Business Continuity vs Disaster Recovery: A Guide to Key Differences

Business Continuity vs Disaster Recovery: A Guide to Key Differences

Business Continuity vs Disaster Recovery: A Guide to Key Differences

Business Continuity vs Disaster Recovery: A Guide to Key Differences

Businesses that are concerned with what would happen if a disaster struck are often focused on what’s known as a disaster recovery plan. This plan takes a well-rounded look at all potential threats to the business — from natural disasters to cyberattacks — and creates a strategy for how to recover from it, including recovering any lost data and ensuring the business can get back up and running quickly.

At the same time, small businesses should also make business continuity plans. While business continuity and disaster recovery might sound like they’re the same thing, there are some key differences between the two.

Below, we’ll discuss what these two tools are, why they should be used, how they can be created and more.

What is Business Resilience?

Business resilience refers to a company’s ability to quickly adapt and respond to unplanned changes, significant disruptions and other incidents that could threaten the company’s operations, assets, brand, reputation and people.

Business continuity envelopes how capable an organization is to keep delivering its products and services at levels that are accepted after a disruption occurs. Business resilience takes that one step further — coming up with ways to help your organization build immunity to future disruptions.

Nearly every business in the world was faced with significant challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those that were able to survive responded quickly and with decisive action to ensure they were able to continue operating and delivering what their customers expect.

For example, grocery stores — which were still allowed to remain open during lockdowns — quickly shifted to pickup and delivery services so customers either wouldn’t have to leave their home or leave their car to get what they ordered. This is one service that has lasted well after the pandemic, at grocery stores and other retail establishments as well.

Tailoring Business Continuity to Your Company

While there are general steps that every organization should take when crafting a business continuity plan, it’s essential to tailor yours specifically to your company. This means following a model that includes the essentials of a business continuity plan, but then integrating the unique challenges, situations and potential threats your company might face.

By doing it this way, you’ll be ensuring you have the best plan in place to serve your company

How is Business Continuity Planning Different from Disaster Recovery Planning?

While there are many similarities between business continuity planning and disaster recovery planning, there are some key differences.

Both include ways that your organization should respond to a disruption. And both include plans for how to protect, recover and use technology to ensure the company gets back up and running.

The main goal of a disaster recovery plan, though, is to minimize downtime while restoring IT systems as quickly and efficiently as possible.

By contrast, a business continuity plan’s main goal is figuring out how to continue operating the business in the face of a disruption. It includes not just a technology plan, but also plans for staffing and supply chains. 

IT Disaster Recovery

IT disaster recovery is focused on quickly recovering any lost data following a disruption, and preserving any other data that hasn’t been damaged and/or lost. In addition, it includes figuring out a way to get the systems back up and running so the business can continue operating.

How to Build a Business Continuity Plan (BCP)

The best way to build a business continuity plan is to follow guidelines that others have set before. Don’t get lost in jargon while thinking about your BCP. Instead, cover all your bases and ensure that your plan is catered to your company.

Here are the steps you should include in a disaster recovery plan …

  • Run an impact analysis: You need to know what the greatest potential risks to your company are, and what the impact of these risks would be. For instance, if you sustained a cyberattack, what could that look like and what would be affected?
  • Inventory your assets: You also need to know what assets you have that could potentially be affected by a disruption. This should be a full list of all technology that your company has, from servers and individual computers, to data backups and cloud-based services you use.
  • Assign essential roles and responsibilities: When disruptions occur, it’s likely that things are going to get hectic. If you don’t have a solid plan in place, things can get out of control quickly. This is why a crucial part of your BCP is a clear assignment of essential roles and responsibilities. This will help to guide employees on what they should be doing when a disruption occurs.
  • Create potential responses: After you run your impact analysis, you should have a better idea of what could be affected and how it could be affected. From this, you need to create different ways that you would respond to the disruptions.
  • Identify critical business processes: A priority list of business processes will help guide your recovery response. You’ll want to ensure that your business’ most critical processes are addressed before anything else. By having this priority list on hand, your response will be catered toward getting everything up and running in the proper way.
  • Rehearse and revise your plan: Coming up with a plan on paper isn’t enough. You need to put your plan to the test — on a simulated basis, of course. Walk through the steps with everyone involved, ensuring that they know what they should be doing. This “dress rehearsal,” if you will, should help you identify potential areas of weakness and anything you might need to adjust.

Examples of Disaster Recovery Plans

There are many examples of well-known companies creating disaster recovery plans. IBM is one of the more prominent ones.

It’s 13 pages long and focuses on guaranteeing a response to all disasters or emergencies that impact its information systems. The plan also seeks to mitigate the impact the disruptions have on its business operations. 

The plan includes things such as the DRP’s major goals, the personnel involved, the application profile, the inventory profile, the backup procedures for information services, the procedures for disaster recovery, a recovery plan for both a hot site and mobile site, guides for how to restore the company’s full system, the rebuilding process and how to test the DRP.

Scope of Business Continuity vs. Disaster Recovery

The goals of a business continuity and disaster recovery plan are different. As such, the scope of what they entail differ as well.

Business continuity plans look to limit downtime so that the business can continue operating. Disaster recovery plans, meanwhile, look to limit inefficient or abnormal system functions.

This is why it’s a good idea to create both a business continuity and disaster recovery plan to cover all bases.