Creating an Effective Disaster Recovery Plan for Business Continuity

January 25, 2024

by Bhavani Shanmugam

disaster recovery plan

In this post

What is a disaster recovery plan , what is the purpose of a disaster recovery plan, disaster recovery plan checklist, disaster recovery best practices.

  • Differences between business continuity and disaster recovery plan

Disasters are a constant threat to businesses and organizations.

Whether it's a natural disaster, cyber attack, or any other event, the potential data loss has severe consequences, including damage to business reputation, customer trust, and revenue. In some cases, a disaster leads to a business’ end.

That's why having a disaster recovery or DR plan to ensure business continuity by establishing a resilient IT infrastructure is so crucial to the survival of any company.

In this article, we detail how to create a disaster recovery plan for your business and the best practices to follow to protect yourself from catastrophe.

A disaster recovery plan is a detailed strategy that organizations can develop to protect their IT Infrastructure and to guarantee their survival in the event of data loss, such as cyber attacks, natural disasters, or hardware and software failures.

A disaster recovery plan comprises strategies like data backup, data replication , offsite copies, and data recovery methods to ensure business continuity by minimizing downtime.

Employees can refer to the disaster recovery plan to learn about necessary, company-specific protocols to follow before, during, and after a disaster.

No matter the size or type of organization, your company needs to invest in a disaster recovery plan. 

Risk mitigation

A disaster recovery plan proactively prepares businesses for different kinds of disaster situations by identifying potential risks and developing mitigation techniques.

Business continuity

A disaster recovery plan protects business continuity after data loss, enabling organizations to bring back critical IT systems, applications, and data online. This will get the business up and running again with fewer productivity disruptions.

Data protection

With a robust disaster recovery plan in place, you can ensure complete data protection for the entire IT infrastructure that runs single or diverse platforms - virtual, physical, cloud, and SaaS applications.

A disaster recovery plan allows businesses to recover quickly from any data loss and ensures that the company's valuable asset - data, is always available for business operations.

Adherence to data protection and disaster recovery planning regulations is non-negotiable for several businesses and countries.

Compliance enables you to avoid legal issues and potential fines for businesses. Make sure compliance requirements are a part of your disaster recovery plan. 

Less productivity disruption

Whenever a disaster strikes or data loss occurs in any way, it hinders business productivity. However, a well-structured disaster recovery plan helps organizations maintain operational stability, recover data, and continue business operations without interruption.

Customer trust

Your reliability instills confidence in customers, which paves the way for long-term client relationships. To do this, you need a resilient disaster recovery plan that empowers you to keep operations up, even during setbacks.

Reputation management

Data is crucial for smooth business operations, which is why data availability is directly proportional to a company's reputation.

A disaster recovery plan prevents reputational damage by guaranteeing that customers always have the necessary data. No halt in business operations means your customers and stakeholders have faith in you. 

Financial protection

A disaster recovery plan can prevent financial loss from data loss, high downtime, productivity disruptions, loss of customer trust, and reputation damage. Invest in a tailored disaster recovery plan for long-term financial security.

Creating a comprehensive disaster recovery plan helps businesses face unforeseen challenges.

Begin by conducting a thorough risk assessment to understand potential threats and then prioritize systems from most to least. With this information, implement a suitable backup plan for your entire IT infrastructure.

Clearly communicate expectations for roles and responsibilities to everyone involved in setting up and maintaining the disaster recovery plan. Finally, we recommend testing and updating it regularly to align with any changes to the business environment.

Let's break down each key component involved in building an effective disaster recovery plan.

Assessing the risks 

A disaster recovery plan starts with identifying potential external and internal risks. 

  • Internal risks , such as human errors, hardware failure, or software glitches
  • External risks , such as malware attacks and natural disasters

Businesses need to create a list of possible pitfalls based on likelihood and severity. This roster identifies the impact that each risk poses so you and your team can moderate their negative effects.

Establishing recovery objectives 

To establish recovery objectives, you have to understand two key factors.

Firstly, you need to assess the importance of each workload or application in your environment. The level can vary from high to medium to low. Secondly, based on this assessment, set the recovery time and point objectives ( RPO and RTO ) that play a crucial role in minimizing data loss and ensuring swift business continuity.

RPO is the place from which you want to restore the data, which means you have to define your acceptable data loss. RTO is how quickly you want a system or application to get up and running again after a disaster.

Within the disaster recovery plan framework, it’s crucial to align recovery objectives with the priority level of workloads. This lets businesses minimize the impact of data loss incidents and perform a timely recovery.

Implementing a backup solution 

Backup is the process of copying data and keeping it in a storage medium within the same or different location. You can restore data from the backup whenever needed.

A backup plan forms the backbone of a disaster recovery plan that protects business-critical data against loss and enables you to resume business operations swiftly.

How to choose the right backup solution 

The key factors listed below can help you make an informed decision in choosing the right backup solution that aligns seamlessly with your disaster recovery plan. 

  • Diverse workload support: Most IT environments comprise diverse workloads such as virtual machines (VMs), servers, endpoints, cloud VMs, and SaaS applications. Hence, ensure that your solution offers backup support for all workloads in your environment with centralized management and reporting capabilities. 
  • Backup approach: There are multiple backup approaches, such as on-premise, remote, hybrid, and direct-to-cloud backup. Make sure the backup solution supports the approach your organization prefers.
  • Lowest RPO and RTO: Choose a backup solution that offers near-zero recovery objectives.
  • Flexible storage and scalability: Backup solutions have to contribute to versatile storage options, like NAS and SAN, or cloud storage, like AWS, Azure, and Google. As your business grows, the backup solution should scale up as you need.
  • Data retention and compliance: You should be able to retain data as long as you need, especially for compliance with local regulations.
  • Cost: One of the important decision factors is budget. Make sure you can afford the solution. It’s also smart to get flexible licensing options to cater to evolving business needs.

Disaster recovery strategies 

In addition to backup, there are a few other technologies and processes to consider implementing as a part of the disaster recovery strategy.

These predefined methods allow businesses to respond to any disaster immediately and resume operations quickly.

Virtual machine (VM) replication 

VM replication creates exact copies of VMs and hosts them on another site.

The changes on the source VMs can be replicated in real time or periodically. The replica machine remains turned off at your secondary site. You can shift the operations when needed.

  • Failover : If a disaster strikes in your primary site or if a VM fails, you can immediately perform failover, which turns on the replica VM and switches all your operations to a secondary site.  You can also permanently finalize the failover and use the replica VM as your primary VM.
  • Failback : In case you want to restore your source VM with all the changes made during the failover event, you can perform failback and resume your production operations from the primary site itself.

Offsite disaster recovery 

Offsite disaster recovery is the process of making offsite copies of backups to your data center in a different location. This means you have a redundant copy of your data in a remote location to verify additional data protection via geographical separation.

Even if your primary site experiences a disaster, your offsite copy can restore data so you can get back to work. Configure near-zero recovery objectives for offsite backups to guarantee swift recovery and minimal data loss. Offsite copies also allow you to rebuild your entire primary site.

Cloud disaster recovery 

Cloud-based disaster recovery uses cloud storage to recover from disruptive events. One of the modern approaches to disaster recovery,

Cloud disaster recovery copies your data and stores it in the cloud. It’s highly scalable and provides access to your data from anywhere at any time, so you can restore data from the cloud instantly, even if your entire local site is compromised.

Backup vs. disaster recovery  

Both backup and disaster recovery are important for effective data protection, restoring IT systems, and resuming business operations. 

Testing your disaster recovery plan 

Regularly test your disaster recovery plan to make sure it stays effective. This is the best way to validate the existing approach and resolve any potential gaps before an actual catastrophe happens.

The first step is documenting and communicating the disaster recovery plan to everyone involved.

The entire plan, including each individual's roles and responsibilities, should be discussed thoroughly. If an unforeseen incident occurs, your team must be prepared to execute the necessary steps to recover from it.

The next step is functional testing, which performs specific functions such as data recovery and failover. This is to ascertain whether you can still carry out critical functions and to ensure that you meet your recovery objectives.

You can do simulation testing to test out disaster scenarios and observe how your plan performs under these conditions.  

Parallel testing is also available. This technique switches both primary and backup systems to see if the backups can work seamlessly. 

Finally, you can go for full-scale testing to see if your disaster recovery plan works. Every step in your disaster recovery plan is evaluated to determine whether it can be used as a full replacement if your primary site fails.

Regularly update the disaster recovery plan so it remains aligned with the changing business environment.

Businesses can build a resilient plan by adhering to the best practices that help you tackle any unforeseen data loss incidents with confidence. 

  • Document and training: Make sure the disaster recovery document is current. Conduct awareness programs for employees to inform them about the plan and their roles and responsibilities.
  • Aim for near-zero recovery time and point objectives: Define proper recovery objectives for your workloads based on their importance. For highly critical workloads, establish continuous or close-to-continuous data protection starting every 5 to 15 minutes.
  • Set up a comprehensive local backup: Implement a backup solution for all critical workloads in your environment to protect them against data loss.
  • Use offsite storage: If you have a remote data center, set up an offsite copy or replicate VMs for it. This allows you to maintain a separate data copy and recover from it when needed.
  • Explore cloud-based solutions: Utilize cloud solutions for backup or offsite copy as they offer scalability, geographic redundancy, and universal accessibility.
  • Automate: Incorporate automation for processes like recovery, failover, and backup verification. This ensures swift recovery and verifies data consistency.
  • Follow security and compliance rules: Ensure the security measures are built into the disaster recovery plan. Include encryption and ransomware protection, and confirm compliance with relevant regulations.
  • Test all the time: Conduct regular testing to determine the continued effectiveness of your plan.
  • Establish post-incident evaluation: Update the disaster recovery plan for enhanced resilience based on the results of tests or actual disaster incidents. 

Differences between a business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan

Disaster recovery plans and business continuity plans (BCP) are both essential to your organization's resilience.

A disaster recovery plan focuses primarily on IT-related recovery, while BCP is a comprehensive strategy that covers all aspects of continuity during and after disruptions. It’s important to make sure the two plans work together seamlessly.  

Let's compare disaster recovery plan and BCP based on some of their key aspects:

Preparing your business for disaster recovery

A proactive and well-implemented disaster relief plan continues to be an invaluable asset that contributes to your company’s survival and sets you up to thrive after any kind of catastrophe as technology and its risks evolve.

Create an effective disaster recovery plan for your IT infrastructure and give yourself and your team the peace of mind that comes from complete data protection, risk mitigation, system restoration, and business continuity during unforeseen disruptions.

Crafting a discovery recovery plan? Enhance your data security arsenal with the best practices to boost data security and avoid a breach.

Edited by Aisha West

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Bhavani Shanmugam photo

Bhavani is a part of the Product Success team at Vembu Technologies . With a primary focus on enhancing user experience, she strives to optimize the customer journey and foster overall product success. She constantly seeks new ways to improve user experience across Vembu's products.

