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The importance of Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Planning
What is a business continuity plan (bcp).
The primary aim of a Business Continuity Plan is to identify business-critical processes and form a plan around how they can be executed in the event of a disaster – which could range from an office location being unavailable to IT systems offline.
The plan should also take into account how the plan is invoked and communicated internally within the business and to external stakeholders. A fundamental part of a Business Continuity Plan is to establish a BCP team, responsible for managing the process.
What is a Disaster Recovery Plan (DR Plan)?
The reason for a Disaster Recovery Plan is to provide a detailed plan for getting your IT systems back online after a disaster has occurred. This needs to be implemented quickly to limit the disruption to the business
How do the two plans work together?
Typically, the Disaster Recovery plan is more of a technical document detailing the response required by the technology teams in the event of a disaster. Whereas the Business Continuity Plan deals with business processes. Each department within the business will need to provide input into the latter, detailing which processes they would normally complete on a daily basis are the most important and what deadlines they have for completing those processes.
If either plan is missing or fails to work in the manner expected – it can cause a massive disruption to the business.
Why is BCDR important?
Investing the time to design a suitable BCP or having a professional consultant come in and build a BCP gives the business time to research and test solutions before any such BC events occur giving you security in knowing that your business can function even in events where there is a total loss of service to your offices.
With fluctuations in regulations during the recent pandemic, businesses have had to adapt the way they operate and have had to do so quickly. Those companies who have had a BCP were already prepared for such a scenario. This meant that they were able to initiate the plan, knowing every step of it beforehand. It will have been tested and practised ensuring there were no issues that unfolded in a time of uncertainty. Everything will have fallen into place and staff would have been able to continue working almost seamlessly.
Not having a BCP can ultimately lead to important businesses processes being missed and communication being poor. One key part of designing a successful BCP is identifying those key business processes and the IT systems that support them – if you don’t have those processes documented, its impossible to ensure redundancy in the underlying IT systems.
The Importance of a Plan of Action
Being ready for a disaster and having a plan of action in place means that in the event of a disaster or outage, you are not creating and implementing processes on the fly. This could leave room for bad processes or detrimental processes to be created due to having to put something in place in an emergency.
Your business is prepared and there is less stress in the event of a BC/DR scenario as you know what to do and can streamline processes to reduce any downtime to a minimum and loss of earnings too.
In the financial markets, being down for a couple of minutes can cost millions. If for example, the company website is down for an e-commerce platform, you will be losing sales that happen potentially every minute. In the recent outage that Amazon experienced (June 2021), they determined that their outage cost them $34 million for their 59-minute outage, that’s approximately $577,000 per minute.
How To Build a Plan of Action
Let’s use an example where one of your servers is infected with a ransomware virus. Your business has regular incremental backups during the day that are stored off-site or within a cloud platform. you do not have a fallback server and the server has now stopped your business functioning. you now need to recover from this “Disaster”.
Since there are regular backups throughout the day, you’re able to roll the server back to before the crypto lock virus hit from a backup taken before the incident. There are two factors to consider with disaster recovery.
Recovery Time Object (RTO) – How long you deem it acceptable to have downtime before service is restored. In the ransomware example, you may deem it acceptable to be down for a number of hours if the server is a virtual server as you will need to build a new instance of the server from the backups. In the case of a physical server, you would need to factor in the time to swap out hard drives and then the time it takes to restore the server from a backup and how long your business can be down without the ability to function and make money.
If however, you determine that the downtime needs to be measured in minutes, an alternative solution to incremental backups would need to be implemented.
Recovery Point Objective (RPO) – This essentially determines the maximum amount of acceptable data loss. So, if for instance, you have a business-critical application that holds data within a database. The RPO for that system may be set at 15 minutes. This means that in the event of a disaster – the application needs to be brought back online with the data a maximum of 15 minutes old. Once this value has been determined by the business – it’s down to the IT teams to put in place data protection measures to ensure that 15 minutes is achievable.
The Future of BCDR
Business Continuity Plans & Disaster Recovery Plans are never “finished”. They should always be evolving to keep up with the latest threats. New threats appear daily, and you will need to be sure your current solution can cater for the new threats as well as the existing/old threats. A good example of this is the recent pandemic. Pandemic planning wasn’t at the forefront of everyone’s minds prior to 2020 – however many Business Continuity plans included plans to be invoked in the case of a pandemic. Today – every BCP will contain pandemic planning measures.
Also, the recent shift to working from home is beginning to become the accepted norm. This will begin to present its own unique set of needs within a BC/DR plan. Business-critical users will need backup internet lines or may need a spare computer to work from in case of a hardware issue.
It is a case of finding your businesses weakest links and ensuring that every plausible outcome is accounted for in your plans.
How can Tribeca help?
Ultimately, you’ll hope that you never need to use your Business Continuity or Disaster Recovery Plans but the cost of not having such plans ready to deploy could be much greater than you’d expect. It’s not just the monetary value associated with the downtime, but it could damage your businesses reputation as well.
To ensure that your business’s plans are up to scratch or if you don’t currently have them and would like our professional help building them, then please get in touch. You can find out more about our service by visiting our Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery page.
Tribeca also offers IT support services tailored to businesses in the Alternative Investment sector. From Hedge Fund IT Support to Private Equity IT Support. We operate as your business partner and want to be seen as an extension of your business, providing consistent quality and proactive assistance to help you grow and protect your business.
For more information on our IT support and managed services for the alternative investment sector, get in touch with us today.
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What is BCDR? Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Explained
With organizations going through digital transformations and more employees working remotely, cybersecurity is a top priority for almost all IT teams. Businesses have to be prepared for cyberattacks and unexpected IT outages. In fact, in the 2019 State of IT Operations Survey Report , nearly 61 percent of the survey respondents who had a security breach in the past year, had two to four IT outages.
In the event of a disruption, businesses must be able to quickly recover mission-critical data, restore IT systems and smoothly resume operations. A robust business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) plan is the key to having confidence in your ability to recover quickly with minimal disruption to the business.
What Is Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) and Why Is It Important for Businesses?
BCDR represents a set of approaches or processes that helps an organization recover from a disaster and resume its routine business operations. Disasters include natural calamities, outages or disruption due to power failure, employee negligence, hardware failure, or cyberattacks.
A BCDR plan ensures that businesses operate as close to normal as possible after an unexpected interruption, with minimal loss of data.
In the past, some companies were under the impression that only large enterprise organizations needed BCDR plans. However, it is just as critical for small and midsize businesses. The 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report showed that “43 percent of [security] breaches involved small business victims.”
Having a proper BCDR plan in place enables businesses to minimize both the downtime and the cost of a disruption.
What Is the Difference Between Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery?
The business continuity component of a BCDR plan deals with the people, processes and resources that are needed before, during and after an incident to minimize interruption of business operations and cost to the business. It includes:
- Team – The first and one of the most important components of a business continuity plan (BCP) is organizing a continuity team. Your BCP will be effective only if it is well-designed and if there is a dedicated team to execute it at a moment’s notice.
- Business Impact Analysis (BIA) – A deep analysis of potential threats and how they could impact the business — usually described in terms of cost to the business. The BIA identifies the most critical business functions that you need to protect and restore quickly.
- Resource Planning – Identifying resources (hardware systems, software, alternative office space and other items to be used during a crisis) as well as the key staff, and the roles they must play in the event of a disaster.
Disaster recovery is a subset of business continuity planning and involves getting IT systems up and running following a disaster.
Planning for disaster recovery includes:
- Defining parameters for the company such as recovery time objective (RTO) — the maximum time systems can be down without causing significant damage to the business, and recovery point objective (RPO) — the amount of data that can be lost without affecting the business
- Implementing backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solutions and creating processes for restoring applications and data on all systems
What Are the Objectives of a BCDR Plan?
A BCDR plan aims to protect a company from financial loss in case of a disruptive event. Data losses and downtime can lead to businesses being shut down. A robust BCDR plan:
- Reduces the overall financial risk to the company
- Enables the company to comply with industry regulations with regards to data management
- Prepares the organization to respond adequately and resume operations as quickly as possible in the aftermath of a crisis
6 Steps to Execute a Robust BCDR Plan
- Identify the team : The continuity team will not only carry out the business continuity plan in the event of a crisis but will also ensure that your other employees are informed and know how to respond in a crisis. The team will also be responsible for planning and executing crisis communications strategies.
- Conduct a business impact analysis (BIA) : A BIA identifies the impact of a sudden loss of business functions, usually in terms of cost to the business. It also identifies the most critical business functions, which allows you to create a business continuity plan that prioritizes recovery of these essential functions.
- Design the recovery plan : Determine acceptable downtime for critical systems and implement backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solutions for those critical systems as well as SaaS application data. BDR solutions can be appliance-based or in the cloud. Consider Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) solutions as part of your overall strategy.
- Test your backups : Disaster recovery testing is a vital part of a backup and recovery plan. Without proper testing, you will never know if your backup can be recovered. According to the 2019 State of IT Operations Survey Report, only 31 percent of the respondents test their disaster recovery plan regularly, which shows that businesses usually underestimate the importance of BDR testing.
- Execute the plan : In the event of a disruption, execute the processes that get your systems and business back to normal.
- Measure, review and keep the plan updated : Measure the success of your execution and update your plan based on any gaps that are uncovered. Testing the BCDR plan beforehand is recommended for better results.
Learn more about BCDR planning and its importance to successful business operations by downloading our eBook Business Continuity Planning to Combat a Crisis .
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Business continuity and disaster recovery planning: The basics
Good business continuity plans will keep your company up and running through interruptions of any kind: power failures, IT system crashes, natural disasters, pandemics and more.
Editor’s note: This article, originally published on March 27, 2014, has been updated to more accurately reflect recent trends.
Wildfires in California. A snowstorm in Texas. Windstorms across the Midwest. Floods in Hawaii. Hurricanes in Florida and Louisiana. Russian hackers and ransomware attacks. And let’s not forget the global pandemic.
If anyone still thinks that having a disaster recovery and business continuity plan isn’t a high priority, you haven’t been paying attention to recent events. As we begin to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations are shifting to a new normal that will certainly be more remote, more digital and more cloud-based. Disaster recovery plans will have to evolve to keep up with these changing business conditions.
On top of that, business requirements for disaster recovery have changed dramatically. There was a time when it was acceptable for recovery time to be measured in days or hours. Now it’s minutes. In some cases, business units are demanding zero down time in the event of an unplanned outage.
Here are the basics of a state-of-the-art disaster recovery/business continuity (DR/BC) plan for 2021 and beyond. (Without getting too hung up on definitions, let’s say that disaster recovery is getting the IT infrastructure back up and running, while business continuity is a broader discipline that gets the business back up and functioning once the lights are back on.)
Integrate cybersecurity, intrusion detection/response, disaster recovery into a comprehensive data protection plan
For CISOs, the first goal of a disaster recovery plan is to avoid the disaster in the first place, which is becoming increasingly challenging. First, data is no longer safely tucked away in an on-premises data center. It’s distributed across on-premises environments, hyperscale clouds, the edge and SaaS applications. ESG Research Senior Analyst Christophe Bertrand points out that SaaS presents a serious data protection and recovery challenge because “now you have mission critical applications running as a service that you have no control over.”
Second, the pandemic drove millions of employees out of the secure confines of the corporate office to their home offices, where the Wi-Fi is less secure and where employees might be sharing sensitive data on collaboration applications.
Third, hackers took notice of these expanding attack vectors and launched a barrage of new and more targeted ransomware attacks. According to the Sophos State of Ransomware 2020 Report, hackers have moved from spray-and-pray desktop attacks to server-based attacks. “These are highly targeted, sophisticated attacks that take more effort to deploy. However, they are typically far more deadly due to the higher value of assets encrypted and can cripple organizations with multi-million dollar ransom requests,” according to the report .
In response to these changing conditions, CISOs should focus on beefing up endpoint security for remote workers, deploying VPNs and encryption, protecting data at rest no matter where it lives, and also making sure that collaboration tools don’t become a source of security vulnerabilities.
Conduct a business impact analysis (BIA)
Organizations need to conduct a thorough business impact analysis to identify and evaluate potential effects of disasters through the lenses of financial fallout, regulatory compliance, legal liability, and employee safety. Gartner estimates that 70% of organizations are making disaster recovery decisions without any business-aligned data points or based on an outdated BIA. “Without the fact base the BIA provides, teams can only guess at the appropriate level of DR and what risks are tolerable. This results in overspend or unmet expectations,” according to Gartner.
Remember, you don’t need to protect everything. Organizations that conduct these exercises are often surprised to discover servers that do nothing but run a routine back-end business process once a month, or even once a year.
Organizations need to prioritize applications by their criticality to the business, and to identify all the dependencies associated with a business process, particularly applications that may have been virtualized across multiple physical servers, might be running in containers in the cloud, or in serverless cloud environments.
Along the same lines, you don’t need to protect all data, just the data that you need to keep the business running. You do need to go through the process of locating, identifying, and classifying data. Be sure to protect data that falls under regulatory requirements, customer data, patient data, credit card data, intellectual property, private communications, etc. The good news is that tools can automate data identification and classification.
Consider disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)
DRaaS is an increasingly popular option for CISOs at small- to mid-sized organizations who want to cost-effectively improve IT resilience, meet compliance or regulatory requirements, and address resource deficiencies. The DRaaS market is expected to grow at a rate of 12% a year over the next five years, according to Mordor Intelligence . DRaaS services cover the full gamut of disaster recovery and business continuity, providing flexibility and agility to enterprises, according to the Mordor report.
Gartner adds that as the DRaaS market has matured and vendor offerings have become more industrialized, the size and scope of DRaaS implementations have increased significantly, compared with a few years ago.
Develop a solid communication plan
Simply getting servers back up and running is essentially meaningless unless everyone knows their roles and responsibilities. Do people have the appropriate cell phone numbers and email addresses to share information? Do the relevant stakeholders have a playbook that spells out how to respond to a crisis in terms of contacting law enforcement, outside legal teams, utility companies, key technology and supply chain partners, senior leadership, the broader employee base, external PR teams, etc.?
Depending on the nature of the disaster, networking groups might need to establish new lines of connectivity for remote workers and reconfigure traffic flows; maintenance teams might need to perform remote troubleshooting, security teams might need to re-set firewalls, change access policies, extend security protection to new devices or to cloud-based resources. The biggest problem in a disaster isn’t related to data backups, it’s not having the right people in place and understanding all the steps required for the business to recover, says Bertrand.
To test disaster preparedness, companies traditionally conduct tabletop exercises in which key players physically come together to play out DR scenarios. However, only one-third of organizations perceive the exercises as “highly effective,” according to a July study by Osterman Research in association with Immersive Labs, a company that develops human-readiness skills in cybersecurity. The research also found that organizations don’t perform tabletop exercises often enough to keep up with evolving threats and that these exercises cost an average of $30,000. During the pandemic, it’s fair to assume that tabletop exercises fell by the wayside.
Doug Matthews, vice-president of enterprise data protection at Veritas, says there’s a better way. New tools can automatically test backup and recovery procedures on an ongoing basis and identify potential issues that need to be addressed. Modern testing solutions are also able to use sandboxing technology to create safe environments in which companies can test the recoverability of applications without impacting production networks.
Create immutable data backups
Ransomware attackers are targeting backup repositories, particularly in the cloud. They are also targeting SaaS applications. In response, organizations should keep one copy of data that can’t be altered. “Be sure that you have an immutable copy of backup data that nobody can touch,” advises Matthews, who says companies should have three copies of data at all times, not just two.
Companies should also investigate isolated recovery environments, such as air gapping, in which one copy of the data lives in an environment not connected to the production environment.
Consider data re-use
“Business is the data and data is the business,” says Bertrand. Once organizations have a copy of their important data sitting in a safe backup environment, why not think about ways to reuse it to advance the company’s digital transformation efforts.
The idea is for organizations to “understand what you have, where it is, how to protect it, store it and optimize it.” Ultimately, Bertrand predicts that organizations will evolve an intelligent data strategy that encompasses regulatory compliance, disaster recovery/business continuity and data analytics.
Perform continuous updates
CISOs updating their DR/BC plans should take their cue from DevOps. It’s not about one-and-done, it’s about continuous improvement. DR planners need to be plugged into any changes at the company that might affect recoverability, including employees working from home permanently, stores or remote offices opening or closing, applications being replaced by SaaS, data moving to the edge, or DevOps moving to the cloud. Also, the technology is constantly improving, so be on the lookout for new tools that can help automate DR/BC processes. The plan should not be sitting on the shelf collecting dust. It should be updated on a regular basis.
Do long-term planning
In light of everything that has happened over the past 12 months, it’s a good time to shift thinking about DR/BC from reactive to proactive. Unfortunately, between public health emergencies, climate change and the increase in cyberattacks, disasters seem to be occurring more often and are certainly more devastating. DR/BC plans need to get ahead of the threats, not simply respond to them.
For example, if your company is in California, your DR/BC plan has to assume that there will be power outages from next season’s wildfires. Companies concerned about losing power when the next natural disaster hits might want to think about generating their own power from alternative sources.
A successful DR/BC plan requires that companies perform the basics, but it is also an opportunity for companies to find creative and innovative ways to keep the business running when disaster hits.
Logofail attack can inject malware in the firmware of many computers, google expands minimum security guidelines for third-party vendors, new ciso appointments 2023, top cybersecurity product news of the week, from our editors straight to your inbox.
Neal Weinberg is a freelance technology writer and editor. He can be reached at [email protected] .
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What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?
Disaster recovery (DR) is an organization’s ability to restore access and functionality to IT infrastructure after a disaster event, whether natural or caused by human action (or error). DR is considered a subset of business continuity, explicitly focusing on ensuring that the IT systems that support critical business functions are operational as soon as possible after a disruptive event occurs.
