9th November: The Concept of Business Continuity: Why a Disaster Recovery Plan Isn't Enough Read more

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The Concept of Business Continuity: Why a Disaster
Recovery Plan Isn't Enough

9th November 2021

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Sometimes, your business may face unpredictable events, whether natural disasters or accidental damages, consequently disrupting your business operation. This is typically true if you don't have an effective contingency plan to deal with such emergencies.

Great leaders are often prepared for business interruptions, creating plans and strategies to ensure business continuity, even under duress. Business continuity and disaster recovery are two major fields that address possible business interruptions. These fields reduce the impact a disruptive incident might have on an organization's ability to continue normal operations. However, while both fields are essential and even similar in some aspects, they are not the same. And, of course, have varying levels of effectiveness.

This article carefully explains the concept of business continuity planning, helping you stay prepared against certain business emergencies.

Businessmans hand protecting a falling domino, preventing it knocking over the rest in the series
Protecting your business is a lot more than just recovering from a disaster. It is far better to prevent it in the first place.

Why Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Matter

Disaster Recovery is a measure that businesses implement to return to safe and regular business operation as quickly as possible after an unplanned catastrophic event, such as fire outbreak, natural disaster, active shooter, etc.

The Components of a Disaster Recovery Plan

While disaster recovery plans should be straightforward to follow, they should also be customized to suit the needs of your enterprise. Below is an outline of elements a typical disaster recovery plan should include:

  1. An Inventory List: You should know the exact IT resources used to run the business. A comprehensive inventory list, including the hardware, software, and systems used for business operations, would help you conduct an effective impact and threat analysis to know which systems, hardware, or software would be affected by floods, fire, power outage etc.
  2. A Recovery Time Objective: Establish a realistic recovery time objective for your systems to return to normal operations. This may vary, depending mainly on your industry.
  3. Communication: Stay informed even before the event of any disaster. Source information from your employees, key stakeholders, etc. Also, create a communication plan to keep your staff informed whenever disaster strikes.
  4. Data Backup: Data backup is an integral part of an efficient disaster recovery plan. You may choose to backup your business data using cloud storage, vendor-supported backups, and air-gapped backups. Air-gapped backups are copies of your enterprise data available offline but inaccessible. Your backup device can't be remotely corrupted or hacked without a network connection, thereby making it optimally safe during catastrophic events.
  5. Insurance: Consider Cybersecurity insurance to save you recovery costs. This cuts across replacing IT resources, examining losses incurred from a disaster, etc.
  6. Testing: Test your disaster recovery plan at least yearly or twice every year to identify gaps, ensure data restoration, etc.

Business Continuity Plan, on the contrary, is an outline of how an organization will ensure continued operations during and after a catastrophic event. Business continuity planning may consider minor disasters or interruptions, such as power outages, to ensure business operations in different situations, even if it means moving to an alternate location.

The Components of Business Continuity Plan

Let's closely consider the critical components of a business continuity plan needed to ensure successful recovery during an unpredicted disruption:

  1. Risks and Other Potential Business Impacts: All effective business continuity plans are based on business impact analysis, identifying the business's potential internal and external threats and revealing the consequences of such risks. This may range from flooding to major IT disruptions. Knowing these risks is instrumental in taking proactive prevention or mitigation steps and determining approximate costs, recovery time, and possible overall effects.
  2. Effective Response: Comprehensive business continuity planning would include appropriate response strategies for each risk identified in the plan to prevent or minimize the effects. This would consist of the timeframe, resources, including people involved in its implementation.
  3. Responsibilities: Identified persons should know their responsibilities comprehensively. A business continuity plan should also include the roles and responsibilities of all personnel involved in implementing the designed response.
  4. Communication: Your business continuity plan should include templated, pre-approved social media posts and press releases to ensure timely communication during a crisis. During these disruptions, good communication is needed both within and outside your company to reassure both team members, suppliers, and customers that your team is working tirelessly to curtail the situation.
  5. Testing and Training: The last component of a comprehensive business continuity plan is testing. Your business continuity plan shouldn't only be based on theories – it must be practicable. Use real-life scenarios to test the plan, monitor your team's response, and identify areas that need improvement.
Completed business continuity plan on a messy desk
Effectively analysing and planning for business continuance is critical.

How To Analyze Your Business for Business Continuity

Your business' analysis phase for business continuity should include the following:

  • Impact analysis.
  • Threat and Risk Analysis.
  • Impact Scenarios.

Impact Analysis

The business impact analysis helps enterprises determine the financial impacts of disruptions to their business operations. Impact analysis also helps create a business continuity plan that prioritizes the recovery of most business functions of your enterprise, regardless of the reason or cause of disruption, whether natural disaster, negligence of staff members, cyberattacks, etc.