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About the Professional Practices

Note: For students currently enrolled in a course, please contact your instructor to confirm the version of the Professional Practices that will be referenced in your course.

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Created and maintained by Disaster Recovery Institute (DRI) International, The Professional Practices for Business Continuity Management is a body of knowledge designed to assist in the development, implementation, and maintenance of business continuity programs. It also is intended to serve as a tool for conducting assessments of existing programs.

Use of the Professional Practices framework to develop, implement, and maintain a business continuity program can reduce the likelihood of significant gaps in a program and increase cohesiveness. Using the Professional Practices to assess a program can identify gaps or deficiencies so they may be corrected.

Business continuity management (BCM) is a holistic management process that identifies potential threats to an organization and the impacts to business operations those threats, if realized, might cause, and which provides a framework for building organizational resilience with the capability of an effective response that safeguards the interests of its key stakeholders, reputation, brand, and value-creating activities. Terms are defined in The International Glossary for Resilience published and maintained by DRI International.

Professional Practices 2023

As part of DRI International’s ongoing efforts to maintain the relevance and utility of the Professional Practices, an extensive revision of substance, form, and function was undertaken beginning on November 1, 2021, and finishing August 1, 2022. The goals were to provide information that would include:

  • An enhanced version of Professional Practice Five: Incident Preparedness and Response to include more of the preparation activities related to incident management;
  • More information on identifying various cyber threats and strategies for remediation by integrating cybersecurity activities into business continuity management;
  • Enhancing the use of insurance as a risk transfer tool and providing more specific types of insurance policies that should be an integral part of business continuity management;
  • Introducing more robust data backup techniques;
  • More technology-specific strategies, and;
  • More manufacturing strategies.

In addition, the titles of four of the Professional Practices were modified:

  • Professional Practice One was changed from Program Initiation and Management to Program Management;
  • Professional Practice Eight was changed from Business Continuity Plan Exercise, Assessment, and Maintenance to Business Continuity Plan Exercise/Test, Assessment, and Maintenance for consistency; and
  • Professional Practice Ten was changed from Coordination with External Agencies to Coordination with External Agencies and Resources.

Professional Practices Life Cycle

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Executive Summary

Objectives of The Professional Practices for Business Continuity Management

1. Program Management

  • Establish the need for a business continuity program.
  • Introduce key concepts, such as program management, risk awareness, impact to critical functions/processes, recovery strategies, training and awareness, and exercising/testing.

2. Risk Assessment

  • Identify risks that could impact an entity’s resources, processes or reputation.
  • Assess risks to determine the potential impacts to the entity, enabling the entity to determine the most effective means to reduce them.

3. Business Impact Analysis

  • Identify and prioritize all of the entity’s functions, processes, and dependencies in order to determine the greatest impact upon the entity should the functions not be available. This analysis should be retained and available to assist the entity in understanding incidents and/or the resulting consequences. Quantify the impact to the entity, its services, and the affected parties.
  • Analyze, document, and communicate the findings to highlight all gaps between the entity’s requirements and its current capabilities.

4. Business Continuity Strategies

  • Select strategies to reduce gaps as identified during the risk assessment and business impact analysis.
  • Identify the major functions of the entity, including potential third-party service providers, with the support of the responsible party for the business impact analysis.

5. Incident Preparedness and Response

  • Understand the types of incidents that could threaten life, property, operations, or the environment and their potential impacts.
  • Establish and maintain capabilities to protect life, property, operations, and the environment from potential incidents through the implementation of an incident management system to command, control, and coordinate response, continuity, and recovery activities with internal and external resources.

6. Plan Development and Implementation

  • Document plans to be used during an incident that will enable the entity to continue to function.
  • Define the exercise/testing criteria to validate that the plans will accomplish the desired goal.

7. Awareness and Training Programs

  • Establish and maintain training and awareness programs that result in personnel being able to respond to disruptive incidents in a calm and efficient manner.

8. Business Continuity Plan Exercise/Test, Assessment, and Maintenance

  • Establish a business continuity plan exercise/test, assessment and maintenance program to maintain a state of readiness of the entity.

9. Crisis Communications

  • Create and maintain a crisis communications plan.
  • Ensure that the crisis communications plan will provide for timely, effective communication with internal and external parties.

10. Coordination with External Agencies and Resources

  • Establish policies and procedures to coordinate response activities with applicable public entities and private resources in accordance with Professional Practice Five: Incident Preparedness and Response.

To access the Professional Practices, please log into your DRI account or create one . You can download the Professional Practices from the resources section of your dashboard.

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How to create an effective business continuity plan

A business continuity plan outlines procedures and instructions an organization must follow in the face of disaster, whether fire, flood, or cyberattack. Here’s how to create a plan that gives your business the best chance of surviving such an event.

Professional Meeting: Senior Businesswoman and Colleague in Discussion

The tumultuous events of the past several years have impacted practically every business. And with the number of extreme weather events, cyberattacks, and geopolitical conflicts continuing to rise, business leaders are bracing for the possibility of increasingly more frequent impactful incidents their organizations will need to respond to.

According to PwC’s 2023 Global Crisis and Resilience Survey , 96% of 1,812 business leaders said their organizations had experienced disruption in the past two years and 76% said their most serious disruption had a medium to high impact on operations.

It’s little wonder then that 89% of executives list resilience as one of their most important strategic priorities.

Yet at the same time, only 70% of respondents said they were confident in their organization’s ability to respond to disruptions, with PwC noting that its research shows that too many organizations “are lacking the foundational elements of resilience they need to be successful.”

A solid business continuity plan is one of those foundational elements.

“Every business should have the mindset that they will face a disaster, and every business needs a plan to address the different potential scenarios,” says Goh Ser Yoong, head of compliance at Advance.AI and a member of the Emerging Trends Working Group at the professional governance association ISACA.

A business continuity plan gives the organization the best shot at successfully navigating a disaster by providing ready-made directions on who should do what tasks in what order to keep the business viable.

Without such as a plan, the organization will take longer than necessary to recover from an event or incident — or may never recover at all.

What is a business continuity plan?

A business continuity plan (BCP) is a strategic playbook created to help an organization maintain or quickly resume business functions in the face of disruption, whether that disruption is caused by a natural disaster, civic unrest, cyberattack, or any other threat to business operations.

A business continuity plan outlines the procedures and instructions that the organization must follow during such an event to minimize downtime, covering business processes, assets, human resources, business partners, and more.

A business continuity plan is not the same as a disaster recovery plan , which focuses on restoring IT infrastructure and operations after a crisis. Still, a disaster recovery plan is part of the overall strategy to ensure business continuity, and the business continuity plan should inform the action items detailed in an organization’s disaster recovery plan. The two are tightly coupled, which is why they often are considered together and abbreviated as BCDR.

Why business continuity planning matters

Whether you operate a small business or a large corporation, it’s vital to retain and increase your customer base. There’s no better test of your capability to do so than right after an adverse event.

Because restoring IT is critical for most companies, numerous disaster recovery solutions are available. You can rely on IT to implement those solutions. But what about the rest of your business functions? Your company’s future depends on your people and processes. Being able to handle any incident effectively can have a positive effect on your company’s reputation and market value, and it can increase customer confidence.

Moreover, there are increasing consumer and regulatory expectations for both enterprise security and continuity today. Consequently, organizations must prioritize continuity planning to prevent not only business losses, but financial, legal, reputational, and regulatory consequences.

For example, the risk of having an organization’s “license to operate” withdrawn by a regulator or having conditions applied (retrospectively or prospectively) can adversely affect market value and consumer confidence.

Building (and updating) a business continuity plan

Whether building the organization’s first business continuity plan or updating an existing one, the process involves multiple essential steps.

Assess business processes for criticality and vulnerability: Business continuity planning “starts with understanding what’s most important to the business,” says Joe Nocera, principle in the cyber risk and regulatory practice at PwC, a professional services firm.

So the first step in building your business continuity plan is assessing your business processes to determine which are the most critical; which are the most vulnerable and to what type of events; and what are the potential losses if those processes go down for a day, a few days, or a week.

“This step essentially determines what you are trying to protect and what you are trying to keep up for systems,” says Todd Renner, senior managing director in the cybersecurity practice at FTI Consulting.

This assessment is more demanding than ever before because of the complexity of today’s hybrid workplace, the modern IT environment, and the reliance on business partners and third-party providers to perform or support critical processes.

Given that complexity, Goh says a thorough assessment requires an inventory of not only key processes but also the supporting components — including the IT systems, networks, people, and outside vendors — as well as the risks to those components.

This is essentially a business impact analysis.

Determine your organization’s RTO and RPO: The next step in building a business continuity plan is determining the organization’s recovery time objective (RTO), which is the target amount of time between point of failure and the resumption of operations, and the recovery point objective (RPO), which is the maximum amount of data loss an organization can withstand.

Each organization has its own RTO and RPO based on the nature of its business, industry, regulatory requirements, and other operational factors. Moreover, different parts of a business can have different RTOs and RPOs, which executives need to establish, Nocera says.

“When you meet with individual aspects of the business, everyone says everything [they do] is important; no one wants to say their part of the business is less critical, but in reality you have to have those challenging conversations and determinations about what is actually critical to the business and to business continuity,” he adds.

Detail the steps, roles, and responsibilities for continuity: Once that is done, business leaders should use the RTO and the RPO, along with the business impact analysis, to determine the specific tasks that need to happen, by whom, and in what order to ensure business continuity.

“It’s taking the key components of your analysis and designing a plan that outlines roles and responsibilities, about who does what. It gets into the nitty-gritty on how you’re going to keep the company up and running,” Renner explains.

One common business continuity planning tool is a checklist that includes supplies and equipment, the location of data backups and backup sites, where the plan is available and who should have it, and contact information for emergency responders, key personnel, and backup site providers.

Although the list of possible scenarios that could impact business operations can seem extensive, Goh says business leaders don’t have to compile an exhaustive list of potential incidents. Rather, they should compile a list that includes likely incidents as well as representative ones so that they can create responses that have a higher likelihood of ensuring continuity even when faced with an unimagined disaster.

“So even if it’s an unexpected event, they can pull those building blocks from the plan and apply them to the unique crisis they’re facing,” Nocera says.

The importance of testing the business continuity plan

Devising a business continuity plan is not enough to ensure preparedness; testing and practicing are other critical components.

Renner says testing and practicing offer a few important benefits.

First, they show whether or how well a plan will work.

Testing and practicing help prepare all stakeholders for an actual incident, helping them build the muscle memory needed to respond as quickly and as confidently as possible during a crisis.

They also help identify gaps in the devised plan. As Renner says: “Every tabletop exercise that I’ve ever done has been an eye-opener for everyone involved.”