Today, disaster recovery planning is crucial for any business, especially those operating either partially or entirely in the cloud. Disasters that interrupt service and cause data loss can happen anytime without warning—your network could have an outage, a critical bug could get released, or your business might have to weather a natural disaster. Organizations with robust and well-tested disaster recovery strategies can minimize the impact of disruptions, achieve faster recovery times, and resume core operations rapidly when things go awry.
Learn more about Google Cloud backup and disaster recovery features and products and how they can be used to build the right DR solution for your business.
IT disaster recovery defined
IT disaster recovery is a portfolio of policies, tools, and processes used to recover or continue operations of critical IT infrastructure, software, and systems after a natural or human-made disaster.
The first and foremost aspect of a disaster recovery plan is cloud. The cloud is considered the best solution for both business continuity and disaster recovery. The cloud eliminates the need to run a separate disaster recovery data center (or recovery site).
What is a disaster recovery site?
It’s a second, physical data center that’s costly to build and maintain—and with the cloud, made unnecessary.
What is considered a disaster?
Dr planning and strategies focus on responding to and recovering from disasters—events that disrupt or completely stop a business from operating..
While these events can be natural disasters like a hurricane, they can also be caused by a severe system failure, an intentional attack, or even human error.
Types of disasters can include:
- Natural disasters (for example, earthquakes, floods, tornados, hurricanes, or wildfires)
- Pandemics and epidemics
- Cyber attacks (for example, malware, DDoS, and ransomware attacks)
- Other intentional, human-caused threats such as terrorist or biochemical attacks
- Technological hazards (for example, power outages, pipeline explosions, and transportation accidents)
- Machine and hardware failure
Importance of disaster recovery
Technology plays an increasingly important role in every aspect of business, with applications and services enabling companies to be more agile, available, and connected. This trend has contributed to the widespread adoption of cloud computing by organizations to drive growth, innovation, and exceptional customer experience.
However, the migration to cloud environments—public, private, hybrid, or multicloud—and the rise of remote workforces are introducing more infrastructure complexity and potential risks. Disaster recovery for cloud-based systems is critical to an overall business continuity strategy. A system breakdown or unplanned downtime can have serious consequences for enterprises that rely heavily on cloud-based resources, applications, documents, and data storage to keep things running smoothly.
In addition, data privacy laws and standards stipulate that most organizations are now required to have a disaster recovery strategy. Failure to follow DR plans can result in compliance violations and steep regulatory fines.
Every business needs to be able to recover quickly from any event that stops day-to-day operations, no matter what industry or size. Without a disaster recovery plan, a company can suffer data loss, reduced productivity, out-of-budget expenses, and reputational damage that can lead to lost customers and revenue.
How disaster recovery works
Disaster recovery relies on having a solid plan to get critical applications and infrastructure up and running after an outage—ideally within minutes..
An effective DR plan addresses three different elements for recovery:
- Preventive: Ensuring your systems are as secure and reliable as possible, using tools and techniques to prevent a disaster from occurring in the first place. This may include backing up critical data or continuously monitoring environments for configuration errors and compliance violations.
- Detective: For rapid recovery, you’ll need to know when a response is necessary. These measures focus on detecting or discovering unwanted events as they happen in real time.
- Corrective: These measures are aimed at planning for potential DR scenarios, ensuring backup operations to reduce impact, and putting recovery procedures into action to restore data and systems quickly when the time comes.
Typically, disaster recovery involves securely replicating and backing up critical data and workloads to a secondary location or multiple locations—disaster recovery sites. A disaster recovery site can be used to recover data from the most recent backup or a previous point in time. Organizations can also switch to using a DR site if the primary location and its systems fail due to an unforeseen event until the primary one is restored.
Types of disaster recovery
The types of disaster recovery you’ll need will depend on your it infrastructure, the type of backup and recovery you use, and the assets you need to protect..
Here are some of the most common technologies and techniques used in disaster recovery:
- Backups: With backups, you back up data to an offsite system or ship an external drive to an offsite location. However, backups do not include any IT infrastructure, so they are not considered a full disaster recovery solution.
- Backup as a service (BaaS): Similar to remote data backups, BaaS solutions provide regular data backups offered by a third-party provider.
- Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS): Many cloud providers offer DRaaS, along with cloud service models like IaaS and PaaS . A DRaaS service model allows you to back up your data and IT infrastructure and host them on a third-party provider’s cloud infrastructure. During a crisis, the provider will implement and orchestrate your DR plan to help recover access and functionality with minimal interruption to operations.
- Point-in-time snapshots: Also known as point-in-time copies, snapshots replicate data, files, or even an entire database at a specific point in time. Snapshots can be used to restore data as long as the copy is stored in a location unaffected by the event. However, some data loss can occur depending on when the snapshot was made.
- Virtual DR: Virtual DR solutions allow you to back up operations and data or even create a complete replica of your IT infrastructure and run it on offsite virtual machines (VMs). In the event of a disaster, you can reload your backup and resume operation quickly. This solution requires frequent data and workload transfers to be effective.
- Disaster recovery sites: These are locations that organizations can temporarily use after a disaster event, which contain backups of data, systems, and other technology infrastructure.
Benefits of disaster recovery
Stronger business continuity.
Every second counts when your business goes offline, impacting productivity, customer experience, and your company’s reputation. Disaster recovery helps safeguard critical business operations by ensuring they can recover with minimal or no interruption.
DR plans use data backup and other procedures that strengthen your security posture and limit the impact of attacks and other security risks. For example, cloud-based disaster recovery solutions offer built-in security capabilities, such as advanced encryption, identity and access management, and organizational policy.
Disaster recovery solutions make restoring your data and workloads easier so you can get business operations back online quickly after a catastrophic event. DR plans leverage data replication and often rely on automated recovery to minimize downtime and data loss.
Reduced recovery costs
The monetary impacts of a disaster event can be significant, ranging from loss of business and productivity to data privacy penalties to ransoms. With disaster recovery, you can avoid, or at least minimize, some of these costs. Cloud DR processes can also reduce the operating costs of running and maintaining a secondary location.
Many cloud-based services come with high availability (HA) features that can support your DR strategy. HA capabilities help ensure an agreed level of performance and offer built-in redundancy and automatic failover, protecting data against equipment failure and other smaller-scale events that may impact data availability.
DR planning supports compliance requirements by considering potential risks and defining a set of specific procedures and protections for your data and workloads in the event of a disaster. This usually includes strong data backup practices, DR sites, and regularly testing your DR plan to ensure that your organization is prepared.
Planning a disaster recovery strategy
A comprehensive disaster recovery strategy should include detailed emergency response requirements, backup operations, and recovery procedures. DR strategies and plans often help form a broader business continuity strategy, which includes contingency plans to mitigate impact beyond IT infrastructure and systems, allowing all business areas to resume normal operations as soon as possible.
When it comes to creating disaster recovery strategies, you should carefully consider the following key metrics:
- Recovery time objective (RTO): The maximum acceptable length of time that systems and applications can be down without causing significant damage to the business. For example, some applications can be offline for an hour, while others might need to recover in minutes.
- Recovery point objective (RPO) : The maximum age of data you need to recover to resume operations after a major event. RPO helps to define the frequency of backups.
These metrics are particularly useful when conducting risk assessments and business impact analysis (BIA) for potential disasters, from moderate to worst-case scenarios. Risk assessments and BIAs evaluate all functional areas of a business and the consequences of any risks, which can help define DR goals and the actions needed to achieve them before or after an event occurs.
When creating your recovery strategy, it’s useful to consider your RTO and RPO values and pick a DR pattern that will enable you to meet those values and your overall goals. Typically, the smaller your values (or the faster your applications need to recover after an interruption), the higher the cost to run your application.
Cloud disaster recovery can greatly reduce the costs of RTO and RPO when it comes to fulfilling on-premises requirements for capacity, security, network infrastructure, bandwidth, support, and facilities. A highly managed service on Google Cloud can help you avoid most, if not all, complicating factors and allow you to reduce many business costs significantly.
For more guidance on using Google Cloud to address disaster recovery, you can read our Disaster recovery planning guide or contact your account manager for help with creating a DR plan.
Solve your business challenges with Google Cloud
What is disaster recovery used for, ensure business resilience.
No matter what happens, a good DR plan can ensure that the business can return to full operations rapidly, without losing data or transactions.
When a business goes offline, customers are rarely loyal. They turn to competitors to get the goods or services they require. A DR plan prevents this.
Avoid regulatory risks
Many industries have regulations dictating where data can be stored and how it must be protected. Heavy fines result if these mandates are not met.
Avoid data loss
The longer a business’s systems are down, the greater the risk that data will be lost. A robust DR plan minimizes this risk.
Keep customers happy
Meeting customer service level agreements (SLAs) is always a priority. A well-executed DR plan can help businesses achieve SLAs despite challenges.
A business that has trouble resuming operations after an outage can suffer brand damage. For that reason, a solid DR plan is critical.
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Google offers many products that can be used as building blocks when creating a secure and reliable DR plan, including Cloud Storage .
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What is Disaster Recovery, and why is it so important?
- 14 September 2021
- Reading time: 7 min
Every business is terrified at the prospect of a computer system failure. This is why it is crucial to have a good Disaster Recovery Plan – a comprehensive roadmap outlining what to do when your systems fail due to a disaster or human error.
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Disaster recovery is only part of a good preparation for a possible disaster. Do you like to see the broader picture? Read our free e-book: How can I protect my business against disasters?
What is Disaster Recovery?
Disaster Recovery is the process of restoring your business-critical systems after a disaster, using properly scheduled backups . To be able to properly recover from a disaster, you need to store a copy of your data in a remote location. This way, your backup will not be vulnerable to any disasters that may occur locally (such as a fire or a flood), and it will also be protected from cybercriminals or human errors.
Unfortunately, this is becoming increasingly relevant, but if, for example, a flood destroys your servers, you will lose all the data on those servers. So, if you do not have a backup available in an external location, you will lose all your data, which makes two dramatic events at the same time. That is why Disaster Recovery focuses on keeping a copy of all the data elsewhere. In the event of a disaster, you can switch to these offsite servers (or copy the data again to your own new servers) and get back to work.
A Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is a document that outlines the steps you need to take in order to recover from a disaster. Think of it as a roadmap for when things go wrong.
A company uses internal servers to store its customer data. In the event of a flood in the region where the company is based, all the servers suffer water damage. The Disaster Recovery Plan is put into action immediately: the person in charge contacts the provider who has backed up the data to an external data centre as quickly as possible. The most recent backup is then made available to the employees via the cloud. This way, the company can immediately get back to work, with minimal downtime or data loss.
Combell as a partner for your Disaster Recovery
Are you looking for a good partner for your Disaster Recovery? Get in touch with Combell for the most reliable solutions!
Disaster Recovery vs. Business Continuity
People often get Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity mixed up, but the two are fundamentally different in purpose.
With a Business Continuity Plan, you focus on keeping your systems running as smoothly as possible in difficult times, and on avoiding downtime – in other words, the continuity of your business. Such a plan sets out how your staff can work efficiently in the event of difficulties, and how access to your data can be maintained. You can do this by keeping your servers up to date, thoroughly testing changes in your applications for errors, and choosing the right capacity for your systems.
A Disaster Recovery Plan is necessary when your Business Continuity Plan fails. Because no matter how well you protect your systems against downtime, your IT infrastructure can always be affected by a disaster or human error (intentional or unintentional). In such situations, Disaster Recovery makes it a simple matter to quickly get back on your feet and carry on, thanks to your backups.
The need for a Disaster Recovery Plan
There is no doubt that data and proper IT operation are key to your business. If your company relies on its IT systems, it is a real nightmare when these suddenly stop working. Downtime can result in huge losses in terms of reputation and efficiency, and consequently affect your turnover. That is why it is vital to have a Disaster Recovery Plan.
Tip: calculate how much downtime will cost you
Are you wondering how much it would cost you if your business was offline for a while? Find out using our downtime calculator .
Just as a company has a fire emergency evacuation plan in case of fire, that same company also needs a Disaster Recovery Plan to protect its data and ensure proper operation of the company when things go wrong.
Between 40% and 60% of companies affected by a disaster go bankrupt. A good Disaster Recovery Plan will help you not to become part of these statistics.
A Disaster Recovery Plan or DRP is like an insurance policy: you hope you will never need it, but when the worst happens, you can feel relieved that you have one. Because without a good DRP, things can go terribly wrong: according to figures from the American Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40% to 60% of companies go bankrupt after a disaster. So make sure you do not become part of these statistics!
The building blocks of a Disaster Recovery Plan
Each company has its own specific needs, which is why every DRP is different. A good DRP partner will help you draw up an effective plan, by examining your data and IT usage. But you know best how certain things work within your company, and where you want to put the emphasis in your DRP.
Analysing the ICT environment
The purpose of a Disaster Recovery Plan is to get your ICT environment working as it did before the disaster, so it is important to know how your current environment is working. In other words: what are your most important data, how much data do you definitely do not want to lose in a worst case scenario, who manages your ICT environment, and where are the most vulnerable points?
Roles and responsibilities
Every Belgian company must (by law) have a fire safety service. And the same should apply in the event of digital failures. Who comes into action when things go seriously wrong with your computer systems?
In the event of major problems, it really helps to have a clear roadmap, so that a disaster recovery team knows exactly what to do. This way, nobody has to run around like a headless chicken, and the plan brings peace of mind.
A risk analysis is actually a projection of your worst nightmares: what disasters can occur, and what impact does a particular disaster have on the failure of your systems? And, ultimately, what impact does the loss of business-critical applications have on your business?
Of course, such a risk analysis can only be carried out if your ICT environment has been properly analysed in advance.
After analysing your current operation, you can start setting priorities within your company. Which services and systems are critical to the proper functioning of your company? If you immediately think to yourself 'all of them', then we are afraid that you will end up with a hefty price tag for your Disaster Recovery solution.
Unfortunately, if you want to keep the costs of your backups under control, you have to make choices. It goes without saying that, for example, your internal chat system is less important to your employees than the operation of your web store or your ERP system . It is therefore essential to identify the most important (i.e. business-critical) elements of your IT department and to regularly back them all up.
When you know which elements are critical to the operation of your business, you can start looking at the Recovery Time Objective and the Recovery Point Objective for each of those elements.
RTO and RPO: the basis for your Disaster Recovery Plan
When you draw up a Disaster Recovery Plan, you will often come across the terms RPO ( Recovery Point Objective ) and RTO ( Recovery Time Objective ). Both are decisive factors for a good restart.
RPO: Recovery Point Objective
With the Recovery Point Objective , you indicate the maximum amount of data you can lose. It is the point to which you will return after a disaster. Simply put: it is the amount of time between two backups.
For a bakery or a shoe shop, an RPO of one or more days may be acceptable, but what about an international web store? Ten seconds of data loss may already result in significant losses.
It is therefore important to analyse how much data you can afford to lose.
RTO: Recovery Time Objective
Besides your RPO, your Recovery Time Objective is also an important factor, as it refers to the maximum period of time you can remain inactive after a disaster. For some, a higher RTO (meaning a few hours without your IT systems) is not a problem, but for other companies, it could be a total disaster.
So, once again, you have to weigh up the impact of your downtime, and how long can you survive without your business-critical applications.
RPO and RTO = 0?
In an ideal world, your RPO and RTO would always be equal to 0, but unfortunately this is not always possible – and certainly not for all your applications. Backing up all your data and restoring them immediately is a very resource intensive and therefore pricey undertaking. So, once again, you will have to prioritise.
How to get started with your own Disaster Recovery Plan?
The steps above will get you a long way, but of course, you do not have to find a data centre yourself and install your own servers there: there are enough providers who have the expertise to help you with the technical side of things. But carrying out a risk analysis and drawing up a comprehensive roadmap for your Disaster Recovery are also things that a provider like Combell will gladly assist you with.
Disaster Recovery as a Service
Aside from the roadmap to define your Disaster Recovery strategy (in the hope that it will never be necessary), you must of course be able to store your data somewhere. And a provider such as Combell offers several options for this, which are offered 'as a Service'. This means that you do not have to worry about the infrastructure, the technical issues or security: your provider takes care of absolutely everything!
1 in 5 companies does not have a Disaster Recovery Plan yet. Is your company one of them? Do not wait any longer and ask Combell for more information!
Frequently asked questions
Disaster Recovery is the process of restoring data and restarting your business after a disaster or cyberattack. Disaster Recovery involves the use of backups in order to be able to resume business operations quickly. In this context, a Disaster Recovery Plan is your roadmap for a smooth restart.
What is crucial for a Disaster Recovery Plan?
When drawing up a Disaster Recovery Plan, it is important to analyse the current operation of your company. This involves looking at the distribution of roles within your IT department, identifying your business-critical applications , carrying out a risk analysis to determine what could go wrong and prioritising the data that you deem most important. But what matters most is the way your data are backed up.
What do RTO and RPO mean?
RTO means Recovery Time Objective: it is the maximum amount of time it may take for you to be able to use your services again. RPO means Recovery Point Objective: it is the maximum amount of data you can afford to lose in the event of a disaster.
What is the best Disaster Recovery strategy?
Disaster Recovery is different for every company, because everyone's priorities are different. Please contact our experts to find out what strategy is best for you.
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5 Step Guide to Business Continuity Planning (BCP) in 2021
A business continuity plan provides a concrete plan to maintain business cohesion in challenging circumstances. Click here for the key steps that can help you formulate a formidable BCP.
A business continuity plan (BCP) is defined as a protocol of preventing and recovering from potentially large threats to the company’s business continuity. This article explains what a business continuity plan is today, its key benefits, and a step-by-step guide to creating a formidable plan.
Table of Contents
What is a business continuity plan (bcp), key benefits of having a business continuity plan, step-by-step guide to building a formidable business continuity plan (bcp) in 2021.
A business continuity plan (BCP) is a protocol of preventing and recovering from potentially large threats to the company’s business continuity. Such a plan often aims to address the need for updated business norms and operational standards in unpredictable circumstances such as natural disasters, data breach/ exposures, large scale system failures etc. The goal of such a plan is to ensure continuity of business with no or little damage to regular working environments, including job security for its employees.
