When disaster strikes, it rarely gives advance warning.

While 70 percent of businesses have a disaster recovery plan in place, only around 33 percent of these businesses are adequately prepared to respond to a business-disrupting event, according to StorageCraft. That means that not only are the majority of businesses unprepared for disaster, but many believe they are better prepared than they actually are.

From power outages to hardware failure to natural disasters, any number of things can disrupt the regular functioning of your business. If you are not prepared for these events, they can paralyze your business and, in some cases, even threaten its existence.

Even if you have a disaster recovery plan, there is an urgent need for you to expand it to a holistic business continuity plan that compensates for unexpected failures, combined challenges, and unforeseen obstructions. This means taking steps to make sure your most critical business functions survive any potential difficulty.

Disaster Recovery vs. Business Continuity

Executives and industry professionals often use these terms interchangeably, but it’s important to define what makes them different.

  • Disaster recovery refers to the specific steps a business needs to take to resume operation in response to a catastrophe. A disaster recovery plan is specific and generally applies to one situation. For instance, your business’s disaster recovery plan for floods and fires will be very different than your disaster recovery plan for ransomware or identify theft.
  • Business Continuity is the broader field of how certain solutions can ensure businesses have the capacity to run during and after disaster situations. It involves considerable overlap of disaster recovery plans. For instance, having data redundantly stored on secure off-premises cloud servers can be a viable part of a business continuity plan while offering protection against fires, floods, ransomware, and identify theft simultaneously.

Business continuity matches individual disaster recovery plans to overall business needs to generate solutions. It is the process of planning four or five steps ahead to be sure that your organization can function even if multiple disasters strike at once.

Main Elements of a Successful Business Continuity Plan

As with any emergency response, a successful business continuity plan needs to have the following characteristics:

  • Documented Procedures. Every employee must know what to do in the event of a disaster and be able to perform their function without relying on supervision. If your network infrastructure is compromised, you may be unable to communicate with your team – planning drills and exercises can help ensure each member knows what to do.
  • Up-to-Date Contact Lists. Disaster recovery usually relies on a few key personnel, depending on the specific nature of the disaster. Make sure that all key personnel have up-to-date contact lists containing both internal and external contacts so that everyone involved can activate their part of the plan smoothly.
  • Advance Arrangements. You may need emergency support services, temporary workers, or even cash loans to keep payroll running. Make advance arrangements to secure the resources your business needs when confronted with a major disruption.
  • Investment in Cloud Infrastructure. Cloud technology can be of enormous benefit when ensuring business continuity – but not all cloud solutions are equal. Business-critical tasks that are located on cloud servers with synchronous replication have a far more secure foundation for effective disaster response than ordinary cloud solutions.
  • A Business Impact Analysis. Without a business impact analysis, your business continuity plan largely relies on intuition and whatever data you may happen to have on-hand for gleaning insight. A well-organized business impact report can identify exactly what a large-scale business disruption will do to your company and give you the data you need to form a robust, coherent response.
  • Access to Increased Bandwidth. Insufficient bandwidth is one of the major unforeseen pitfalls of most disaster responses. The bandwidth needed for disaster recovery is exponentially larger than the bandwidth needed for day-to-day networking. Many disaster recovery scenarios fail when the organization’s regular wireless area network is tasked with the transfer of dozens of terabytes of business data to dozens of workstations at the same time.
  • Data Security Protocols. Whenever data is moving from place to place, systems administrators need to consider risks to data security. When huge amounts of data are flowing through ad-hoc network infrastructure, one disaster can lead to another in short time. Virtualization can simplify the data security aspect of a business continuity plan.

The United States Department of Homeland Security offers useful information on business continuity and crisis management, including guidance from the the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). These resources can help you make the first steps towards creating a plan to save your organization from disaster.

Our technical specialists have the expertise you need to protect your data. Talk to a DME Account Manager today and Let us help you design a robust business continuity plan.