Additionally, they help identify where there may be misalignment of objectives. For example, executives may have deprioritized the importance of restoring certain IT systems only to realize during a drill that those are essential for supporting critical processes.

Types and timing of tests

Many organizations test a business continuity plan two to four times a year. Experts say the frequency of tests, as well as reviews and updates, depends on the organization itself — its industry, its speed of innovation and transformation, the amount of turnover of key personnel, the number of business processes, and so on.

Common tests include tabletop exercises , structured walk-throughs, and simulations. Test teams are usually composed of the recovery coordinator and members from each functional unit.

A tabletop exercise usually occurs in a conference room with the team poring over the plan, looking for gaps and ensuring that all business units are represented therein.

In a structured walk-through, each team member walks through his or her components of the plan in detail to identify weaknesses. Often, the team works through the test with a specific disaster in mind. Some organizations incorporate drills and disaster role-playing into the structured walk-through. Any weaknesses should be corrected and an updated plan distributed to all pertinent staff.

Some experts also advise a full emergency evacuation drill at least once a year.

Meanwhile, disaster simulation testing — which can be quite involved — should still be performed annually. For this test, create an environment that simulates an actual disaster, with all the equipment, supplies and personnel (including business partners and vendors) who would be needed. The purpose of a simulation is to determine whether the organization and its staff can carry out critical business functions during an actual event.

During each phase of business continuity plan testing, include some new employees on the test team. “Fresh eyes” might detect gaps or lapses of information that experienced team members could overlook.

Reviewing and updating the business continuity plan should likewise happen on an ongoing basis.

“It should be a living document. It shouldn’t be shelved. It shouldn’t be just a check-the-box exercise,” Renner says.

Otherwise, plans go stale and are of no use when needed.

Bring key personnel together at least annually to review the plan and discuss any areas that must be modified.

Prior to the review, solicit feedback from staff to incorporate into the plan. Ask all departments or business units to review the plan, including branch locations or other remote units.

Furthermore, a strong business continuity function calls for reviewing the organization’s response in the event of an actual event. This allows executives and their teams to identify what the organization did well and where it needs to improve.

How to ensure business continuity plan support, awareness

One way to ensure your plan is not successful is to adopt a casual attitude toward its importance. Every business continuity plan must be supported from the top down. That means senior management must be represented when creating and updating the plan; no one can delegate that responsibility to subordinates. In addition, the plan is likely to remain fresh and viable if senior management makes it a priority by dedicating time for adequate review and testing.

Management is also key to promoting user awareness. If employees don’t know about the plan, how will they be able to react appropriately when every minute counts?

Although plan distribution and training can be conducted by business unit managers or HR staff, have someone from the top kick off training and punctuate its significance. It’ll have a greater impact on all employees, giving the plan more credibility and urgency.

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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

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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Business Continuity Management, Disaster Recovery Planning: Compliance in Practice

  • Nijaz Bajgorić 4 ,
  • Lejla Turulja 4 &
  • Amra Alagić 4  
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This chapter provides instructions on how a project management methodology can be applied to create, implement, and maintain Business Continuity Plan (BCP), Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) with a strong emphasis on building business readiness that allows companies to recover their business processes after unforeseen events. There are three main topics covered in this chapter: Business Continuity Plan (BCP), Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) and IT Audit of BC/DR. The Chapter explains four key BCM processes that can be divided into the following six phases: Project initiation, Risk Assessment/Business Impact Analysis, Determining the BCM Strategy, Creation of master Contingency Plans, Testing and exercising master Contingency Plans, and Operations Management. Special emphasis was placed on the development of two key documents, Risk Assessment and Business Impact Analysis, through which the BCM team becomes more familiar with business processes and the IT infrastructure that supports these processes, in order to define key parameters such as RTO and RPO to prioritize critical business processes and determine the order of recovery of processes and applications after a disaster. At the end of the Chapter, instructions are provided on how to conduct a systematic audit of BC/DR processes and associated activities.

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disaster recovery business continuity plan best practices

6 Essential Elements of Business Continuity and Data Recovery Planning


  • Best Practices ,

disaster recovery business continuity plan best practices

Business Risk Assessment

Every IT Manager should perform a business risk assessment for each key infrastructure that is responsible for the management, maintenance, and/or storage of data, be it cloud, or on-prem. An assessment should define, and identify the importance that data repositories play in housing critical data within an organization. The assessment should also define and document the disaster contingency and recovery plan for each manager’s area of responsibility. Questions that plan should answer include:

  • What are the key business processes?
  • What are the applicable risks to availability?
  • What is our prioritization of recovery?

Contingency Plans

Businesses must have a contingency plan documented in the event that hardware, software or networks become dysfunctional or simply go down. This plan should explain the nature of the system unavailability in the event of an outage, and should detail a predetermined recovery process that will be implemented to regain operation. The contingency plan should describe, if necessary, off-site computer operations or temporary hardware or software use. Businesses should test regularly, and review this plan for updates to technology or other circumstances that may change.

Consider Disaster Recovery as a Service

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) is an approach to data recovery that has gained popularity over the years. Based in the cloud, DRaaS has many capabilities that traditional disaster recovery does not, including cost-effectiveness, and scalability. DRaaS vendor, Acronis explains how their solution works, stating:

“It will back up and replicate your systems into an on-site appliance and Acronis cloud data center. In case of outage, we can recover and restart your systems locally or in our cloud so you can continue providing IT services to your internal and external constituents until you can safely fail back.”

disaster recovery business continuity plan best practices

Data Backup Plans

A Data Backup Plan should define and address, at minimum, the following:

  • Personnel responsible for executing the backup plan, keeping in mind data confidentiality best interests.
  • Construct a schedule that routinely checks systems and backup data. Be advised that, depending on backup and recovery solution provider, the cost of more frequent backup may increase. Make do with your business’ unique budget, as the potential losses as a result of having no plan greatly outweighs any loss you would have with a plan in place.
  • Identify all systems and data lakes that require backup.
  • Develop and detail specific recovery procedures to restore data from backup repositories.

Communication When Systems are Down

In the event of a disaster– if your company’s internet and phones are down, this could throw a major stick-in-the-spokes of business continuity. You must discuss with all employees a plan of action to keep in touch with customers, employees who are off-site, and most importantly, a way to contact emergency services if outgoing lines of communication have shut down. A log of the personal cell phone or landline numbers of key personnel may come in handy, keeping in mind confidentiality requests of course, along with personal email addresses of employees, especially if the business runs it’s own email servers. Develop a plan and make these resources available to those who need them in a predetermined location.

Establishing Timelines

Most importantly, make sure to explore your business’ recovery time objectives. How long is too long before teams are able to recover critical systems when they fail? What financial implications would 5 hours, 10 hours, or 24 hours of downtime mean to your bottom line? With this in mind, establish a recovery time objective (RTO). This is the duration of time within which a business process or system must be restored after an outage, in order to avoid consequences associated with the disruption. Not all stakeholders may understand the impact that downtime can have on a business; that reputation, liability and even jobs are at stake if a team is not hyper-responsive to these emergencies. Make sure your employees know that, in these instances, time equals much more than money.

Disasters are all around us, and businesses need to be prepared for that. Without proper business continuity and data recovery practices in place, organizations will be unable to bounce back, with many eventually failing. Consider these points when beginning the planning process in order to maintain business operations during a disaster.

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This article was written by Tess Hanna on May 10, 2019

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Tess Hanna is an editor and writer at Solutions Review covering Backup and Disaster Recovery, Data Storage, Cloud Computing, and Network Monitoring. Recognized by Onalytica in the 2021 "Who's Who in Data Management," and "Who's Who in Automation" reports. You can contact her at [email protected]

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Best Practices: Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery

Business continuity planning (BCP) and disaster recovery (DR) are all about preparing for and responding to major adverse events.

These events are very rare so you don’t get much opportunity to test and validate the BCP and DR capability from live practice like you do in most other areas.

So if they’re rare, why bother?

Why shift focus away from things that do happen regularly?

Your customers and other stakeholders understand and accept that sometimes things go wrong. But your ability to respond to them has high expectations. It’s front and center when something does go wrong. In these types of events, the stakes are higher. If you fail to respond effectively to major events it can cause a contract termination or a long-lasting negative impact on your reputation. On the more positive side of that; effective response in disaster scenarios is the best way to build long-term trust and positive customer sentiment.

What types of events are we talking about?

The definition of what types and severity of events trigger your BCP and DR Plans should be based on your own assessment of your company and environment.

The starting point is to consider the surrounding processes like service desk, incident management and sometimes change management. These processes each define how to manage related 'events'. At some threshold, depending on how they’re designed, they will fall short of defining sufficient methods to deal with those (critical) events. For example, if your CTO leaves disgruntled and takes most of the development team with him, you're unlikely to manage that with the service desk. Or if you end up in the news for a privacy breach, it's not the same run-of-the-mill incident response.

As a rule of thumb guide for when to enact the BCP/DR rather than a routine service desk or incident response, you might consider;

  • when is an event serious enough to notify Executive Management or even the Board?
  • Is it a once in a 3-year event? Or for more mature and stable businesses perhaps a once in a 10-year event? ie. sufficiently rare that it would be a drop-everything and respond situation.
  • Will this event require additional management on top of, or instead of, the standard processes?
  • Could this event put the business on hold, have a major adverse impact on customers, or catastrophic consequences if managed poorly?

If the answer to any of those is yes, that type or severity of event is likely to require enacting your BCP/DR plans. It’s a good idea to define these types of events within the BCP, DRP, and/or incident management policies and procedures so that everyone is clear on the difference and when each type of response is appropriate.

The types of events to consider, usually in combination with a level of severity, are;

  • System outages
  • Production data corruption
  • Data security breaches
  • System security breaches
  • Public relations matters
  • Attempted or successful external attacks
  • Loss of key office locations
  • Loss of key personnel
  • Any failures that halt critical business functions that your customers rely on
  • Third-party failure or breach

How do these events fit into each of the 'plans'?

There is a lot of overlap between the plans for incident response, business continuity, and disaster recovery. They may all be combined into one document and defined process or separated. Generally, the difference is; incident management covers all types of adverse, system-related events regardless of severity and type. Disaster recovery is focused on major IT disruptions for the technical, system side to be able to recover systems, data, and production services in a fast, secure and effective manner. Business continuity covers the broader handling of major adverse events including the non-technical side of it and surrounding non-technical processes of responding to adverse events.

The Business Continuity Plan is commonly believed to be all about the physical offices. But it should also consider the likes of security breaches, loss of key personal, downtime in any key functional areas (people, processes or systems related), and third-party-related issues. It should consider anything that may prevent the continuity of important business functions, your services, or even the survival of your business.

What's documented in each of these plans?