It covers everything from business processes, human resources details, and more. Essentially a BCP provides a concrete plan to the organization to maintain business continuity even in challenging circumstances.
Below are key reasons why businesses need to have a BCP today:
- BCP’s relevance has gone up considerably after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and was also a major testing time for organizations that did have such a plan in place. The organizations which had a business continuity plan in place were better able to cope during these unprecedented circumstances better than those who did not have any such plans.
- The recorded number of natural disasters has increased from 375 in 2016 to 409 in 2019 Opens a new window . Globally, the loss because of natural disasters was $232 billion in 2019, according to a study by Aon Opens a new window .
- The number of cyberattacks has also increased in all geographies and all business verticals. MonsterCloud reported that cyberattacks have skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. All this means that the organizations have to be better prepared to fight disasters. The importance of BCP can hardly be exaggerated in this context. Preparing a BCP is imperative for any enterprise, big or small, today.
The end goal of a BCP is to ensure that the essential services continue to run in the event of an incident. For instance, if there is an earthquake where your customer service representatives operate from, your BCP will be able to tell you who will handle customer calls until the original office is restored.
Also Read: What Is Disaster Recovery? Definition, Cloud and On-premise, Benefits and Best Practices
Difference between a business continuity plan (BCP) and disaster recovery plan (DCP)
A BCP is often confused with a disaster recovery (DR) plan. While a DR plan is primarily focused on restoring the IT systems and infrastructure, a BCP is much more than that. It covers all areas and departments of the organization, including HR, marketing and sales, support functions.
The underlying thought behind BCP is that IT systems can hardly work in silos. Other departments also need to be restored to cater to the client or for meeting the business demands.
“Many people think a disaster recovery plan (DRP) is the same as a business continuity plan, but a DRP is only a small, yet essential, a portion of a full BCP. A DRP focuses solely on restoring an organization’s IT infrastructure while minimizing data loss. On the other hand, a BCP is a comprehensive guide on how to continue the mission and business-critical operations during a time of an unplanned disruption (natural disasters, pandemics, or malware),” says Caleb Pipkin, a security expert at Logically .
Whether a business is small, big, or medium-sized, it needs a ‘plan B’ to recover quickly in the event of a natural disaster or a crisis and can survive the disruption. BCP helps you dust yourself and get back to business quickly and easily. It means that the enterprise will be better placed to address their customers’ needs even in the wake of a disaster.
On the other hand, the lack of a plan means that your organization will take longer to recover from an event or incident. It could also lead to loss of business or clients. Let’s look at some key benefits of BCP.
1. It is a roadmap to act in a disaster
A well-defined business continuity plan is like a roadmap during a disruption. It allows the firms to react swiftly and effectively and maintain business continuity. In turn, this leads to a faster and complete recovery of the enterprise in the shortest possible timeframe. It brings down the business downtime and outlines the steps to be taken before, during, and after a crisis and thus helps maintain its financial viability.
2. Offers a competitive edge
Fast reaction and business continuity during a disruption allow organizations to gain a competitive edge over its business rivals. It can translate into a significant competitive advantage in the long run. Further, your clients will be more confident in your ability to perform in adverse circumstances allowing you to build a long and sustainable relationship with your business partners.
Developing competence to act and handle any unfavorable event effectively has a positive effect on the company’s reputation and market value. It goes a long way in enhancing customer confidence.
Also Read: Top 8 Disaster Recovery Software Companies in 2021
3. Cuts down losses
Disasters have a considerable impact on all types of business, whether big or small. Business disruption can lead to financial, legal, and reputational losses. Failure to plan could be disastrous for businesses. You may lose your customers while trying to get your business on track. In the worst circumstances, you may not be able to recover at all. A well-defined business continuity strategy minimizes the damage to an organization and allows you to bring down these losses as much as possible.
4. Enables employment continuity and protects livelihoods
One of the most significant consequences of a disaster is the loss of employment. The loss of livelihood can be curtailed to an extent if the business continues to function in the event of a disaster. It leads to greater confidence in the workforce that their jobs might not be at risk, and the management is taking steps to protect their jobs. It helps build confidence in senior management’s ability to respond to the business disruption in a planned manner.
5. Can be life-saving
A regularly tested and updated BCP can potentially help save the lives of the employees and the customers during a disaster. For instance, if the BCP plan for fire is regularly tested, the speed with which the workforce acts can help save lives.
6. Preserves brand value and develops resilience
Possibly the biggest asset of an organization is its brand. Being able to perform in uncertain times helps build goodwill and maintain its brand value and may even help mitigate financial and reputational loss during a disaster.
BCP curtails the damage to the company’s brand and finances because of a disaster event. This helps bring down the cost of any incident and thus help the company be more resilient.
Also Read: 10 Best Practices for Disaster Recovery Planning (DRP)
7. Enables adherence to compliance requirements
Having a BCP allows organizations to have additional benefits of complying with regulatory requirements. It is a legal requirement in several countries.
8. Helps in supply chain security
A precise BCP goes a long way in protecting the supply chain from damage. It ensures continuity in delivering products and services by being able to perform critical activities.
9. Enhances operational efficiency
One of BCP’s lesser-known benefits is that it helps identify areas of operational efficiency in the organization. Developing BCP calls for an in-depth evaluation of the company’s processes. This can potentially reveal the areas of improvement. Essentially, it gathers information that can benefit in enhancing the effectiveness of the processes and operations.
Also Read: 7 Ways to Build an Effective Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plan
The COVID-19 pandemic has put the spotlight on preparing for a disaster like never before. We make the job easier for you by listing out the key steps in building a formidable business continuity plan:
How to Build a Business Continuity Plan
Step 1: Risk assessment
This phase involves asking crucial questions to evaluate the risks faced by the company. What are the likely business threats and disruptions which are most likely to occur? What is the most profitable activity of your organization? It is vital to prioritize key risks and operations, which will help mitigate the damage in the event of a disaster.
Step 2: Business impact analysis
The second step involves a thorough and in-depth assessment of your business processes to determine the vulnerable areas and the potential losses if those processes are disrupted. This is also known as Business Impact Analysis .
Essentially, Business impact analysis (BIA) is a process that helps the organization define the impact if critical business operations are interrupted because of a disaster, accident, or emergency. It helps in identifying the most crucial elements of the business processes. For instance, maintaining a supply chain might be more critical during a crisis than public relations.
While there is no formal standard for a BIA, it typically involves the following steps:
- Collating information: As a first step, a questionnaire is prepared to find out critical business processes and resources that will help in the proper assessment of the impact of a disruptive event. One-on-one sessions with key management members may be conducted further to gain insights into the organization’s processes and workings.
- Analysis: This is followed by analyzing the collected information. A manual or computer-assisted analysis is conducted. The analysis is based on an interruption in which crucial activities or resources are not available. Typically it works on the assumption of the worst-case scenario, even when the chances of a risk likelihood are low. This approach is followed to zero in on the systems that, when disrupted or interrupted, threaten the organization’s very survival. This way, these processes are prioritized in the business continuity plan.
The analysis phase helps identify the minimum staff and resources required for running the organization in the event of a crisis. This also allows the organizations to assess the impact on the revenue if the business is unable to run for a day, a week, or more. There might be contractual penalties, regulatory fines, and workforce-related expenditure which need to be taken into account while finding out the impact on the business. Further, there might be specific vulnerabilities of the firm, and they need to be considered in the BIA.
- Preparing a report: The next step is preparing a BIA report, which is assessed by the senior management. The report is a thorough analysis of the gathered information along with findings. It also gives recommendations on the procedure that should be followed in the event of a business disruption. The BIA report also shares the impact on the revenue, supply chain, and customer delivery to the business in a specific time frame.
The business impact analysis report may also include a checklist of all the resources, such as the names of key personnel, data backup , contact information, emergency responders, and more.
- Presenting the report: Usually, this report goes through several amendments before being cleared by the senior management. The involvement of senior management is crucial to the success of the business continuity plan. It sends out a strong signal in the organization that it is a serious initiative.
Also Read: Will Extreme Weather Events Affect Your Business? Lessons From the Texas Winter Storm
Step 3: BCP Testing
Several testing methods are available to test the effectiveness of the BCP. Here are a few common ones:
- TableTop test: As the name suggests, the identified executives go through the plan in detail to evaluate whether it will work on not. Different disaster types and the response to them are discussed at length. This type of testing is designed to make all the key personnel aware of their role in the event of a disaster. The response procedure is reviewed, and responsibilities are outlined, so everybody knows their roles.
- Walk through: In this type of testing, the team members go through their part in the plan with a specific disaster in mind. Drills or a simulated response and disaster role-playing are part of this. This is a more thorough form of testing and likely to reveal the shortcoming in the plan. Any vulnerabilities discovered should be used to update the BCP accordingly.
- Disaster simulation testing: In this type of testing, an environment that simulates an actual disaster is created. This is the closest to the actual event and gives the best case scenario about the plan’s workability. It will help the team find gaps that might be overlooked in the other types of tests. Document the results of your testing so you can compare the improvement from the previous tests. It will help you in strengthening your business continuity plan.
Frequency of testing – Typically, organizations test BCP at least twice a year. At the same time, it depends on the size of your organization and the business vertical you operate in.
Step 4: Maintenance
A business continuity plan should not be treated as a one-time exercise. It needs to be maintained , so the organization’s structural and people changes are updated regularly. The key personnel might move on from the firm, and this would need to be updated in the Business Impact Analysis and BCP. The process for regular updating of the documentation should be followed to ensure that the organization is not caught on the wrong foot in case of a business disruption.
Also Read: Offsite Data Replication: A Great Way To Meet Recovery Time Objectives
Step 5: Communication
Sometimes executives tend to ignore communication while preparing a BCP. It is a crucial aspect, and your BCP should clearly define who will maintain the communication channels with the employees, regulators, business partners, and partners during the crisis. The contact information of the key people should be readily accessible for the BCP to work without any trouble.
In the end, the organizations should accept that despite preparing a formidable business continuity plan, several factors beyond your control may still affect its success or failure. The key executives might not be available in the event of a crisis; both the primary and the alternate data recovery sites might have been affected by the event; the communications network might be damaged, and so on. Such factors are common during a natural disaster and may lead to the limited success of the business continuity plan.
The success of a business depends on it acting swiftly and efficiently when confronted with an unanticipated crisis. Any failure to do so results in a financial and reputational loss, which takes up a long time to recover. It can be avoided if the organization quickly gathers itself during a disaster. A business continuity plan is then of paramount importance for a business of any size. At the same time, it is crucial to ensure that the BCP is not a one-time exercise. It needs to be continuously evaluated, tested, amended, and maintained so it doesn’t let you down when you need it the most.
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What is a Business Continuity plan and how can it improve business resilience?
In today’s ever-evolving business landscape where there’s zero tolerance for downtime, a simple human error, a cyberattack or natural disaster could bring your business to a standstill. Having a comprehensive business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) response plan is key to business resilience and for the survival of your organization.
What Is BCDR?
Techopedia defines BCDR as a set of processes and techniques used to help an organization recover from a disaster and continue or resume routine business operations. It is a broad term that combines the roles and functions of IT and business in the aftermath of a disaster.
BCDR enables organizations to adapt to and bounce back from disruptions while maintaining continuous business operations.
What Is the Difference Between Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery?
The term “business continuity and disaster recovery” is a fusion of two components — business continuity and disaster recovery. BC and DR plans are designed to bring things back to normal in the event of a disaster or a catastrophe. Although they complement each other, they are not the same and their functions are different. While a business continuity plan is a company-wide strategic planning, disaster recovery is mainly IT-focused.
Business continuity: According to the Disaster Recovery Journal (DRJ) and Business Continuity Institute (BCI) , business continuity is “the strategic and tactical capability of the organization to plan for and respond to incidents and business disruptions in order to continue business operations at an acceptable predefined level.”
A business continuity plan focuses on how an organization maintains critical business operations during and after a disaster. This plan includes every aspect of an organization: its employees, communication channel, office building, IT infrastructure, business partners, etc. It comprises specific actions and pre-determined responsibilities that must be taken when disaster strikes.
Disaster recovery: DR is part of a business continuity plan. The DRJ and BCI define disaster recovery as “the process, policies and procedures related to preparing for recovery or continuation of technology infrastructure, systems and applications, which are vital to an organization after a disaster or outage.”
A disaster recovery plan concerns with restoration of important IT applications and data after a catastrophe. DR focuses on minimizing downtime as well as the impact of a disaster by ensuring vital support systems are up and running as quickly as possible with minimal loss of data.
How Are Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Connected?
Business continuity and disaster recovery are essential aspects of an organization’s overall risk management strategy. Having a business continuity strategy without a disaster recovery plan would be ineffective, and disaster recovery alone does not ensure business continuity. Both BC and DR plans need to work together to mitigate the business impact of a potential disaster.
A good business continuity plan ensures that business-critical functions are unhindered when disaster strikes and requires a disaster recovery plan that ensures all IT systems, software and applications are accessible and recoverable. Both business continuity and disaster recovery are equally important since they provide specific procedures and strategies on how a business will resume after a crisis.
What Is a BCDR Plan?
A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is a document that outlines how an organization will continue to operate during an unplanned event, such as a natural disaster, cyber attack, or other disruptive event. It is a comprehensive plan that outlines the steps that an organization needs to take to ensure that critical business functions continue to operate during and after the event.
A BCP typically includes a detailed analysis of potential threats, risk assessments, and strategies for risk mitigation. It also outlines communication plans, employee safety measures, and the steps that will be taken to restore normal business operations.
The goal of a Business Continuity Plan is to ensure that an organization can continue to operate, even during challenging and unexpected situations, while minimizing disruptions to critical business functions, and protecting the safety and well-being of employees and customers.
Goals of BCDR Planning
The fundamental goal of BCDR planning is not only to provide data recovery but also to minimize the effects of a crisis on business operations and enable an organization to get back to normal quickly in the aftermath of a disaster.
Listed below are five goals that you can use to fortify your BCDR plans.
- Assess the state of business: Assessing the current state of an organization can help identify the threats and set priorities for remediation efforts. The plan should be updated routinely to account for changes to things such as personnel or systems.
- Find weaknesses and provide solutions: The risks should be constantly evaluated to identify any gap that could potentially disrupt business operations and jeopardize BCDR strategies. It is important to acknowledge risks and address gaps uncovered during routine assessment of the BCDR plan.
- Review and test the plan: Review the BCDR plan on at least a yearly basis to ensure it remains up to date and covers all aspects of the business for rapid recovery. There are several ways to test your plan, from tabletop simulations to full cut-over. Depending on your environment and the resources available, you may use one or several testing methods throughout the course of your evaluation.
- Identify location for data storage: Identifying where critical business data and assets are being stored is one of the crucial objectives of BCDR planning. This will help disaster recovery personnel to start the recovery process even if the designated IT professionals are unavailable.
- Know the disaster recovery teams: Knowing recovery personnel, their roles and how they can be reached during an emergency is another important goal of a BCDR plan. Communicate roles and responsibilities to all key stakeholders and keep this documentation accessible to employees and updated regularly.
Why Is It Important for an Organization to Have a BCDR Plan?
A business continuity and disaster recovery plan helps organizations prepare for potentially disruptive events. It enhances an organization’s ability to continue business operations with little or no disruption and minimizes the risk in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.
Organizations without a BCDR plan cannot survive or recover from a major disaster. In fact, the effects of large-scale disasters can shut down operations. More than 90 percent of companies without a DR plan that suffer a major disaster are out of business within 12 months. A BCDR plan is like an insurance policy for an organization. BCDR programs help an organization to reduce overall risk, get back up and running after an outage or disruption, mitigate the risk of data loss and protect against reputational damage.
Improve Your Business Resilience with Unitrends
For companies, being able to effectively tackle any disaster can have a positive impact on customers and partners. However, developing a comprehensive BCDR strategy can be a challenge due to its complex nature or lack of in-house expertise. Unitrends can help your organization achieve resiliency and prepare for unforeseen disruptive events.
Unitrends increases uptime, productivity and confidence, enabling you to do more with less. Our all-in-one backup appliances simplify data protection, application spin-up and SLA policy, and integrate seamlessly with the cloud, thereby delivering long-term retention and fast disaster recovery.
To learn how you can minimize downtime and maximize productivity, register for a demo today.
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Frequently Asked Questions
- Business Continuity Plan FAQs
The Bottom Line
What is a business continuity plan (bcp), and how does it work.
Pete Rathburn is a copy editor and fact-checker with expertise in economics and personal finance and over twenty years of experience in the classroom.
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What Is a Business Continuity Plan (BCP)?
A business continuity plan (BCP) is a system of prevention and recovery from potential threats to a company. The plan ensures that personnel and assets are protected and are able to function quickly in the event of a disaster.
- Business continuity plans (BCPs) are prevention and recovery systems for potential threats, such as natural disasters or cyber-attacks.
- BCP is designed to protect personnel and assets and make sure they can function quickly when disaster strikes.
- BCPs should be tested to ensure there are no weaknesses, which can be identified and corrected.
Understanding Business Continuity Plans (BCPs)
BCP involves defining any and all risks that can affect the company's operations, making it an important part of the organization's risk management strategy. Risks may include natural disasters—fire, flood, or weather-related events—and cyber-attacks . Once the risks are identified, the plan should also include:
- Determining how those risks will affect operations
- Implementing safeguards and procedures to mitigate the risks
- Testing procedures to ensure they work
- Reviewing the process to make sure that it is up to date
BCPs are an important part of any business. Threats and disruptions mean a loss of revenue and higher costs, which leads to a drop in profitability. And businesses can't rely on insurance alone because it doesn't cover all the costs and the customers who move to the competition. It is generally conceived in advance and involves input from key stakeholders and personnel.
Business impact analysis, recovery, organization, and training are all steps corporations need to follow when creating a Business Continuity Plan.
