No business manager wants to find themselves digging out of a disaster, let alone losing valuable time and resources on events that could have been mitigated in the first place.
Surprisingly, only 54% of businesses have a comprehensive and documented disaster recovery plan in place. Also, 7% of companies never test their disaster recovery plans – if they do, it is done once or twice a year. Business continuity and disaster recovery planning pays close attention to events with the potential to disrupt mission-critical operations and hurt the business.
Disaster recovery is an essential part of your broader business continuity strategy. Both lean more toward business objectives than IT objectives. In this post, we’ll decouple business continuity from disaster recovery, highlighting the underlying differences between them.
- Business continuity and disaster recovery planning cushion businesses from the severe impact of untimely disaster
- Companies that invest in disaster recovery and continuity planning are able to avert downtime and outages. More importantly, they’re able to keep business costs under control regardless of the circumstance
- In 2022, hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes (among other disasters) resulted in economic losses amounting to $313 billion. With the pattern likely to recur in the future, recovery planning remains primal to the survival of your business
- Disaster and recovery planning involves burdensome and complex tasks that weigh on your existing staff. Outsourcing the workload to your Boston-based managed IT services provider unburdens your staff to pursue revenue-generating tasks.
Understanding Business Continuity
Business continuity (BC) refers to an organization’s ability to sustain operations when faced with disruptive events. A business continuity strategy lays out the necessary response to events that are out of the organization’s reach. Such events may include:
- Natural disasters (floods, fires, hurricanes)
- Extensive malware and cyber attacks
- Sudden hardware and equipment failure
- Power outage
- Pandemics, illness, and civil unrest
It is estimated that 96% of businesses experienced at least one incident of downtime within the last three years, while one-fourth (20%) of reported outages each year are expected to be serious or severe.
Proactive IT support providers, in their effort to eliminate any false sense of security, anticipate anything that could go wrong and stop IT issues in their development. Some important elements to infuse into your business continuity plan include the following:
- Core business objectives – The first step in business continuity planning is mapping out the essential and non-essential business functions. Mission-critical functions receive the most attention, as they pose the greatest risk to the organization’s performance when disrupted
- Threat analysis – Not all threats pose equally detrimental risks to operations. Power outage, for instance, does not pose a greater risk than a ransomware attack. Regardless, a business continuity strategy should provide clear steps to address each potential threat
- A step-by-step disaster recovery process – Your disaster recovery plan lays out who is responsible for what, so there is no question about the assigned roles when a real disaster strikes
A solid business continuity plan bolsters the organization’s contingency, and resilience. Data redundancies and staffing rotations build on the company’s resilience. In the event of an unscheduled disruption, data distributed to multiple off-site locations facilitates a swift recovery process with minimal effect on normal business operations. Distributing larger workloads to employees in the event of a disaster further hastens the recovery process.
Key Components of Disaster Recovery Planning
Business continuity and disaster recovery planning go hand in hand following unexpected events. Having a documented disaster recovery plan underscores the company’s commitment to digital resilience.
Some key components of disaster recovery planning are as follows:
- An accurate inventory of the company’s digital assets – Disaster recovery planning is a collaborative effort between IT and user departments, as well as key stakeholders. When budgeting for disaster recovery, the IT department needs to justify the investment after taking an inventory of user devices, network equipment, hardware and software, and any other digital assets used by the company on a daily basis.
- Defined roles and responsibilities – Your documented disaster recovery strategy should clearly define everyone’s role in the recovery effort. The last thing anyone wants is more confusion in the midst of a crisis. Ensure your employees are familiar with their responsibilities before, during, and after the disaster.
- Critical business functions (or CBFs) – Critical business functions are activities that must go on regardless of the immediate circumstances. Consider the company’s tolerance for downtime, as critical business functions are most sensitive to downtime and outages. Your disaster recovery plan should take effect before such time elapses.
- Alternative communication channels – It is highly likely that your current communication channels, phone lines, and remote access will be inaccessible in the event of a disaster. Consider setting up alternative means of communication to maintain smooth collaboration between your disaster recovery team, user departments, and key stakeholders.
Lastly, your disaster response and recovery team should regularly test backups to ensure they’re in good condition. The worst time to test your backups is when real disaster strikes.