Incident Management & Response

The Incident Management Policy, and/or the Incident Response Plan/Policy should cover end-to-end handling of unplanned and adverse events. This includes how they are identified, assessed, classified, and then the response to those, how they may be 'closed' (the criteria or requirements), and any post-incident review activities for 'lessons learned' to prevent a recurrence. There should also be a clear linkage to the Change Management Policy or process for how incidents feed into product fixes and the relative priority of those compared to other product change plans. Incident Management is explored further in Best Practices: Incident Management . 

Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP)

The Disaster Recovery Plan is directly linked to both the incident management process and the Business Continuity Plan. Its focus is how to recover the critical system functions in the event of a major event that disrupts them.

In contrast to the BCP that has a broader operational focus, the DRP is focused on the technical side of recovering data and systems back to normal operation. In modern times with infrastructure as a service and integrated DRP functions, the DRP is often a very simple process and document. It may simply set out the steps to recover data and the systems from backup, as well as a periodic (quarterly, annual) review process to verify the recovery practices are successful. It may also be supported by multiple availability zones for automatic failover in a disaster scenario where a data center is lost. The DRP like any policy document should set out roles and responsibilities, as well as any key external or internal contacts related to effectively enacting the plans.

Business Continuity Plan (BCP)

The BCP is often the most comprehensive of these three areas. It needs to broadly identify and address any types of events that may disrupt the continuity of your people, processes, systems, or services. For those events, it needs to clearly identify the key dependencies, specific objectives and priorities, and the practical components of how to respond effectively. Then like all policies, procedures and plans it should set out roles and responsibilities and the overall governance of how the BCP is reviewed, updated, and verified periodically.

Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

The BCP may start with a Business Impact Analysis; what are the critical functions and what happens if they are impacted? This is a good starting point to understanding what types of events may disrupt the continuity of your business, by which events impact these critical functions.

Recovery Time Objectives (RTO's)

Following on directly from the BIA, how quickly do these critical functions need to be recovered before it has a significant adverse impact. That may be, for example, your customers are materially impacted and unable to continue their own operations, or the impact is serious enough it causes repetitional damage or financial damage if there are covenants in your contract.

Scenarios & Responses

The scenarios usually come from a brainstorming exercise to come up with a list of possible events that may cause a continuity issue or requiring enactment of the BCP in some form. They should consider the business impact to identify the event types but also form high-level response plans that fit with the recovery objectives. For the purpose of the BCP, you may find grouping scenarios is worthwhile, where the responses are likely to be similar for similar types of events. The response plans should be high-level enough that they can be quickly and easily referenced and followed, but also sufficiently clear or linked to further detail, to enable them to be effectively carried out. It's often appropriate to point to "who" as opposed to "what" will be done, as most major events require discretion at the time. But you want to ensure it's the right person with authority, expertise, and the right resources to be managing it.

Incident Response Team

The Incident Response Team is a predefined team of responsible participants for coordinating and executing the BCP. This team should have a prior briefing on the essentials of their role and feel prepared to be able to enact the BCP. In the BCP itself, there should be contact details for this team for other members of the business to know whom to contact in the event that the BCP may need to be triggered, or is in practice.

Response Playbooks

The response playbooks or steps should include the high-level pre-planned steps that may be necessary if the types of BCP events occur. This may be a flow chart, a sequence of considerations, or a step-by-step guide. It's impossible to completely plan out all steps that may be performed in the event of an unforeseen event, which is the nature of when the BCP is enacted. The purpose is to prompt considerations that may otherwise be missed, forgotten, or poorly executed in the heat of the moment. Having this reference point helps reduce the likelihood of that poor execution.

There are various other things that can be included in the Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans. These should each be tested at least annually to check that they are appropriate and effective. Often that's done via a desk-based run-through or simple simulations, as it's not always feasible to do live tests or more real-world simulations. The purpose of doing some form of testing is to validate the assumptions made in the BCP and DR Plans and identify areas of improvement to better prepare. It may be as simple as identifying that the plan has a communications plan but the list of contacts to communicate with has not been prepared yet.

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AssuranceLab's best practices series is about highlighting the "real operational benefits" that come from effective control practices. At best, they support your company culture, provide structure and clarity, and enable scalable growth. At worst, they tick the box of what your customers expect, reduce the reactive "firefighting" and time-wasting, and help you demonstrate your compliance with leading standards like SOC 2 and ISO 27001.

Business continuity and disaster recovery plans are risk management strategies that businesses rely on to prepare for unexpected incidents. While the terms are closely related, there are some key differences worth considering when choosing which is right for you:

  • Business continuity plan (BCP): A BCP is a detailed plan that outlines the steps an organization will take to return to normal business functions in the event of a disaster. Where other types of plans might focus on one specific aspect of recovery and interruption prevention (such as a natural disaster or cyberattack), BCPs take a broad approach and aim to ensure an organization can face as broad a range of threats as possible.
  • Disaster recovery plan (DRP):  More detailed in nature than BCPs, disaster recovery plans consist of contingency plans for how enterprises will specifically protect their IT systems and critical data during an interruption. Alongside BCPs, DR plans help businesses protect data and IT systems from many different disaster scenarios, such as massive outages, natural disasters,  ransomware  and  malware  attacks, and many others.
  • Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR): Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) can be approached together or separately depending on business needs. Recently, more and more businesses are moving towards practicing the two disciplines together, asking executives to collaborate on BC and DR practices rather than work in isolation. This has led to combining the two terms into one, BCDR , but the essential meaning of the two practices remains unchanged.

Regardless of how you choose to approach the development of BCDR at your organization, it’s worth noting how quickly the field is growing worldwide. As the results of bad BCDR like data loss and downtime become more and more expensive, many enterprises are adding to their existing investments. Last year, companies worldwide were poised to spend USD 219 billion on cybersecurity and solutions, a 12% increase from the year before according to a recent report by the International Data Corporation (IDC) (link resides outside

Why are business continuity and disaster recovery plans important?

Business continuity plans (BCPs) and disaster recovery plans (DRPs) help organizations prepare for a broad range of unplanned incidents. When deployed effectively, a good DR plan can help stakeholders better understand the risks to regular business functions that a particular threat may pose. Enterprises that don’t invest in business continuity disaster recovery (BCDR) are more likely to experience data loss, downtime, financial penalties and reputational damage due to unplanned incidents.

Here are some of the benefits that businesses who invest in business continuity and disaster recovery plans can expect:

  • Shortened downtime: When a disaster shuts down normal business operations, it can cost enterprises hundreds of millions of dollars to get back up and running again. High-profile  cyberattacks  are particularly damaging, frequently attracting unwanted attention and causing investors and customers to flee to competitors who advertise shorter downtimes. Implementing a strong BCDR plan can shorten your recovery timeframe regardless of the kind of disaster you face.
  • Lower financial risk: According to  IBM’s recent Cost of Data Breach Report, the average cost of a data breach was USD 4.45 million in 2023—a 15% increase since 2020. Enterprises with strong business continuity plans have shown they can reduce those costs significantly by shortening downtimes and increasing customer and investor confidence.
  • Reduced penalties: Data breaches can result in large penalties when private customer information is leaked. Businesses that operate in the healthcare and personal finance space are at a higher risk because of the sensitivity of the data they handle. Having a strong business continuity strategy in place is imperative for businesses that operate in these sectors, helping keep the risk of heavy financial penalties relatively low.

How to build a business continuity disaster recovery plan

Business continuity disaster recovery (BCDR) planning is most effective when businesses take a separate but coordinated approach. While business continuity plans (BCPs) and disaster recovery plans (DRPs) are similar, there are important differences that make developing them separately advantageous:

  • Strong BCPs focus on tactics for keeping normal operations running before, during and immediately following a disaster. 
  • DRPs tend to be more reactive, outlining ways to respond an incident and get everything back up and running smoothly.

Before we dive into how you can build effective BCPs and DRPs, let’s look at a couple of terms that are relevant to both:

  • Recovery time objective (RTO):  RTO refers to the amount of time it takes to restore business processes after an unplanned incident. Establishing a reasonable RTO is one of the first things businesses need to do when they’re creating either a BCP or DRP. 
  • Recovery point objective (RPO):  Your business’ recovery point objective (RPO) is the amount of data it can afford to lose in a disaster and still recover. Since data protection is a core capability of many modern enterprises, some constantly copy data to a remote  data center  to ensure continuity in case of a massive breach. Others set a tolerable RPO of a few minutes (or even hours) for business data to be recovered from a backup system and know they will be able to recover from whatever was lost during that time.

How to build a business continuity plan (BCP) 

While each business will have slightly different requirements when it comes to planning for business continuity, there are four widely used steps that yield strong results regardless of size or industry.

1. Run a business impact analysis 

Business impact analysis (BIA) helps organizations better understand the various threats they face. Strong BIA includes creating robust descriptions of all potential threats and any vulnerabilities they might expose. Also, the BIA estimates the likelihood of each event so the organization can prioritize them accordingly.

2. Create potential responses

For each threat you identify in your BIA, you’ll need to develop a response for your business. Different threats require different strategies, so for each disaster you might face it’s good to create a detailed plan for how you could potentially recover.

3. Assign roles and responsibilities

The next step is to figure out what’s required of everyone on your disaster recovery team in the event of a disaster. This step must document expectations and consider how individuals will communicate during an unplanned incident. Remember, many threats shut down key communication capabilities like cellular and Wi-Fi networks, so it’s wise to have communication fallback procedures you can rely on.

4. Rehearse and revise your plan

For each threat you’ve prepared for, you’ll need to constantly practice and refine BCDR plans until they are operating smoothly. Rehearse as realistic a scenario as you can without putting anyone at actual risk so team members can build confidence and discover how they are likely to perform in the event of an interruption to business continuity.

How to build a disaster recovery plan (DRP)

Like BCPs, DRPs identify key roles and responsibilities and must be constantly tested and refined to be effective. Here is a widely used four-step process for creating DRPs.

1. Run a business impact analysis

Like your BCP, your DRP begins with a careful assessment of each threat your company could face and what its implications could be. Consider the damage each potential threat could cause and the likelihood of it interrupting your daily business operations. Additional considerations could include loss of revenue, downtime, cost of reputational repair (public relations) and loss of customers and investors due to bad press.

2. Inventory your assets

Effective DRPs require you to know exactly what your enterprise owns. Regularly perform these inventories so you can easily identify hardware, software, IT infrastructure and anything else your organization relies on for critical business functions. You can use the following labels to categorize each asset and prioritize its protection—critical, important and unimportant.

  • Critical:  Label assets critical if you depend on them for your normal business operations.
  • Important:  Give this label to anything you use at least once a day and, if disrupted, would impact your critical operations (but not shut them down entirely).
  • Unimportant:  These are the assets your business owns but uses infrequently enough to make them unessential for normal operations.

