Business continuity and disaster recovery are closely related. Organizations began to prepare Disaster Recovery (DR) and plans in the 1970s. These plans were mainly focused upon natural disasters such as hurricane Ida that just came through southern United States. The focus shifted to a more holistic approach in the 1980s, namely Business Continuity plans.
Business continuity was developed to ensure that businesses can continue to operate even during major crises such as a hurricane. While disaster recovery focused on getting systems back online following a disaster, it also included proactive processes to keep them operating. A disaster recovery plan, on the other hand, is focused on data protection and preventing damage to the system. It can also be used to recover systems as fast as possible. Business continuity plans cover all aspects of the business, including human resources and partners.
What is a Business Continuity Plan (BCP)?
The business continuity plan outlines how a company will continue to operate and serve its customers even in the face of a major event such as a natural disaster or an IT failure. The ultimate goal of a business continuity plan is to protect a company’s financial viability and market position, reputation, customers, and customers even during a crisis.
Business continuity planning includes all aspects of the business, including:
- How can business processes continue to work even when critical supplies or equipment are missing?
- Human resources – How can critical staff continue their work if workstations are destroyed, or the Internet is unavailable?
- How can business partners and suppliers work together if communication lines or roads are not available?
Business continuity plans must address important questions and give good answers. Is there a single point of failure in your organization? What are the most critical dependencies on equipment or staff? Is there a way to prevent any of these from being disrupted? What organizational processes, staff, skills, and technology are required to keep business operations running and recover fully from a disaster?
Chapters of a Business Continuity Plan
The following sections are typical of a business continuity plan:
- The plan’s goals should include a description of which business areas are critical and how they should operate in a crisis.
- Budget-resources allotted to business continuity planning.
- Which staff member is the person responsible for the maintenance of the business continuity plan and taking practical steps in a crisis. What other stakeholders are there? Legal, PR, senior management, customers, partners, etc. How should they be notified or involved?
- Business Impact Analysis – A comprehensive review of business processes and their weaknesses, as well as how they might be affected by various types of disasters.
- Proactive strategies–processes that should be carried out on a regular basis to prevent or more easily overcome disasters.
- Immediately reactive strategies–what an organization should do in the event of a disaster to ensure that operations continue. These will usually include temporary measures such as delivering electricity with a portable generator when power is out. This chapter also includes an IT disaster recovery strategy.
- Long-term reactive plans – What the organization should do “day two” after a disaster to completely recover and rebuild their systems.
Business Continuity vs. Disaster Recovery Plan
Sometimes, the terms disaster recovery plan and business continuity plan can be used interchangeably. As we have shown in the plan structure, a disaster recovery program is an important part of a business continuity plan.
The following table illustrates the differences between a business continuity plan and an IT disaster recovery program. It touches on the same issues but is viewed from a holistic business perspective.
Business Continuity Plans
- This program is designed to ensure that business operations continue after a crisis has passed. It also helps to maintain financial stability and reputation.
- All business assets, including staff, suppliers, vehicles, and buildings, must be in inventory
- All threats that could affect business operations are analyzed in the Business Impact Analysis
- Included an active proactive component to prepare and prevent disasters.
IT Disaster Recovery Plan
- This is a plan to minimize damage to IT assets during a disaster and ensure a quick, complete recovery
- Inventory of IT assets – network equipment, servers, and endpoints.
- Analyze IT infrastructure threats
- Focus only on the emergency response in case of disaster