Business Continuity vs. Disaster Recovery Plan, What’s The Difference?

While there is overlap between business continuity and disaster recovery planning, each is distinct. Ultimately, your business may use both, but knowing the difference between business continuity and a disaster recovery plan is important. That way, you can strategize to ensure your company will bounce back from any adverse situation.

The Basics of Business Continuity

Business continuity refers to what your company needs to continue operating normally – or as near to normal as possible – during disruption. Ideally, the business has access to its data without interruption, and a way for staff to work without downtime. Companies can survive with business continuity planning instead of shutting down completely and losing reputation, data, and money.

Business continuity planning generally looks at processes, first considering areas like legal, contractual, and regulatory requirements. This business impact analysis, along with a risk assessment, highlights the worst-case scenario for business continuity. Then, companies can look at these risks and impacts and prioritize what processes will reduce them.

You can think of business continuity planning as a broad approach. It examines the entire company and the scenarios it might face. It also considers how events may impact business partners and vendors or how they could help with continuity. 

The overall business continuity plan should support essential functions. This includes contact information for key players. It should contain everything the company needs to get back to business as soon as possible after a disruption.

Business continuity planning is critical, especially for smaller companies without the resources to bounce back otherwise. Without a detailed roadmap to ensure as much uptime and connectivity as possible, companies are leaving continuity up to chance. Customers may appreciate that your business is facing a challenge, but they will take their business elsewhere if your company is unreachable. 

What is Disaster Recovery Planning?

Disaster recovery planning is usually a subset of business continuity planning, focused on one area. Typically, disaster recovery planning is focused on data and information systems, outlining how to save that data in the event of disaster. It is more heavily focused on the IT department versus the broader scope of overall business continuity planning.

That said, disaster recovery planning may stretch outside the bounds of the IT department. It can include guiding other staff. For example, IT may focus on restoring data, but the recovery plan should also tell other staff how to access that data. 

If your business continuity plan shows that your business relies on data, as most companies do, disaster recovery planning is a must-have. It should include the recovery technologies your business will use, alongside the recovery time objective and recovery point objective. These factors illustrate the ideal timeframe for recovery, whether overall or in smaller IT layers, and the age of data backups.

Like a broader business continuity plan, a disaster recovery plan should outline the protocols and processes for restoration. Recovery personnel must have defined roles, methods, and plans for communication. Again, the plan should include any vendors, partners, or other connected third parties.

Another key difference to consider is that disaster recovery planning is often more proactive than general business continuity concerns. Preventative steps to stop disasters taking out your data are vital. They are as critical as risk mitigation and recovery.

Another difference is that business continuity planning looks at operations during a disaster and immediately after. Disaster recovery planning, however, is more focused on how the company responds when the disaster is over and the company needs to return to normal. Working remotely after a natural disaster is a business continuity response, while disaster recovery planning brings staff back to a single location with functioning equipment. 

Regularly update a disaster recovery plan to capture any changes to data and systems. It needs testing, too. Putting the system and staff through mock disaster scenarios will help ensure it is working as intended. Discovering a backup integrity issue during a mock trial is preferable to discovering this problem after a real disaster.

Putting Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning Together

Both business continuity and disaster recovery planning require a whole-team approach and much expertise. It can take a lot of effort. If it is not done well, it can make a disaster worse. Whether your business has no plan in place or needs to ensure its plan is good, we can help.

Outsourcing backup and disaster recovery as part of business continuity is an excellent way to attain peace of mind. Your company and your IT staff can focus on daily operations, knowing your data is safe. Send us a message to learn more.

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