Like in your BCP, you’ll need to describe responsibilities and ensure your team members have what they need to perform them. Here are some widely used roles and responsibilities to consider:

  • Incident reporter:  Someone who maintains contact information for relevant parties and communicates with business leaders and stakeholders when disruptive events occur.
  • DRP  supervisor:  Someone who ensures team members perform the tasks they’ve been assigned during an incident. 
  • Asset manager:  Someone whose job it is to secure and protect critical assets when a disaster strikes. 

4. Rehearse your plan

Just like with your BCP, you’ll need to constantly practice and update your DRP for it to be effective. Practice regularly and update your documents according to any meaningful changes that need to be made. For example, if your company acquires a new asset after your DRP has been formed, you’ll need to incorporate it into your plan going forward or it won’t be protected when disaster strikes.

Examples of strong business continuity and disaster recovery plans

Whether you need a business continuity plan (BCP), a disaster recovery plan (DRP), or both working together or separately, it can help to look at how other businesses have put plans in place to boost their preparedness. Here are a few examples of plans that have helped businesses with both BC and DR preparation.

  • Crisis management plan:  A good crisis management plan could be part of either business continuity or disaster recovery planning. Crisis management plans are detailed documents that outline how you’ll manage a specific threat. They provide detailed instructions on how an organization will respond to a specific kind of crisis, such as a power outage, cybercrime or natural disaster; specifically, how they’ll deal with the hour-by-hour and minute-by-minute pressures while the event is unfolding. Many of the steps, roles and responsibilities required in business continuity and disaster recovery planning are relevant to good crisis management plans.
  • Communications plan:  Communications plans (or comms plans) equally apply to business continuity and disaster recovery efforts. They outline how your organization will specifically address PR concerns during an unplanned incident. To build a good comms plan, business leaders typically coordinate with communications specialists to formulate their communications plans. Some have specific plans in place for disasters that are deemed both likely and severe , so they know exactly how they’ll respond.
  • Network recovery plan:  Network recovery plans help organizations recover interruptions of network services, including internet access, cellular data, local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs). Network recovery plans are typically broad in scope since they focus on a basic and essential need—communication—and should be considered more on the side of business continuity than disaster recovery. Given the importance of many networked services to business operations, network recovery plans focus on the steps needed to restore services quickly and effectively after an interruption.
  • Data center  recovery plan: A data center recovery plan is more likely to be included in a BCP than a DRP because of its focus on data security and threats to IT infrastructure. Some common threats to data backup include overstretched personnel, cyberattacks, power outages and difficulty following compliance requirements. 
  • Virtualized recovery plan:  Like a data center plan, a virtualized recovery plan is more likely to be part of a BCP than a DRP because of a BCP’s focus on IT and data resources. Virtualized recovery plans rely on  virtual machine (VM)  instances that can swing into operation within a couple of minutes of an interruption. Virtual machines are representations/emulations of physical computers that provide critical application recovery through high availability (HA), or the ability of a system to operate continuously without failing.

Business continuity and disaster recovery solutions 

Even a minor interruption can put your business at risk. IBM has a wide range of contingency plans and disaster recovery solutions to help prepare your business to face a variety of threats including cloud backup and disaster recovery capabilities and security and resiliency services.

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Five Best Practices for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

In our previous post we defined business continuity and disaster recovery, distinguished between a business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan, and motivated why you need these. Today’s post deals with best practices when it comes to disaster management and ensuring business continuity.

Best practices are those practices that render the best results with the least amount of effort based on tested procedures. But, before we discuss best practices, and b efore compiling your BCP and DRP it is worthwhile considering what types of incidents or crises you should make provision for. Below we have listed the types of incidents or crises that could occur:

  • Natural disasters – as the title indicates, these are disasters that you have no control over: fires, floods, earthquakes, etc.
  • Malicious attacks – malicious attacks are not limited to ransomware or hacking; vandalism, riots, terrorism and reputational threats all mean your company harm and can lead to data loss. 
  • Technological disasters – these include computer network failures, hardware failures or problems associated with using outdated equipment.
  • Human error – disasters are not always natural or malicious and human error is as big a consideration. For example, employees can accidentally delete important data, bring in external devices that contain malicious software or something as simple as a discarded cigarette but can cause a fire and data loss.

In what follows, we discuss 5 best practices to prepare for disaster and ensure business continuity:

1. Design a business continuity plan that ensures that all components can be accessed in the event of a disaster

The purpose of a BCP does not end after its creation. No matter how much time you have spent compiling the perfect documentation and allocate the appropriate resources, if these are not available on demand when disaster strikes, your BCP has failed.  The main aim of your BCP should therefore be unhindered access and, to this end, the files should be saved in a consistently available location.

2. Update your business continuity and disaster recovery plans in line with organizational changes

As your organization’s operations may change between compiling your BCP and DRP and when a disaster may occur, it is important to keep your BCP and DRP up to date. A practical example to demonstrate: You have compiled and tested your BCP and DRP; both plans have proven to work. Six months later, your organization has changed from running its application system on-prem to running it in the cloud. All the hard work to compile and test your BCP and DRP would have been for naught if you did not update your plans in line with this change and you won’t be able to recover anything quickly and so ensure business continuity. Change management is therefore an important component of a successful BCP and DRP.

3. Perform realistic tests to ensure it works.

As mentioned above, it is crucial to test your plan to ensure its successful execution. In the chaos that ensues in the face of a disaster, an untested plan will undoubtedly fail. When testing your BCP and DRP you should therefore consider all possibilities from the smallest systems fails to the entire business being wiped out by a tornado. Your plan should furthermore clearly indicate what is working and what not. This will lay the groundwork for maturation of your plan over time which will ultimate see your business continuity being maintained and any business losses of revenue or customer trust, curbed. A final benefit of testing is that it can serve as practice training an anticipation of the real disaster.

4. Keep full copies of critical data offsite

If, for example, your organization stores its primary data in location X, it is not sensible to store your secondary backup 30 miles away. Natural disasters (fires, floods, earthquakes) will still affect the secondary data center and so hamper operations. A copy of critical data and services should be kept at least 150 miles away from the primary data center. If, for operational reasons, you have to keep the primary and secondary data centers in close proximity, approach an expert consultant to assess the particular case to establish where close proximity is indeed a requirement.

5. Empower your personnel

Your personnel as the frontline of your organization and the backbone of your operations, should be trained and empowered to execute your BCP and DRP.  Personnel that has not been properly trained to use your BCP and DRP in the event of a disaster, will cause more disruption. Ensuring your personnel is prepared and has the knowledge and skills to face a critical event will not only reduce downtime but also increase performance through wiser use of IT assets

Our next post will discuss the critical components of a well-designed business continuity plan.

Securing your company’s data via cloud disaster recovery solutions is crucial to protect your business in the event of an unforeseen disaster. Stage2Data is one of North America’s most trusted cloud solution providers, offering secure data management at a cost effective price. Contact our team for more information today.

Robert Kellerman

Robert Kellerman

Recent posts, mastering your cloud strategy: choosing the right cloud service provider, a deep dive into 24 disaster recovery use cases, recent poll sheds light on businesses’ backup strategies, 2023 ransomware preparedness: lighting the way to readiness and mitigation, cloud data without a disaster recovery plan: a ticking time bomb, understanding ransomware protection: techniques and best practices.

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4 Essential Best Practices for Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

4 Essential Best Practices for Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity, disaster recovery best practices, business continuity best practices, disaster recovery planning best practices

From cyberthreats to natural disasters, today’s businesses must prepare themselves for just about anything. Here are 3 best practices to follow.

Business continuity planning and disaster recovery planning are vital strategies for increasing your  organisation’s resilience  in the face of threats like natural disasters and data breaches.

While the two are often lumped together, and both share the long-term goal of keeping your business up and running during an incident, there are also some key differences to consider.

The main difference between  business disaster recovery and business continuity planning  is the scope. While disaster recovery focuses on the immediacy of a disaster, business continuity focuses on keeping critical business operations up and running before, during, and after an incident.

Despite these differences, both strategies are deeply connected and typically work in tandem. This is why it’s important to approach them as two separate, albeit related, disciplines under a unified operational and technological environment.

With that in mind, here are four essential best practices you should follow when building out your plans:

1. Monitor risk across your environment

Data is the lifeblood of modern business. Not only is it often the most valuable asset – it’s also the biggest source of risk. That’s even truer in the era of remote work, where more and more companies are defined by their digital footprints and the apps and data their employees use to perform their roles.

For an organisation to function through thick and thin, it’s vital that corporate data continue to flow smoothly at all times. That means it must be protected against threats like cyberattacks and unexpected service outages, while ensuring compliance with data protection regulations and company policy.

You can’t protect what you don’t know about, which is why all mission-critical systems require round-the-clock monitoring. You need to know where your data lives, which security controls and policies are in place to protect it, and who or what has access to it and when. Monitoring your entire technical supply chain is vital for delivering the insights you need to manage risk. Equipped with real-time information concerning the movement of data through your company, you can make optimisations that continuously improve your resilience.

2. Choose the right backup method

There are many backup methods to choose from. The time-honoured industry standard, and indeed the one recommended by the US Government, is the 3-2-1 backup strategy. The 3-2-1 method states that you should always have three copies of your data stored on two different types of media and one off-site copy.

However, as with most things in technology that were once ‘timeless’, a 3-2-1 backup method is simply no longer good enough. Moreover, it’s much less relevant in the age of the cloud, in which many companies don’t even use their own physical storage devices any more. Instead, it’s generally much better to focus on the number of offsite copies you have and where they’re located. For example, the 3-2-2 backup strategy includes a second off-site copy of your data, ideally located in a separate geographical region from the first. This is ideal for businesses that require a mix of local and cloud-based protection.

Availability is another vital metric to consider when formulating your backup strategy. Many backup solutions also feature automated rollovers. For example, if you have your data hosted with a major cloud vendor like AWS or Google, it will typically be stored in at least two different data centers simultaneously, with both copies being synchronised in real time.

3. Extend the best practices to your supply chain

Every successful business involves a collaborative effort between highly interconnected teams and third-parties that provide everything from technical services to raw materials. These third parties are, of course, essential, since no business operates on an island of self-sufficiency.

However, a single supplier relationship can also be your business’s weakest link. For example, if a cloud vendor suffers an extended service outage, your business may be unable to continue mission-critical operations. Worse yet, if a supplier suffers from a serious data breach, your company data might also end up at risk, no matter how well protected your internal systems are.

Mitigating third-party risk by extending business continuity and disaster recovery across the entire corporate supply chain is essential for creating a resilient business. After all, more often than not, an organisation’s resilience hinges on the resilience of its supply chain.

The goal is to eliminate single points of failure by diversifying your supply chain and regularly reviewing your supplier relationships. When it comes to suppliers that provide critical products and services, business continuity planning demands that you have backup suppliers. When third parties have access to sensitive corporate data, you need to ensure that the necessary security and compliance controls are in place.

