If you’re taking the first steps towards a business continuity plan, you’ll come across various terms that seem to mean the same thing. It can be hard to understand the difference between contingency plans, business continuity plans and disaster recovery plans.

In this article, we explain the difference between the terms ‘business continuity’, ‘contingency planning’ and ‘disaster recovery’.

There are several reasons you might need such strategies in place, and  This has brought to light in particular just how mission-critical IT systems are to business operations.

 

What does business continuity mean?

A business continuity plan ensures that, should a disaster occur or the workplace is inaccessible, business operations can continue with as little downtime as possible.

The term ‘disaster’ encompasses devastating events like natural disasters, wars, conflicts, terrorist attacks, and theft. However, it may also include things like cyber attacks, the departure of a vital employee, human error, accidental damage, and adverse publicity.

The Covid-19 pandemic was a wake-up call for those with no business continuity strategy, who found it difficult to pivot to working from home when they could not access the office.

 

What to consider when creating a business continuity strategy

Consider the events that pose the biggest risk to your business operations. Is your office in an area that’s susceptible to flooding? Do you rely heavily on certain suppliers? Are you concerned about cyber security?

It’s important to create a business continuity plan that’s personalised to your business, whilst keeping in mind that you must be prepared for all eventualities.

Some of the things you may have to plan for in a business continuity strategy include:
  • Temporarily relocating business premises
  • Falling back on different contractors/suppliers
  • Data backups
  • Redeploying staff to different roles
  • Working from home

Another important factor is that GDPR requires businesses to have measures in place to restore access to personal data following an incident.

 

What is disaster recovery?

Disaster recovery is the practice of returning business operations to normal after a disaster. When usual business operations are interrupted, a disaster recovery plan will help you transition from continuity measures back to your regular processes.

Things to consider when creating a disaster recovery plan
  • Who is responsible for carrying out recovery tasks
  • Whether you need a documented strategy of tasks that must be completed
  • How you will recover from infrastructure failure or data loss
  • Do you need a professional to create a plan and test it for you?

 

What is DRaaS?

DRaaS stands for Disaster Recovery as a Service. It’s a way of ensuring that, should a disaster occur, your business-critical data and applications are protected.

This means that business operations can continue virtually, in a secure cloud location, before your primary systems are restored.

 

What is contingency planning?

A contingency plan is put in place to prepare for any potential future events that could significantly affect business operations. This could vary from physical/environmental disasters to losing a key supplier or employee.

What to think about when creating a contingency plan

Firstly, you need to consider which of your operations are business-critical. These probably include your supply chain, staying compliant with data security regulations, and your IT infrastructure.

Then, think about the risks that could compromise these business-critical operations – for example, a supplier going bankrupt, a ransomware attack, or a pandemic that forces you and your employees to work from home. What is the probability that any of these events will happen?

Plan for a broad range of scenarios and identify:
  • What will trigger your contingency measures
  • What your response will be
  • The key tasks involved
  • Who you need to inform
  • A rough timeline

 

What are the differences between contingency planning, business continuity and disaster recovery?

All of these plans are equally important, but the key difference is when they take place.

  • Contingency planning: happens in advance to prepare for potential future events
  • Business continuity: a temporary solution put in place during an incident to continue everyday operations
  • Disaster recovery: returning operations back to their normal state after a disaster

 

Back up your data and solidify your business continuity plan

It’s essential to have a business continuity plan in place to ensure that your business operations can continue should the worst happen. Yet, according to research, a staggering 50% of businesses were “completely unprepared” for pivoting to working from home when Covid-19 hit.

Here at Air IT, we can help you plan ahead for unforeseen circumstances that could affect your business. We’ve helped several organisations migrate seamlessly to remote working, and our backup and disaster recovery services help to safeguard data and minimise information loss and downtime. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch and find out how we can help your business.

 

Need help with putting your plan in place?

Our handy download provides a checklist for everything you should consider when creating a plan for backup and disaster recovery.

Download Backup & Disaster Recovery checklist

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