Benefits of a Business Continuity Plan
Businesses are prone to a host of disasters that vary in degree from minor to catastrophic. Business continuity planning is typically meant to help a company continue operating in the event of major disasters such as fires. BCPs are different from a disaster recovery plan, which focuses on the recovery of a company's IT system after a crisis.
Consider a finance company based in a major city. It may put a BCP in place by taking steps including backing up its computer and client files offsite. If something were to happen to the company's corporate office, its satellite offices would still have access to important information.
An important point to note is that BCP may not be as effective if a large portion of the population is affected, as in the case of a disease outbreak. Nonetheless, BCPs can improve risk management—preventing disruptions from spreading. They can also help mitigate downtime of networks or technology, saving the company money.
How to Create a Business Continuity Plan
There are several steps many companies must follow to develop a solid BCP. They include:
- Business Impact Analysis : Here, the business will identify functions and related resources that are time-sensitive. (More on this below.)
- Recovery : In this portion, the business must identify and implement steps to recover critical business functions.
- Organization : A continuity team must be created. This team will devise a plan to manage the disruption.
- Training : The continuity team must be trained and tested. Members of the team should also complete exercises that go over the plan and strategies.
Companies may also find it useful to come up with a checklist that includes key details such as emergency contact information, a list of resources the continuity team may need, where backup data and other required information are housed or stored, and other important personnel.
Along with testing the continuity team, the company should also test the BCP itself. It should be tested several times to ensure it can be applied to many different risk scenarios . This will help identify any weaknesses in the plan which can then be identified and corrected.
In order for a business continuity plan to be successful, all employees—even those who aren't on the continuity team—must be aware of the plan.
Business Continuity Impact Analysis
An important part of developing a BCP is a business continuity impact analysis. It identifies the effects of disruption of business functions and processes. It also uses the information to make decisions about recovery priorities and strategies.
FEMA provides an operational and financial impact worksheet to help run a business continuity analysis. The worksheet should be completed by business function and process managers who are well acquainted with the business. These worksheets will summarize the following:
- The impacts—both financial and operational—that stem from the loss of individual business functions and process
- Identifying when the loss of a function or process would result in the identified business impacts
Completing the analysis can help companies identify and prioritize the processes that have the most impact on the business's financial and operational functions. The point at which they must be recovered is generally known as the “recovery time objective.”
Business Continuity Plan vs. Disaster Recovery Plan
BCPs and disaster recovery plans are similar in nature, the latter focuses on technology and information technology (IT) infrastructure. BCPs are more encompassing—focusing on the entire organization, such as customer service and supply chain.
BCPs focus on reducing overall costs or losses, while disaster recovery plans look only at technology downtimes and related costs. Disaster recovery plans tend to involve only IT personnel—which create and manage the policy. However, BCPs tend to have more personnel trained on the potential processes.
Why Is Business Continuity Plan (BCP) Important?
Businesses are prone to a host of disasters that vary in degree from minor to catastrophic and business continuity plans (BCPs) are an important part of any business. BCP is typically meant to help a company continue operating in the event of threats and disruptions. This could result in a loss of revenue and higher costs, which leads to a drop in profitability. And businesses can't rely on insurance alone because it doesn't cover all the costs and the customers who move to the competition.
What Should a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) Include?
Business continuity plans involve identifying any and all risks that can affect the company's operations. The plan should also determine how those risks will affect operations and implement safeguards and procedures to mitigate the risks. There should also be testing procedures to ensure these safeguards and procedures work. Finally, there should be a review process to make sure that the plan is up to date.
What Is Business Continuity Impact Analysis?
An important part of developing a BCP is a business continuity impact analysis which identifies the effects of disruption of business functions and processes. It also uses the information to make decisions about recovery priorities and strategies.
FEMA provides an operational and financial impact worksheet to help run a business continuity analysis.
These worksheets summarize the impacts—both financial and operational—that stem from the loss of individual business functions and processes. They also identify when the loss of a function or process would result in the identified business impacts.
Business continuity plans (BCPs) are created to help speed up the recovery of an organization filling a threat or disaster. The plan puts in place mechanisms and functions to allow personnel and assets to minimize company downtime. BCPs cover all organizational risks should a disaster happen, such as flood or fire.
Federal Emergency Management Agency. " Business Process Analysis and Business Impact Analysis User Guide ," Pages 15 - 17. Accessed Sept. 5, 2021.
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When disruption is unacceptable, business continuity is critical. Threats such as cyberattacks and natural phenomena can strike without warning, and business continuity is all about maintaining (or quickly resuming) business functions across all business lines – from HR and IT to marketing and sales – when the unexpected comes to pass. A comprehensive business continuity plan should be embedded as part of your organizational strategy; without it, you run a high risk of negatively impacting your productivity, reputation, revenue, and more. However, it is key to recognize that there’s more nuance to business continuity than you might think – read on for a brief overview and a deeper dive into this critical strategy.
Preparing for a crisis
Based on findings from a recent survey, PWC recommends three ways companies can better prepare for a crisis. – Design a strategic crisis response plan to mobilize swiftly, stabilize business operations and respond effectively to the shockwaves of disruption. – Break down silos – creating an integrated program is key to delivering a successful crisis response and to building resilience during everyday practices. – Prioritize and build organizational resilience into the fabric of your organization.
Business continuity is more than just disaster recovery
When people think of business continuity, they typically think of disaster recovery and traditional IT service outages. While IT infrastructure and operations are important components, you also need to ensure that your business continuity plan encompasses your people and practices. Many incidents outside of your technology can create the need for a business continuity plan, including lack of access to physical workspace, reputational crisis, or loss of key company individuals. To be able to appropriately respond to a wide range of issues, organizations should be set up in a way that enables its people to make impactful decisions without being hindered by bureaucracy – not to mention having strong practices in place.
Case in point
We can look to the COVID-19 pandemic as a recent example of the urgent need for a comprehensive business continuity plan. Throughout the pandemic, business continuity planning has been critical – and it had nothing to do with the traditional IT outage. Organizations had to act quickly in order to continue business as usual and deliver the quality service their customers had come to expect. Disruption (in one form or another) was inevitable as teams scrambled to shift their approach to work and maintain the status quo. As teams continue to adapt in these unprecedented times, remote work has risen drastically, requiring businesses to implement new practices, rely more on agile methodologies, and assess their tooling to get work done. Click below to learn IT best practices that Atlassian implemented for a remote workforce
But what about my technology?
Atlassian Cloud Enterprise: What it is & why we made it
While it’s key to recognize and protect your organization from the variety of factors that could lead to disruption and crisis, the topic of technology – outages, downtime, and loss of data – seems to occupy the majority of our mental real estate. Your tools are critical to your success, and failure to access them and the data they store can spell crisis. Choosing software that can safeguard your company is a no-brainer.
Atlassian cloud products remove a large piece of responsibility, and headache, from your business continuity plan. Leveraging Atlassian cloud opens up the time and freedom for your organization to focus on other practices and organizational needs. Atlassian cloud maintains the highest standards of reliability, with a guaranteed 99.95 percent uptime SLA and built-in business continuity and disaster recovery frameworks.
For organizations that need to maintain control via a self-managed environment, Disaster recovery for Data Center products ensures availability in the event that your primary instance becomes unavailable.
Other benefits of Atlassian cloud products and the virtualization of your software help mitigate future possible disruptions. When you don’t have to worry about physical infrastructure, that’s one less treason to panic over the possibility of physical destruction (think fire, flood, or earthquake) or the inability to get to a physical location for service (whether that’s due to damaged infrastructure or a pandemic).
We know that by choosing Atlassian products, you’re counting on us to assist in your business continuity plan holistically. Organizations run mission-critical projects and operations on Atlassian products, and we’re utterly devoted to delivering products, applications, and networks that are stable and secure at scale.
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What is a Disaster Recovery Plan? Importance, Types, Components & Benefits
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Data disasters and business downtime due to cyberthreats, employee mistakes, technical glitches or natural disasters can be catastrophic for your business. Without a disaster recovery plan (DRP), such events can potentially put you out of business for good.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, over 50% of businesses fail to reopen following a disaster . Unfortunately, disasters often strike without warning. That’s why preparation is key to quickly recovering from any event that may result in data loss or interrupt business functions.
In this article, we will delve deeper into the importance of a disaster recovery plan, different types of DRPs and their benefits, and how to reinforce your organization’s disaster recovery plan.
What is a disaster recovery plan?
A disaster recovery plan is a documented strategy including policies, procedures and responsibilities to help organizations recover their IT systems and data in the aftermath of a disaster. It contains detailed guidelines on how an organization should respond to disruptive events, such as cyberattacks, power outages, application failure or human error. A DRP is a critical component of a business continuity plan. It enables organizations to recover from unplanned incidents effectively and resume business operations as quickly as possible.
What is the purpose of a disaster recovery plan?
The main goal of a disaster recovery plan is to minimize business disruption following a disaster, cyber incident or data loss event. Disaster recovery planning is critical to responding to unforeseen catastrophic incidents effectively and mitigating the effects on business. A well-established disaster recovery plan reduces recovery times, minimizes data loss and downtime, and ensures rapid recovery. It allows businesses to resume operations swiftly with minimal or no disruption after an unexpected event.
Why is it important to have a disaster recovery plan?
Whether natural or man-made, disasters can wreak havoc on businesses, resulting in data loss, damaged IT infrastructure and operational standstills. A disaster recovery plan outlines steps to minimize disruptions and expedite recovery after a disaster strikes. A robust DRP ensures business continuity by establishing clear steps to restore critical systems, applications and data. It helps organizations maintain essential functions during and after a crisis.
A well-structured disaster recovery plan also enhances resilience. It allows businesses to adapt to unexpected situations effectively, mitigating the impact and accelerating recovery. Additionally, compliance requirements often mandate the implementation of a disaster recovery plan in many industries. Adhering to these regulations not only avoids penalties but also demonstrates your commitment to operational reliability and customer service.
How does disaster recovery planning differ from business continuity planning?
While closely related, a disaster recovery plan and a business continuity plan (BCP) are two distinct strategies aimed at mitigating risks during unforeseen events and serve different purposes.
A disaster recovery plan focuses on the restoration of IT infrastructure and data following a disruptive incident. It outlines specific steps and procedures to recover critical systems, applications and data to minimize downtime and ensure operational continuity.
On the other hand, a business continuity plan encompasses a broader scope beyond IT. It contains plans for personnel, facilities, communications and business processes to maintain essential operations during and after a disaster. Business continuity planning includes DRP as a subset but also covers other aspects, such as employee safety, crisis communication and resource management.
Incident response plan vs. disaster recovery plan
An incident response plan (IRP) concentrates on immediate actions that must be taken when a security breach, cyberattack or any incident occurs. The main objective of an IRP is to reduce recovery times and costs associated with an IT incident. It outlines protocols for identifying, containing, mitigating and eradicating the incident rapidly. Incident response planning aims to minimize the damage caused by an incident, preserve evidence for analysis and facilitate the organization’s return to normal operations.
A disaster recovery plan primarily focuses on restoring and recovering critical IT systems, applications and data after a catastrophic event. It outlines specific steps to minimize downtime, restore operations and ensure data integrity.
What are some different types of disaster recovery plans?
There are different types of disaster recovery plans to ensure your business can recover effectively in the face of disasters. Each of these plans plays a crucial role in safeguarding different aspects of your organization’s IT infrastructure and caters to specific organizational needs. Selecting a specific plan or combining different plans depends on the nature of your business, the criticality of systems, budget considerations and regulatory requirements.
Network disaster recovery plan
A network disaster recovery plan (NDRP) focuses on restoring network infrastructure and connectivity after a disruptive event, such as a natural disaster, cyberattack or technical failure. It includes strategies and procedures for identifying vulnerabilities, backing up configurations, reconfiguring network infrastructure and establishing alternative communication channels to maintain connectivity.
Data center disaster recovery plan
A data center disaster recovery plan (DCDRP) is a crucial strategy that outlines procedures for recovering servers, storage systems and infrastructure components housed within a data center facility. It involves assessing vulnerabilities, defining recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) , establishing failover mechanisms and maintaining off-site backups for data redundancy. Data centers play a vital role in storing, processing and managing your organization’s critical information; therefore, a comprehensive data center disaster recovery plan is paramount.
Cloud disaster recovery plan
Cloud disaster recovery plans leverage cloud services for data storage, backup and recovery. Organizations store critical data and replicate systems in the cloud to ensure redundancy and availability. The flexibility and scalability of cloud solutions enable rapid recovery and accessibility from anywhere with an internet connection. Additionally, cloud disaster recovery plans often include automated backup processes, reducing the need for manual intervention.
Virtualized disaster recovery plan
A virtual disaster recovery plan involves replicating workloads to a virtual environment for quick recovery and seamless business continuity in the face of an IT disaster. Disaster recovery with virtualized workloads is easier, quicker and more cost-effective than with a physical setup.
Disaster Recovery-as a Service (DRaaS)
DRaaS is a subscription-based model offering disaster recovery capabilities hosted and managed by a third-party provider. It provides a comprehensive solution, including hardware, software and expertise, to facilitate rapid recovery in case of a disaster. DRaaS often integrates with cloud services, providing flexible and cost-effective recovery options. It allows organizations to outsource the complexity of disaster recovery planning and implementation, ensuring expert management of critical systems and data.
What should be included in a disaster recovery plan?
A comprehensive disaster recovery plan serves as a critical roadmap for organizations to navigate through crises and minimize disruptions. An effective DRP should include several key components to respond to various disaster scenarios swiftly and efficiently:
- IT inventory: Creating an inventory of IT assets will provide a clear understanding of critical systems, applications, hardware and data that are essential for business operations.
- Roles and responsibilities: Define roles and responsibilities for each team member involved in the recovery process. Establishing a clear chain of command and outlining specific duties during a crisis helps streamline actions and decision-making.
- Goals and objectives: Establishing clear goals and objectives aligns the recovery process with the broader business strategy and ensures a focused approach. Define what your RTO/RPO goals are and set benchmarks for recovery performance, outlining acceptable downtime and service restoration expectations.
- Backup procedures: Regular backups are fundamental to data protection and serve as a foundational element of disaster recovery. Define the frequency and methodology for data backups (incremental, differential or full) based on criticality. Specify where backups are stored, ensuring redundancy and accessibility during recovery. Implement regular checks to verify the integrity and restorability of your backups.
- Disaster recovery procedures: Outline detailed procedures for recovering critical systems and operations, including incident response protocols and recovery workflow. Create step-by-step processes to restore systems, applications and data, considering various disaster scenarios. Establish communication channels and protocols to keep stakeholders informed during the recovery process.
- Testing strategy: Regular testing ensures the readiness and effectiveness of your disaster recovery plan. Define how often the plan will be tested (quarterly, semi-annually or annually). Create scenarios simulating different disaster scenarios to assess the plan’s effectiveness. Document results, identify weaknesses and update the plan based on test outcomes.
- Plan documentation: Thorough documentation ensures accessibility and clarity when executing your DR plan during stressful situations. Maintain updated versions of your disaster recovery plan, clearly labeling revisions and changes. Ensure easy access to the plan for relevant stakeholders, both in digital and hardcopy formats.
What are the benefits of a disaster recovery plan?
A disaster recovery plan is a proactive strategy that offers numerous benefits to organizations of all sizes:
- Minimized downtime: Disaster recovery planning helps minimize downtime by enabling swift recovery and reducing operational disruptions.
- Data protection: Backups are an important element of a disaster recovery plan. Creating a copy(ies) of your data and storing it in a secure location helps safeguard critical information against loss or corruption.
- Enhanced resilience: A DRP enhances resilience by enabling you to adapt swiftly to unexpected situations. Regularly testing and updating your DRP will help identify weaknesses and strengthen the plan, thereby improving overall resilience against potential threats.
- Business continuity: A comprehensive DRP ensures business continuity by outlining steps and best practices to maintain essential functions during and after a disaster. It also helps minimize the impact of disasters on business operations.
- Regulatory compliance: A robust disaster recovery plan ensures your organization’s operations and processes align with industry standards and legal requirements, assisting in regulatory compliance.
- Reduced financial loss: Disaster recovery planning helps mitigate revenue loss and potential legal liabilities. According to IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2023 , organizations with high levels of incident response planning and testing saved $1.49 million compared to those with low levels.
- Enhanced stakeholder confidence: Having a well-structured disaster recovery plan demonstrates your organization’s preparedness and commitment to operational reliability. This helps maintain confidence among stakeholders, including customers, investors and employees, reassuring them that your organization is prepared to navigate through crises effectively.
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What Is A Business Continuity Plan? [+ Template & Examples]
Published: December 30, 2022
When a business crisis occurs, the last thing you want to do is panic.
The second-to-last thing you want to do is be unprepared. Crises typically arise without warning. While you shouldn't start every day expecting the worst, you should be relatively prepared for anything to happen.
A business crisis can cost your company a lot of money and ruin your reputation if you don't have a business continuity plan in place. Customers aren't very forgiving, especially when a crisis is influenced by accidents within the company or other preventable mistakes. If you want your company to be able to maintain its business continuity in the face of a crisis, then you'll need to come up with this type of plan to uphold its essential functions.
In this post, we'll explain what a business continuity plan is, give examples of scenarios that would require a business continuity plan, and provide a template that you can use to create a well-rounded program for your business.
Table of Contents:
What is a business continuity plan?
- Business Continuity Types
- Business Continuity vs Disaster Recovery
Business Continuity Plan Template
How to write a business continuity plan.
- Business Continuity Examples
A business continuity plan outlines directions and procedures that your company will follow when faced with a crisis. These plans include business procedures, names of assets and partners, human resource functions, and other helpful information that can help maintain your brand's relationships with relevant stakeholders. The goal of a business continuity plan is to handle anything from minor disruptions to full-blown threats.