Impact analysis comprises three (3) main components, business impact, timeframes, and dependencies.

Business impacts determine the most valuable business operations based on financial implications and identify potential threats to such operations. Dependencies also prioritize systems and functions, determining functions to be recovered and restored first before others. Undoubtedly, functions with more business processes relying on it will be prioritized for recovery than others.

Impact analysis addresses three (3) timeframes: Recovery Point Objective (RPO), Recovery Time Objective (RTO), and Maximum Allowable Downtime (MAD). While RPO refers to the time between data backups – i.e., the maximum time a data may be lost during a disrupt, RTO is the actual time to recover a backup and become operational. The Maximum Allowable Downtime (MAD) is the maximum downtime period an organization can afford. This also includes the time taken to restore various business functions to full operation after restoring the backup.

Aerial view of a blackboard topped table, with office workers discussing and planning around a yellow and blue infinity symbol
Plan around impact, threat and risk to ensure your business continues without interruption.
Everyone contributing to the complete security puzzle including secure cloud, device security, physical security, anti-virus, hardware security, secure passwords and surveillance
Viruses, fires, floods, staffing - Weather any disaster with a good business continuity plan.

Threat and Risk Analysis: The Biggest BCP Risks for Business

Your business continuity plan should consider these six (6) general types of risks. Companies with a business continuity plan covering these risks are better positioned to protect their staff and business against possible downtimes, maintaining daily operations.

These risks are:

  1. Natural Disasters: This includes bushfires, storms, floods, extreme weather conditions, etc.
  2. Technology-Related Crisis: This includes network failures, data breaches, hardware failures, loss of telecommunications, cyberattacks, outdated equipment, etc.
  3. Economic And Financial Crisis: This includes cashflow shortages, increasing production costs, customers not paying, inadequate infrastructure to support the company's rapid growth, etc.
  4. Safety Crisis: This includes work accidents, a malfunctioning machine that threatens employees' safety, inadequate technical know-how affecting production, fire outbreak, etc.
  5. Staffing Crisis: This includes individual conflicts, trouble filing positions, human error, etc.
  6. Supplier Crisis: This includes compromised supplies, delayed delivery of resources, general interruption of the supply chain, etc.

Impact Scenarios

Business continuity planning also includes identifying and documenting impact scenarios, reflecting the broadest possible business damages.

These impact scenarios may include:

  • Inadequate medical supplies, data processing supplies, and other business supplies.
  • Shortage of transportation options.
  • Civilian impacts (in the event of natural disasters).
Isometric illustration showing supply chain from factory to customers along a winding road
Impact scenarios such as supply chain issues can be planned for and mitigated.
A group of business people celebrating a win, over a desk with papers and an open laptop
Make business continuity a win, rather than a loss

Business Continuity Plan Vs. Disaster Recovery Plan: Which Is More Important?

Disasters are often catastrophic when businesses aren't adequately prepared. While business continuity ensures continued operations during a disaster, disaster recovery focuses on restoring business operations after a disaster.

Undoubtedly, it is better to plan ahead to prevent disaster than to find remedies to save your business when such a disaster happens. This analysis reveals why companies should prioritize having a business continuity plan than a disaster recovery plan.

The most severe effect of operation disruption is financial loss, and the longer your business operation remains disrupted, the greater your losses. Having a business continuity plan in place can help you minimize the consequences of such disruptions while also breeding a comfortable work environment where employees know there are clear policies to respond to unpredicted disasters.

Nowadays, companies are increasingly developing comprehensive business continuity plans to ensure their businesses are always up-and-running, protect business data, retain customers, reduce operation costs, and ultimately achieve sustainable organizational improvements.

However, developing a holistic business continuity plan has become even more difficult as the integration and distribution of systems across a hybrid IT environment increases. Technically, linking critical systems to manage higher expectations ultimately complicates business continuity planning. Hence, the need for experts in this field continues to grow.

Takeaway: How DC Two Enables Effective Business Continuity Planning

If you want to develop a business continuity plan that helps you stay prepared, assess, prevent, and respond to all possible business disruptions, our flexible and reliable business continuity solutions can help enhance your business resilience.

Designed by experts, our bespoke business continuity service grants you premium access to experienced and professional consultants you can trust to help you develop a robust plan that best suits your specific business needs.

We offer scalable, flexible, and impressive solutions to improve your business security and establish peace of mind.

Contact us today for business continuity and disaster recovery services you can depend on

You can find out how DC Two can help you develop a business continuity plan to ensure stable business operations against the unexpected by getting in touch with us at +61 8 6141 1011 today.

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The simple and competitive pricing model they use makes quoting and billing a breeze. Nothing is too much trouble for them and no matter the problem or requirement, DC Two will find a way.

- Nick Dimitrijevich and Andrew Rosen, Directors, Paradigm Technologies