allows you to prioritize operations and responses, identify important phases of recovery, design a restoration plan, and more.

Small Business Continuity Plan Template

Small Business Continuity Plan Template

Download Small Business Continuity Plan Template

Record your business recovery priorities, identify alternate site locations to conduct business, create recovery teams, and assign recovery responsibilities to specific team members with this continuity plan for small businesses. Ensure that you are able to maintain critical processes and minimize downtime so your business can keep moving forward.

SaaS Business Continuity Plan Template

SaaS Business Continuity Plan Template

Download SaaS Business Continuity Plan Template

Use this business continuity plan template to keep your SaaS business productive and efficient, despite any unforeseen events or disruptions. With space to record everything from recovery procedures and strategies to relocation strategies and alternate site locations, you’ll be able to keep business moving and remain productive during a crisis or disruption.

Business Continuity Plan Template for Medical Practices

Business Continuity Plan Template For Medical Practices

Download Business Continuity Plan Template for Medical Practices

Identify risk strategies for specific areas of business, like clinical, finance and operations, and IT, designate specific recovery strategies, and prioritize the most important, mission-critical operations for your medical practice with this complete business continuity plan template.

Business Continuity Plan Template for Healthcare Organizations

Business Continuity Plan Template for Healthcare Organizations Template

Download Business Continuity Plan Template for Healthcare Organizations

Some businesses, like healthcare organizations, rely on critical processes and procedures to maintain productivity and keep both patients and staff safe. To ensure these processes are followed — even during a business disruption — use this business continuity plan template to identify all potential risks, create mitigation plans, and assign tasks to key team members.

Activities to Complete Before Writing the Business Continuity Plan

Certain steps can help you prepare to write a business continuity plan. See our article on how to write a business continuity plan to learn more.

Common Structure of a Business Continuity Plan

Every business continuity plan should include certain common elements. See our article on how to write a business continuity plan to learn more.

Tips For Writing Your Business Continuity Plan

Business continuity experts have gathered time-tested tips for business continuity planning. See our article on how to write a business continuity plan to learn more.

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template disaster recovery plan for small business

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Businesses and their employees face a variety of hazards:

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  • Health hazards such as widespread and serious illnesses.
  • Human-caused hazards such as accidents and acts of violence.
  • Technology-related hazards like power outages and equipment failure.

Business leaders and employees can do a lot to prepare for the most likely hazards they will face in the workplace. Ready Business helps you to create a preparedness plan to get ready for what comes next.

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The process for creating a business’ preparedness plans should encompass as much as possible of what a business might need during an emergency. This includes communications planning, IT support and recovery, and continuity plans. Ready.gov and FEMA have plans available that your business can use to get started.

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Training and Exercises

Being prepared in advance is a critical step to responding to an emergency and keeping your business and employees safe. Training, testing and exercises are essential components of preparedness. Training ensures that everyone knows what to do when there is an emergency or business operations are disrupted.

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Getting Ready to Plan

If your business doesn’t have a plan yet, or if you’re in the middle of reviewing plans, there are steps that business leaders can take to prepare their companies for the disaster that comes down next. Many disasters and hazards can’t be prevented, but you can take steps now to get ready to plan.

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A variety of resources are available to help your business be prepared for a disaster and recover stronger. Information to help you prepare and recover includes resources on incident management, resource management and hazard prevention.

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13+ sample disaster recovery plan templates.

A disaster recovery plan is a documented process or set of procedures that help in the recovery or protection of a particular business firm during an unfortunate disaster. Such plans are ordinarily documented in a written form so that it is easy for others to find and understand. These plan templates are immensely helpful, and through them, you can properly deal with an emergency so that there would be minimal damage on the business front.

template disaster recovery plan for small business

Disaster Recovery Plan Template

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Disaster Recovery Plan Template For Small Business

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Why You Need A Disaster Recovery Plan?

