Mastering BCDR in 2024: Best Practices for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning

By Chiradeep BasuMallick - Last Updated on February 28, 2024
Best Practices for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning

In today’s business climate, data is more valuable than ever before. It facilitates more targeted marketing, product development, and trend forecasting. Because of these factors, business executives must ensure their data’s privacy, security, and integrity from disasters, and operations can resume with little to no disruption.

Such potential breakdowns are managed or dealt with in two distinct domains: business continuity and disaster recovery. These two disciplines address the possible repercussions of any catastrophic event that could continually impact your organization’s ability to offer its products and services.

Especially since the pandemic, a robust BCDR strategy has emerged as an enterprise staple for CxOs.

Fundamentals of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

BCDR is a collection of processes and techniques that help an organization restore access to critical data to continue or resume regular operations soon after a disaster. This expansive idea encompasses the functions and responsibilities of both business and IT in a post-crisis scenario.

CxOs must know BCDR’s two discrete components and their strategic import.

  • Business continuity describes how an organization will function during and after a disaster. It might also offer contingency plans that outline how the organization will sustain its operations if compelled to relocate to an alternative site. Furthermore, it might consider minor disruptions or calamities of a diminished magnitude, such as power failures.
  • Disaster recovery relates to the strategic initiatives undertaken by an organization to address a catastrophic incident — be it a natural calamity, fire, terrorist attack, live shooter situation, or hacking. Disaster recovery refers to the actions an organization takes in response to an incident to resume normal, safe business operations as soon as feasible.

The repercussions for companies beset with catastrophic events with no BCDR planning can be disastrous. Financial loss is the most apparent consequence; the longer an organization fails to deliver its products and services, the more significant its financial losses. Further, technical consequences, like compromising vital or confidential data, can lead to compliance bottlenecks.

BCDR strategies seek to mitigate the impact of a catastrophic incident. Further, they can foster trust and confidence among staff members; a workplace that operates per detailed and explicit protocols on calamity response can give them greater peace of mind.

Risk Assessment and Analysis

Risk assessment is the process of identifying potential hazards to an organization’s development and long-term success by means of an evaluation. Before you start establishing the parameters of your BCDR plan, consider how your organization could be affected by natural and artificial disasters.

This begins with recognizing and accepting that any business is susceptible to four significant losses: suspension of access to organizational facilities, vital data, information technology functions, and service functionalities.

CxOs and IT managers must solicit feedback from other organization members and relevant stakeholders to identify every potential risk that might impact the business. Documenting the risks and their repercussions on employees or supply chains using structured templates facilitates the detection of issues and supports the development of long-term solutions.

Developing a Comprehensive BCDR Plan

The plan must define two primary objectives: first, guaranteeing the organization’s continued operations after accidental or malicious data loss or a natural calamity, and second, restoring the infrastructure to its original state before the crisis.

The first objective, which offers a strategic plan for ensuring operational efficiency, needs to be addressed in the business continuity planning segment. The next goal refers to the section on disaster recovery planning, which focuses on expediting the recovery of critical data systems and IT infrastructure to full functionality.

A comprehensive catalog of hardware and infrastructure elements, data loss acceptance, recovery time objective (RTO), and recovery point objective (RPO) must all be incorporated into the BCDR plan. Also, it must prioritize data cleansing protocols after an emergency so there’s no security gap or vulnerability.

The BCDR plan additionally includes a recurring timetable for plan revisions and updates. For the plan to stay relevant, there has to be an organized process for examining and amending it, along with guidelines for routine testing.

Data Backup and Recovery Strategies

The most valuable asset for an organization’s data. Although larger organizations are more susceptible to data loss due to their massive databases, smaller businesses are still impervious to threats. Over half of SMBs witnessed a cyberattack in 2022, underscoring the importance of a multi-layered BCDR strategy.

To facilitate BCDR planning, IT and organizational executives must neutrally evaluate current legacy systems. They must also identify deficiencies in digital systems, workloads, data storage, and associated apps.

Also, it’s important to remember that depending solely on one backup source is ineffective in safeguarding data against deletion, catastrophe, and corruption. To mitigate this, the 3-2-1 framework for data storage and recovery is the standard process followed by the entire industry:

  • 3 — Maintain one original copy and two duplicates of the data: Retain the original copy with a minimum of two duplicates in case one or more become inaccessible.
  • 2 — Create two distinct storage formats: Organizational security can be enhanced by diversifying/expanding storage devices in case of a data failure. When data is stored on an internal hard drive, a secondary device like an external or cloud source must be used.
  • 1 — Offsite storage of at least one copy of data: The consequences of maintaining two or more duplicates in the exact location during a natural disaster could be disastrous. One copy stored offsite entails a dependable security measure.

Employee Training and Awareness About BCDR

The effectiveness of BCDR in practical scenarios is contingent upon a functional awareness and training initiative.

While creating a well-scripted BCDR strategy, many organizations erroneously fail to educate their workforce on their responsibilities while implementing the plan. Launching a program with employees reading and understanding it is fruitless in almost all work environments.

Employers are obligated to establish and maintain an awareness and training program and ensure that every staff member has undergone the required training. The program must incorporate a systematic approach to training and a mechanism for assessing whether or not staff members retained the intended knowledge.

Training and awareness programs should take place on three levels:

  • Organization-wide awareness: This offers a primer on business continuity and a summary of the organization’s BCDR strategy. Data is initially disseminated via a publicly accessible platform, like the organization’s website. Secondly, it is recommended that administrators engage in talks with employees and collect their signatures on a document confirming their familiarity.
  • Supervisor training: Online training on the basics of business continuity is essential for all supervisors. Further, they would be obligated to go through the organization’s BCDR strategy and submit their signatures confirming their cognizance of its contents.
  • BCDR responder training: This training is necessary for employees with an immediate connection to the BCDR plan. Typical components are crisis communication, incident command system (ICS), and emergency operations center (EOC) training. It includes several short online and in-person courses. Additionally, the aim is to deliver scenario-based training to these individuals.

In Conclusion: What is the Role of Technology in BCDR?

As the velocity and variety of business interruptions increase, especially given the highly digital nature of modern enterprises, the role of technology in BCDR has become more critical. BCDR software helps companies execute business-impact analyses, recovery plan formulation, and policy gap detection.

To automate the BCDR process, these software solutions gather and display vital metrics related to business continuity. Advanced analytics can help organizations determine their vulnerability to internal and external hazards, devising efficient responses to data intrusions and natural disasters. Also, these tools facilitate the dissemination of program-related data to organizational stakeholders.

In 2024, CxOs can consider popular BCDR technology vendors like Arcserve, Axcient, Continuity Logic, StorageCraft, and Strategic BCP to assist in their strategic planning.

Next, download the whitepaper on achieving breakthrough business continuity with low cost and complexity. If you found this article helpful, share it with your network by clicking the top social media buttons.

Chiradeep BasuMallick | Chiradeep BasuMallick is a content marketing expert, startup incubator, and tech journalism specialist with over 11 years of experience. His background includes advertising, marketing communications, corporate communications, and content marketing. He has collaborated with several global and multinational companies. Presently, he runs a content marketing startup in Kolkata, India. Chiradeep writes extensively on IT, banking and financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, hospitality, financial analysis, and stock markets. He holds a literature and public relations degree and contributes independently to leading publications.

Chiradeep BasuMallick | Chiradeep BasuMallick is a content marketing expert, startup incubator, and tech journalism specialist with over 11 years of experience. His backgr...

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