Creating a business continuity and disaster recovery plan is a crucial part step to developing a robust, mature information security program. Sometimes, however, it can be difficult to understand the difference between a business continuity plan and disaster recovery plan.

A disaster recovery plan is a set of policies, tools and procedures that enable organizations to recover from and continue the operation of vital technology systems following a natural or human-induced disaster.

In contrast, a business continuity plan addresses the larger issue of how an organization can maintain business operations before, during, and after a disaster. Disaster recovery is a distinct part of business continuity—but only a part of it. Organizations should develop both plans, and assure that each one supports the other, as part of an effective information security program. 

That said, preparing a unified business continuity and disaster recovery plan (BCDRP) needn’t be difficult. On the contrary, planning for continued business operations can be a straightforward exercise. 

Let’s begin by sharing a business continuity checklist.

Steps to Creating a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan

Business Continuity Plan Checklist

  1. Establish a team
  2. Conduct a business impact analysis
  3. Strategize and plan how your organization will respond and recover in the event of a disaster
  4. Isolate and back up your important data
  5. Develop the business continuity plan
  6. Test the plain during training scenarios
  7. Make any adjustments and improvements to the plan based on training response

Disaster Recovery Plan Checklist

  1. Define the scope, assets, operational impact of a disaster, and business impact analysis.
  2. Determine what an “acceptable” amount of downtime is for business functions.
  3. Define what the recovery plan looks like for critical applications and services.
  4. Draft your plan, communicate the plan, and assign roles.
  5. Plan your disaster recovery site.
  6. Plan how you will access the network, systems, application, and data in a disaster scenario.
  7. Test your BCDR plan, update it, refine it, and test it again.

Implementing your BCDR Plan

Disaster recovery and business continuity planning require investment and attention from multiple parts of the business: legal, finance, important operational units, and even the public relations or communications team, to name only a few. Senior executives should also emphasize the importance of these plans, so those parts of the enterprise give the matter the attention it deserves.

It may be tempting to develop “on the cheap” plans for disaster recovery or data center capacity, but consider how difficult it can be to keep operating a business with reduced services—all to save a few extra dollars now, in the planning phase. After all, the worst plan is one that does not work when you need it to.

Organizations should emphasize the importance of tabletop exercises and testing, first to validate that the BCDR plans work—or to solicit feedback on what doesn’t work, and then implement improvements. Then continue to run more testing and exercises at key milestones in the BCDRP development process, to assure that all critical issues have been raised and incorporated into the plan. 

Incorporating BCDR Planning and Updates Into Ongoing Business Processes 

Far too often, business continuity and disaster recovery are developed within the silo of information technology. That leads to incomplete plans that aren’t aligned with business needs. Hence business operating units should be involved from the start, beginning with a business impact analysis (BIA) that can let technology and operations leaders discuss BCDR plans together. 

BCDRP documents should be updated regularly. Once a year might be insufficient; updates should happen any time a significant change comes along, such as: 

  • Department or business reorganizations
  • Mergers or acquisitions
  • Changes in markets and products
  • Changes to the software development lifecycle
  • Changes to system and vendor intake processes
  • Ongoing IT and business change management 

BC and DR subject matter experts need to identify processes in their organizations where changes may be necessary. Cybersecurity often addresses many of those processes by planning for data loss, data recovery, emergency management, and having an overall backup plan.

How ZenGRC Enables Business Continuity Planning and Disaster Recovery

Business continuity planning and disaster recovery planning require teamwork, communication, and collaboration across all sides of the organization.

With ZenGRC, you can create a comprehensive BCDRP program that focuses on risk management, incident response handling, documentation, and recovery processes. And because we’re a SaaS platform, you can maintain operations even when your physical facilities are down. 

Our centralized dashboard provides all stakeholders a easy-to-view display of activities, time frames, and key performance indicators of your business continuity and disaster recovery programs so you always know where you stand.

A solid, hassle-free BCDR plan is the Zen way. For more information about how ZenGRC can streamline your GRC process, contact us for a demo today.