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Mission Disaster Recovery Plan Template

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More in plan templates, gdpr disaster plan, simple disaster recovery plan template, transport and logistics it disaster recovery plan template, financial recovery plan template, technology disaster recovery plan template, it disaster recovery plan template, network disaster recovery plan template, disaster recovery and business continuity plan template.

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template disaster recovery plan for small business

The 11 Best Free Business Continuity Plan Templates Online

Tim King

  • Best Practices ,

Best Free Business Continuity Plan Templates

The editors at Solutions Review have compiled this list of the best free business continuity plan templates available online.

With cyber-attacks and natural disasters threatening your data at every turn, being prepared with a business continuity plan is your best defense. Having a plan can prevent debilitating data and financial loss and give you peace of mind while running your business. Creating a business continuity plan from scratch is a daunting task. Luckily, there are free examples of these plans online. Instead of having to search for one that works for you, the editors at Solutions Review have put together a record of the best free business continuity plan templates online, listed below in no particular order.

Best Free Business Continuity Plan Templates

Search disaster recovery.

OUR TAKE:   Search Disaster Recovery offers a few different kinds of recovery plans, spanning business impact analysis, pandemic recovery, and business continuity. However, their IT disaster recovery plan offers a comprehensive step-by-step guide to prepare for the worst. In addition to step-by-step instructions, this template also helps practitioners to create their own table of contents for their disaster recovery plan, allowing them to easily identify key issues to address.

OUR TAKE:   IBM separates its plan into 13 sections of what is necessary for disaster recovery. If you feel confident in some areas, but less so in others, you can pick and choose which sections would be the most useful for you. IBM also offers examples of each section, enabling disaster recovery professionals to easily understand the best way to approach their recovery strategies. The 13 sections that make up this template include, major goals of a DR plan, personnel, application profile, disaster recovery procedures, and recovery plan for mobile sites, among others.

OUR TAKE:   Ontrack, a tech blog, posted their own disaster recovery plan template. It allows you to personalize your plan by filling out the template, while also offering tips in the headings of the subsections. With its template, Ontrack aims to help small businesses become comfortable with the building blocks of a disaster recovery plan and to think realistically about what it would take to resume normal business operations after a severe IT disaster.

Adams State College

OUR TAKE:  Adams State College has made its plan public online. While it applies to the college specifically, the plan is so extensive that anyone looking to create their own recovery plan could glean from it as an example. Though this template has not been updated for some time, it is still a comprehensive outline useful as a starting point for anyone beginning to develop a DR strategy

Disaster Recovery Plan Template

OUR TAKE:   Disaster Recovery Plan Template offers, as one would expect, disaster recovery plan templates. Their basic recovery plan provides templates to make the plan specific to your needs, as well as step-by-step instructions that apply to all businesses. The template was created through extensive research on disaster recovery planning and emergency management of records and information programs.

The Council on Foundations

OUR TAKE:   The Council on Foundations provides a template that is completely comprehensive; assigning disaster roles to employees based on their job, outlining business impact analysis, and building evacuation procedures. Additionally, the Council on Foundations also offers individual templates to use in conjunction with its full Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Plan.

SANS Institute

OUR TAKE:   SANS Institute has a plan that provides an outline of what should happen in a disaster situation. If you need light structure or something to fall back on when creating your own plan, this one would be helpful. The SANS Institute’s plan also provides a discussion of the culture and employee education surrounding disaster recovery and risk avoidance.

OUR TAKE: Evolve IP designed this template to help Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) practitioners with the process of capturing and organizing the critical information needed to ensure that IT operations are in a position to survive when a disruption occurs. This template is meant as a guide only. Users should review it carefully to determine whether it appropriately fits their specific needs.

Disaster Recovery Plan Templates

OUR TAKE: In addition to offering a basic disaster recovery plan, Disaster Recovery Plan Templates also offers a recovery plan specific to IT. This provides an outline of what should occur in IT should a disaster strike. The plan is divided up into 13 sections, which include determining the scope of your plan, definitions of disaster, framework design, administrative processes, and testing processes, among others.

