Business Continuity vs Disaster Recovery: What Is The Difference?

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business continuity vs disaster recovery

Business continuity vs disaster recovery are two different practices that are closely related. Both support an organization’s ability to remain operational after an adverse event.

Every business, from smaller organizations to multinational corporations, is becoming increasingly reliant on digital technology to generate income, deliver services, and support customers who demand applications and data to be available.

These terms have become increasingly relevant since the beginning of the pandemic, as businesses had to switch from working on-premises to letting employees work remotely in almost no time.

In situations like these, businesses wish they had a business continuity plan in place to deal with adversity.

According to a recent study, just one hour of downtime can cost $10,000 for small businesses. For larger companies, those hourly costs can balloon to more than $5 million.

But what exactly does it mean to have a BCDR plan in place? Are these two practices different? We’ll answer those questions today.

What Is BCDR?

According to DattoBCDR, or Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery is a set of practices that bring together people, technology, and processes to help an organization continue or recover business operations in a disaster. 

business continuity versus disaster recovery
The BCDR plan must be revised at least once a year.

Top 3 reasons why having a business continuity plan is important

With natural disasters, technical outages, and other events that can threaten a business’s operations, having a sound business continuity plan is essential.

Here are the top 3 reasons why having a plan in place is important for any company—so it can stay resilient in times of crisis.

Maintaining business operations

Having a business continuity plan helps to ensure that normal business operations are supported and that the critical functions, processes, and procedures of the company can be quickly restored.

By having an effective business continuity plan in place that outlines strategies for mitigating disasters, companies can reduce their risk of disruption and keep efficient and steady operations—even in times of crisis.

Public relations crisis

A business continuity plan is also important for protecting a company from a public relations disaster. Should a crisis arise, a plan can help manage the situation and mitigate any damage.

In addition, the media strategies outlined in the plan can ensure that accurate information is communicated swiftly and efficiently to the public.

Finally, by having well-defined processes and procedures in the business continuity plan that are compliant with specific industry legislation and regulations, companies can protect themselves against legal repercussions during a time of crisis. 

Your business gains a competitive edge

Creating a business continuity plan allows companies to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace as they understand their risks and how best to manage them.

Furthermore, as business leaders become more familiar with the risk management processes outlined in the BCP (Business Continuity Plan), they will be better equipped to respond quickly and efficiently during a crisis.

This increased preparedness can save both time and money when responding to an unforeseen event, putting companies in a position of strength in times of challenge. 

The Threats to Business Continuity 

Diverse types of threats can affect the continuity of normal operations, such as:

  • Natural catastrophes. This category includes floods, storms, earthquakes, and wildfires, among other natural occurrences. 
  • Cyberattacks, deliberate sabotage, and human error are examples of man-made disasters. 
  • Unexpected power outages, internet outages, and communication service disruptions are examples of equipment and utility failures. 

overhead power lines
Power outages represent a risk to the normal continuity of operations.

The Difference Between Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Business continuity and disaster recovery are not the same and have distinct functions, even though they complement each other.

Disaster recovery is primarily IT-focused, while a business continuity plan is company-wide strategic planning. 

During and after a disaster, a business continuity strategy focuses on how a company continues key business operations.

Every part of an organization is included in this plan, including workers, communication channels, office buildings, IT (Information Technology) infrastructure, business partners, and so on.

It consists of activities and obligations that must be carried out in a disaster. 

However, a disaster recovery strategy deals with the restoration of critical IT applications and data after a disruption.

The goal of disaster recovery is to minimize downtime and the impact of a disaster by ensuring that critical support systems are up and running as quickly as possible with minimal data loss. 

What Is a BCDR Plan?

Business continuity and disaster recovery planning are a set of strategies, rules, and processes that describe how an organization should respond to or adapt to possible threats or unforeseen disruptive events, with the goal of minimizing negative consequences. 

A BCDR plan should consider various scenarios, from accidental deletions and hardware failures to malware attacks and natural disasters.

It ensures that normal tasks run smoothly with little or no downtime or data loss in case of a disaster. 

A BCDR plan outlines what procedures should be taken to guarantee that critical business operations are not disrupted, as well as how to quickly restore IT systems and data so that business may resume following a disruptive incident. 

Do you need further help with your business continuity planning? Don’t worry, we are here to help. Get in touch for a free consultation.

5 Key Objectives of Business Continuity Planning

Assess the present state of the business. Assessing the current state of the business can help identify dangers and prioritize remedial actions.

The strategy should be updated regularly to accommodate changes in personnel or systems. 

Find flaws and offer solutions. Risks should be assessed regularly to detect gaps that could interrupt business operations or undermine BCDR strategies.

