A Business Continuity plan or a Disaster Recovery plan? How do you know which of these you should be writing for your company? Is there even a difference between the two?
The short answer is yes, there is a difference! And it is not intuitive. Most people hear the words ‘disaster recovery’ and assume that the phrase means ‘recovering from a disaster’. Likewise, ‘business continuity’ sounds like it means ‘continuing with business.’ These terms are often misused because the assumed definitions sound very similar. So let’s set the record straight!
What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?
A Disaster Recovery plan is not a plan to recover from a disaster. It is the plan your IT department will follow to bring systems back online in the event of an outage. These outages (what we call ‘incidents’) can occur in a number of different ways and affect all sorts of components. An outage or incident may be the cause of, or it may lead to, a disaster. Have you ever been sitting at your office desk and your email suddenly stops working? Chances are your company experienced an incident. The IT department works madly to get your email back online. Then there is a sigh of relief when it works. And email is just one part of it. Access to the network, the different software you use, the phone system, and the internet all fall under Disaster Recovery too.
What is a Business Continuity Plan?
On the other hand, a Business Continuity plan documents all of the steps and resources needed to continue business operations that do not include the recovery of IT systems. Think about all of the departments IT supports: Finance, HR, Sales, Customer Service, etc. The immediate goal of a Business Continuity plan is to keep those departments running after an incident. This means your business might be operating at about 30%. Over time, this capacity grows as more resources become available. The long term goal is to return to normal operations by getting the company back to 100% (or as close as possible).
It is important to remember that, while these two plans are separate, they work together. They rely on each other and are often set in motion at the same time. The information gathering process for writing your Business Continuity plan helps you define the recovery times and accepted data loss that are part of your Disaster Recovery plan. And, the steps in the Disaster Recovery plan provide you with vital information for your Business Continuity plan.
If you found this blog helpful, you may also want to read about the difference between Business Continuity and Emergency Response planning here. To help you through all of your planning KingsBridge Is Simple & Secure (K.I.S.S.).
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