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Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Are Different: Here’s Why It Matters

Published on Oct 22, 2015 at 2:16 pm in Tips & Tricks.

As a business owner, I know what it’s like to want to mentally avoid the less sexy parts of running a company. You may get excited about selling new clients and growing your team, but you probably don’t show the same level of enthusiasm towards business continuity and disaster recovery planning.

Many CEOs struggle to invest time into either of these preparations, much less understand that they are two different procedures. Unfortunately, this lax approach can cost a business thousands in the wake of a disaster.

So how do business continuity and disaster recovery planning differ?

Business continuity planning prevents a disaster scenario from happening by defining the assets, threats and scenarios that can adversely impact a company and then outlining decisions about how to mitigate risks. It’s planning for business operations as a whole.

Disaster recovery planning defines consistent, pre-planned actions that will occur following various disaster scenarios. In other words, a disaster recovery plan details a response to a disaster scenario after it has happened. Disaster recovery is part of an overall business continuity strategy.

This is an important distinction because if a company only has a business continuity plan, it likely doesn’t have a strategy for specific, reactive measures after an incident. On the other hand, if a company only has a disaster recovery plan, the business likely could be doing more in terms of preventative measures to protect the company at large.

What does IT have to do with it?

In an age where so much of a company’s core functions live on a computer, IT is the most logical area to emphasize when considering business continuity and disaster recovery planning. But strategizing for interruptions in business goes even beyond IT.

Let’s dig deeper.
Business continuity is comprehensive. It’s a complex discipline that explores the business as a whole, including personnel, customer support, inventory, distribution channels, etc. The practice often starts with a Business Impact Analysis, which defines assets and threats and digs into the economic impact on the business with a hard economic analysis and evaluation of the workflow of different business units. A study like this could take weeks or months and may require the expertise of an accountant or specialist.

A company can deal with threats three ways:

  1. Accept the risk and do nothing.
  2. Assign the risk, which is basically an insurance policy.
  3. Mitigate the risk by designing a disaster recovery plan.

While disaster recovery is certainly IT-heavy, it warrants buy-in from all levels as technology affects most aspects of a business.  A disaster recovery plan would encompass all at-risk assets and their recovery window, which refers to how long you can go without access to those resources. The plan would also establish which solutions, like cloud backup, disk backup, etc. work best for each asset.

These elements help lay the foundation for a strong disaster recovery strategy, but for a full walk-through on implementing a disaster recovery plan, contact us at 615.321.6428.