Business Continuity Plan vs Disaster Recovery Plan: How do they differ?

What is a Business Continuity Plan?

A business continuity plan (BCP) is concerned with maintaining essential functions during and after a natural or man-made disruption. It assumes that critical business operations remain functional but at a reduced scale during the event.

What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?

On the other hand, a disaster recovery plan (DRP) is concerned with restoring normal business-critical operations after a disaster. It assumes that a disaster has caused operations to stop completely, and measures need to be taken so that the organization can return to normal at the soonest possible time.

Importance of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans

Natural events such as hurricanes, floods, fires, tornadoes, and earthquakes and man-made ones such as sabotage and cyberattacks can prove potentially disastrous to business operations.

Previous research has shown that almost half of all businesses never recover from a disaster. In the wake of a disaster, many have little choice but to shut down operations. Some may stay operational for a while but have to close down eventually after a few months. This is particularly true for small businesses, which need to resume operations within a reasonable timeframe to avoid total collapse.

In the wake of the pandemic, organizations struggled in adjusting to a reality where their employees had to work from home in large numbers. Despite the initial difficulties, most transitioned to arrangements that allowed them to operate in this new environment. This applied especially to organizations with existing business continuity and disaster recovery plans. This further highlighted the importance of a BCP and DRP.

As organizations’ responses to the pandemic showed, BCPs and DRPs can mitigate the impact of disasters on business operations. With the help of an effective BCP and DRP, businesses are better prepared to handle disasters when and after they strike.

BCPs and DRPs complement each other—you must have both to withstand operational challenges brought about by disasters. The close relationship between the two is the reason why they are often lumped together as BC/DR or business-continuity/disaster-recovery.

A BCP encompasses a DRP, ready to take effect when disaster hits the organization. Depending on the circumstances, organizations can invoke the BCP, the DRP, or both during disasters.

Scope of a Business Continuity Plan

A BCP covers all of your organization’s disaster prevention, mitigation, and response activities, including the recovery protocols that the organization will implement during a disaster. To be effective, a BCP must address the recovery of the organization from different kinds of disasters.

Together with key personnel, C-level executives are the primary stakeholders of a BCP. Stakeholders initiate and drive the business continuity planning process until a workable plan is in place.

Once the BCP is set in motion from the top, the following activities, in any order, can be undertaken:

Learning About a Disaster Recovery Plan

A DRP focuses on the specific procedures needed to ensure that the disruption in your IT infrastructure due to a disaster is as short as possible. The objectives of a DRP are to resume normal business operations in a timely manner and prevent financial losses from an outage.

DR plans are organized according to disaster (e.g., fire, flood, earthquake, and cyberattack) and location, if applicable. For each of these disasters, step-by-step procedures or scripts are written. In case of a disaster, designated DR team members to follow the scripts to address the outage.

Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) help determine the best DR plan for your organization. RPO ensures that the data loss from a disaster is kept to a minimum. RTO is the maximum downtime that your organization can afford to have before incurring a significant financial loss. The DRP must ensure that both your RPO and RTO are achievable if you want to keep data and financial loss to a minimum. For example, your organization can adopt a high-availability solution for almost 100% uptime.

An effective DR response means complete restoration of data backups and affected systems. While DR used to require substantial cost investments in on-site hardware, organizations nowadays can utilize more cost-effective cloud DR solutions.

Key Differences Between Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

A BCP covers all aspects of an organization’s response before, during, and after a disaster. It can be invoked at any time and even before a disaster happens, without necessarily invoking the DRP. For example, you can set your communications plan in motion when a public relations crisis hounds your organization.

A BCP helps in disaster preparedness, keeps business operations as normal as possible amidst a disaster, and speeds up the transition to normal operations once a disastrous event is over. Post-disaster, a BCP guides the investigation of the causes of the outage, ensuring that preventative measures are in place to avoid a repeat of the disaster. This makes the organization’s disaster response more effective the next time around.

A DRP covers the procedures to bring an organization’s IT infrastructure up again after an outage. A DRP ends once the IT infrastructure is up again and running the way it used to before the disaster.

Similarities Between Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan

These two concepts are often viewed as interdependent, and while they are not the same thing they do, however, overlap in some areas and work best together when developed in tandem.

The Benefits of Planning Ahead with a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan

When developed in tandem, the two concepts both provide several benefits to your company, such as:

People and Property Protection

Making use of such safety plans assists in protecting the company’s and its workers’ lives and property. Companies with more than 10 workers are even required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to prepare these plans in accordance with Regulation 1910.38 Emergency Action Plans.

Risk Management

Risks presented by interactions with 3rd parties, including service providers or suppliers, are included in risk management for enterprises. Because of the kinds of data they have or handle, these third parties can have a major impact on an organization’s total risk. They may be used to deliver high availability or recovery services for systems that require a high level of uptime.

Third-party risk management generally entails examining business continuity and disaster recovery plans for enterprises operating in highly regulated areas including financial services, healthcare, and utilities. Organizations are better positioned to satisfy the expectations of the individuals they serve by establishing and testing these strategies.

Morale Boosting

Employees may feel safer knowing that plans are in place. This can assist enhance employee morale and increase business value perception among purchasers who acknowledge the company’s duty and preparation.

Better Decision Making

Planning ahead allows you to implement your plan in a systematic, structured, and timely manner, and it also allows you to make informed decisions based on the best available data in the event of an emergency.

It also allows for flexibility and adaptability to change. Flexibility allows you to consider human and cultural considerations, such as helping workers with medical requirements or managing teams that function across geographical areas, as well as being honest and inclusive with your goals.

Even if you haven’t had to deal with an emergency before, preparing for one may aid in organizational progress and become an intrinsic component of all operations.

Ensure Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery with Parallels RAS

Deploying Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) as part of a BCP or DRP enables users to access business-critical applications from anywhere during disruptions. Leveraging Parallels RAS, your organization can easily deploy a secure remote working solution with an excellent user experience that provides access to virtual desktops and applications from any device, anytime.

With Parallels RAS, you can use various methods to secure your corporate assets from data leakage and malicious activity. These methods include highly granular permission policies, multifactor and smart card authentication, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol, and Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-2 encryption.

Parallels RAS features centralized and managed data access for better security. Moreover, Parallels RAS increases your IT infrastructure’s agility via on-demand scaling and provides central management of multi-cloud deployments and Azure Virtual Desktop.

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