For example, one crisis that your business may have to respond to is a severe snowstorm. Your team may be wondering, "If a snowstorm disrupted our supply chain, how would we resume business?" Planning contingencies ahead of time for situations like these can help your business stay afloat when you're faced with an unavoidable crisis.
When you think about business continuity in terms of the essential functions your business requires to operate, you can begin to mitigate and plan for specific risks within those functions.
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Business Continuity Planning
Business continuity planning is the process of creating a plan to address a crisis. When writing out a business continuity plan, it's important to consider the variety of crises that could potentially affect the company and prepare a resolution for each.
9. Revise based on your findings.
After testing is complete, correct any flaws you've uncovered throughout the process.
Continue testing and implementing changes until you're satisfied with the outcomes. However, it is important to be aware that business changes will likely require updating the plans you have. Given this, it's important to keep testing your plan to ensure it's up to date with your business needs, and you're properly prepared for any type of crisis.
Now that you've learned everything there is to know about business continuity plans, use the following template to start creating one for your organization.
How often should a business continuity plan be tested?
Your business continuity plan should be reviewed at least twice per year. You should review the plan and test it to make sure it's up-to-date with your current business processes. The larger your organization is, the more complex your systems are going to be, meaning you'll want to review your business continuity plan more frequently to ensure there aren't any gaps.
As you add new systems, departments, leaders, and technology to your business, make it a part of your standard operating procedure to update the business continuity plan as well so that all the bases are covered.
The following schedule is recommended to maximize the reliability and validity of your plan, while also minimizing the amount of time you're putting into plan review.
1. Review your checklist twice a year.
Your teams should review the elements of your business continuity plan bi-annually to make sure all the responses still apply to your current status. In addition, you'll use this opportunity to ensure that each response aligns with your desired business goals.
2. Conduct emergency drills once a year.
Just like schools have fire drills, your organization should have emergency drills to prepare your staff for the steps that are laid out in your business continuity plan. This will also help when a real crisis occurs because they will have practiced the steps before.
3. Hold tabletop reviews every other year.
All stakeholders that are involved in your business continuity plan should meet every other year to discuss it. The review doesn't need to take too much time and doesn't require physically running through the steps, but it can help you uncover red flags that may otherwise go unnoticed without testing.
4. Conduct a comprehensive review every other year.
Unlike the tabletop review, the comprehensive review takes a deep dive into the plan. It should look closely at cost-benefit analyses as well as recovery procedures to ensure everything is up-to-date with current business operations.
5. Mock recovery test, every two to three years.
This is an in-depth test in which your continuity plan is put into motion to test for any weaknesses or mishaps. Since this test is time-consuming, it shouldn't occur frequently, but it will ensure all internal stakeholders are confident in the plan.
No matter what type of business you are operating, you need to be constantly considering the possible threat of a crisis. If you want to be able to effectively manage them, then it's essential that you have a business continuity plan in place to tackle difficult or unexpected situations.
Let's go over some examples of scenarios that would require a business continuity plan that will help you understand why your business needs one.
Business Continuity Plan Examples
1. business continuity plan example for external product outage.
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What Is a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) Plan and Why Is It Important?
The worst thing any organization could face is an unexpected and forced suspension of all its activities. Threats differ in nature and magnitude, but the one thing they have in common is that they are a menace to your organization’s operations and critical data.
There is absolutely no way to guarantee that your organization will never face a disaster. However, there are measures you can take to mitigate the damage and quickly restart operations. A business continuity plan (BCP) is the perfect starting point. This blog post helps you understand what a BCP is and how you can create a personalized plan for your organization.
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What Is Business Continuity?
Business continuity is the list of procedures that allows a company to resume its mission-critical operations as quickly as possible following a disruptive event. It is a comprehensive strategy that combines all available resources while specifying individual and organizational responsibilities. A business continuity plan details the essential services, such as IT infrastructure and communication channels, that should be maintained during disruption and the steps to achieve that.
A simple human error, a hardware failure, a fire, a ransomware attack, or a full-scale natural disaster can impact day-to-day operations or, even worse, cause an organization to shut down entirely. In fact, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) states that about 25% of businesses do not reopen after a disaster, with many more failing in the months or years following a disaster.
What Is Disaster Recovery?
Disaster recovery (DR) is a sequence of procedures designed to restore essential business activities as soon as possible, followed by restoring less critical workloads during a disruptive incident. This is known as disaster recovery (DR). In other words, the primary goal of DR is to minimize downtime and restart all systems and applications while reducing data loss.
Time is of the essence here since your losses increase by the minute. Everyone involved should rely on a well-defined plan and conduct each step correctly. Organizations usually resort to data protection techniques like backup or replication to almost instantly recover their data and, subsequently, operations.
Business Continuity vs. Disaster Recovery: Key Differences
Instead of thinking of business continuity and disaster recovery as two different strategies, it is better to view them as complementary. Disaster recovery is an integral part of any business continuity plan (BCP).
To further understand these concepts, think of your business as a ship struck by disaster and is now sinking. In this case, BCP is the emergency training you have conducted before setting sail, explaining what to do and where to go to those on board. DR will come into play when the catastrophe actually happens and everyone is rushing to complete their part so they can collectively mitigate the damage as fast as they can.
Think of DR as the practical implementation of BCP and, by combining them, your company can have an effective BCDR plan.
How to Build an Effective BCDR Plan
Organizations have varying structures, goals, and even weaknesses, which is why a BCDR plan should be personalized based on your requirements and strategies. It is also essential to consider that disasters differ in nature, and you should prepare yourself for all possible scenarios.
First things first, think about what you want to achieve with this plan. Obviously, minimizing the risk and impact of a disruption is your topmost priority. With that in mind, below are the steps you need to take to take your BCDR plan:
1. Evaluate your organization and identify the weaknesses
Start by thoroughly assessing each department within your company and list the security gaps that can lead to unwanted downtime and address each one. If the discovered vulnerabilities require additional tools or updates, make sure to implement them.
Most organizations report the following security gaps:
- Outdated hardware such as servers and computers
- Older versions of operating systems and software
- Unsafe network connections
- Absence of modern data protection solutions
Employee behavior can also be a security vulnerability due to social engineering and ransomware attacks. Employee security training sessions can help raise awareness about online behavior.
2. Choose the response team
No plan is complete without a team. Ensure that all members are fully aware of their roles and responsibilities. To do so, establish clear communication channels between those involved and keep everyone informed on the latest developments and updates.
Vital team members usually included in a BCDR plan are senior management executives, IT professionals, information security officers, heads of departments, and business partners.
3. Identify critical data and workloads
The third step is to classify your data based on importance. In other words, you should determine which workloads are crucial for staying operational and generating revenue. For example, prioritize data subject to regulations, machines containing financial logs and billing systems, among others to avoid lengthy downtime, irreparable damage and compliance issues. Conduct frequent backups and safely store this data so you can quickly recover it in case of a disaster.
4. Define RTOs and RPOs
Once you know which data and machines are critical for your organization’s continuity, you can then decide on recovery targets for each type of machine and data. One of the main steps is determining recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs). These two core parameters represent how much downtime and loss of data you can reasonably tolerate before services are restored.
5. Test and review your plan regularly
The worst time to find out that you have an outdated and ineffective BCDR plan is after a disaster takes place. Conduct frequent and full-scale testing at regular intervals. Today’s data protection solutions allow you to verify if backups and replicas are usable. You can also run site recovery jobs, test failover to replica and failback to verify that systems can be restored and all the changes are preserved.
It is advisable to perform emergency drills to ensure that all participants are prepared and can complete their responsibilities as quickly as possible. Based on the results of your tests, you should be able to assess the plan and update to better meet your recovery objectives and adapt to new threats.
Business Continuity Plan Checklist
A business continuity checklist can come in handy when designing a BCDR plan:
- Identify the disaster response team and key members.
- Determine the departments and business services that could be affected by a disaster.
- Conduct risk assessment and impact analysis.
- Create a recovery and/or contingency plan for different services.
- Specify recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs).
- Ensure that your sensitive data is protected.
- Choose a disaster recovery (DR) site for network and data failover.
- Test your business continuity plan and eliminate vulnerabilities.
How to Achieve Disaster Recovery Preparedness with NAKIVO
You can implement NAKIVO Backup & Replication as part of your BCDR plan for swift recovery during and after incidents. The solution can help you meet your organization’s RTOs and RPOs, apply the 3-2-1 backup strategy , and restore critical data and workloads.
Try NAKIVO Backup & Replication
Get a free trial to explore all the solution’s data protection capabilities. 15 days for free. Zero feature or capacity limitations. No credit card required.
NAKIVO delivers all the functionalities needed to prepare for unplanned disruptions and recover swiftly:
- Incremental and app-aware backups : Perform efficient backups while maintaining data consistency.
- Immutable backups : Protect your backups and backup copies from ransomware encryption, deletion or modification by applying immutability in the cloud or Linux-based repositories.
- Replication onsite and offsite : Create copies of your VMs and store them onsite or at a secondary location to ensure business continuity.
- Advanced storage tiering : Eliminate a single point of failure by creating multiple backups and copies, storing them on different storage media and keeping at least one copy offsite.
- Backup and replica verification : Test and verify the recoverability of your backups and replicas without disrupting the production environment.
- Instant recovery : Quickly recover full VMs or individual files/app objects to minimize downtime.
- Built-in DR orchestration : Automate workload failover or failback to VM replicas to continue operation in case of a disaster with Site Recovery .
Now more than ever, it is essential for organizations to prepare for any disaster that can impact their data and damage business operations. Having a well-developed BCDR plan can help you mitigate the risks, minimize downtime and ensure that your sensitive data is quickly recovered after a disruptive incident.
NAKIVO Backup & Replication provides numerous tools to ensure optimal data protection. With features like incremental and app-aware backups, instant recovery and ransomware protection, the NAKIVO solution allows you to safeguard your data and guarantee business continuity.
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What is Disaster Recovery?
Disaster recovery is the process by which an organization anticipates and addresses technology-related disasters. The process of preparing for and recovering from any event that prevents a workload or system from fulfilling its business objectives in its primary deployed location, such as power outages, natural events, or security issues. Disaster recovery targets are measured with Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) and Recovery Time Objectives (RTO). The failures handled by disaster recovery tend to be rarer than those covered by high availability and are larger scale disaster events. Disaster recovery includes an organization's procedures and policies to recover quickly from such events.
Why is disaster recovery important?
A disaster is an unexpected problem resulting in a slowdown, interruption, or network outage in an IT system. Outages come in many forms, including the following examples:
- An earthquake or fire
- Technology failures
- System incompatibilities
- Simple human error
- Intentional unauthorized access by third parties
These disasters disrupt business operations, cause customer service problems, and result in revenue loss. A disaster recovery plan helps organizations respond promptly to disruptive events and provides key benefits.
Ensures business continuity
When a disaster strikes, it can be detrimental to all aspects of the business and is often costly. It also interrupts normal business operations, as the team’s productivity is reduced due to limited access to tools they require to work. A disaster recovery plan prompts the quick restart of backup systems and data so that operations can continue as scheduled.
Enhances system security
Integrating data protection, backup, and restoring processes into a disaster recovery plan limits the impact of ransomware, malware, or other security risks for business. For example, data backups to the cloud have numerous built-in security features to limit suspicious activity before it impacts the business.
Improves customer retention
If a disaster occurs, customers question the reliability of an organization’s security practices and services. The longer a disaster impacts a business, the greater the customer frustration. A good disaster recovery plan mitigates this risk by training employees to handle customer inquiries. Customers gain confidence when they observe that the business is well-prepared to handle any disaster.
Reduces recovery costs
Depending on its severity, a disaster causes both loss of income and productivity. A robust disaster recovery plan avoids unnecessary losses as systems return to normal soon after the incident. For example, cloud storage solutions are a cost-effective data backup method. You can manage, monitor, and maintain data while the business operates as usual.
How does disaster recovery work?
Disaster recovery focuses on getting applications up and running within minutes of an outage. Organizations address the following three components.
To reduce the likelihood of a technology-related disaster, businesses need a plan to ensure that all key systems are as reliable and secure as possible. Because humans cannot control a natural disaster, prevention only applies to network problems, security risks, and human errors. You must set up the right tools and techniques to prevent disaster. For example, system-testing software that auto-checks all new configuration files before applying them can prevent configuration mistakes and failures.
Anticipation includes predicting possible future disasters, knowing the consequences, and planning appropriate disaster recovery procedures. It is challenging to predict what can happen, but you can come up with a disaster recovery solution with knowledge from previous situations and analysis. For example, backing up all critical business data to the cloud in anticipation of future hardware failure of on-premises devices is a pragmatic approach to data management.
Mitigation is how a business responds after a disaster scenario. A mitigation strategy aims to reduce the negative impact on normal business procedures. All key stakeholders know what to do in the event of a disaster, including the following steps.
- Updating documentation
- Conducting regular disaster recovery testing
- Identifying manual operating procedures in the event of an outage
- Coordinating a disaster recovery strategy with corresponding personnel
What are the key elements of a disaster recovery plan?
An effective disaster recovery plan includes the following key elements.
Internal and external communication
The team responsible for creating, implementing, and managing the disaster recovery plan must communicate with each other about their roles and responsibilities. If a disaster happens, the team should know who is responsible for what and how to communicate with employees, customers, and each other.
The disaster recovery team must decide on goals and time frames for when systems should be back to normal operations after a disaster. Some industries’ timelines may be longer than others, while others need to be back to normal in a matter of minutes.
The timeline should address the following two objectives.
Recovery time objective
The recovery time objective (RTO) is a metric that determines the maximum amount of time that passes before you complete disaster recovery. Your RTOs may vary depending on impacted IT infrastructure and systems.
Recovery point objective
A recovery point objective (RPO) is the maximum amount of time acceptable for data loss after a disaster. For example, if your RPO is minutes or hours, you will have to back up your data constantly to mirror sites instead of just once at the end of the day.
The disaster recovery plan determines how you back up your data. Options include cloud storage, vendor-supported backups, and internal offsite data backups. To account for natural disaster events, backups should not be onsite. The team should determine who will back up the data, what information will be backed up, and how to implement the system.
Testing and optimization
You must test your disaster recovery plan at least once or twice per year. You can document and fix any gaps that you identify in these tests. Similarly, you should update all security and data protection strategies frequently to prevent inadvertent unauthorized access.
How can you create a disaster recovery team?
A disaster recovery team includes a collaborative team of experts, such as IT specialists and individuals in leadership roles, who will be crucial to the team. You should have somebody on the team who takes care of the following key areas.
The individual in charge of crisis management implements the disaster recovery plan right away. They communicate with other team members and customers, and they coordinate the disaster recovery process.
The business continuity manager ensures that the disaster recovery plan aligns with results from business impact analysis. They include business continuity planning in the disaster recovery strategy.
Impact recovery and assessment
Impact assessment managers are experts in IT infrastructure and business applications. They assess and fix network infrastructure, servers, and databases. They also manage other disaster recovery tasks, such as the following examples.
- Application integrations
- Data consistency maintenance
- Application settings and configuration
What are the best disaster recovery methods?
When disaster recovery planning, businesses implement one or several of the following methods.
Backing up data is one of the easiest methods of disaster recovery that all businesses implement. Backing up important data entails storing data offsite, in the cloud, or on a removable drive. You should back up data frequently to keep it up to date. For example, by backing up to AWS , businesses get a flexible and scalable infrastructure that protects all data types.
Data center disaster recovery
In the event of certain types of natural disasters, appropriate equipment can protect your data center and contribute to rapid disaster recovery. For example, fire suppression tools help equipment and data survive through a blaze, and backup power sources support businesses’ continuity in case of power failure. Similarly, AWS data centers have innovative systems that protect them from human-made and natural risks.
Businesses back up their data and operations using offsite virtual machines (VMs) not affected by physical disasters. With virtualization as part of the disaster recovery plan, businesses automate some processes, recovering faster from a natural disaster. The continuous transfer of data and workloads to VMs like Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is essential for effective virtualization.
Disaster recovery as a service
Disaster recovery services like AWS Elastic Disaster Recovery can move a company’s computer processing and critical business operations to its own cloud services in the event of a disaster. Therefore, normal operations can continue from the provider’s location, even if on-premises servers are down. Elastic Disaster Recovery also protects from Regions in the cloud going down.
In the event of a natural disaster, a company moves its operations to another rarely used physical location, called a cold site. This way, employees have a place to work, and business functions can continue as normal. This type of disaster recovery does not protect or recover important data, so another disaster recovery method must be used alongside this one.
How can AWS help with disaster recovery?
Elastic Disaster Recovery is a disaster recovery service that reduces downtime and data loss with the fast, reliable recovery of on-premises and cloud-based applications. It can decrease your RPO to seconds and RTO to just a few minutes. You can quickly recover operations after unexpected events, such as software issues or data center hardware failures. It is also a flexible solution, so you can add or remove replicating servers and test various applications without specialized skill sets.
Elastic Disaster Recovery includes the following benefits.
- Reduces costs by removing idle recovery site resources, so you pay for the full disaster recovery site only when needed
- Converts cloud-based applications to run natively on AWS
- Restores applications within minutes, at their most up-to-date state, or from a previous point in time in case of security incidents
Get started with disaster recovery on AWS by creating an AWS account today.
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Importance of a Business Continuity Plan and Disaster Recovery
Jan 5, 2022 | Business Continuity , Disaster Recovery
With the ongoing pandemic that everyone is trying to work through, there are a couple of things that businesses have had to adapt to very quickly in order to survive. Businesses that have adhered to the rapid changes in their operations have managed to thrive, while others have struggled. Disaster recovery and business continuity plans today are more important than ever due to the shift towards remote work models.
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning
In the early days of IT emergence, disaster planning did not exist, despite the occurrence and prevalence of disasters. There was no business continuity plans in place from an IT perspective either. Business Continuity has to do with business management procedures that help bring things back to normal after a disaster has occurred.