It’s critical to recognize hazards and fill any holes discovered during routine BCDR plan assessments. 

Review and test the plan. At least once a year, review the BCDR plan to ensure it is current and includes all parts of the business for quick recovery. From tabletop simulations to full cut-over, there are several ways to test your idea.

Throughout your examination, you may employ one or several testing methodologies, depending on your surroundings and available resources. 

business continuity plan annual review
The BCDR plan must be revised at least once a year.

Decide the location of data storage. One of the most important goals of BCDR planning is to decide where vital company data and assets are stored.

Even if the designated IT professionals are unavailable, the disaster recovery staff will be able to begin the recovery procedure. 

Determination of disaster recovery teams. Another crucial purpose of a BCDR strategy is to understand recovery professionals, their roles, and how to contact them in an emergency.

Distribute roles and responsibilities to all key stakeholders and maintain this paperwork to keep it current and accessible to staff. 

Summing Up

For companies, effectively tackling disasters can positively impact customers and partners. However, developing a comprehensive BCDR strategy can be a challenge due to its complex nature or lack of in-house expertise.

We can help your organization achieve resiliency and prepare for unforeseen disruptive events. Schedule a call with us and let us take care of developing your business continuity strategy. 

FAQ

What comes first, disaster recovery or business continuity?

Business continuity planning is the core of a company’s disaster preparation and should thus occur before disaster recovery planning.

Using a risk assessment and impact analysis, it will be possible to find the key dangers to an organization. These evaluations can help with IT disaster recovery planning. 

What is the difference between a disaster recovery plan and a business continuity plan?

A disaster recovery plan is designed to help an organization recover from a disaster, such as the loss of technology or personnel, and return to normal operations.

It usually involves creating a business data backup of your data and information, restoring systems, and communicating with staff. 

Whereas a business continuity plan takes a long-term approach to prevent disruption and helps the organization plan for potential risks they may face in the future.

This is typically done by developing strategies that involve risk assessments, identifying vulnerabilities, and creating processes that ensure business continuity. 

What are the four “Ps” of Business Continuity Planning?

Response

The first thing you should do after noticing a disruption is to determine the extent of the harm. Which places and systems are inaccessible? Has confidential data been compromised in any way? 

You only need to match the damage to the proper reaction actions because your BCP will outline the steps that must be followed in various instances. 

Relocation

The following action is to relocate the vulnerable regions of your company. For instance, you might need to move some of your office’s equipment if your infrastructure is damaged.

The same is true for staff members; if their workspaces aren’t available, you’ll need to locate them in another place to work. 

Your BCP should include specific information based on each case, just like your initial response. This will generally involve things like setting up temporary offices, asking staff to share desks or allowing them to work remotely. 

Recovery

It’s time to address the issue now that your organization has isolated the afflicted area. Some disturbances you can handle on your own, but occasionally you may need to hire professionals (as will be the case with fires, floods, or disruptive weather events). 

On other occasions, you have no control over the recovery procedure.

For instance, the local power company will likely need to handle an electricity outage, while a snowstorm will require you to merely wait for it to pass. 

Restoration

Your company can resume operations after the recovery process is finished. The recovery must first be verified as a success, which can be done by running a test.

If everything goes smoothly, you can bring everything back inside and go back to work.  

What are the 3 elements of business continuity?

Emergency Management and Response

An emergency response plan is a precise collection of protocols and standards that strive to minimize the impact on personnel’s safety and health as well as the overall impact of an incident.

An organization and its people can respond to the threat quickly and effectively with the help of proper preparation and training. Every emergency action plan ought to: 

Set precise goals for emergency response.

Create staging areas and escape routes.

Assessing and improving communications for emergencies.

Crisis Management and Communication

Although an emergency response plan and a crisis management plan may sound identical, they serve two different purposes in BCM.

The crisis management strategy should be viewed by organizations as the link between their emergency response and operational recovery.

Organizations require qualified crisis management staff to carry out a crisis management plan efficiently. Each crisis management strategy must: 

Check the availability of necessary resources to support the crisis management team’s actions and decisions. 

Describe how to recognize, handle, and recover from the crisis. 

Create status boards to keep track of all team activity and to help with incident remediation planning. 

List important parties and describe the communication procedures needed. 

Business Restoration and Operational Recovery

Following business interruptions, catastrophes, crises, or disasters, an operational recovery plan aids in protecting people and property while quickly restoring operations.

This strategy helps businesses in finding risks to their operations and creating practical response capabilities to recover. All operational recovery plans ought to: 

Threats and vulnerabilities should be defined and assessed. 

Create strategies for mitigating and controlling the major threats to business continuity. 

Analyze how significant risks affect the supply chain and logistics. 

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