If your business found itself right in the middle of the latest monster flood, perhaps debating “Business Continuity” vs “Disaster Recovery” might not be Priority #1 on your to-do list. After all, both sound like something you’d want.
And you would be right. But you’d also be forgiven if you felt like we’re just splitting hairs. Isn’t “business continuity” and “disaster recovery” the same thing – particularly if you’re trying to develop a plan about what to do in the case of some kind of commercial calamity?
Knowing the difference between Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity, however, might make the difference between experiencing a small business ‘hiccup’ and a full-on business failure.
Let’s consider a simple example. Let’s say your business was a fully-automated Lemonade business. It makes Lemonade completely autonomously via robot bottlers, it takes orders over the internet, it delivers those orders via drones, and it bills via SMS text. Your only staff members are those dedicated superstars – marketers (this piece was totally not written by superstar marketers… totally…) – who drive the demand for your luscious liquid.
One day, disaster strikes, and suddenly your Lemonade factory is no longer functional. Because your ordering web site is in the cloud, customers are still placing orders, but you’re faced with a dilemma: how do you keep quenching your customers’ insatiable thirst?
It’s a matter of focus
If you were only considering “Disaster Recovery,” your entire focus would be on restoring your technology infrastructure – getting networks running so the robots could function, recovering your backup data from servers, re-establishing connections to the cloud so orders could be received, rebooting communications systems, and even getting those delivery drones back up in the air. While there’s no doubt that technology is a huge part of this story, it’s not the only consideration.
What happens if your technology is offline for longer than expected? Now you’re going to have to rely on those superstar marketers to keep the lights on. Do they know the supplier of your lemons and sugar? Do they know where your secret recipe is kept? Can they operate the bottling machines manually? Do they know where to find the keys to the old delivery trucks so deliveries can be maintained? And can they take payments on one of those “chik chik” credit card machines?
In our scenario, Disaster Recovery focuses on the technology, while Business Continuity encompasses all the systems – human, mechanical, digital – needed to maintain an acceptable level of business functionality during the crisis.
Planning is key
In order to achieve this functionality, a company will have created a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) that consists of instructions and procedures that would allow a business to respond to disruptions with little to no stoppages in its key operations.
A Business Continuity Plan usually consists of a business continuity impact analysis, recovery strategies, a communication plan, and manual workarounds:
- A business continuity impact analysis identifies the effects that possible disruptions could cause to business functionality and processes.
- Recovery strategies consist of alternatives to restore business operation to a minimum acceptable level during disruptions based on the recovery time objectives (RTO) developed during the business impact analysis.
- The communication plan includes personal contact information for key employees, talking points/press releases for media, templated content for distribution to key stakeholders, and instructions about how to access and distribute messaging in the event that internal communications systems are down.
- Lastly, manual workarounds are developed as the final line of defense when information technology resources are not available.
A Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is part of business continuity planning and describes how work can be resumed quickly and effectively after a disaster causes a major disruption of business. Disaster recovery planning is applied to aspects of an organization that rely on an IT infrastructure to function. The overall idea is to develop a plan that will allow the IT department to recover enough data and system functionality to allow a business or organization to operate.
As the saying goes, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. By understanding that it’s not Disaster Recovery vs Business Continuity but rather Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity, you’ll be back up and running in no time.
And that would be pretty sweet.
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