Both business continuity plans and disaster plans are designed to bring things back to normal in the event of a catastrophe. There are many things inside of these plans to name. Nonetheless, as far as contingency planning goes, you have to first determine what is meant by a disaster when planning for a contingency.
An ultimate plan determines all plans of actions that you will follow in the occurrence of a disaster. This standard plan of actions will be for business continuity, operation continuity, and protection of infrastructure, recovery of valuable data, occupant emergency, and response to cyber attack.
Overall, contingency planning and resilience is a big piece of the equation when planning. For the better part of the last decade, organizations have spent numerous amounts of resources to make certain that there critical infrastructure is protected. Their components, hardware, devices, equipments and have to all have protection in place.
If a business has a solid disaster recovery plan in place, then they will be able to continue operations in the event of a disaster. You want to make sure that you remain resilient in the event of a disaster, and especially after the incident.
With the help of a continuity plan, businesses are able to get from a disaster to continuity of operations quickly depending on what you are dealing with. It rids businesses from encountering damaging downtime costs. This is the money that businesses have to pay in order to make up for the business lost while operations were dysfunctional due to a disaster.
A disaster can take shape in many forms, from a malicious cyber attack, employee sabotage, human error, to even natural hazards such as on-premise fires and floods. Business continuity plan leads to the disaster recovery plan, and both work in tandem to ensure intricate protection for all the IT systems that you have in place. Business continuity plan makes it certain that you are able to respond to disaster and bring things back to normal.
Three Categories When Establishing a Continuity Plan
It is importance to note three categories when you are establishing a business continuity plan. The first is capital and cash, second is credit, and the third is insurance. Business owners that have a strong grasp on operational efficiencies are well-versed in making tough decisions during uncertain times.
If a business is well-aware of your cash and capital needs, they can get rid of stress that spirals in other areas of business. Having a plan is also essential for avoiding rash decisions in the state of panic. Instead, a plan will help you focus on how much runway you have left in cash, along with the amount of capital you have on hand.
Keeping track of your cash and capital position when formulating a continuity plan gives you a peace of mind when you have to make critical decisions. These decisions can vary from the range of making decisions on growth or cutback decisions for inventory.
Business Continuity in Hindsight
Often times, business continuity plan refers to reversing back to core business services and letting less important activities astray until you can fully recover from the damages. The plan for recovering from a major incident and returning to normal operations requires you to follow certain steps.
The first step pertains to impact analysis which identifies the critical business operations and resources that are important. It also requires businesses to classify and recognize different types of threats and attacks that they are most vulnerable to.
Services that help business formulate a business continuity plan recreate a number of different archetypal scenarios that assist you with testing the business continuity plan. You also have to make sure that you are taking actionable steps to mitigate risks such as creating a readiness plan.
A readiness plan allows your business to initiate the continuity plan in an instance without having to worry about the risks involved. Not to mention, businesses can also benefit from forming a team of leaders within their organization responsible for maintaining and updating the business continuity plan and recovery strategy.
Importance of Training
To safely and efficiently execute the business continuity planning, it is very important to equip the staff with the right training and exercises to carry about the continuity plan. Hiring a professional service that provides continuity services is the best way to incorporate disaster preparedness within the operational framework of the business.
It is not good to have a plan that only exists inside a written document inside your premise. Instead, it needs to reflect in every operation of the business. This level of integration is only possible through advanced IT Third-party Management, and high end Cyber security services.
Get Advanced and Managed Continuity Services
Prescient Solutions have been at the forefront of managed IT service industry for 25 years. With the help of their cloud-based model, they are able to leverage from smart IT solutions and though-out business continuity planning.
Attaining their services for business continuity means that your business will be able to craft a plan that specifically corresponds to the emergent threats that your business is most vulnerable towards. For queries and more information, you can fill their online form , or even call them at (847) 240-3900.
Business Continuity vs. Disaster Recovery: 5 Key Differences
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Many professionals operate under the assumption that their workplace will remain largely unchanged from one day to the next, finding comfort in rhythms and routines. Sometimes, however, events disrupt business as usual. A critical aspect of leadership is preparing for those interruptions, creating strategies and plans that can keep core business functions intact even under duress.
Two specific fields address potential business interruptions: business continuity and disaster recovery. These disciplines minimize the impact that a catastrophic event might have on a business’s ability to reliably deliver its products and services.
While both fields are important, and even similar in some aspects, they are not synonymous. There are important differences in business continuity vs. disaster recovery, and those in leadership or emergency preparedness roles can benefit from understanding the core distinctions.
One way to develop a clear understanding of business continuity vs. disaster recovery is through studying emergency management. An online program in this field can offer professionals the skills needed to successfully lead companies through different kinds of crises.
Why Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Matter
Business continuity outlines exactly how a business will proceed during and following a disaster. It may provide contingency plans, outlining how the business will continue to operate even if it has to move to an alternate location. Business continuity planning may also take into account smaller interruptions or minor disasters, such as extended power outages.
Disaster recovery refers to the plans a business puts into place for responding to a catastrophic event, such as a natural disaster, fire, act of terror, active shooter or cybercrime. Disaster recovery involves the measures a business takes to respond to an event and return to safe, normal operation as quickly as possible.
The Importance of Advanced Planning
When businesses face disasters and don’t have the proper plans in place, the effects can be catastrophic. The most obvious effect is financial loss; the longer a business goes without delivering its products and services, the greater its financial losses. Eventually, these losses may force a business to make tough decisions, such as cutting employees. But there can also be technological consequences, including the loss of important or sensitive data.
Having business continuity and disaster recovery plans in place can help companies minimize the consequences of a catastrophic event. They can also provide peace of mind; employees and business owners alike may feel more comfortable in a work setting where there are clear policies for how to respond to disasters.
In many companies, crisis management professionals are responsible for developing and implementing these plans, evaluating and revising them as needed, and training employees to ensure they know how to follow the specified strategies.
Similarities Between Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
Business continuity planning and disaster recovery planning often seem interdependent. While the two concepts are not the same, they overlap in some areas and work best when developed in tandem.
- Both are proactive strategies that help a business prepare for sudden, cataclysmic events. Instead of reacting to a disaster, both disciplines take a preemptive approach, seeking to minimize the effects of a catastrophe before it occurs.
- Businesses can use both to prepare for a range of ecological and human-made disasters. Business continuity and disaster recovery are instrumental to preparing for pandemics, natural disasters, wildfires and even cyberattacks.
- Both require regular review, and they may sometimes require revision to ensure they match the company’s evolving goals. An emergency management leader will continually test and modify these plans as needed.
Differences Between Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
A closer look at business continuity vs. disaster recovery reveals some key distinctions. Ultimately, these differences highlight the fact that businesses need to have plans of both kinds in place to be sufficiently prepared for disaster.
- Business continuity focuses on keeping business operational during a disaster, while disaster recovery focuses on restoring data access and IT infrastructure after a disaster. In other words, the former is concerned with keeping the shop open even in unusual or unfavorable circumstances, while the latter focuses on returning it to normal as expediently as possible.
- Unlike business continuity plans, disaster recovery strategies may involve creating additional employee safety measures, such as conducting fire drills or purchasing emergency supplies. Combining the two allows a business to place equal focus on maintaining operations and ensuring that employees are safe.
- Business continuity and disaster recovery have different goals. Effective business continuity plans limit operational downtime, whereas effective disaster recovery plans limit abnormal or inefficient system function. Only by combining the two plans can businesses comprehensively prepare for disastrous events.
- A business continuity strategy can ensure communication methods such as phones and network servers continue operating in the midst of a crisis. Meanwhile, a disaster recovery strategy helps to ensure an organization’s ability to return to full functionality after a disaster occurs. To put it differently, business continuity focuses on keeping the lights on and the business open in some capacity, while disaster recovery focuses on getting operations back to normal.
- Some businesses may incorporate disaster recovery strategies as part of their overall business continuity plans. Disaster recovery is one step in the broader process of safeguarding a company against all contingencies.
Leadership in Times of Crisis
Crisis management is an important skill for all business leaders. In fact, crisis management draws upon many of the other skills necessary for business success. Analytical and problem-solving skills as well as flexibility in decision making are essential for assessing potential threats and determining how to proactively address them. Communication skills, both verbal and written, are necessary for articulating a plan and training employees on how they should act in response to a crisis.
“Leadership in managing crises can minimize the damage imposed by an incident while lack of effective leadership worsens the impact,” says Naim Kapucu, Pegasus Professor and director of the School of Public Administration at the University of Central Florida (UCF) . “Organizations should have leaders with crisis management competencies to effectively manage disasters and crises based on the contingencies and environmental and organizational factors.”
Crisis management skills matter because any company can experience a catastrophe that limits its ability to function as normal, and often it will have little time to pivot and adapt. “Crises are not a good time to reorganize adequately operating organizational systems, much less try to implement wholesale organizational changes or reforms,” says Kapucu. Having a plan in place, ready to be executed, can make all the difference. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into stark relief the uncertainty that businesses face and the extreme disruptions that can take place.
Programs such as the University of Central Florida’s online Master of Emergency and Crisis Management can help leaders fortify the knowledge, competencies, and skills they need to help their enterprises weather these times of crisis.
Crisis Management Careers
Crisis management is a key part of several careers. Each of the following positions offers a different level of leadership through tumultuous times.
Emergency Management Director
Emergency management directors develop and execute the plans that businesses follow to respond to natural disasters and other emergencies. Strong analytical, problem-solving, delegation and communication skills are essential. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual median salary for emergency management directors in 2019 was $74,590.
Disaster Program Manager
Disaster program managers may coordinate shelters, manage triage centers or organize other services in the wake of a disaster. These professionals must be skilled in remaining calm under extreme pressure; empathy and understanding are also important. The annual median salary for this role was around $48,000, according to May 2020 PayScale data.
Geographic Systems Information Coordinator
Geographic systems information coordinators use a wide range of data sources, such as land surveys, to help anticipate and prepare for different disasters. Technical skills and data analysis competencies are vital for success in this role. PayScale reports that the annual median salary for these coordinators was around $58,000 as of May 2020.
Emergency Preparedness Manager
Emergency preparedness managers are typically responsible for making sure employees and customers are safe. They may report directly to the emergency preparedness director, whose role is more comprehensive. The annual median salary of emergency preparedness managers was around $69,000 as of May 2020, according to PayScale.
Developing a Career in Emergency Management
Business continuity and disaster recovery plans help businesses prepare for worst-case scenarios; they provide peace of mind, a sense of stability and key safeguards against major loss and disruption. The University of Central Florida’s online Master of Emergency and Crisis Management (MECM) degree program helps professionals prepare for this important work.
The MECM curriculum exposes students to key emergency management skills, including developing, testing and communicating plans. It emphasizes the financial, ethical, political and practical dimensions of disaster response. Find out more about the MECM degree program today and embark on a new career on the front lines of crisis management.
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- Health Services Administration, BS
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- Lodging and Restaurant Management, BS
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- Nonprofit Management, MNM
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- Project Engineering
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What is Business Continuity planning and why it’s important?
If we’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that in life, as well as business, it’s important to expect the unexpected. Business continuity planning is talked about now more than ever. We hope this article can provide some insight on what it is, why it’s important, and what it entails.
What is business continuity planning?
Unexpected events can disrupt day-to-day business operations at any time. Business continuity refers to the idea of having a plan to deal with these events, so your organization can continue operating with minimal disruption. A good business continuity plan identifies potential threats and analyzes how they would impact business function. It also establishes a framework to deal with these threats in an effective manner that minimizes negative impact.
We break the planning process down into five key steps:
Step 1: Risk-assessment
This step includes:
- Evaluation of the company’s risks and exposures
- Assessing the impact of different disruption scenarios
- Determining the most likely threats
Step 2: Business Impact Analysis (BIA)
- Recovery objectives, including both recovery point objectives (RPO) and recovery time objectives (RTO)
- Critical business processes as well as the supporting applications
- Internal and external interdependencies
- Critical staff, backups, and skill sets
Step 3: Business Continuity Plan Development
- Combining Risk Assessment and BIA findings into a thorough and actionable plan
- Developing departmental, region, and site-level plans
- Reviewing plan with key stakeholders to finalize and put into action
Step 4: Strategy and Plan Development
- Ensure that the recovery times you have stated in your plan are obtainable and meet the BIA objectives
- Incorporate different perspectives from staff across the organization to help map the overall feel and company focus
- Have management and executive teams review and sign off on plan
Step 5: Plan Testing & Maintenance
- Conducting various simulation exercises to ensure comfort in executing the plan’s steps
- Executing bi-annual plan reviews
- Keep up with ever-changing BIA to make sure the plan stays relevant
Why is business continuity important?
In today’s “always-on” world, downtime has become largely unacceptable. Business continuity allows an organization to respond quickly in times of crisis. This is crucial, not only to save money and time, but also to minimize damage to a company’s reputation. Depending on the industry, business continuity might even be required for legal and compliance purposes. It’s important to know the industry-specific rules and regulations that affect your business.
Business continuity plans should offer clear guidelines for what an organization needs to maintain basic operations. When a business-disruption event occurs, there should be no question how the company should proceed. The customers, company and employees are all at stake.
How can LINBIT help?
LINBIT’s mission is to keep your mission critical systems running. We know how much damage failure events can cause not only to the bottom line but also a company’s reputation in the marketplace. We imagine a world where tragedies and disruptions to business operations are a worry-free occurance and you never lose a write or access to your data.
DRBD ® is our answer for keeping your systems up and running 24/7×365. It keeps real-time replicas of your data available so when one system fails, another takes over instantaneously. It can be used for system high-availability, as well as disaster recovery where it will replicate data to a DR location in the event of a full-site failure.
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What Is a Disaster Recovery Plan and Why Is It Important?
Posted by Rick Yvanovich
The recent pandemic is a warning bell for every business. Those who have been living on the edge without a detailed disaster recovery plan struggled to adapt to the unexpected normality where almost all employees have to work remotely .
I. What is a disaster recovery plan? And why is it crucial in the light of the recent pandemic?
1. Disaster recovery vs backups
2. disaster recovery vs business continuity plan, 1. virtualised disaster recovery plan, 2. network disaster recovery, 3. cloud disaster recovery plan, 4. data centre disaster recovery plan.
Sure, a global health crisis is not something the corporate world has to face every day, but cyber thieves, frauds , fires, or power outages are.
Surprisingly, 75 per cent of small businesses 1 do not have a disaster recovery plan in place. 93 per cent of companies that suffer data loss and downtime for 10 or more days will eventually file for bankruptcy within just 12 months.
Is your business prepared to lose in this battle? What is your drill?
What is a disaster recovery plan? And why is it crucial in the light of the recent pandemic?
A disaster recovery plan is a strategy set out to help an organisation quickly resume its operation after an unexpected event. A disaster recovery plan is well documented, structured, and regularly reviewed to maintain its viability.
A disaster recovery plan typically applies to departments that rely on a functioning IT infrastructure and aims at recovering data loss and system dysfunctionalities.
Besides ensuring businesses can operate with minimal interruptions by preparing adequate resources to combat future catastrophes, a disaster recovery plan also helps to:
- Lessen damages and financial impacts as a result of the disruption
- Train employees about safety procedures in case of an emergency
- Describe operational alternatives well in advance
- Ensure a smooth and rapid restoration process
Read more: What “Transformers” can teach us about enterprise IT security?
It is reported that the number of cyber-attacks surges during crises. And during the recent coronavirus pandemic, WHO claimed the number of attacks directed at its staff increased fivefold 2 , and the number of attacks against banks has surpassed the 238% 3 mark.
During severe natural disasters, there is no guarantee that vendor support can get to the affected sites on time. The lack of human resources and even equipment replacements to repair and maintain the damaged infrastructure can be catastrophic.
Human errors or natural adversities can quickly shut down the entire corporation, leaving it defenceless for hours or even weeks. Thus, businesses that invest in detailed disaster recovery and a business continuity plan can survive and resume their normal operation post disasters much faster.
Disaster recovery vs backups
The term "backup" is pretty much self-explanatory; it is the process of storing copies of your data. Many of us often confused that disaster recovery means data backups. Businesses can't recover without backup files, but they can certainly backup data without having any disaster recovery plan in place.
Read more: Defining the differences between data lake and data warehouse
Mistakenly deleting data happens all the time. In that instance, to restore the lost data, businesses need to have an environment – a virtual storage space where all versions of data reside.
This is where disaster recovery comes in. In short, disaster recovery is a more complex process in which the organisation replicates the entire IT environment (data, systems, networks, and applications) and establishes processes to enable them to restore functionality and data from this replicated environment to the primary one.
The ultimate goal of both processes is to ensure businesses never lose valuable information.
Disaster recovery vs business continuity plan
Disaster recovery is an integral part of a business continuity plan, which also is a documented strategy complete with critical information detailing which systems and processes must be sustained and how to maintain them in case of an unplanned disruption.
A business continuity plan is extremely critical in a time of crisis, particularly during this ongoing pandemic. It is a must-have to ensure a company can identify potential weaknesses and threats and necessary steps to mitigate those risks to avoid low customer satisfaction due to downtime. In other words, having a detailed business continuity plan enables businesses to be proactive .
Read more: The 5 security layers and “defense-in-depth” that Infor uses
Types of disaster recovery plan
Disaster recovery plans depend largely on the business' current IT infrastructure. Typical plans include:
A cost-effective option for businesses that do not have the budget to set up a physical restoring facility. Virtualisation is the process of creating virtual copies of operating systems, servers, storage depositories, or network resources. In a virtualised environment, the restoration of applications is done through virtual machine instances, which can be created within minutes.
Network failures can put a toll on the business' applications and the entire IT infrastructure. To ensure businesses always have reliable connectivity, a network disaster recovery plan should include a step-by-step procedure on who to contact, how to replace equipment, what actions to take to restore the network.
