Business continuity and disaster recovery are both strategies to safeguard businesses in the unfortunate events of natural disasters, cyberattacks or any interruption in critical systems.
Since they often appear hand-in-hand, many people may think that they are interchangeable. However, they are two specific plans that work together to ensure that businesses bounce back from catastrophic situations. To protect a company’s data and avoid prolonged downtime during disasters, one must understand the differences between business continuity and disaster recovery, and the significant parts they play.
Business Continuity Plan (BCP)
Business continuity is a written set of actions taken by companies in times of crisis to ensure that business operations can continue.
According to the International Standards of Organisation (ISO), this concept was established when the government recognised the effects of disaster strikes on society and the economy. Businesses soon began to realise the need for risk management strategies to alleviate these effects.
Most of the time, BCP starts with a business impact analysis (BIA) to determine the legal and contractual obligations, which assesses the costs of this plan. Enforcing these strategies are crucial in contributing to a company’s success for maintaining or resuming regular business.
Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP)
Disaster recovery plans focus on helping a business transition back to business “as usual” and aims to minimise downtime. This involves restoring critical support systems like hardware and IT assets, data and the company’s full services.
Many companies often suffer IT disasters in the face of crisis. Security breaches can cause bankruptcy as loss of data largely resembles the impacts of a burglary.
How are they different?
They may seem similar, but the key difference comes when the two plans take motion. Business continuity allows operations to remain functional during disastrous circumstances. In contrast, disaster recovery focuses on your response to the event immediately after it has passed and how your business will return to normal.
Take the COVID-19 pandemic, for example. When the epidemic hit, the continuity plan of many businesses was to let employees work remotely. However, this solution is merely an emergency response and will not work long-term. The disaster recovery plan, then, should focus on implementing safety measures so that staff can come back to the office. In this instance, these measures may include reviewing work policies, ways to apply social distancing, usage of masks, handwashing and, improving or enabling remote technology tools in the event of similar pandemic occurrences.
What to include in a business continuity plan?
It’s essential to assess any foreseeable problems that may occur during hard times before they happen so that you’re able to soften the blow and get your business up and running as soon as possible.
Firstly, you need to identify the risks and understand your IT infrastructure:
- What types of dangers will your business face?
- Is your business vulnerable to natural disasters? If so, will they affect your vital systems and software?
- Are your systems and networks prone to cyberattacks?
- Does your company have backup systems or recovery services?
These are a few things to consider when drawing up a business continuity plan. Then, review your list of risks with professionals and address each one to prevent significant issues. Make sure to keep in touch with those involved in your BCP and inform all your employees, suppliers and vendors on the steps to take in case catastrophe hits.
With these steps firmly in place, business operations may be able to continue smoothly. This may include advanced repair services, data recovery and communications restoration. You should also have contingency plans such as a backup location in case of fire or water damages, backup computer servers in the events of a power surge, and staff substitution in case employees are affected.
What to include in a disaster recovery plan?
Once the BCP is in place, the disaster recovery plan should be underway in assisting the business back to its full strength. Certain things to identify are:
- What is the timeline for recovery? How long is the business going to operate under the BCP?
- Who are the recovery team to enact the different tasks, and what are their responsibilities?
- How will business data be recovered? Should the equipment or software be replaced?
You should test your disaster recovery plan every few months to ensure that the program is up-to-date. If not, there’s always room for improvement. You can test the DRP by holding mock events that mimic power outages, data loss or other disasters that are most likely to occur in your region.
The difference between business continuity plans and disaster recovery plans is specific but often overlap to prevent business failings in times of crisis. Prioritising both objectives in preparation for these unforeseen circumstances will keep your business protected and running.
Here at Aegis, there are a group of experts to help you create, review or update your disaster recovery plan. Find out more information on the Cloud Disaster Recovery services that Aegis has to offer.