Disaster recovery and business continuity are both tightly related and one doesn’t exist without the other.

Most companies began designing disaster recovery solutions in the 1970s, with a focus mostly on natural disasters. That changed in the 1980s and onwards when the focus shifted to a more holistic view, terming it “Business Continuity”. While both fields are important for organizations, and even similar in some aspects, they are not synonymous. There are important distinctions between business continuity and disaster recovery, and those in leadership or emergency preparedness positions can benefit immensely by understanding the core differences.

Companies now have more complex networks to protect, huge volumes of data to preserve, and more privacy and security standards to comply with, than ever before. While disaster recovery focuses on getting systems back online after an incident, business continuity plans aim to keep businesses up and running even during a major crisis. Let us delve further into this discussion to get a clearer picture.

What is a Business Continuity Plan?

According to the 2023 Global Crisis and Resilience Survey, 89% of executives rank resilience as one of their top strategic priorities. And a solid business continuity plan is one of the foundational elements of this strategy.

From a bird's eye view of protocols and procedures, business continuity planning helps organizations maintain a certain minimum level of functionality when a crisis hits. The business continuity plan, or BCP, is the product of that planning process. The end goal is to preserve a company’s financial viability, market position, reputation, and customers, even in crisis.

Business continuity plans covers every aspect of the business including:

  • Business processes - How can a process continue to function even when crucial equipment or supplies are missing?
  • Human resources - How critical employees continue to work if, for example, workstations are destroyed or there is no Internet connection?
  • Business partners and suppliers - How suppliers continue to collaborate with the organization if lines of communication or transport services are unavailable?

What is a Business Continuity Plan?

A business continuity plan must consider all these critical questions: what single point of failure exists in the organization? What are the critical dependencies on equipment, in-house staff, suppliers, or other third parties? What are the alternatives in case any of these are disrupted? Which organizational processes, staff, skills, and technologies would be needed to maintain business operations and fully recover from a disaster?

7 Elements of a Business Continuity Plan

A typical business continuity plan comprises the following elements to make it a wholesome strategy:

  1. Plan's objectives/Goal: It should quantify which areas of the business are regarded as vital and how smoothly they should run during a crisis.
  2. Budget: Details on resources allocated to business continuity planning
  3. Personnel: List of staff responsible for maintaining the plan and executing practical steps during a crisis. Other stakeholders like —senior management, partners, legal team, PR, customers, etc.-— and how they should be involved or notified.
  4. Business Impact Analysis: A comprehensive examination of essential business operations, their weaknesses, and how they are likely to be affected by various sorts of disasters.
  5. Proactive Strategies: Includes routine processes that should be followed to either prevent or make disasters easier to recover from.
  6. Immediate Reactive Strategies: State in detail what the organization needs do in the moment when a disaster strikes to continue operations. Typically includes temporary measures. For example, if a server fails, the business can immediately shift to a backup server hosted on the cloud, ensuring minimal downtime and allowing operations to continue uninterrupted.
  7. Long-term Reactive Strategies: Outline the actions the organization should take on “day two”, after the disaster has ended, to fully recover and rebuild systems to their original state.

Many businesses test their business continuity plans two to four times a year. Experts say the frequency of tests, as well as reviews and updates, help to stay on top of these predetermined plans.

What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?

Disaster recovery solutions are more than just a strategy for maintaining business security controls and compliance requirements; it is critical for reducing unanticipated downtime in an organization. This is significant in a world where over 96% of businesses had at least one instance of downtime between 2019 and 2022.

As the name suggests, a Disaster Recovery Plan or DRP is a recorded policy and/or process designed to assist the team in understanding the consistent actions that should be taken during and after a natural or man-made disaster. A robust DRP sets goals by evaluating risks upfront, as part of the larger business continuity plan.

Planning to build a disaster recovery plan?

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Similarities Between Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

While the two concepts are not the same, they may overlap in some areas and perform best when created concurrently.

DRP is a part of a successful BCP: DRP a crisis response and recovery strategy for IT infrastructure. As such, it outlines the objectives, processes, and resources required by the business to secure its IT assets and continue delivering services in the aftermath of a disaster.