Southern Oregon University

OUR TAKE: Like Adams State College, Southern Oregon University has a public disaster recovery plan . While again, this plan is specific to the university, it offers guidelines on how to handle disaster recovery. The university places emphasis on testing its plan, stating that it is reviewed and updated every year by IT staff, and then those updates are approved by the organization’s chief information officer.

DisasterRecovery.org

OUR TAKE:   DisasterRecovery.org offers a free disaster recovery plan template, as well as a business continuity plan template . Additionally, the site offers emergency management, incident management, and threat plans, as well as a look at a cloud-based disaster recovery solution. This makes it a perfect place for organizations in their nascent stages to start to prepare for a disaster.

Being prepared with a disaster recovery plan is one of the best ways to maintain business continuity and protect your data, so why not get a jump start on it for free? If you find a plan from this list, consult our Disaster Recovery as a Service Buyer’s Guide, Backup and Disaster Recovery Buyer’s Guide, or our Data Protection Vendor Map for more information on disaster recovery planning.

Download link to Data Protection Vendor Map

This article was written by Tim King on July 26, 2022

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Tim is Solutions Review's Executive Editor and leads coverage on data management and analytics. A 2017 and 2018 Most Influential Business Journalist and 2021 "Who's Who" in Data Management, Tim is a recognized industry thought leader and changemaker. Story? Reach him via email at tking@solutionsreview dot com.

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Business Continuity vs. Disaster Recovery: Key Differences

Business Continuity vs. Disaster Recovery, what are the key differences? This article reviews differences in priorities, timing, scope, and how these two plans overlap.

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he upheaval of the past few years has illustrated how important it is for businesses to prepare for all types of unexpected events. Natural disasters, public health emergencies, and malware can all potentially interrupt your business operations. While you can’t always prevent these types of disruptions, you can minimize their impact by developing strategic plans to keep your core business functions going even under adverse circumstances.

Business continuity and disaster recovery are terms that people often use interchangeably when discussing preparedness. However—while there is an overlap between the two ideas—each one addresses different aspects of handling business disruptions. This guide outlines the similarities and differences in business continuity vs. disaster recovery so you can develop a plan for both.

What is business continuity?

A business continuity plan outlines how you can keep your business running during a disaster or disruption. It’s not a plan to fix the underlying cause; instead, it’s focused on staying open so you can continue serving customers and generating revenue .

The pandemic disrupted business on a massive scale. Businesses that adjusted quickly were able to pivot and come out on the other side more resilient and profitable . Milwaukee Food and Tours temporarily changed its business model from offering in-person tours to delivering customized gift baskets, for example. Innovative Fitness made the shift from offering personal training in gyms to online sessions that focused on working out at home.

What is disaster recovery?

A disaster recovery plan outlines how you can identify and fix the source of the emergency. In some cases, such as a pandemic or hurricane, you can’t address the underlying cause alone. In others, such as a bug in your codebase, your internal team can fix it. Either way, you should have a plan in place to deal with elements that are within your control.

Cyberattacks are the most likely type of disaster modern businesses will face. Although you can and should take steps to protect your IT systems and data, even large corporations with almost-unlimited resources such as Microsoft experience cyberattacks. A business disaster recovery plan will help you mitigate the damage from all types of disasters, regardless of what caused them.

Key differences between business continuity and disaster recovery

It’s easy to mix up business continuity and disaster recovery plans because they’re both implemented in the event of a business catastrophe. However, understanding the differences between them will help you create more effective plans.

A business continuity plan prioritizes staying open for business and minimizing the impact of the disaster on daily business operations. A disaster recovery plan prioritizes dealing with the disaster itself and getting your systems back to their baseline as soon as possible.

A business continuity plan goes into effect as soon as you realize your business is going to be affected by a critical event. Your continuity plan comes first. The disaster recovery plan will come later, usually after the emergency has passed.