Cloud disaster recovery is a combination of strategies and services aimed at backing up data or applications via the public cloud or cloud providers. This is also a more cost-effective option. However, businesses need to consider factors such as bandwidth, cloud storage costs, the location of physical and virtual servers, security and compliance before implementation.
This option focuses on the physical data centre . The plan should detail procedures to identify, assess, resolve and mitigate risks that may harm the building location, HVAC systems, physical security, support personnel, and much more. The preparation of the plan requires input from the IT department, facility manager as well as security experts.
Read more: How AWS manages and maintains its massive data centres
Regardless of the type of disaster recovery plans your business chooses to implement, it should start at the business level and focus on mission-critical applications, data as well as systems. The plan should also contain an estimated amount of downtime the organisation is allowed to experience, calculated in hours, minutes, or even seconds.
How a disaster recovery plan can be used to safeguard financial data
Financial data is one of the most valuable assets organisations own. Highly sensitive data is the treasure troves for cybercriminals. When your business possesses a fair amount of financial data, attacks are inevitable.
Imagine if your systems are down by just a couple of hours, attackers can leverage the opportunity to sneak in and wipe down both your employee and client's data. What if your client base spans across the globe? The consequences will be disastrous, which can result in not only economic losses.
Without a proper recovery plan and in time responses, the breach in security can make clients lose trust in you and your services. They would subsequently take their business somewhere else safer, stakeholders would withdraw investments, or the disruption would spread to other businesses within the industry.
All in all, businesses cannot wait until the last minute to implement a disaster recovery and business continuity plan. Only when businesses can prepare to face the worst can they be confident in serving the present.
At TRG, we solve business problems, take a consultative approach to every client engagement, and find actionable solutions that will help your organisation achieve the best business outcomes. Talk to us and explore the various Digital Advisory services we have in store for you today!
1. Veritis, "Disaster Recovery 2019 Statistics – Insights That Shape Your Business Future", Veritis , June 23, 2019, https://www.veritis.com/blog/disaster-recovery-2019-statistics-insights-that-shape-your-business-future/
2. WHO, "WHO reports fivefold increase in cyber attacks, urges vigilance", WHO , April 23, 2020 https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/23-04-2020-who-reports-fivefold-increase-in-cyber-attacks-urges-vigilance
3. Osborne, Charlie, "COVID-19 blamed for 238% surge in cyberattacks against banks", ZDNet , May 14, 2020, https://www.zdnet.com/article/covid-19-blamed-for-238-surge-in-cyberattacks-against-banks/
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The importance of having a business continuity plan
When the world is chugging along as normal and business operations only have the usual risks to monitor, it can be easy to put aside business continuity planning. But, as we've all discovered in recent weeks, anything can happen at any time, and businesses must be ready to pivot operations quickly, efficiently and safely as and when needed. The quick global spread of COVID-19, colloquially known as coronavirus, has thrown the world into disarray. The markets are in a nosedive, governments are shutting down entire countries and most organizations are having to quickly embrace remote working to keep the lights on and keep clients serviced. Those who do not have the capability to support workers at home ' and that are not essential services such as healthcare or sanitation ' are currently going through a trial by fire, with operations stymied and revenue under threat. Businesses are rushing to set up work-from-home arrangements, or take out subscriptions for online meetings and cloud collaboration technology. Priorities are shifting dramatically as we enter uncharted territory. This lack of preparedness could well see many businesses going under ' but if those organizations had created a robust business continuity plan ahead of time, they would know exactly how to handle such a crisis and weather the storm.
What is a business continuity plan and why do you need one?
A business continuity plan, or BCP, refers to the process a company will take to prevent and recover from potential threats to the organization. It ensures personnel and assets are protected and able to function in the event of a disaster, and is generally part of overall risk management ' that is, best practice dictates that you consider your business continuity plan ahead of time, not when a crisis hits. Your business continuity plan considers what those risks may look like ' both physical threats such as fire or flood, and those threats that are harder to pin down, such as hacks and pandemics ' and then determines:
- How those risks will impact operations
- How you'll implement safeguards, procedures and policies to mitigate the risks
- How you'll test procedures to ensure that they work
- How you'll review the process to keep it up-to-date
It includes a summary of the most critical business processes and functions ' those aspects that, if they failed, your business would be unable to operate ' as well as internal and external communication strategies, clear instructions for accessing and restoring offsite recovery data, any potential temporary offices or locations, and a change log that summarizes any updates to the plan for version-control purposes. Without a business continuity plan, you risk your company and its people . Not only could the business fail, but you could also suffer financial loss, a tarnished reputation and lost productivity. A physical disaster could also impact your employees, potentially causing injury or death.
Ensure continued — and secure — access to systems
With COVID-19 playing havoc with how companies go about their day-to-day activities, the priority for organizations should be on building business resilience. This means being flexible enough to go with the flow while maintaining operations at as normal a level as possible, all while ensuring your employees can access the systems and processes they need to do their jobs. It also means keeping a close eye on matters of cybersecurity. Those companies that maintain on-premises systems have suddenly found themselves in a pickle, as workers are unable to come into the office with cities on lockdown. The question of how teams will access platforms is an essential part of business continuity planning, and something that smart risk managers had covered long before the pandemic hit. They had thought about how teams would access platforms, assessed what bandwidth they had available for that level of remote access, and had considered whether they needed a temporary increase in network capacity or licenses. The security question, though, doesn't just extend to moving to cloud-based operations; hackers and cyber threats will use any crisis to their advantage. Keep an eye out for phishing scams, DDoS attacks and malware being introduced by employees keen to learn the latest developments in the crisis and not closely examining the links they click on. Security postures should include a review of systems you have in place to stop phishing campaigns and other inbound threat vectors before they hit employees' inboxes, writes Jason Albuquerque for InformationWeek .
Creating a business continuity plan
While every organization's business continuity plan will be different, there are some common steps that companies should follow to develop a solid continuity plan. They include:
- Undertaking a business impact analysis to identify functions and related resources that are time-sensitive
- Identifying and implementing steps to recover critical business functions
- Creating a continuity team that will be tasked with devising a plan to manage the disruption
- Training and testing the continuity team, and ensuring they regularly go over the plan and strategies to mitigate risk and ensure they are kept up-to-date
By considering these things in advance, organizations can help to ensure business continuity when things get tough, protecting the business, its reputation, its people and its customers.
The importance of technology to business continuity for legal operations
Of course, the march toward cloud-based technology to run essential business systems and processes makes business continuity planning a little easier. Once upon a time, you had to be in the office and on the network to access things like entity management software; today, there is a plethora of cloud-based options for all aspects of legal operations, compliance, governance and risk management work. Best-in-class providers of these systems are supporting their clients through the current COVID-19/coronavirus crisis, helping them to make sense of the craziness by providing online support, guidance and tech triage. More than just a software provider, these organizations become an essential partner in times of crisis. Diligent is one such company, acting as a partner to more than half of the Fortune 1000. Through its cloud-based legal technology platforms, Diligent enables proactive governance to help mitigate the risks of modern business. We believe every business should have the necessary business continuity planning and management strategies, plans and procedures in place, fully tested at regular intervals, to drive the assurance that when disaster strikes, they'll be ready. The cost and impact of not being prepared is usually far greater than that of being proactive. Diligent works to enable business continuity planning by ensuring ongoing access to essential documents, contracts and entity data through:
- Diligent Entities , which helps organizations to centralize, manage and effectively structure their corporate record to improve entity governance and improve decision-making
- Diligent Boards , which empowers boards and executives with the tools, insights and analytics to securely access board materials, track company performance and gather real-time information
- Diligent Assurance , which helps organizations to confidently create, manage and report on the obligations relevant to their business, and always be audit-ready.
Get in touch and request a demo to see how Diligent's suite of cloud-based governance and compliance software can help drive your business continuity planning and ensure your organization can continue to operate, no matter what gets thrown your way.
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10 Best Practices for Effective Business Continuity Strategy
Published on November 30, 2023
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Businesses can face unexpected challenges that could disrupt their operations significantly. These events can be so severe that they might threaten the stability and resilience of an organisation, potentially leading to a cessation of critical business operations. It's then essential to develop a robust and effective business continuity strategy, which is a proactive plan to ensure that a business can continue its critical functions during and after a disaster.
The key is in building a BC plan that's not just a generic template but a strategy specifically designed to address the unique risks and challenges your business might face.
What Is Business Continuity Strategy?
A business continuity strategy is a planned series of actions for maintaining critical business functions during a disruption. Any business continuity strategy should align with a disaster lifecycle, which is the various stages a business goes through before, during, and after a disaster.
The lifecycle typically includes the following phases:
- Prevention: Before a disaster strikes, this stage involves taking proactive measures to prevent or minimise the impact of potential disasters. This could include infrastructure improvements, risk assessments, and implementing safety protocols.
- Preparedness: This stage focuses on preparing the organisation to handle an impending disaster. It involves creating and updating disaster recovery plans, training employees, and ensuring backup systems are in place.
- Response: This is the immediate action taken during a disaster to ensure safety and minimise damage. It includes activating the disaster recovery plan, mobilising response teams, and providing immediate relief and support.
- Recovery: After the immediate threat has passed, this stage involves restoring business operations to a normal or new state. It includes repairing physical damage, restoring IT systems, and implementing lessons learned from the disaster.
- Mitigation: This phase overlaps with the others and involves ongoing efforts to reduce the risk and impact of future disasters. This can include revising policies, improving infrastructure, and updating plans based on recent experiences.
Here's how to develop your business continuity strategies and ensure your organisation is prepared for, can effectively respond to, and recover from any disaster, while continuously working to mitigate future risks.
1. Assess risks and impacts for a robust continuity plan
A thorough risk and impact assessment is key to any effective business continuity plan. This involves identifying potential threats that could disrupt operations , ranging from natural disasters to cyber-attacks. Each business, even within the same industry, faces unique challenges and vulnerabilities. The assessment should include a detailed analysis of how these risks could impact various aspects of the business, such as revenue, customer satisfaction, and employee safety.
This step is crucial for understanding which areas of the business are most at risk and need prioritisation in the continuity plan. By evaluating both the likelihood and potential impact of different scenarios, businesses can develop more targeted and effective strategies to mitigate these risks.
2. Develop a comprehensive plan covering all critical functions
Developing a comprehensive plan involves identifying and safeguarding critical business functions that are essential for maintaining operations during a disruption. This process requires a deep understanding of the business's operational framework. Critical business functions include, for example, key customer services, supply chain management, IT infrastructure, and employee safety protocols.
The plan should outline procedures for maintaining or rapidly restoring these functions in the event of a business disruption. This could involve diversifying supply chains , implementing redundant IT systems, or establishing alternative operational procedures. The goal is to ensure that the business can continue to operate, even in a reduced or modified capacity, during a crisis.
3. Involve key stakeholders in the planning process
Input from stakeholders – including employees, staff members, customers, suppliers, investors, and local communities – can provide valuable insights into potential risks and practical recovery strategies. Engaging stakeholders helps to align the continuity plan with the expectations and needs of those it will affect.
This collaborative approach can also ensure that the business has access to necessary resources during a crisis and fosters a sense of shared responsibility and commitment to the plan. Regular meetings and communications with stakeholders can keep the plan aligned with changing expectations and business environments.
4. Train employees on their roles in the continuity plan
Employees should understand the potential risks the business faces and their specific responsibilities during a crisis. Hence, BC training should cover essential crisis management and emergency response procedures, emphasising coordination and communication within the team.
Employees should be comfortable with their roles and understand how their actions can impact the overall recovery effort. Regular drills and training sessions can help employees stay prepared and ensure that the business can respond effectively to a crisis. Such preparedness not only boosts the employees' confidence but also enhances the overall resilience of the organisation.
5. Test the plan regularly to identify weaknesses
BCP testing should simulate various disruption scenarios to evaluate how the business and its employees would respond. This process helps to reveal potential weaknesses in the plan, such as resource shortages, communication breakdowns, or logistical challenges.
Regular testing also ensures that all employees are familiar with their roles and responsibilities in the event of an actual disruption. These tests can range from tabletop exercises to full-scale drills. Feedback from these tests should be used to refine and update the plan, ensuring it remains relevant and effective.
6. Update the plan periodically for current business needs
The business environment is constantly evolving, with new risks emerging and existing risks changing in nature. Therefore, it's essential to update the business continuity plan periodically to reflect these changes. This could involve adapting to new technologies, regulatory changes, or shifts in the market. Regular reviews should be scheduled to assess the plan's relevance and effectiveness in the current business context.
These updates should also consider feedback from stakeholders, lessons learned from past disruptions, and changes in the business's structure or operations. An up-to-date plan ensures that the business is always prepared for the most relevant and likely risks it faces.
7. Communicate the plan to all employees and stakeholders
Effective communication of the business continuity plan ensures that all employees and stakeholders are aware of their roles and the procedures to follow during a crisis. Clear and transparent communication helps to build confidence and ensures a coordinated response to disruptions.
Your crisis communication strategy should include regular updates, training sessions, and accessible documentation of the plan. It's best to use a variety of communication channels to reach all parts of the organisation and its external partners. In addition, the plan should include protocols for external communication with customers, suppliers, and the public to maintain trust and reputation during a crisis.
8. Ensure backup systems and data recovery processes
Ensuring robust backup systems and data recovery processes is vital to any business continuity plan . This step is crucial for protecting against data loss, which can have devastating effects on operations, financial stability, and customer trust.
Backup strategies should include regular backups of critical data, applications, and systems, ideally in multiple locations, including off-site or cloud storage. This ensures that in the event of a physical disaster, such as a fire or flood, critical data remains safe and can be quickly restored. Regular testing of backup systems and recovery processes is also essential to ensure they actually and effectively work when needed.
9. Collaborate with partners for aligned continuity plans
Collaborate with business partners, such as suppliers, distributors, and service providers, who can provide support and resources during a crisis to maintain or quickly restore essential functions. Collaborating with partners can involve aligning continuity plans, sharing resources, or establishing joint response strategies.
This collaboration ensures that all parties are prepared and can work together effectively in the event of a disruption. Regular communication and joint exercises with partners can also strengthen these relationships and improve the overall resilience of the supply chain and business operations.
10. Review and improve the strategy post-disruption
After any disruption, consider conducting a thorough review of the business continuity strategy. This review should assess how effectively the plan was implemented, what worked well, and what could be improved. It's an opportunity to learn from the experience and refine the plan for future incidents.
This process should involve all key stakeholders, including employees, management, and external partners, to gather a comprehensive perspective. The insights gained from this review can be invaluable in adjusting strategies, updating training and resources, and improving overall preparedness. Regularly incorporating lessons learned from actual events ensures that the business continuity plan remains robust and relevant.
Streamline your business continuity planning with C2 Meridian BCMS
As new technologies emerge rapidly and risks are ever-present, businesses need to be one step ahead and stay prepared for any disruptive events.
C2 Meridian BCMS allows BC and resilience professionals to create, store, manage and distribute business continuity plans through smart automation and data collection. Take full advantage of different modules, from Business Impact Analysis (BIA) and Risk Management to the latest Operational Resilience solutions. Our industry-agnostic solution is completely configurable to meet your organisation's unique requirements.
See an easier way to achieve business continuity for yourself; book a demo today .
Written by Lisa McStay
Chief Operating Officer at Continuity2
As a proud COO of Continuity2, Lisa strives to provide intuitive and innovative solutions for the Business Resilience market and reshape the industry as we know it today. Lisa has been in the industry for over 10+ years, helping clients achieve their Business Continuity and Resilience objectives for continuous growth and success.
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What is business continuity?
Business Continuity represents a company’s preparations to withstand a disaster that could threaten its operations. These events can include natural disasters, data loss, cyber and ransomware attacks , and the loss of valuable equipment and personnel. A simple definition is that a company’s data resiliency supports its business continuity in the event of a data loss event or cybersecurity breach.
Why do I need a business continuity plan?
Business continuity ties together several aspects involved in maintaining readiness and securing the company against disasters , threats and common wear and tear. It encompasses several supporting principles that are positive developments for any organization to pursue. Thinking about business continuity in the present mitigates risk and makes the company and its assets more productive in the long run. Companies that value their business continuity are more competitive and better positioned to achieve their goals.
What is included in a business continuity plan?
Business continuity involves three mutually reinforcing principles:
Resiliency : Resiliency represents a company’s ability to operate for extended periods without incurring significant interruptions in their business operations. Some examples of resiliency include investing in higher quality and more durable equipment, training employees on cybersecurity techniques, investing in cyber resiliency services for essential digital files, and setting up alternative working arrangements in the event of a natural disaster.
Recovery : Recovery represents the company’s ability to return to normal operations in the event of an interruption in business. For example, having a comprehensive disaster recovery plan with functional data backups promotes recovery from data loss, computer failure and cyber attacks. Having processes and infrastructure in place that allows employees to work from home when the office is damaged promotes recovery from natural disasters and equipment failures.
Contingency : Contingency represents the company’s flexibility in responding to crisis and returning to normal operations. Contingency plans come into place when there is a disruption large enough to render other aspects of business continuity infeasible. For example, following the 3-2-1 backup rule so you are never relying on only one backup source for your data recovery, and in the event that you lose one source of backup data you have more options to recover it.
Best Practices for business continuity
Business continuity should start as a broad plan that encompasses multiple aspects of your business operations. Pull back and look at your company comprehensively, note every aspect of your business and what kind of interruptions you might experience, and then look deep into each aspect, uncovering as many different solutions as possible to those scenarios.
Once you have laid down the groundwork you can focus on the most efficient solutions for your immediate needs and your recovery expectations. Work on your resilience and recovery, and never rely on any one single asset as a cure-all. Remember, having a data resilience solution is better than having none. Prioritize which aspects of your business are the most valuable, and ensure they remain protected when laying out immediate plans.
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5 Reasons your organization needs a business continuity plan
You never need a business continuity plan until you do. Here are 5 reasons you should start yours today.
Read time: 6 minutes
Organizations often underestimate the importance of a business continuity plan. No one ever notices its absence – until disaster strikes. By then, it’s too late.