Every third party should undergo rigorous due diligence not only at the start of the relationship, but on an ongoing basis as new risks emerge. This also brings up a fundamental point about how disaster recovery and business continuity planning isn’t something you do once and forget about, but part of an ongoing and constantly evolving strategy.

4. Build a culture of resilience

Many people think of disaster recovery and  business continuity planning  as the responsibilities of business leadership or the IT department. The truth is that everyone has a role to play when it comes to keeping your operations running smoothly. Embedding business continuity across your organisation requires a cultural shift whereby everyone is aware of their responsibilities.

A collaborative approach to business continuity and disaster recovery sees all departments, teams, and stakeholders working together. Staff should be trained to identify and report risks and threats, and they should always know who to report to. In the case of disaster recovery, an effective strategy depends on the ability of individuals to respond quickly and appropriately. Business continuity, on the other hand, depends on people knowing how to best continue to carry out their work during a disruption.

Digital tools, such as  backup and disaster recovery solutions  with automatic rollovers, can help greatly to mitigate disruptions. That said, everything ultimately starts and ends with your staff, so it makes sense to incorporate a robust training program and have policies in place that all members of your team are aware of and onboard with.

Remember, it’s not a matter of if… but when

The best approach to disaster recovery and business continuity is to think of it as a matter of  when , as opposed to  if , an incident will occur. That might sound overly pessimistic, but it’s also a proven starting point for developing, testing, and updating a rock-solid plan for keeping your organisation safe through almost any eventuality.

C-BCM is a  business continuity management software  and  disaster recovery planning solution . It is part of the ContinuSys  integrated business management system , an all-in-one software suite that enhances productivity and decision-making.  Request your demo  today to see how it works.


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Best Practices for Disaster Recovery Planning in 2024

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As we step into 2024, the landscape of disaster recovery planning is evolving more rapidly than ever before. In an era where data is king and technology infrastructures are increasingly complex, the importance of having a robust disaster recovery strategy cannot be overstated. Businesses face an array of threats, from cyber-attacks and natural disasters to human errors and system failures. These potential disruptions necessitate a proactive approach to disaster recovery planning , ensuring business continuity and the protection of critical data and assets. This article delves into the best practices for disaster recovery planning in 2024, highlighting the need for organizations to adapt to the changing technological landscape and emerging threats.

The Fundamentals of Disaster Recovery Planning

Understanding disaster recovery.

Disaster recovery planning is a critical component of broader business continuity strategies. It involves the creation of a set of policies, tools, and procedures to enable the recovery or continuation of vital technology infrastructure and systems following a disaster. The key objectives of disaster recovery planning include:

  • Minimizing Disruptions: Reducing the impact of disasters on business operations.
  • Data Protection: Ensuring the integrity and availability of critical data.
  • Rapid Recovery: Enabling quick restoration of services and operations.
  • Risk Mitigation: Identifying and mitigating risks associated with data loss and system failures.

Core Elements of a Disaster Recovery Plan

An effective disaster recovery plan is comprehensive and multifaceted, encompassing several essential components:

  • Risk Assessment: Identifying potential risks and the likelihood of their occurrence.
  • Business Impact Analysis: Determining the potential impact of different disaster scenarios on business operations.
  • Recovery Strategies: Developing strategies for the quick restoration of IT systems, applications, and data.
  • Plan Development: Documenting the disaster recovery procedures and protocols.
  • Communication Plan: Establishing clear communication channels for use during a disaster.
  • Testing and Maintenance: Regularly testing the plan to ensure its effectiveness and updating it to reflect changes in the business environment.

In 2024, as businesses continue to navigate a landscape marked by digital transformation and emerging risks, these fundamentals of disaster recovery planning remain more relevant than ever. The next sections will explore the latest trends and technologies shaping disaster recovery strategies today.

Emerging Trends in Disaster Recovery

Technological advancements.

The field of disaster recovery is continually shaped by technological advancements, and 2024 is no exception. Key technologies influencing disaster recovery strategies include:

  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: AI and ML are being increasingly utilized for predictive analytics, helping organizations anticipate potential disruptions and automate recovery processes.
  • Blockchain Technology: Offering enhanced security and data integrity, blockchain is emerging as a solution for secure and transparent backup processes.
  • Internet of Things (IoT): IoT devices provide real-time data monitoring, which is crucial for immediate response in disaster scenarios.
  • Advanced Cybersecurity Measures: As cyber threats evolve, so do cybersecurity technologies, including advanced encryption and intrusion detection systems, vital for protecting recovery environments.

The Shift to Cloud-Based Solutions

Cloud computing has revolutionized disaster recovery by offering:

  • Scalability and Flexibility: Cloud solutions can be scaled according to the organization's needs, providing flexibility in resource allocation during a disaster.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Reducing the need for physical infrastructure, cloud-based disaster recovery solutions are more cost-effective.
  • Geographical Redundancy: Cloud services often have multiple data centers in different locations, ensuring data availability even if one location is compromised.
  • Faster Recovery Time: Cloud services enable quicker restoration of data and applications, significantly reducing downtime.

Desktop view of CLDigital's CL360 software, showcasing its user-friendly interface for operational resilience.

Developing a Comprehensive Disaster Recovery Plan

Risk assessment and business impact analysis.

A thorough risk assessment and business impact analysis are critical for an effective disaster recovery plan:

  • Identifying Potential Risks: This includes natural disasters, cyber-attacks, hardware failures, and human errors.
  • Assessing Impact on Business Operations: Understanding how these risks affect different aspects of the business, such as customer service, financial operations, and reputation.
  • Prioritizing Risks: Based on their likelihood and potential impact, prioritizing risks helps in focusing resources where they are most needed.

Strategy Development and Implementation

Developing and implementing a disaster recovery strategy involves:

  • Defining Recovery Objectives: Establishing clear recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO).
  • Selecting Appropriate Recovery Solutions: Based on the risk assessment, choosing solutions like on-site backups, cloud-based recovery, or hybrid models.
  • Developing a Recovery Plan: Documenting detailed steps for response and recovery in various disaster scenarios.
  • Training and Awareness: Ensuring all employees are aware of their roles in the disaster recovery plan.
  • Regular Testing and Updates: Continuously testing and updating the plan to ensure its effectiveness, especially in light of new risks or business changes.

By staying abreast of emerging trends and meticulously developing a comprehensive disaster recovery plan, organizations in 2024 can ensure they are well-prepared to handle any disruptions and maintain business continuity.

Role of Technology in Enhancing Disaster Recovery

Automation and ai in disaster recovery.

The integration of automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) has significantly enhanced the efficiency and effectiveness of disaster recovery processes:

  • Predictive Analytics: AI algorithms analyze historical data to predict potential disaster scenarios, enabling proactive measures.
  • Automated Recovery Processes: Automation tools can initiate immediate responses to disaster events, reducing downtime and human error.
  • AI-Driven Decision Making: AI assists in making informed decisions during a disaster, prioritizing recovery tasks based on impact and urgency.

Data Backup and Recovery Solutions

Implementing robust data backup and recovery solutions is crucial for disaster recovery:

  • Regular Backups: Schedule regular backups of critical data to ensure it is always up-to-date.
  • Diverse Backup Methods: Utilize a combination of on-site, off-site, and cloud-based backups for comprehensive coverage.
  • Encryption and Security: Ensure that backup data is encrypted and secure from unauthorized access.
  • Recovery Testing: Regularly test recovery processes to ensure data can be quickly and accurately restored.

Professional utilizing CL360 business continuity software on his computer, enhancing operational resilience.

Ensuring Business Continuity in the Face of Disasters

Integration with business continuity planning.

Disaster recovery should be an integral part of overall business continuity planning:

  • Unified Strategy: Ensure that disaster recovery plans align with the broader business continuity strategy.
  • Cross-Functional Collaboration: Involve various departments in the planning process to cover all aspects of the business.
  • Comprehensive Coverage: Address all critical business functions and processes in the disaster recovery plan.

Regular Testing and Plan Updates

Continuous testing and updating of disaster recovery plans are essential for their effectiveness:

  • Regular Testing: Conduct regular drills and simulations to test the effectiveness of the disaster recovery plan.
  • Feedback and Improvements: Use the insights gained from testing to refine and improve the plan.
  • Stay Updated with Changes: Regularly update the plan to reflect changes in technology, business processes, and potential threats.

By leveraging technology and ensuring the integration of disaster recovery with business continuity planning, organizations can significantly enhance their resilience against disruptions. Regular testing and updates further ensure that these plans remain relevant and effective, providing a robust framework for maintaining business operations in the face of disasters.

Preparing for the Future: Disaster Recovery in 2024 and Beyond

Anticipating future challenges.

As we look towards the future, several challenges loom on the horizon for disaster recovery planning:

  • Evolving Cyber Threats: The increasing sophistication of cyber-attacks, including ransomware and phishing, poses a significant challenge.
  • Technological Complexity: The growing complexity of IT infrastructures, with the integration of IoT, AI, and cloud services, adds layers of vulnerability.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Keeping up with changing regulations and ensuring compliance, especially in data protection and privacy.
  • Climate-Related Disasters: The escalating frequency and severity of natural disasters due to climate change require robust and adaptable disaster recovery strategies.

Staying Ahead with Proactive Planning

To stay ahead in disaster recovery planning , organizations should adopt the following strategies:

  • Embrace Innovation: Continuously explore and integrate new technologies that enhance disaster recovery capabilities.
  • Focus on Cyber Resilience: Develop strategies specifically aimed at countering cyber threats and ensuring data security.
  • Adapt to Regulatory Changes: Stay informed about regulatory changes and adjust disaster recovery plans accordingly.
  • Sustainability in Planning: Incorporate sustainability considerations, especially in response to climate-related disasters.

Key Insights for Future-Ready Disaster Recovery Planning

Disaster recovery planning in 2024 demands a dynamic and forward-thinking approach. The key strategies and best practices outlined in this article emphasize the importance of staying adaptive, proactive, and resilient in the face of evolving challenges. From leveraging the latest technological advancements to integrating disaster recovery with overall business continuity, organizations must continuously refine their strategies to safeguard their operations and data.

As we move beyond 2024, the landscape of disaster recovery will continue to evolve, shaped by technological innovations, emerging threats, and regulatory changes. Organizations that prioritize and invest in comprehensive, flexible, and forward-looking disaster recovery planning will be best positioned to navigate these changes and emerge stronger from any disaster. The essence of effective disaster recovery lies in its ability to evolve, adapt, and respond to the ever-changing business and technological environment.

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Business Continuity vs. Disaster Recovery: Key Differences

Business Continuity vs. Disaster Recovery, what are the key differences? This article reviews differences in priorities, timing, scope, and how these two plans overlap.

