You may hear a lot about business continuity plans and may even hear them incorrectly referred to as disaster recovery plans. So, what is a business continuity plan?A business continuity plan is a total blueprint for how a business or organization ensures that its output–products or services–will continue to be provided with as little interruption as possible, despite a disaster. Disaster could be any major disruptive event. Most commonly, we tend to think of these plans as being developed to respond to natural disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes. It should also be noted, business continuity plans aren’t just written to handle natural disasters. Anything which threatens output–for example, the loss of key leadership personnel, cyber attack and civil unrest– are prepared for in a business continuity plan.A business continuity plan has several parts. This blog will outline the major four sections that comprise many business continuity plans.
- Risk Assessment: This is the first step in the plan. This involves scanning the environment to determine the risks that are out there which could threaten the ability of the business to create outputs to meet customer needs. Determining threats is always the first step.
- Business Impact: This stage evaluates each risk and looks at the impact it would have on every portion of the business should it occur. For example, if we lost all internet connectivity for 2 days, what would be the result? How would it impact our ability to function. The best plans look at these in terms of quantifiable consequence. Number of customers affected, revenue lost, etc.
- Recovery and planning: This stage involves developing the specific plans to circumvent barriers created by the disaster to keep the business function in the short term, as well as plans to restore the business to complete functionality over the longer term.
- Testing: The final step is key. Developing training plans for everyone in the firm, and conducting drills and tests to determine the effectiveness of the plan. The results of these tests should be used to refine the recovery plans and should be an ongoing exercise, not something done once and then shelved. Your business evolves and so must the business recovery plan.
As for the question “Aren’t business continuity plans and disaster recovery plans the same?” The answer is simple. A business continuity plan is the complete plan that covers every aspect of anticipation of risk, the impact of the event on the business, recovery, testing and evaluation. Disaster recovery is one piece of the business continuity plan that falls in the recovery section. Now you know.