No amount of preparation can prevent a disaster from happening. When a disaster strikes, the IT department is mostly tasked with assisting the entire business to rise and resume its usual operations.

In the past few years, almost every functional part of an organization has come to depend on the entire or part of the IT infrastructure. From data storage to managing human resources, no essential business process can run without the technology which it relies on.

Organizations rarely get a heads up that a disaster is ready to strike. Even if an organization has some lead time, some things can go wrong. What businesses need to understand is that every disaster is unique and happens in the most unexpected ways.

This is where business continuity and disaster recovery solutions come into play. For a business to recover from a disaster, it needs to put a current, tested plan in the hands of professionals with the ability to implement any part of that plan. The lack of such plans doesn’t mean that your business will take longer to recover from a disaster. Rather, it means the possibility of going out of business for good is real.

How is business continuity planning different from disaster recovery?

Business continuity (BC) is the process of maintaining or quickly resuming critical business functions in case of a major disaster. A disaster can be caused by floods, fires, epidemics or cyber-attacks. A business continuity plan (BCP) clearly outlines the procedures and instructions which a business should follow in the event of a disaster. An effective BCP covers an organization’s assets, processes, partners and human resources, among others.

Many people think that a disaster recovery plan (DRP) plays the same role as a business continuity plan. However, DRP concentrates primarily on restoring the IT infrastructure of a business after a disaster. As a matter of fact, it is a part of a business continuity plan, as BCP focuses on the continuity of the entire business. BCP helps to get the business functionalities up and running so that the business can continue to make money right after a disaster.

For example, when the building which houses your customer service has been flattened by an earthquake, you will need to come up with ways for those reps to continue handling customer calls. This means they can either work from home or from a separate location. This is a part of business continuity planning, not disaster recovery.

The central role of IT

As we have seen above, IT is at the center of almost all business processes, and for that reason, it is at the center of BCP. Consequently, organizations have an obligation to everyone they serve to develop strategies capable of handling any disaster which comes their way. If an organization doesn’t know how to address such situations, it risks losing everything.

One way of preparing for a disaster is ensuring that your data center has at least two backups. It doesn’t matter whether your data is stored internally or externally, it is good to ensure that the data is backed up in a different location.

Just as crucial is the need to have a standby server which mirrors your critical applications. BCP would be incomplete without clear means of ensuring all areas of the organization can access these applications whenever needed after a disaster strikes.