Breakdown: Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

I was recently speaking with a CEO about her plan for business continuity should an unforeseen disaster disrupt their operations.  Her response:  “I have insurance and several zip drives.  We are a small business, just getting started…it’s what we can afford right now.”

I replied:  “That will work as a disaster recovery plan, but what about continuity – your plan to keep working through the disaster?”

She asked:  “Is there a difference?”

Yes.  Yes, there is.

Disaster Recovery vs. Business Continuity

FEMA reports that 40-60% of businesses that close due to disaster never reopen.  There are a host of different reasons that can shut down your business, for any length of time.  Whether it is 5 minutes, 5 hours, or 5 days, when you lose the ability to operate, you lose the ability to generate income.

Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) and Business Continuity Plan (BCP) are terms that are often used interchangeably.  Whereas, they are interdependent – they have different focuses.

Disaster Recovery Plans

DRPs detail the steps employees must follow during and after catastrophic event.  It focuses on the health and safety of employees; including exit and evacuation procedures, and CEO succession.  Some key points to consider while developing your DRP:

  • Method for backing up your info systems
  • What type of insurance your business may need to protect its assets
  • Documentation of critical info – computers, account names and passwords, network setting, ISP/network administrative info, tech support numbers, etc.
  • How you are going to protect your equipment
  • A communications plan to ensure all employees evacuated safely

Business Continuity Plans

BCPs take DRPs a step further and also outline how your business will continue its operations during and after a disaster (as well as smaller scale events such a power outages) in order to remain stable and continue to generate a profit.  BCPs address additional issues that include:

  • If employees will gather at a second location or if they will work from home during the period of disruption
  • Where to route calls if working off-site (landlines at remote facilities/homes or cell phones) or if your business will enable emergency call center capabilities
  • Manner in which employees will access important documents and data (critical files/data stored on zip drives or stored on laptops employees can move to remote locations, or access to critical information stored in the cloud)

Simply put, your Disaster Recovery Plan focuses on how your company will react should it be affected by a disaster and your Business Continuity Plan is the process of preparing to keep your company open in case of a disruption.

The US Chamber of Commerce reported that the economic losses in 2011, as a result of natural disasters, reached $380 million.  Can you really afford not to be prepared?  Click here to learn how we can help your business maintain continuity no matter what life may throw your way.