Disasters can strike at any time, and at any level of severity. From the deletion of a critical file, to your business being destroyed in a fire, you should be taking steps to prepare for potential disaster. In order to be prepared for a disaster, and to make it out the other side, many companies have been integrating their plans, with the two most popular being Disaster Recovery (DR) or a Business Continuity Plan (BCP). The question is how these two plans, that look at the same problem, differ.

What is a BCP?

BCP entered the mainstream just before the year 2000, with the Y2K scare. It’s a plan that covers the way a business plans for and maintains critical business functions, directly before, during and after a disaster.

The majority of plans are comprised of activities that ensure maintenance, stability, and recoverability of service. The plan is typically set up on a day-to-day basis and covers the whole organization. In other words, it’s a plan on how to remain operational during and after a disaster.

The main reason companies implement a plan like this is because they wish to remain able to provide their service or product to customers. If something happens and you are not able to deliver to your customers, there is a risk that they will simply go to another company. This will obviously cause you to lose not only customers but valuable income, some of which may be needed to further recovery.

What is DR?

Disaster Recovery is really more focused on what happens after a disaster. Many times, it’s actually a part of the overall continuity plan. While BCP focuses on the whole business, DR plans tend to focus more on the technical side of the business. This includes components such as data backup and recovery and computer systems.

It’s best to think of a BCP as an umbrella policy, with DR as part of it. If companies don’t have a DR component of their overall continuity plan, there is a good chance the whole strategy will be either less effective, or useless. On the other hand, DR can actually stand alone, and many companies can do just fine without a full continuity plan.

Don’t rely on business insurance

A business insurance policy may only cover loss or damage to your inventory and equipment. Even if your organization survives a disaster, without effective planning you will face the following losses:

  • Financial: Lost profits, a lower market share, government fines because of data breaches. HIPAA fines, for example, have amounted to multi-millions.
  • Damage to your reputation, brand through negative publicity.
  • Sanctions: Loss of your business license, or legal liability. You could lose time and money even if you win the lawsuit.
  • Breach of contract: Your inability to meet your obligations to clients. Includes a ripple effect up and down your supply chain. This could even drive some of your suppliers and customers out of business.
  • Dead in the water: Stalled or frozen business objectives and plans, missed market opportunities.
Bottom Line: Recovery and Business Continuity
The difference between business continuity and disaster recovery is quite specific.
Business continuity planning is a strategy. It ensures continuity of operations with minimal service outage or downtime.  A business disaster recovery plan has the capability to restore data and critical applications in the event your systems are destroyed when disaster strikes.
Balancing two planning strategies is a matter of priorities. If the majority of your business transactions are online, you need to make data protection your number one concern. Losing all or some of your data could halt your operations. You could not bill customers, pay vendors, or access your inventory information. Your competitive intelligence would disappear.
You need to know how long you can wait to get back to full operation before the pain starts. You also must weigh that delay against the costs of planning and execution. Fortunately, reliable managed services providers and consultants know how to do that. They can address your concerns in a cost-effective and compliant manner.