What is a Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity plan and why your business needs one?

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What is disaster recovery and business continuity?

In today’s ever-evolving business landscape, there’s zero tolerance for downtime, a simple human error, a cyberattack or natural disaster could bring your business to a standstill.

Having a comprehensive business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) response plan is key to business resilience and for the survival of your organisation.

Without getting too hung up on definitions, let’s say that disaster recovery is getting the IT infrastructure back up and running, while business continuity is a broader discipline that gets the business back up and functioning once the lights are back on.

Disaster recovery and business continuity (DR/BC) are like any other type of insurance: People generally understand its importance but tend to not pay attention until it is too late.

It’s just an unpleasant topic. BC/DR enables organisations to adapt to and bounce back from disruptions while maintaining continuous business operations.

Why every business needs a robust BC/DR plan in place:

With organisations going through digital transformations and more employees working remotely, cybersecurity is a top priority for almost all IT teams. Businesses must be prepared for cyberattacks and unexpected IT outages such as network outages and server failures. In fact, in the 2019 State of IT Operations Survey Report, nearly 61 percent of the survey respondents who had a security breach in the past year, had two to four IT outages.

In the past, some companies were under the impression that only large enterprise organisations needed BC/DR plans. However, it is just as critical for small and midsize businesses. The 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report showed that “43 percent of [security] breaches involved small business victims.”

When it comes to running a business, no phrase rings truer than “time is money.” So, the moral of the story: downtime is a big deal. Without a robust BC/DR plan in place a business is at risk of serious financial loss and reputational damage. Incidents are not only potentially toxic to customer trust and loyalty. They’re also the financial grim reaper.

The average cost of downtime is $5,600 per minute for medium enterprises, according to a 2014 study by Gartner. The research firm is quick to point out, however, that this is just an average. For small businesses, that number drops to the lower-but-still-significant tune of $137 to $427 per minute. And although we often focus on the loss of revenue and productivity due to downtime, according to independent data protection and security research firm, Ponemon, the largest share of downtime cost is business disruption, a category that includes reputational damage and customer churn.

It’s clear that minimising downtime should be a priority for companies of any size and across all industries.

Having a proper BC/DR plan in place means in the event of a disruption, a business can quickly recover mission-critical data, restore IT systems, and smoothly resume operations. Giving an organisation the ability to maintain essential processes before, during, and after a disaster. Therefore minimising both the downtime and the cost of a disruption and ensures that a business can operate as close to normal as possible after an unexpected interruption, with minimal loss of data and reputational damage.

If your organisation doesn’t have a BC/DR plan in place, start by assessing your business processes, determining which areas are vulnerable, and the potential losses if those processes go down for a day, a few days, or a week.

Next, develop a plan. This involves 6 general steps:

  1. Identify the scope of the plan.
  2. Identify key business areas.
  3. Identify critical functions.
  4. Identify dependencies between various business areas and functions.
  5. Determine acceptable downtime for each critical function.
  6. Create a plan to maintain operations.

And finally, TEST that plan.

Read: Our digital dilemma – Does technology have an effect on our mental health?

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Mariette Tolmay
Mariette Tolmay
Mariette Tolmay is the marketing lead at Stratus Blue. She can be contacted at mariette@stratusblue.co.nz.

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