Business continuity is broader in scope than disaster recovery. It includes all factors that contribute to running your business, from back-end components such as your supply chain to front-end considerations such as staffing. A disaster recovery plan is more narrowly focused on restoring the elements that were damaged, such as your data and IT systems.

How a business continuity plan and disaster recovery plan overlap

Despite their differences, there are also many ways that continuity and disaster recovery plans overlap. Understanding how they overlap can help you save time when you’re creating them. A business continuity plan should include your disaster recovery plan since it’s a comprehensive plan for responding to all aspects of business disruption.

Both plans require proactive risk analysis to identify potential threats and how they'll impact your business operations. You’ll also need to detail roles, policies, and procedures for both. Once you’ve implemented your plans, they need to be regularly evaluated and tested.

What to include in a business continuity plan

Your business continuity plan will be unique to the needs of your business. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. However, there are some elements that should be included in every business continuity plan .

Administrative details

The first part of your plan should include the purpose and objective of your plan as well as a detailed breakdown of your timeline and budget.

The governance section includes the names, roles, and contact information for everyone on the business continuity team. Outline who is responsible for what and whom each team member is accountable to.

Risk analysis and impact

This section will require research into the types of disasters that may occur in your industry or geographic location. While you’ll want to flesh out more common crises such as a cyberattack or banking fraud , you should also think about how rare events, such as a pandemic, could affect your business. Consider how each one could interfere with business operations, including what areas will be impacted.

Preventive and responsive strategies and procedures

Building on your risk analysis, you’ll be able to determine what your preventive and responsive strategies should be. Simply being aware of the possibilities may help you implement strategies that can prevent some types of disasters. For example, nearly 73% of small businesses in the U.S. have experienced a cyberattack. Cybersecurity awareness training can help your staff avoid falling for the most common types of cyberattacks and head off a catastrophe.

However, there’s no way to prevent all disasters, so you need to include detailed procedures for responding to and recovering from crises when they do occur.

Training and testing

Include a section that covers how you’ll train your staff and test your plan. Training plans should be tailored to each role. Your response team will need more detailed training, but everyone should receive basic disaster preparedness training.

Your plan should also include testing scenarios, from tabletop exercises to full-scale drills. As part of your testing procedures, evaluate your response and incorporate your insights into your plan.

What to include in a disaster recovery plan

Your disaster recovery plan is part of the responsive procedures included in your business continuity plan. It should be focused on identifying what elements of your business—particularly IT resources—will need to be restored in the event of a crisis and the procedures for doing so. It should include the following elements:

  • A comprehensive list of all your IT assets, including data backups
  • Your top-priority resources that need to be restored first
  • Procedures for restoring critical systems
  • Backup plans and procedures
  • Training and testing plans

Planning for how your business will deal with unexpected emergencies can help you recover quickly and stay in business longer. Hopefully, you’ll never need to use your plans, but in today’s turbulent business landscape, it’s better to be prepared. One critical aspect of emergency planning is having backups for all of your critical data.

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    13+ Sample Disaster Recovery Plan Templates. A disaster recovery plan is a documented process or set of procedures that help in the recovery or protection of a particular business firm during an unfortunate disaster. Such plans are ordinarily documented in a written form so that it is easy for others to find and understand.

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    OUR TAKE: DisasterRecovery.org offers a free disaster recovery plan template, as well as a business continuity plan template. Additionally, the site offers emergency management, incident management, and threat plans, as well as a look at a cloud-based disaster recovery solution. This makes it a perfect place for organizations in their nascent ...

  22. Business Continuity vs. Disaster Recovery: Key Differences

    A business disaster recovery plan will help you mitigate the damage from all types of disasters, regardless of what caused them. ‍ Key differences between business continuity and disaster recovery. It's easy to mix up business continuity and disaster recovery plans because they're both implemented in the event of a business catastrophe.