BCP vs. DRP: How Are They Different?

BCP vs. DRP – is there a difference? And if so, what is it?

A business continuity plan (BCP) and a disaster recovery plan (DRP) both share many similarities. And although both terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they are in fact different.

In this article, we’ll explore the relationship between business continuity planning, disaster recovery planning, and other strategies for mitigating business disruptions.

BCP vs. DRP: The Difference

In today’s volatile economic landscape, disasters can strike without warning, disrupting business operations and causing significant losses – especially if organizations don’t prepare properly.

A business continuity plan is one way to mitigate the negative effects of these disruptions. These pre-planned response activities are designed to:

  • Coordinate response efforts swiftly and effectively
  • Protect key business units 
  • Restore lost assets and functionality

Similarly, a disaster recovery plan is also intended to restore and recover lost functions and assets, though the emphasis is almost exclusively on recovery and restoration.

It is also worth noting that some organizations use “disaster recovery” to refer to IT disaster recovery plans, which is a specific type of disaster recovery. As the name suggests, IT disaster recovery plans are aimed at restoring data and lost IT functions, while other types of disaster recovery can include a number of other disasters.

These can include:

  • Natural disasters, such as floods or earthquakes
  • Fires
  • Workplace hazards, such as chemical spills
  • Power outages

Some professionals may include other disruptions under the “disaster” category, such as supply chain disruptions.

Clearly, there is quite a bit of overlap in how these terms are used. Though it is certainly important to understand how these terms are used, they are just two strategies among several that can help organizations prepare for business disruptions.

Disaster Recovery vs. Emergency Response vs. Crisis Communications

Disaster recovery plans are specifically designed to restore lost assets and functionality as mentioned. 

An emergency response plan, however, is implemented in the first few minutes following a disaster or emergency. These plans are aimed, first and foremost, at keeping employees safe in the event of a life-threatening emergency. Only after human safety has been guaranteed can professionals move on to protecting important business assets and functions.

Fire drills, which most of us are familiar with, is an example of an emergency response plan, which typically focuses on building evacuations. 

These emergency response plans are typically followed by disaster recovery plans and crisis communications plans, which have yet another emphasis.

Crisis communications plans dictate how and when information must be communicated during a crisis. Timely communication with a number of parties is critical, so it is important to communicate efficiently with customers, business partners, the community, news outlets, and any other relevant audiences. 

Risk Management vs. Business Continuity Management (BCM)

Risk management assesses the various risks posed to a business, including disasters and emergencies, as well as a wide variety of other threats. In addition to emergency situations, economic threats, digital disruption, and a number of other factors can be assessed by risk management professionals.

The plans covered above present excellent response plans, but they are only one approach to mitigating the risk of disruption.

It is also possible to implement systems and strategies that reduce or completely remove the risks associated with certain types of disruption.

For example:

  • Proper work procedures and protocols can greatly reduce the potential for certain types of workplace accidents
  • Cybersecurity systems can reduce the risk of cyber attacks and other IT-related disasters
  • Digital training can improve employees’ ability to adapt to digital disruptions or IT disasters

These types of preventative measures take a proactive approach to mitigating risk, which can be just as effective as response planning.

Such a comprehensive approach to reducing risk is often known as organizational resilience.

Holistic Organizational Resilience

A holistic approach to organizational resilience includes business continuity, disaster recovery, emergency response planning, and many other approaches.

According to the framework created by the International Consortium for Organizational Resilience (ICOR), for instance, there are a total of twelve management disciplines that can effectively manage risk, including:

  • Human resources
  • Business continuity
  • Information security
  • Risk management
  • Incident response
  • Legal, audit, and compliance

To truly build organizational resilience and manage the risk of disruption, organizations should develop a holistic strategy that incorporates all of these disciplines together.

Final Thoughts

For many organizations, implementing such a comprehensive approach could require significant organizational changes. And although those organizational changes may require a great deal of investment, time, and effort, they can certainly pay off in the end.

After all, during the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, organizations around the world were all forced to face massive disruptions to their business. 

Those organizations that had planned ahead and were more resilient – for instance, those that were digitally mature and capable of remote working – were much better prepared to deal with the negative impacts of that disruption.

There is no way to know for certain what the future holds, which is precisely why it is so important to be prepared, agile, and resilient.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.