Differences Between Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
Certain differences exist between business continuity and disaster recovery – and business leaders should not get the concepts mixed up for planning and budgeting concerns.
- Business continuity focuses primarily on sustaining normal business operations with minimal interference during and after a disruptive event. On the contrary, disaster recovery focuses on getting things back on track swiftly and effectively following a disruptive event.
- Business continuity leans more toward risk management, where business leaders highlight and mitigate all potential risks that might stall business performance in the future. Disaster recovery planning incorporates actionable steps in response to current events impeding critical business functions.
- Business continuity planning covers a wider scope and offers provisions for sustaining operations when faced with disruptive IT issues. On the other hand, disaster recovery seeks remediation for the systems already affected by unplanned disastrous events.
Both business continuity and disaster recovery plans prepare modern businesses with the right tools and resources to ensure a smooth flow of operations. As such, it is advisable to have both plans for well-rounded assurance of streamlined operations.
The Importance of Business Continuity Planning
Having a business continuity plan is beneficial in the following ways.
- Quick recovery and re-establishment of normalcy after disasters
- Minimizing reparation costs
- Reassuring the company’s reputation
- Enhancing customer confidence and satisfaction
Implementing an Effective Disaster Recovery Plan
Disaster recovery planning applies directly to activities that rely on the health and status of your existing IT infrastructure. The impact of downtime and outages can be detrimental to the business’s activities, to say the least.
A disaster recovery plan highlights the steps to lessen the impact. To deploy an effective response, business managers must perform a comprehensive risk analysis and the potential risks projected on the business.
Evaluate costs, weigh options, and find the right supply chain partners when drafting your disaster response and recovery plan. Next, don’t forget to communicate the expected downtime period as scheduled maintenance, when select applications and systems will be unavailable to users.
Tailoring disaster recovery plans for specific environments, networks, data centers, and cloud-based services calls for expertise, as these environments often bring new, more complicated challenges. Switch to a managed service provider in Boston and take the guesswork out of your disaster recovery plan.
Future Trends in Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
Major trends to look out for in business continuity and disaster recovery are as follows:
- Automation is becoming a necessity rather than a privilege in business continuity and disaster recovery planning as companies scramble to oust manual processes that breed costly human error.
- Cloud-based solutions are rising in popularity for their reliability and affordability to small businesses. End-users can access emails, business applications, and files from anywhere, anytime, with minimal disruption.
- Cybersecurity remains an essential aspect of business continuity and disaster recovery planning. Network, application data, cloud, and off-site locations need high-level security measures, regular updates, and patching to ensure the safety and security of vital business data.
Restoring normalcy during and immediately after a disaster is the core objective of business continuity and disaster recovery planning. With the necessary measures in place, risk-averse businesses can avoid downtime and boost productivity for the foreseeable future.
Still have questions about disaster recovery planning and business continuity? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Most Common Risks Associated With Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery?
Cyber attacks, malware, phishing, and ransomware are some of the most common risks associated with business continuity and disaster recovery. Organizations with a single server location have the most to lose. A lack of trained staff for critical roles further dooms the company’s BCDR plan.
What is the Cost of Implementing Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans?
The cost of business continuity on average is well over $10,000. This amount covers system repairs and maintenance, staffing, and training costs, among other charges. Regardless, your business continuity and disaster recovery plan should be comprehensive and efficient in restoring normal business operations.
What is the Most Effective Way to Test a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan?
The most effective way to test a business continuity and disaster recovery plan is with simulations of real disasters. Simulating a disaster allows you to see your BCDR plan in action, find weaknesses, and examine employee performance if a real disaster were to strike.
How Can Businesses Ensure That Their Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans Are Up to Date?
Businesses can ensure their business continuity and disaster recovery plans are up to date by regularly testing their effectiveness. As technology advances, so too, do the challenges facing disaster planning. Business managers should regularly simulate real disasters, test backups, and assess the response.
What are the Most Common Challenges Associated with Implementing Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans?
Business managers should be aware of the risks and challenges of implementing business continuity and disaster recovery plans. Pouring unmeasured resources into your BCDR plan strips other activities of their much-needed support. Also, there may be a general lack of expertise. All these challenges – and many more – can be resolved by involving a managed IT services provider.