Business continuity and disaster recovery planning: The basics

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Good business continuity plans will keep your company up and running through interruptions of any kind: power failures, IT system crashes, natural disasters, supply chain problems and more

Disaster recovery and business continuity planning are processes that help organizations prepare for disruptive events—whether those events might include a hurricane or simply a power outage caused by a backhoe in the parking lot. The CSO's involvement in this process can range from overseeing the plan, to providing input and support, to putting the plan into action during an emergency. This primer (compiled from articles on CSOonline) explains the basic concepts of business continuity planning and also directs you to more resources on the topic. Last update: 3/24/2015.

Q: "Disaster recovery" seems pretty self-explanatory. Is there any difference between that and "business continuity planning"?

A: Disaster recovery is the process by which you resume business after a disruptive event. The event might be something huge-like an earthquake or the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center-or something small, like malfunctioning software caused by a computer virus.

Given the human tendency to look on the bright side, many business executives are prone to ignoring "disaster recovery" because disaster seems an unlikely event. "Business continuity planning" suggests a more comprehensive approach to making sure you can keep making money, not only after a natural calamity but also in the event of smaller disruptions including illness or departure of key staffers, supply chain partner problems or other challenges that businesses face from time to time.

Despite these distinctions, the two terms are often married under the acronym BC/DR because of their many common considerations.

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