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he upheaval of the past few years has illustrated how important it is for businesses to prepare for all types of unexpected events. Natural disasters, public health emergencies, and malware can all potentially interrupt your business operations. While you can’t always prevent these types of disruptions, you can minimize their impact by developing strategic plans to keep your core business functions going even under adverse circumstances.

Business continuity and disaster recovery are terms that people often use interchangeably when discussing preparedness. However—while there is an overlap between the two ideas—each one addresses different aspects of handling business disruptions. This guide outlines the similarities and differences in business continuity vs. disaster recovery so you can develop a plan for both.

What is business continuity?

A business continuity plan outlines how you can keep your business running during a disaster or disruption. It’s not a plan to fix the underlying cause; instead, it’s focused on staying open so you can continue serving customers and generating revenue .

The pandemic disrupted business on a massive scale. Businesses that adjusted quickly were able to pivot and come out on the other side more resilient and profitable . Milwaukee Food and Tours temporarily changed its business model from offering in-person tours to delivering customized gift baskets, for example. Innovative Fitness made the shift from offering personal training in gyms to online sessions that focused on working out at home.

What is disaster recovery?

A disaster recovery plan outlines how you can identify and fix the source of the emergency. In some cases, such as a pandemic or hurricane, you can’t address the underlying cause alone. In others, such as a bug in your codebase, your internal team can fix it. Either way, you should have a plan in place to deal with elements that are within your control.

Cyberattacks are the most likely type of disaster modern businesses will face. Although you can and should take steps to protect your IT systems and data, even large corporations with almost-unlimited resources such as Microsoft experience cyberattacks. A business disaster recovery plan will help you mitigate the damage from all types of disasters, regardless of what caused them.

Key differences between business continuity and disaster recovery

It’s easy to mix up business continuity and disaster recovery plans because they’re both implemented in the event of a business catastrophe. However, understanding the differences between them will help you create more effective plans.

A business continuity plan prioritizes staying open for business and minimizing the impact of the disaster on daily business operations. A disaster recovery plan prioritizes dealing with the disaster itself and getting your systems back to their baseline as soon as possible.

A business continuity plan goes into effect as soon as you realize your business is going to be affected by a critical event. Your continuity plan comes first. The disaster recovery plan will come later, usually after the emergency has passed.

Business continuity is broader in scope than disaster recovery. It includes all factors that contribute to running your business, from back-end components such as your supply chain to front-end considerations such as staffing. A disaster recovery plan is more narrowly focused on restoring the elements that were damaged, such as your data and IT systems.

How a business continuity plan and disaster recovery plan overlap

Despite their differences, there are also many ways that continuity and disaster recovery plans overlap. Understanding how they overlap can help you save time when you’re creating them. A business continuity plan should include your disaster recovery plan since it’s a comprehensive plan for responding to all aspects of business disruption.

Both plans require proactive risk analysis to identify potential threats and how they'll impact your business operations. You’ll also need to detail roles, policies, and procedures for both. Once you’ve implemented your plans, they need to be regularly evaluated and tested.

What to include in a business continuity plan

Your business continuity plan will be unique to the needs of your business. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. However, there are some elements that should be included in every business continuity plan .

Administrative details

The first part of your plan should include the purpose and objective of your plan as well as a detailed breakdown of your timeline and budget.

The governance section includes the names, roles, and contact information for everyone on the business continuity team. Outline who is responsible for what and whom each team member is accountable to.

Risk analysis and impact

This section will require research into the types of disasters that may occur in your industry or geographic location. While you’ll want to flesh out more common crises such as a cyberattack or banking fraud , you should also think about how rare events, such as a pandemic, could affect your business. Consider how each one could interfere with business operations, including what areas will be impacted.

Preventive and responsive strategies and procedures

Building on your risk analysis, you’ll be able to determine what your preventive and responsive strategies should be. Simply being aware of the possibilities may help you implement strategies that can prevent some types of disasters. For example, nearly 73% of small businesses in the U.S. have experienced a cyberattack. Cybersecurity awareness training can help your staff avoid falling for the most common types of cyberattacks and head off a catastrophe.

However, there’s no way to prevent all disasters, so you need to include detailed procedures for responding to and recovering from crises when they do occur.

Training and testing

Include a section that covers how you’ll train your staff and test your plan. Training plans should be tailored to each role. Your response team will need more detailed training, but everyone should receive basic disaster preparedness training.

Your plan should also include testing scenarios, from tabletop exercises to full-scale drills. As part of your testing procedures, evaluate your response and incorporate your insights into your plan.

What to include in a disaster recovery plan

Your disaster recovery plan is part of the responsive procedures included in your business continuity plan. It should be focused on identifying what elements of your business—particularly IT resources—will need to be restored in the event of a crisis and the procedures for doing so. It should include the following elements:

  • A comprehensive list of all your IT assets, including data backups
  • Your top-priority resources that need to be restored first
  • Procedures for restoring critical systems
  • Backup plans and procedures
  • Training and testing plans

Planning for how your business will deal with unexpected emergencies can help you recover quickly and stay in business longer. Hopefully, you’ll never need to use your plans, but in today’s turbulent business landscape, it’s better to be prepared. One critical aspect of emergency planning is having backups for all of your critical data.

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Novo Platform Inc. strives to provide accurate information but cannot guarantee that this content is correct, complete, or up-to-date. This page is for informational purposes only and is not financial or legal advice nor an endorsement of any third-party products or services. All products and services are presented without warranty. Novo Platform Inc. does not provide any financial or legal advice, and you should consult your own financial, legal, or tax advisors.

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Protect Your Business: Essential Security Measures You Should Take

As an entrepreneur, taking steps to safeguard your business is essential. In the contemporary business world, physical and digital risks threaten any business's assets, reputation, and future success .

Understanding these threats and implementing a robust strategy to combat them is not an option but a necessity— that's the purpose of this piece.

As you read this article, you'll learn insights from physical, digital, and internal threats to reinforce your business. 

Take these steps, and your business will be far less likely to be compromised by a security breach.

  • Understanding Business Security Basics
  • Essential Security Measures
  • Establishing a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan
  • Hiring Security Professionals
  • Legal and Compliance Aspects of Business Security

Understanding Business Security Basics 

Business security is measures and strategies employed by a company to safeguard its assets. 

It involves protecting everything from physical assets like machinery or office equipment to intangible assets like intellectual property, customer data , and company reputation.

A robust security plan addresses physical, digital, internal, and external threats and implements protective measures to prevent and deal with such threats.


Source: Signix

Types of Threats Businesses Face 

The threats that can endanger a business will fall into several categories.

Cyber threats 

Cyber threats are any potential or realized security breach which targets a business’s information system (digital software and hardware). 

In our increasingly digital age, over 54% of SMEs have experienced some form of cyberattack over the past 12 months.

From phishing scams to ransomware attacks, annual cybersecurity breaches may cost companies as much as $10.5 trillion globally.

Physical threats 

Physical threats are security risks to physical property, such as theft, vandalism, or natural disasters, that can disrupt business operations or damage property.

Internal threats 

These threats come from within your organization. They could be intentional, like an employee stealing sensitive information, or unintentional, like an employee unknowingly opening a malicious email attachment.

External threats  

External threats come from outside your organization, like competitors engaging in corporate espionage or criminals attempting fraud .

Potential Consequences of Inadequate Security  

On the surface, there's the risk of financial loss due to theft, fraud, or data breaches. Then there's the operational disruption, which could halt business processes and result in missed opportunities or lost revenue.

Moreover, reputational damage can negatively impact a business, with 60% of small companies closing within six months of a cyber attack.

It is mainly because consumers highly value their privacy and security, with even a single data breach damaging a company's credibility and customer trust beyond repair. 

Understanding these basics is the first step to fortifying your business.

As we delve deeper into the essential security measures every entrepreneur should take, remember: your business's security is as strong as its weakest link. 

Aim for a comprehensive, well-rounded security plan that covers all bases.

Essential Security Measures 

1. physical security measures .

If you operate out of an office or sell from a brick-and-mortar ship, ensuring the physical security of your business premises is fundamental to your overall security strategy.

It involves safeguarding your assets, providing a secure environment for your employees, and handling certain payment types.

For example, knowing if a check is fake will save your business thousands of dollars. Here are some other key measures to consider:

Installation of surveillance cameras 

Surveillance cameras act as your organization's eyes, constantly monitoring your premises. 

Ensure your cameras cover critical areas like entrances, exits, and areas where valuable assets or important documents are stored.

Also, consider adopting the likes of Bold Group alarm monitoring software so that security devices, including surveillance cameras, can be tracked and analyzed in real time, equipping you to respond to any event swiftly and decisively by responsible team members.


Source: ButterflyMX

Secure locking systems 

High-security locks and deadbolts offer the first line of defense against unauthorized access. 

In recent years, electronic locks and keyless entry systems have gained popularity, allowing access only to individuals with the current codes or access cards. 

These systems can be more secure and convenient, allowing you to control and monitor access to your premises easily.

Employee ID and access control  

Implementing an employee identification system is essential in a secure business environment. 

IDs allow for easy personnel identification, while an access control system can restrict unauthorized personnel from entering certain areas. 

It ensures that only individuals with the proper clearance can access sensitive areas, reducing the risk of internal threats.


Source: Avon

Regular security audits 

Even the most robust security systems need regular check-ups. A security audit involves an assessment of your current security measures to identify any potential weaknesses or areas for improvement. 

Ensure your systems are up-to-date, functioning correctly, and effectively protecting your assets. 

2. Cybersecurity Measures 

Depending on your type of business, cybersecurity risks can be the most significant, as customer data and digital assets such as identity information and credit card details often form the backbone of many businesses. 

Threat modeling can be particularly useful in addressing these risks by identifying potential threats and vulnerabilities.

Knowing how to protect your business from cyber threats is essential. 

Regular software updates and patching 

Developers frequently update their software to address security vulnerabilities. 

Keeping your organization’s software up-to-date on an ongoing basis will help ensure your systems aren't left open to exploits that cybercriminals can leverage. 

Be cautious about unsolicited contact from software developers, as tech support scams are an effective cyber attack. 


Source: Clotech

Firewall and antivirus protection  

By regulating incoming and outgoing network traffic, firewalls act as an entrepreneur's first defense against cyber-attacks. 

If malicious programs make it through your firewall, antivirus programs protect your systems from malware that can steal, delete, or encrypt your data.

Data encryption 

Encryption scrambles your data, turning it into a code that can only be deciphered with an encryption key. 

It means that even if a hacker manages to breach your data and obtain sensitive information without the encryption key, it’s worthless to them. 

Secure password policies  

Your business should have security policies requiring strong, unique passwords. 

These phrases combine uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. 

Ensure your password policy has employees updating their passwords regularly and avoiding reusing them across multiple platforms.


Source: Statista

Two-factor authentication 

Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of identification beyond just a password. 

It could be a fingerprint, a mobile app notification, or a unique code sent via text or email.