Any unplanned interruption of normal business processes can create immense hurdles and costly setbacks. Operations suffer. Revenue may suffer even more.
Unplanned interruptions take many forms. It can be something as simple as a power outage. It could be a major hurricane. Ultimately, a disaster can be anything that disrupts normal business operations. Regardless of the cause, unplanned means unexpected.
With a business continuity plan in place, you position yourself to minimize the impact and damage of an unexpected event. In this article, we will discuss:
What constitutes business continuity planning and the difference between it and disaster recovery.
The top 5 reasons your organization needs a business continuity plan.
The importance of business continuity planning beyond simply restoring operations.
How to get started building a business continuity plan.
What is business continuity planning?
A business continuity plan gives an organization the ability to maintain essential processes before, during, and after a disaster.
Business continuity differs from disaster recovery in its holistic approach to the business. Business continuity reflects a business-wide implementation plan to ensure the continuation of critical business functions should a disruptive event occur. Disaster recovery “recovers” an organization’s hardware, applications, and data after a technology disruption.
Learn more about Business continuity and disaster recovery solutions and services
While it takes time and effort to build and test a business continuity plan, you’ll find it well worth it should a disaster strike.
Here are 5 of the main reasons you need a business continuity plan:
Reason #1: Disaster recovery
As noted in the previous section, disaster recovery plays a significant role in the restoration of business operations.
Disasters happen. Their unexpected nature is what makes them so devastating. Being prepared may not prevent the disaster, but it does mitigate the impact on your business.
Research states that 40 percent of small businesses never recover from a disaster.¹ Larger organizations take major hits.
Often when we think of disasters, we think of major events like earthquakes, floods, and natural disasters. These, however, aren’t the only causes of downtime. Data deletion due to human error, poor security habits of users, and incompetent employees or accidents also rank among the prime reasons for IT downtime.
Reason #2: Data shows backups are not enough
Most companies deploy some form of data backup. Having data backed up does you no good if you cannot access it, such as could occur in a power outage or need to leave an office site even on a temporary basis.
Accessing data in the event of a disaster can prove a problem. After all, having a backup is different from accessing it.
It’s a question business continuity planning asks: How will you access that data in the event of an outage?
For example, the average enterprise backup reaches over a petabyte or more. This pushes conventional storage to its limits. Even several terabytes of data backed up by a small to mid-sized business can strain capacity and bandwidth. And if you don’t have a data center or hardware prepared to handle this volume of data, it does you no good.
By deploying business continuity and disaster recovery solutions leveraging cloud technologies and virtual servers, organizations can run critical business applications from backup instances on virtual servers in the cloud. This approach enables you to effectively “flip a switch” and can keep your downtime to a minimum.
Reason #3: Insurance does not protect your data
Cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated and successful every year.
A 2018 study of companies that were attacked found that 68% of breaches took months or longer to discover.² And insurance doesn’t restore data due to data center, server, or backup loss, or even lost access to any of these.
Insurance isn’t enough to cover all the damages of a disaster. Yes, it can cover the costs of repairs, but in terms of loss of revenue and business prospects due to downtime, it has little effect.
Reason #4: Competitive edge
You have a big advantage over your competitors if you can restore normal operations while they are still trying to figure it out. Getting your network back up and running fast, restoring access to your business data and documents, and reconnecting your employees to communicate with each other and support your customers allows for your organization to stand-out as a leader and one that can be trusted and relied upon.
Reason #5: Business must go on
Keeping a business going is essential. Taking a very simple view, if you lose the ability to buy and sell, your business – for all practical purposes – ceases to function.
Business continuity makes this possible by establishing actions that must be taken to ensure operations remain active, no matter the nature of the disaster. For example:
If the power goes out without certainty of when it will be restored, can you switch to a server or network located in a functioning data center?
If you experience a server failure, do you have a backup server (or virtual server) ready to go?
If your office location becomes inaccessible for any reason, can your employees work remotely?
When building your business continuity plan, you consider all the possible disruptions you might encounter. Loss of power or an office location is one of the biggest reasons offsite and redundant backup remains one of the most important aspects of IT reliability.
Your business simply cannot afford downtime. A solid business continuity plan can mean the difference between being back up and running in a matter of minutes versus days or even weeks.
The importance of a business continuity plan
A business continuity plan positions your organization to survive serious disruption. It eliminates confusion common to every disaster, providing a clear blueprint for what everyone should do.
More importantly, your business continuity plan supports:
Communication between employees and customers
Workflow operations essential to business activity
Customer service response, especially if you are a service provider
Business security, keeping your data and information secured wherever you and your team find yourself working
The flow of information and documents
Beyond business operations, your business continuity plan helps people. By keeping operations going, you are better positioned to keep your employees working, protecting the jobs that support them and their families. You also continue to meet the needs of your customers, impacting their lives, and if you are in a B2B business, the lives of their customers.
We are here to help
We have helped many businesses develop and implement business continuity plans.
In addition to consulting services like these, our IT services can remove the burden of monitoring and managing your data infrastructure to help give you increased reliability, reduced risk and a comprehensive business continuity plan in the event of a disaster.
Ricoh’s IT services include:
Server & network management
Device & desktop management
Managed cybersecurity services
End user communication services
Managed cloud services
Data center services
Disaster recovery and backup
IT project work
Remote IT support
We know that your business is unique and has its own needs. In every engagement, you can be confident that we’ll work together to create a business continuity plan and if needed, a technology infrastructure built specifically for you.
- 1. http://www.chamber101.com/2programs_committee/natural_disasters/disasterpreparedness/Forty.htm
- 2. https://enterprise.verizon.com/resources/reports/DBIR_2018_Report.pdf
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Disaster Recovery Plan Challenges: Avoiding Pitfalls
Avoid common pitfalls so your organization is prepared for any disruptions.
Large volumes of mission-critical data are produced and managed by organizations of all sizes. The effects of data loss or corruption due to human mistakes, technical malfunctions, viruses, hacking, or other emergency crises or catastrophes can be severe.
The process by which an organization regains function of and access to its information technology (IT) infrastructure following a natural catastrophe, cyberattack, or business interruptions (such as those brought on by the COVID-19 epidemic) is known as disaster recovery. Disaster recovery is a component of business continuity. A disaster recovery plan can include a variety of disaster recovery strategies.
What Is a Disaster Recovery Plan?
An organization’s disaster recovery plan outlines in great detail how to deal with potential emergencies, including cyberattacks, power outages, natural disasters, and other disruptions. For an organization to continue normal operations and/or swiftly restart critical functions, the plan outlines actions to reduce the consequences of a catastrophe.
In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, numerous businesses needed to accommodate staff who worked remotely. Corporations have been compelled to reconsider their business continuity and disaster recovery policies because of the disease outbreak and ensuing worldwide crisis. With a pandemic raging, even a small network failure can have a huge impact on a company.
Disruptions can result in lost sales, harm to a firm’s reputation, and/or dissatisfied clients. The longer it takes to recover, the more detrimental the effect is to the organization’s bottom line. Therefore, regardless of the cause of the interruption, a disaster recovery plan needs to facilitate rapid recovery.
Why Is a Disaster Recovery Plan Important?
Enterprise multicloud models are on the increase due to the pressing need to improve business results and customer experience. But this approach to data storage can potentially increase infrastructure complexity and pose hazards that can only be managed with professional knowledge and equipment.
Because of the complexity inherent in a multicloud infrastructure, businesses often experience outages and system failures, as well as cyberattacks, a lack of expertise, and supplier failures. A multicloud framework can make outages or unexpected downtime more disruptive to business.
A disaster recovery plan that accounts for specialized skills, an integrated strategy, and cutting-edge technology—such as the orchestration of data recovery and protection—is needed to provide resilience in a multicloud environment. To manage business continuity risks in this type of storage setup, organizations must turn to orchestration technology that allows them to meet digital transformation objectives.
Other important reasons a company should acquire a proven disaster recovery strategy are as follows:
- To reduce disruptions to regular business activities
- To minimize the amount of business harm and interruption
- To reduce a disruption’s financial impact
- To plan and create alternative ways of operating
- To instruct staff members on emergency protocols
- To ensure a seamless and quick return of services
Organizations must be able to restore important systems within minutes, if not seconds, following an interruption if they’re to match today’s expectations for continuous commercial operations.
Benefits of Disaster Recovery Planning
A disaster recovery plan must include scenarios for minimizing disruptions and quickly restarting business activities. It should be created to avoid data loss and provide adequate IT recovery, since it’s a key component of a business continuity plan.
Beyond the obvious advantage of enabling business continuity under any circumstances, having a solid disaster recovery plan can assist an organization in several other crucial ways:
Disaster recovery plans incorporate elements that boost economies of scale. Three plan components—prevention, detection, and correction—are the most critical ones. Hazards from human error or intent are decreased with the help of preventative efforts. When issues become apparent, detection procedures work to catch them as soon as possible, and remedial steps recover lost data and allow for a rapid return to regular operations.
Cost-efficiency objectives can be achieved by keeping IT systems in top shape, in-depth studying of possible risks, and using best-practice cybersecurity solutions. It’s more efficient and less expensive to keep systems well-maintained and software updated. The maintenance and backup costs can be much lower if cloud-based data management is part of an organization’s disaster recovery planning.
Minimize Long-Term Damage
Disaster recovery processes, which are separate from backup procedures, should include information on all emergency responses, such as last-minute backups, mitigation techniques, damage limitation, and cybersecurity threat elimination.
Customer Loyalty and Retention
If there’s a loss of sensitive data, customers are less likely to be understanding of errors or downtime. Disaster recovery planning enables businesses to consistently provide higher-than-expected levels of service. By lowering the risks of downtime and data loss for your clients, you can deliver superior service during and after an emergency, thereby boosting client loyalty.
Flexibility and Scalability
Planning for disaster recovery enables companies to find innovative ways to reduce the expenses of backups, archive maintenance, and recovery. The process is simpler and better with the flexibility and scalability that comes with cloud-based technologies and data storage.
By simplifying the entire IT process and removing unnecessary gear, disaster recovery planning helps lower the risk of human mistakes. This streamlines operations and makes an organization more profitable and robust, even before anything goes wrong, thereby turning the preparation process into one of the many benefits of disaster recovery planning.
Disaster Recovery Plan Challenges and How to Succeed Despite Them
Many businesses find it difficult to adapt disaster recovery plan tactics fast enough to handle the current mixed IT infrastructures and intricate business processes. Depending on how fast a company can recover from a crisis and restore critical business services in a 24/7, always-on environment, it may be able to gain a competitive edge—or lose market share.
Some businesses meet their demands for assessments, planning and design, implementation, testing, and comprehensive program management by using external business continuity and disaster recovery consulting services.
Proactive services are available to assist firms in overcoming interruptions with adaptable, affordable IT disaster recovery solutions.
With the rise in cyberattacks, businesses are switching from a manual, conventional recovery approach to one that’s automated and software defined. For quick recovery during an IT failure, some businesses use cloud-based backup services that continuously replicate crucial applications, infrastructure, data, and systems. To secure crucial servers in real-time, virtual server options are available. These help applications to recover quickly, keeping your company running during maintenance windows or unplanned outages.
Resiliency orchestration is a cloud-based strategy designed for hybrid IT setups and disaster recovery automation. It helps many organizations protect their business processes, including applications, data, and infrastructure. This solution provides businesses with important information from a single dashboard about recovery time objectives (RTO), recovery point objectives (RPO), and the overall state of IT continuity, enhancing the availability of business applications.
In the always-on world, your company can’t afford downtime that can result in reputation harm, legal repercussions, and revenue loss.
Major Elements of a Disaster Recovery Plan
The quantity of IT and data infrastructure lost to disasters is rising as businesses increasingly depend on technology and electronic information for day-to-day operations. According to industry calculations, disasters, lack of preparation, and lost productivity cost organizations hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Disaster preparedness must therefore be a priority for your organization.
Making and putting into action a disaster recovery plan is one method your business can use to prepare and safeguard itself against emergencies. Any type of crisis should be covered by an organization’s disaster recovery plan. The plan must be simple to implement and comprehend, and be tailored to the specific requirements of the firm. The following are typical components of a disaster recovery plan:
1. Form a team for disaster recovery.
The disaster recovery plan is created, put into action, and maintained by the team. A disaster recovery plan should detail the team members, describe their duties, and list their contact information. Who should be notified in the event of a catastrophe or emergency should also be listed. Every employee needs to be aware of the disaster recovery plan, understand it, and know what to do during a crisis.
2. Recognize and evaluate emergency risks.
The potential hazards to your company should be determined and evaluated by your disaster recovery team. Risks pertaining to human-sourced catastrophes, technological accidents, and natural disasters should be outlined. This will help the team identify the resources and recovery techniques needed to recover from crises within a set and reasonable period.
3. Identify essential programs, files, and resources.
To decide which business processes are essential to a firm’s operations, an organization must examine them all. Instead of concentrating on a long-term solution to restore the company’s full operational capabilities, the strategy should concentrate on short-term viability, such as resuming cash flows and revenues. The company must understand that certain operations shouldn’t—if possible—be postponed. Payroll processing is one example of a critical operation.
4. Specify offsite storage and backup protocols.
Certain protocols need to specify what needs to be backed up, who should do it, how to do it, where to do it, and how often. Backing up all essential software, hardware, and documents is advised. An organization’s most recent financial statements, an up-to-date list of personnel and related contact information, inventory records, tax returns, and client and vendor lists are all documents you should focus on backing up. A copy of the disaster recovery plan and other essential items needed for day-to-day operations, such as checks and purchase orders, should be kept offsite.
5. Test the disaster recovery plan and keep it up to date.
Because the dangers of crises and catastrophes are ever-changing, disaster recovery planning is a continuous process. It’s advised that a company regularly tests its disaster recovery plan to assess the suitability and efficacy of the outlined processes. To account for adjustments made to business procedures, technological advancements, and new emerging risks, your recovery team should update your organization’s disaster recovery plan on a regular basis.
To summarize, a company needs to establish a recovery team to construct a disaster recovery plan that identifies and evaluates emergency risks, identifies essential business applications, and specifies backup processes. Depending on the company, the plan may also incorporate other processes. The disaster recovery plan must subsequently be put into practice by the organization and recovery team, who need to also adhere to the plan’s guidelines. To prepare the company for a constantly changing threat landscape, the disaster recovery plan should be tested and maintained regularly.
Disaster Recovery Plan Steps
Both safe cloud-based disaster recovery and offsite data backups should be part of your disaster recovery plan.
Along with detailing a strategy for customer communications, locations where staff will gather, and actions you can take to increase security while minimizing risk, your plan should include the following measures:
1. Identify of critical business operations
Conduct a business impact analysis to determine which company processes are so essential that their disruption would limit your capacity to function effectively.
This may be determined by:
- The type of goods and services you provide to clients
- How far your company needs to operate from its main location
You can improve your cybersecurity strategy by gaining better control over vulnerabilities, whether they are specific to your company or industry, and making the necessary adjustments.
Meetings with company officials who can assist in determining what hazards might impair departmental operations may be necessary as part of this approach.
2. Consider potential disaster scenarios
Consider several disaster scenarios and the effects they could have on your company. For instance, what might you do if a natural calamity forced you to transfer your business to another location? What could happen if a hacker demanded a ransom for your files?
A disaster recovery strategy that supposedly fits all circumstances may not always be effective. Different procedures are required when your site sustains damage from a fire or other natural catastrophe, as compared to when you find a dissatisfied employee who may have compromised the company’s security. Establish proper processes for each crisis scenario by working with the department heads in your organization.
3. Make a communication plan
No matter what sort of crisis strikes, maintaining business continuity requires a communication plan.
Assign well-defined responsibilities to specific people. For instance, if a fire destroys a building, it may be the maintenance supervisor’s duty to alert the CEO, who will then start a chain reaction of sending messages to staff members.
Create a plan for informing your clients of any closure or relocation of the company, so they know what’s occurred and how to contact you. Make sure someone is designated to handle social media communication and watch for consumer inquiries if phone systems are hacked.
In the event of a data breach, your communication plan should also include necessary regulatory communications as well as public relations messaging to reassure shareholders and clients about security measures you’re taking. It should also have the emergency phone numbers for the members of your organization’s team who will assist you in recovery.
4. Create a data recovery and backup plan
Every organization that wants to continue operating needs a plan in place for disasters of all sizes, whether they include a small issue (such as a server failure or an employee deleting important data) or a serious one that could endanger your company’s continued operation. While entirely preventing security breaches is an optimal scenario, in most cases, this is an unrealistic expectation.
You must therefore put a strategy in place to resolve crisis scenarios and reduce further harm. A solid response strategy includes a group of IT specialists who are committed to resolving an issue, keeping an eye out for any intrusions, and managing associated data breaches.
5. Check your strategy
Test your disaster recovery plan once you’ve created it. Conduct an exercise simulating a natural disaster or a security breach to evaluate how your staff follows the plan and if the strategy is successful.
If you find holes in your plan—security gaps, communication issues, or other problems—add more stages to strengthen it.
Lyve Cloud: The Right Rescue Data Discovery Service for Your Business
Learn how Seagate can help you automate IT recovery management to streamline disaster recovery processes, improve workflow effectiveness, lower risk, save costs, and shorten system testing times. Lyve™ Cloud from Seagate offers a simple, dependable, and efficient cloud backup storage alternative. Since there are no fees for API calls or egress, Lyve Cloud’s clear pricing allows endless scalability without breaking your budget. Users are only charged for storage they actually use for a period of time.
Lyve Cloud is fully S3 compatible and functions with most common backup software. All the saved data is entirely encrypted by Lyve Cloud—both at rest and in transit. Due to the availability of data across several regions, it’s always accessible and available without any delays. Lyve Cloud’s air gapping, ransomware protection, and object immutability make it the smart choice for organizational disaster recovery, backup, and data restoration .