Disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) are often confused by businesses as being the same. However, it’s important companies understand the difference between disaster recovery and business continuity to ensure they are well prepared if a disaster occurs. Essentially, both preventive strategies cover how employees will communicate, where they will work, and how they will continue working in the event of an emergency.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, approximately 25% of businesses that experience a disaster fail to reopen. In today’s world, the ability for a business to access and use its data is crucial for everyday operations, but so is its ability to continue functioning despite the circumstances. The sections below describe how business continuity and disaster recovery are different, but related, and what your company can do to reduce downtime after a major disruption.

Disaster recovery and business continuity: what they are and why they’re different 

Disaster recovery is a necessary part of an organization’s business continuity plan, but the two are not interchangeable. DR focuses on an organization’s ability to recover its business-critical data when an unexpected disaster occurs.

disaster recovery and business continuity

With an effective disaster recovery plan, one or more copies of a company’s vital information are stored offsite. However, a business must also have sufficient planning, infrastructure, and processes in place to facilitate the data restoration.

Essentially, DR is data and systems-centric, while BC is business-centric. While the ability for a business to continue operating is directly dependent upon its successful recovery of business-critical data, business continuity covers a much wider scope of processes and protocols than disaster recovery. Both BC and DR identify similar procedures such as communication, temporary locations, and security, but each plan covers features the other doesn’t. A business should take the following steps when composing a disaster recovery plan (DRP).

  1. Create a detailed document that outlines disaster response processes, roles and responsibilities, contacts, and any other pertinent information.
  2. Develop a thorough understanding of any threats that face the business and how they can affect both the daily operations and long-term success of the company.
  3. Create a list of potential disasters and sort them based on the probably they will occur. Also, identify the impact and consequences each one entails to help determine what issues will be addressed in the DRP.
  4. Include measures to prevent, detect, and resolve issues related to a disaster.
  5. Incorporate a geo-redundant data backup solution that can be accessed and used in a timely manner. Geo-redundant refers to the storage of business-critical data in more than one locations, preferably outside of the business’s disaster impact zone.
  6. Understand what data is used, who uses it, and in what ways it’s critical to the company’s operations.
  7. Test the DRP and inform employees as to their responsibilities when a disaster strikes.
  8. Make regular revisions to the DRP to align with changes within the business.

What is business continuity?

To remain competitive, a business cannot endure a significant amount of downtime following a disaster. As stated above, business continuity is business centric, meaning a BC strategy focuses not on the technology and systems related to disaster recovery, but on the processes in place to maintain business operations if a disruption impacts the company’s site or IT infrastructure.

At its core, a business continuity plan works to resume or maintain a company’s functions in the wake of a disaster. The plan covers everything from business processes to human resources and serves to facilitate the continuity of the entire organization.

For example, if a company’s customer service center is flooded by a hurricane, its employees will need to know where and how they will answer client calls while the facility is inaccessible. With the proper support and funding from an organization’s executive management, a business can develop and maintain a BC plan that will help to safeguard its reputation and its bottom line. A company should take the following steps when devising its business continuity plan.

  1. Determine the plan’s scope.
  2. Determine what sectors of the company must remain operating for business to continue.
  3. Identify what functions are critical to the business.
  4. Understand how different business sectors and functions are interrelated.
  5. Establish the maximum amount of downtime each business-critical function can endure.
  6. Establish a plan to maintain operations while a normal business environment is restored.

A business should talk to its separate departments and employees to create a clear understanding of what makes the organization work and how it can facilitate a seamless transition to a recovery and continuity solution. Detailed planning and sufficient technology resources can help an organization manage an unexpected interruption without accruing additional costs or penalties.

Aldridge believes both a disaster recovery and business continuity plan are necessary components of a business’s future security and success.  Our team can help prepare your organization for the unexpected.

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