business continuity

Business continuity and disaster recovery are two necessary evils in today’s tech-reliant business world. On the one hand, the terms are used interchangeably and even sometimes grouped together as the acronym BC/DR

In easy, layman’s terms they each serve to help every business – big or small – prepare for any disruptive occurrence. Those technically disruptive events can range anywhere from a tornado blowing out your network to a small power outage caused by the city’s mangled installation of new copper wire.

But while the concepts sound like they serve the same purpose on the surface, digging deeper finds subtle differences that outsourced technical support companies insist every business should be aware of. 

Understanding the key distinctions between business continuity and disaster recovery is critical to protecting your day-to-day business operations from the unexpected. While many people use these terms interchangeably, they have some key differences. It’s important to explore the distinctions and understand how prioritizing both is critical to your business’s success.

Understanding Disaster Recovery

Let’s start by explaining the core priorities of a disaster recovery platform, as that is the first thing to consider following a network outage. 

Disaster recovery encompasses all the things needed to be done by a business’s tech team after a major type of disaster. In Miami, this could be restoring your network services after a major hurricane barrels through. In Los Angeles, IT support would scramble to get back online following an even moderate earthquake. Additionally, disaster recovery isn’t always necessarily caused by acts of God. Sometimes a computer virus caused by malware would require the IT troops to battle the recovery issues.

Disaster recovery covers all the systems and strategies your organization has in place to get your mission-critical network operations back up and running following an outage.

Whether that outage is caused by a natural disaster or a cyberattack, the core goal of any disaster recovery platform is to get essential network functions operational as quickly as possible. For example, a company that depends on voice over internet protocol (VoIP) for making sales calls would implement a disaster recovery platform that prioritizes restoring VoIP network operations following a disaster. Then, they’d worry about making sure the backups servers were restored and so on down the mission critical priority road.

What Is Business Continuity?

Similarly, a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) helps a company during times of disaster both big and small. The difference between the two, however, may be best explained by “action” versus “reaction”. 

Whereas a disaster recovery plan focuses on a company’s restoration of their most vital IT operating systems after a devastating event has occurred, a BCP operates on a longer-term goal of assuring that all of your company’s entire system continues functioning after a similarly awful occurrence. 

While disaster recovery strategies prioritize restoring core, necessary  operations such as network restoration or reinstallation of your structured cabling system, a business continuity platform takes a bigger-picture approach by focusing on maintaining and restoring all standard functionalities across your entire network from the big – like servers – to the small – like printers and fax machines. 

So whereas a disaster recovery platform prioritizes the essential, a business continuity solution focuses on restoring all the tools your business uses but doesn’t necessarily depend on for daily operations.

Timeline Differences

Because the focus of disaster recovery is on the essential operating systems while business continuity prioritizes a bigger-picture approach, recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) are different for each. 

RTOs and RPOs for disaster recovery systems are generally measured in minutes or hours. RTOs and RPOs for business continuity platforms, on the other hand, may be measured in days or weeks, depending on the severity of the outage.

Risk Management Assessment

Prioritizing business continuity and disaster recovery strategies is critical to your business’ ongoing success. Without a clear plan for how to respond to the unexpected, your team will be at a loss following a disaster, quickly resulting in lost revenue, missed opportunities, data loss and the potential loss of customers and clients. 

“A complete Business Continuity Plan will be your ultimate disaster insurance policy,” explains Chad Lauterbach, CEO of Be Structured, a Los Angeles-based Managed Service Provider. “A business that goes down means revenues go down, and the best thing about outsourcing your company’s IT is having eyes and hands on deck 24/7 to support in the event of an unforeseen technical disaster.”

4 Steps to Developing a Strong Business Continuity Plan

1 – Conduct a business impact analysis and determine those time-crucial functions necessary for keeping the business upright and what resources will be needed to restore them.

2 – Compile and document a business continuity plan and make sure those plans of action are not just sitting on your potentially whacked network, but also stored in a cloud-based computing system for safe keeping. 

3 – Identify a business continuity team and define their roles in overcoming a business disruption of any kind.

4 – Like fire drills back in grade school, conduct training exercises and sister relief scenarios for the BC team to constantly reevaluate how your strategy and plans will play out in the event of an actual emergency.

When you have concrete strategies in place, and every member of your team understands his or her role, you can minimize the repercussions of a network outage, ensuring your network gets back up and running as soon as possible.

As you begin planning your business continuity and disaster recovery strategies, the best place to begin is by clarifying the systems your organization depends on most for day-to-day business. Start by creating a list of the systems each team relies on. From there, you can begin exploring how regularly they use these systems and which ones they will need most following an outage. If they’re using a software application day in and day out, make sure your disaster recovery platform accounts for that.

Los Angeles IT Support

Now that you understand the crucial differences between business continuity and disaster recovery, you may be looking for a little more help further refining your disaster preparedness strategies. If that’s the case, the experts at Be Structured are here to help. Our team takes the time to understand your organization’s workflows, potential threats, and network operations, so we can develop a customized recovery and continuity solution and restore critical business functions quicker than you thought possible.