Why Every Business Needs a Business Continuity Plan

Quick: what’s the difference between a business continuity plan (BCP) and a disaster recovery plan (DRP)? If you’re scratching your head, it’s understandable since both terms are closely linked and often used interchangeably. But the terms do have different meanings that are important to understand. This post explains the differences along why it’s important to have a BCP and a DRP.

Not Another Case of “Potato, Pohtato”
At a high level, business continuity planning is about understanding how different types of events or disasters could impact product and service delivery, so you can proactively avoid them, and maintain or quickly reestablish operations when events do happen. The scenarios addressed in a BCP can range from fairly common events, such as a power outage, to an area-wide catastrophe and everything in between. A DRP is a part of business continuity planning that focuses on the steps your business needs to take immediately following a disaster to keep people safe and prepare for or begin recovery.

Seeing the Value of Business Continuity Planning
What are the most common types of events in your area that are likely to disrupt operations and what are the steps that can be taken to avoid them?

Who’s in charge of coordinating responses to events?

What are the operational and financial impacts of a two-hour power outage at your company? What about a ransomware or other cyber-attack on key systems? Or an active shooter incident? Or significant flooding in the area?

These are the types of questions that business continuity planning addresses, and they are essential to minimizing the costs of disruptions and potential damages to the brand. In the case of larger events or disasters, they may even make the difference between business survival or shuttering.

Developing your Business Continuity Plan
Business continuity planning begins with assigning a leader and team to carry out BCP development. One of the first steps is performing a business impact analysis (BIA) to quantify the potential costs of disruptions to key business functions so you can prioritize response needs. The other steps include developing recovery strategies, putting together your plan and then testing the plan and training people. This table from Ready.gov provides a helpful illustration for key milestones throughout the process.1
Business Continuity Planning

Because the Unexpected is Inevitable
When you consider IT systems, supply chains, customer expectations and other factors, there’s no getting around the complexity of most businesses today. And anytime there is complexity, there is a lot that can, go wrong. That’s why it’s so important to understand the costs of likely scenarios and plan ahead for disruptions or disasters.

1Business Continuity Plan, Ready.gov.  

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