Can your company survive a disaster?

According to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, an estimated 25 percent of businesses do not reopen following a major disaster.

You’ve heard the terms Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, and Backing Up being thrown around, but what do they really mean? Are they the same thing, can one exist without the other, and how important are they in the small business realm?

Business Continuity (BC) and Disaster Recovery (DR) are not the same thing, but are closely related. They describe a business’s readiness and ability to continue running when faced with a catastrophe that threatens to disrupt normal operations. A good BC/DR plan should take into account not just identified risks, but the possibility of unexpected ones too.

What is Business Continuity?

Business Continuity refers to the planning of the emergency processes that you need to adhere to during, and after, a crisis or challenge. The ultimate goal of a Business Continuity Plan is to make sure that, at the very least, the core functions you need to stay in business are up and running. BC looks at the company as a bigger picture and concentrates on implementing strategies that can override the difficulties that would lead to potential continuity problems and the ultimate downfall of the business.

What is Disaster Recovery?

Disaster Recovery, on the other hand, is more focused on the technological aspect of the organization and aims to retrieve or restore data, servers, and systems to resume operations as quickly as possible.

BC/DR as a unified whole

The two practices are now synonymous with each other due to the vast majority of businesses – from a two-person operation to a large corporation – relying heavily on technology to keep them running. It is essential for the leaders of an organization to synchronize and develop strategies for continuity and recovery in tandem with one another, as opposed to separately. What that means for a small or medium-sized business is that the owner, CEO or operations manager needs to be working with the IT manager or an outsourced Managed Service Provider to cultivate a plan that treats the business as a unified model, not just a collection of fragmented teams. After all, when a crisis strikes your people need more than ever to be working as one, not reacting to the difficult circumstances by operating to different emergency procedures, which may well conflict with each other.

Why are regular backups so critical?

Of course, the foundation of any BC/DR plan is a robust backup strategy. If you are not backing up your data, you have no hope of maintaining continuity in the face of a disaster. The only thing more valuable than your business is the data that keeps you operating and if you’re cutting corners when it comes to the privacy, security and replication of that data you are playing Russian Roulette with the future of your business. And there is more to backing up than many small business owners realize. Tape backups are outdated and can fail so this traditional method of physically storing data is fast becoming outdated, meaning that companies are increasingly turning to other methods, including the cloud and offsite backup facilities, to store their data.

What constitutes a disaster?

When someone says the word ‘disaster’ we conjure up images of Mother Nature’s wrath wreaking havoc on business premises that were in the wrong place at the wrong time: hurricances, tornados, and lightning strikes, or of unfortunate scenarios such as a raging inferno. But disasters usually hit a lot closer to home and, in fact, the majority of extreme data loss unfortunely is caused by employees.

The potential for man-made disaster is huge: a disgruntled staff member steals valuable data and sells it to a competitor or uses it to start his own business; a careless colleague accidentally clicks on an attachment in a spam email and sends a virus ricocheting through your network; an employee leaves their laptop or iPhone in a bar – giving would-be thieves access to all the information you have stored in the cloud. The list goes on.

Everything from your customer data, sales records, marketing materials, stock inventories and so forth are at risk – again highlighting the pressing need for a reliable backup plan that keeps your data secure and makes it easily recoverable if and when disaster strikes. Aside from this, backing up properly will also ensure that you are adhering to the compliance requirements of your industry.

Things to take into consideration when putting a BDR strategy in place

There are so many circumstances that are beyond our control that all of a sudden it becomes crystal clear just how essential properly backing up data plus having a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan in place are. The crucial thing to remember when you start designing a plan is that you need to involve all the members of your organization – everyone has a different part to play and will have different opinions on how a disaster would affect their ability to do their job.

Not only that but you need to plan for today’s eventualities but also for next month’s and next year’s too. Your business is constantly evolving, and that means your plans to ensure its longevity must too.

There are numerous aspects to look at when designing and implementing a BCDR plan and it can be hard to know where to start, so why not talk to the team at IT Authorities? We have a wealth of experience in Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery and offer superior Data Backup Solutions that will give you the best chances of survival.