Both are needed to ensure business resilience: In practice, organizations should simultaneously implement both BCP and DRP when possible. The BCP acts as the first line of protection against disasters, whereas DRP is useful when business operations require critical business data to function properly. DRP presupposes that a disaster has impacted your organization's IT operations and/or infrastructure, and that certain steps must be taken to restore normal operating conditions as soon as possible.

Both can be used to prepare for diverse disasters: They are crucial to prepare businesses for a range of ecological and human-made disasters such as - pandemics, natural disasters, wildfires, and even cyberattacks.

Both require regular review: May require revision to ensure they match the company’s evolving goals. Testing each new version of the disaster recovery or business continuity plan is also critical to its success. Test simulations evaluate the effectiveness of the plan's response and recovery processes and assist in identifying areas for improvement.

Disaster Recovery VS. Business Continuity Plan

Both - disaster recovery and business continuity plans are sometimes used interchangeably. However, as we discussed above, a disaster recovery plan is an important section within a business continuity plan. The table below illustrates how the two differ from each other:

Business Continuity Plan Disaster Recovery Plan
Aims to ensure business operations continue during and after a crisis, to preserve financial stability and reputation.
(Focused on keeping the shop open, even in unusual or unfavorable circumstances)
Goal is to ensure minimal damage to IT assets in a disaster and a speedy, complete recovery.
(Focuses more on returning to normal as swiftly as possible)
Inventory of all important business assets, including employees, suppliers, vehicles, buildings, etc. Inventory of IT assets—network equipment, servers, endpoints, etc.
BIA of all threats affecting business operations. BIA of threats affecting IT infrastructure.
May not explicitly mention such additions. May involve creating additional employee safety measures, such as fire drills or purchasing emergency supplies.
Includes DR, but also considers risk management and any other planning strategies the organization needs to stay afloat. DR is a piece of business continuity planning and concentrates on accessing data easily following a disaster.
BCP is always in play when DRP is in action. DRP can be activated without triggering the activation of the BCP.
The risk assessment and BIA activities in the BCP can help businesses in determining its availability SLA. SLAs are then translated into the necessary RTO and RPO calculations, these are critical components of the DRP process.
Has a much broader scope, it encompasses an organization’s entire operational ecosystem. The focus area is narrower and answers the question: “How do we recover from a disaster?”
For example, an IT company implementing a BCP during the COVID-19 pandemic, to enable seamless remote work and also sustain critical business functions despite the challenging circumstances. For example, a bank that leverages its DRP can recover IT systems after a hurricane, enabling the prompt restoration of banking services and ensuring data availability.

Every business continuity plan should include some elements of disaster recovery plans. But not all disaster recovery plans cover the entire scope of a full business continuity plan.

Achieve Business Resilience - With Cloud4C's Comprehensive Solutions for Your BCP and DRP Strategies

In the wake of a crisis, unprepared businesses have little choice but to either face heavy losses or for some completely shut down operations. Rather than a reactive approach, every business should prioritize having a robust Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) on their to-do list!

Here is where a managed service provider like Cloud4C steps in!

Cloud4C offers a comprehensive suite of services tailored to address the complex needs of modern businesses. Our enterprise backup solutions, including cloud backup and restoration services, are designed to safeguard critical data and facilitate rapid recovery. Cloud4C's Disaster Recovery solutions provide end-to-end managed solutions, ensuring seamless continuity with minimal human intervention. Our expertise in DRaaS solutions is powered by any hyperscaler of your choice. It is built on a 4-way disaster recovery architecture to increase business continuity while also remaining cost-effective. We also offer Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) for migrating, configuring, and maintaining IT workloads, databases, and assets on leading cloud platforms.

With over 600 DR setup deployments across various industry sectors and a focus on security, governance, and compliance, Cloud4C is well-positioned to support organizations in articulating and implementing resilient and reliable BCP and DRP strategies.

Connect with us to know more!

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Team Cloud4C
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Team Cloud4C

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