How Do Business Continuity and Business Disaster Recovery Plans Differ?

A man-made or natural disaster can easily put your business out of business. A business continuity or a business disaster recovery plan can help. Do you know what you need?  

How prepared is your business if the worst happens tomorrow? Hopefully, your company already has a plan in place to rapidly deal with severe disruptions of day-to-day operations. Proactive owners know that every minute counts when businesses are trying to mitigate the damage from a worst-case scenario such as a natural disaster or nefarious activities.

Sadly, there are lots of businesses which fail to put a contingency plan in place at all. This is not because they aren’t aware of the need for one, but instead, because they find putting a plan in place is too overwhelming. Many companies even struggle when it comes to knowing what type of emergency plan they need to put in place, and where to find more information.

Do You Need a Business Disaster Recovery Plan, a Business Continuity Plan, Both or Neither?

As always, it is best to start from the beginning. In a situation like this, you need to know what a business disaster recovery plan covers, and how it differs from a business continuity plan. If you aren’t already aware of how these two types of contingency plans vary, don’t worry; you are not alone.

A Business Disaster Recovery Plan. Technology is a huge aspect of running a modern business. If your IT is compromised or goes down, what will you do? This is the question that a well-put-together business disaster recovery plan answers by focusing on:

  • Restoring critical communication systems.
  • Recovering or accessing critical data.
  • Repairing or replacing damaged hardware.
  • Shifting third-party tech providers seamlessly.

A Business Continuity Plan. A business continuity plan covers everything a business disaster recovery plan does and more. Unlike a business disaster recovery plan, a business continuity plan focuses on helping the entire company, not just the technical side of the business, get back to operational levels. It does this by focusing on:

  • The day-to-day necessities of the business.
  • Putting in place backups for critical systems and procedures.
  • Organizing and educating employees to respond to a business emergency.

What Every Business Continuity Plan Needs to Include

Since business continuity plans have a broader scope than business disaster recovery plans, many companies view them as overly complicated. Although it indeed takes time and resources to create a good business continuity plan, it is a crucial part of running a smart and proactive company. If you don’t already have a plan in place, you need to do it now. Here are the steps you can follow to help set up your business continuity plan at your company:

  • Start by conducting a business impact analysis. This company-wide review takes a deep dive into the mission-critical processes and functions your company needs to handle in a timely manner. Hand out questionnaires to the managers and the heads of departments to reach a consensus on the impact of the loss of these operating capacities, and how long it would take before the company would feel the results of the failure. Learn more about what you need to look at during this vital phase or by checking out this worksheet to use as a guide.
  • Develop necessary business recovery strategies. With the results of the business impact analysis in hand, it is time to figure out how to address these potential problems. Typically, business recovery strategies focus on finding immediate replacements for processes and functions to return to a minimum operating standard. It is important to empathize that these are temporary stop-gap measures to enable your business to continue to meet obligations, and not intended as long-term solutions. This is the phase where you may want to develop a business disaster recovery plan to help restore your IT infrastructure.
  • Organize how the company will execute the plan. This is a critical step which many businesses overlook. Don’t allow yourself to believe that simply because you have an excellent staff and recovery strategies in place, that everyone will naturally know what to do. You need to create a procedure for each of the mission-critical business impacts identified in step one. It is helpful to assign individual staff members specific task as their responsibilities or a group of employees to take charge of the response during a crisis.
  • Practice responding to different problems. It is a good idea for all businesses to routinely conduct drills to help ingrain the proper handling of emergencies. Make crisis preparation part of your ongoing training program.

Hopefully, your business will never need to activate either your business continuity or your business disaster recovery plan. But having at least one of them in place is a reassuring feeling in case the need for it ever arises.

Nick Hess

Nick Hess is an authority for IT services in Portland, OR. Nick's team at SureTec IT has helped numerous companies with their day-to-day IT service needs. Nick also has years of experience with Google G Suite, Microsoft 365, and business VoIP Services.

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