When business owners seek to define disaster recovery vs. business continuity, a common mistake is to make them interchangeable. While both are connected strategies within the practice of business continuity management, business continuity planning (BCP) safeguards wider business functionality. Disaster recovery planning more narrowly focuses on protection and security of IT infrastructure and data. 

Disaster recovery planning is a component of business continuity management and a subset of BCP. Disaster recovery encompasses hardware, software, data, and critical systems that work to prevent downtime and quickly restore data in the event of catastrophe.  

When an organization experiences a disaster, external forces also shape recovery efforts. State and federal regulatory laws govern compliance in privacy and security, and industries conform to their own specialized rules and regulations. With the onset of GDPR and a more regimented privacy act in California, companies can expect to see higher levels of stringent guidelines in the future when it comes to disaster recovery vs. business continuity and governance. 

How you balance BCP strategy depends on the nature of your business. If the majority of your business is e-commerce, then your continuity action plan would focus more on disaster recovery as part of the overall business continuity management strategy. A whole host of concerns would be addressed in disaster recovery planning including, but not limited to, data protection and IT support, inventory management, customer transactions, vendor billing, website security, and general accounting, for example. 

Significant to both strategies is business impact analysis. Essentially, as the disaster recovery team restores and secures company data, the BCP team engages company-wide to mitigate negative impact from disruption to safeguard company systems.  Each planning team determines the effect disruption has on their respective business units. What are the damages to profitability if the servers are down more than 48 hours? Is the IT team accessible to the marketing team to develop customer communications? Is every department leader standing by to deploy the business continuity plan as they have been trained? 

Prioritize Business Continuity Management

How well you deploy business continuity management as an overall strategy has great significance in company readiness when and if disaster strikes. Foremost, BCP involves teamwork, planning, training, cohesion, and level-headedness during catastrophe. 

Key Steps for Creating a BC Plan

To ensure business continuity in company operations, every company should:

  1. Develop a continuity team — set up an overall BCP team and also a disaster recovery planning team
  2. Analyze the current business climate and conduct a business impact analysis. Measure costs to mitigate and determine readiness for an immediate catastrophe that could affect systems and processes.
  3. Designate “doers” as those in the lead role who will take charge during business disruption. Train any newcomer to a business unit so this cohesion stays in place at all times. 
  4. Assess areas for improvement and determine the financial impact and timing to implement such improvements without delay.  
  5. Develop a checklist so that all the criteria are in place; ensure key personnel are in position and assign roles to others on teams
  6. Train the BCP team to conduct a simulation so all personnel understand expectations and responsibilities
  7. Simulate business disruption; implement the business continuity and disaster recovery plan annually ensuring viability for all business systems and functions
  8. Improve the planning and deployment process especially when changes to the business  occur
  9. Pay careful attention to customer service and supply chain management. Treat customers as a critical audience for communication during BCP and disaster recovery. There’s no difference with disaster recovery vs. business continuity when it comes to customers and other external audiences. 

Anyone who touches a company, from internal stakeholders to external audiences relies on the company’s smooth performance whether it is a transactional experience or not. Because of the host of cybersecurity concerns in disaster recovery planning, it is critical in BCP to prioritize business continuity management as a way to safeguard a business.