3. Internal Security Measures 

As much as external threats pose a risk, internal threats can be just as damaging. A comprehensive security plan should include the following internal measures:

Employee background checks 

Before onboarding new employees, thorough background checks can provide valuable insights into their past behavior and reliability. 

It can help mitigate potential risks and protect your company from internal threats.

Regular employee training on security best practices 

An employee error can undermine even the most robust security measures. 

Regularly training employees on security best practices, from spotting phishing emails to safely handling sensitive data, can significantly reduce the risk of unintentional security breaches.

Secure document disposal procedures 

Confidential documents should be disposed of securely to prevent sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands. 

Implement procedures for shredding or securely erasing sensitive documents and data.

Protection against insider threats 

Invest in best SaaS tools and policies that can help you monitor, detect, and respond to suspicious activities within your organization. 

It might include segregating duties, limiting access to sensitive information, and deploying insider threat detection software.

Establishing a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan 

Emergencies and disasters are unpredictable, but your response to them doesn't have to be. 

A well-crafted Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan (BCDR) can be your company's lifeboat when navigating the stormy seas of unforeseen incidents.

Importance of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans 

A BCDR plan outlines the procedures and instructions an organization must follow in the face of such incidents. 

Its goal is twofold: ensure the continuity of business operations as much as possible during the incident (Business Continuity), and recover critical functions after the incident has passed (Disaster Recovery).

I cannot overstate the importance of a BCDR plan. It minimizes the impact of disasters on business operations, helps maintain customer trust , and ensures the business's long-term survival. 

With such a plan, the company may avoid prolonged downtime, loss of revenue, and in worst cases, complete shutdown.

Steps to Create a Continuity and Recovery Plan 

  • Risk Assessment : Identify the threats and vulnerabilities that could impact your business. Understand the potential impact of these risks to prioritize your planning efforts.
  • Business Impact Analysis : Analyze your business processes to determine which are critical for the survival of your business. Understand their operational and financial impact if disrupted.
  • Resource Identification : Identify the resources required to restore and maintain critical business functions during a disaster, including personnel, information, equipment, financial allocations, and infrastructure.
  • Plan Development : Create procedures to manage and recover from the impact of a disaster. Delineate the roles and responsibilities of all involved parties.
  • Communication Plan : Develop a communication strategy to inform all stakeholders during a crisis. It includes employees, clients, vendors, and the media.

Testing and Updating the Plan 

A BCDR plan is not a one-and-done project. Test it regularly to identify potential flaws and areas for improvement. 

Simulated drills and exercises can provide invaluable insights into the effectiveness of your plan.

Moreover, update your plan as your business grows or changes. It includes changes in personnel, processes, technologies, or physical locations. 

An outdated plan can be as ineffective as no plan at all.

Hiring Security Professionals 

Entrepreneurs should consider hiring security professionals when they recognize the complexity of safeguarding their business assets exceeds their current capacity or expertise.

Staying ahead of potential risks requires specialized knowledge and experience in today's rapidly evolving threat environment.

Security professionals can help to:

  • Identify vulnerabilities in your current security measures.
  • Develop and implement robust security strategies.
  • Provide ongoing monitoring and quick response to security incidents.
  • Train your team on security best practices.
  • Ensure compliance with industry-specific security regulations.

The decision to hire security professionals underscores an important recognition—that the security of your business is a critical aspect of your overall business strategy, requiring expert guidance.

Benefits of Outsourcing vs. Having an In-House Security Team 

Choosing between outsourcing and developing an in-house security team depends on your business needs, resources, and risk profile.


  • Expertise : Security firms specialize in protecting businesses. They have the latest knowledge of security threats and the most effective countermeasures.
  • Cost-effective : Hiring a security firm can be more cost-effective than employing a full-time in-house team, especially for small to medium-sized businesses.
  • 24/7 Monitoring : Many security firms offer round-the-clock monitoring services, providing continuous protection for your business.

In-house Security Team: 

  • Focused Attention : An in-house team is entirely dedicated to your business, offering focused and customized attention to your security needs.
  • Understanding of Company Culture : An in-house team understands the company culture and the internal workings of the business, which may lead to more tailored and effective security measures.
  • Rapid Response : In-house teams can respond quickly to incidents, as they are on-site and familiar with the company's infrastructure.

Regardless of the path you choose, taking this step reflects your commitment to ensuring your enterprise's long-term security and success.

Legal and Compliance Aspects of Business Security 

Implementing effective security practices also means they must be regulation-compliant. For example, suppose you're an entrepreneur in the healthcare industry in the United States. 

In that case, you must ensure compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ( HIPAA ). 


Source: Atlantic

In contrast, if you handle the personal information of EU citizens, the General Data Protection Regulation ( GDPR ) applies.

Laws such as these mandate the protection of sensitive information, proper data handling, and reporting security breaches. 

As a responsible entrepreneur, you must understand your legal obligations specific to your business and incorporate them into your security strategies.

Steps to ensure compliance include:

  • Stay Informed : Keep up-to-date with the laws and regulations relevant to your industry and your jurisdictions.
  • Implement Policies : Develop and implement security policies that comply with legal requirements. It may involve data encryption, access control, and secure data disposal.
  • Regular Audits: Conduct regular audits, including internal audit controls , to ensure your security measures are effective and compliant.
  • Employee Training : Educate your employees about these policies and their role in maintaining compliance.

As an entrepreneur, investing in security measures that protect your physical assets, digital assets, and employees means investing in the long-term success of your business.

By recognizing the importance of business security, you demonstrate to your stakeholders and customers that you’re informed and serious about your and their asset safety.

It will enable you to move towards your goals without setbacks and with confidence. 

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    Disaster recovery (DR) consists of IT technologies and best practices designed to prevent or minimize data loss and business disruption resulting from catastrophic events—everything from equipment failures and localized power outages to cyberattacks, civil emergencies, criminal or military attacks, and natural disasters.

  12. Business Continuity: Best Practices

    Home / Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity Best Practices Today's rapidly evolving business landscape obligates companies to plan strategically so that critical operations can continue even during a crisis. From natural calamities to cyber threats, unpredictable events cause disruptions that can damage a business of any size.

  13. How to Test a Business Continuity Disaster Recovery (BCDR) Plan

    The business continuity and disaster recovery test types that are appropriate for an organization will depend on a variety of factors, including its size and nature, available resources, and the stage of BCDR testing taking place. These involve real-time discussions with organizational leaders and anyone else with a critical role in the BCDR plan.

  14. PDF Disaster Recovery: Best Practices

    Disaster Recovery: Best Practices Contents 1 Executive Summary 2 Disaster Recovery Planning 2.1 Identification and Analysis of Disaster Risks/Threats 2.2 Classification of Risks Based on Relative Weights 2.2.1 External Risks 2.2.2 Facility Risks 2.2.3 Data Systems Risks 2.2.4 Departmental Risks 2.2.5 Desk-Level Risks

  15. Business Continuity Management, Disaster Recovery Planning: Compliance

    Business Continuity (BC) is the discipline of creating, implementing, and maintaining policies and procedures to guarantee that important business operations are resilient and ready for disaster response, disaster recovery, and events that threaten an organization's existence (Kliem & Richie, 2015 ).

  16. 6 Essential Elements of Business Continuity and Data Recovery Planning

    A Data Backup Plan should define and address, at minimum, the following: Personnel responsible for executing the backup plan, keeping in mind data confidentiality best interests. Construct a schedule that routinely checks systems and backup data. Be advised that, depending on backup and recovery solution provider, the cost of more frequent ...

  17. Business continuity vs. disaster recovery vs. incident response

    Despite their distinct objectives, business continuity, disaster recovery and incident response planning share the ultimate goal of keeping the organization in business. They also have the following best practices in common: Plan ahead. Create a business continuity plan, a disaster recovery plan and an incident response plan when conditions are ...

  18. How to Update Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans

    Policy and Procedures: No Business Continuity or Disaster Recovery Plan would be complete without organizational policies and procedures in place for all aspects of the BCP and DRP. The set of policies would be the firm rules that are required to be followed. The procedures element would include the actual steps taken to accomplish a task.

  19. Business continuity and disaster recovery

    Business continuity and disaster recovery - advice for best practice. With downtime leading to reputational damage, lost trade and impact on long-term projects, organisations are starting to realise that continuity planning and disaster recovery are critical to success. Business continuity needs to be properly planned, tested and reviewed in ...

  20. Best Practices: Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery

    Best Practices: Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Business continuity planning (BCP) and disaster recovery (DR) are all about preparing for and responding to major adverse events. These events are very rare so you don't get much opportunity to test and validate the BCP and DR capability from live practice like you do in most other areas.

  21. Business continuity vs. disaster recovery: Which plan is right ...

    Cloud Security January 29, 2024 By Mesh Flinders 7 min read Business continuity and disaster recovery plans are risk management strategies that businesses rely on to prepare for unexpected incidents. While the terms are closely related, there are some key differences worth considering when choosing which is right for you:

  22. Five Best Practices for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

    Five Best Practices for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery In our previous post we defined business continuity and disaster recovery, distinguished between a business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan, and motivated why you need these.

  23. 4 Essential Best Practices for Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

    1. Monitor risk across your environment Data is the lifeblood of modern business. Not only is it often the most valuable asset - it's also the biggest source of risk. That's even truer in the era of remote work, where more and more companies are defined by their digital footprints and the apps and data their employees use to perform their roles.

  24. Best Practices for Disaster Recovery Planning in 2024

    3140 S. Falkenberg Rd. #206. Riverview, FL 33578. Phone: (866) 321-5079. Delve into the best practices for disaster recovery planning in 2024, highlighting the need for organizations to adapt to the changing technological landscape and emerging threats.

  25. Business Continuity vs. Disaster Recovery: Key Differences

    A business disaster recovery plan will help you mitigate the damage from all types of disasters, regardless of what caused them. ‍ Key differences between business continuity and disaster recovery. It's easy to mix up business continuity and disaster recovery plans because they're both implemented in the event of a business catastrophe.

  26. The State of Disaster Recovery Preparedness 2024

    Planning Groups; Business Resilience Decoded; DRJ Glossary of Business Continuity Terms ... market studies in business continuity and DR to gather data for benchmarking and to guide research and publication of best practices for the industry. ... Disaster Recovery Journal is the industry's largest resource for business continuity, disaster ...

  27. Protect Your Business: Essential Security Measures You Should Take

    Invest in best SaaS tools and policies that can help you monitor, detect, and respond to suspicious activities within your organization. It might include segregating duties, limiting access to sensitive information, and deploying insider threat detection software. Establishing a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan

  28. How To Ensure Business Continuity In The Face Of Internet ...

    Disaster Recovery Plan In light of the recent outage that left businesses in south Dallas without internet, the importance of having a disaster recovery plan for internet disruptions becomes even ...