Your company may understand that business continuity is an essential part of your business plan, but many companies don’t understand the critical differences between business continuity management and a disaster recovery plan. Discover the key differences between them, and learn how your company can implement document management software (DMS) in a way that makes growth and/or mergers easier.


Start with the Basics: The Difference Between the 2

The easiest way to think about the difference between the 2 is that disaster recovery is actually a small part of business continuity. It’s the process companies use to save data with only one purpose: recovering it if a disaster happens. Note that disasters can mean many things in the world of IT, including minor issues like losing a specific set of data to major issues like losing an entire data center. Also note that though some may be bigger disasters than others, a data loss of any kind results in the same panic, pressure, and pain.

A good example of a major disaster is Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans was rendered without power and basic services needed for people to live. Many local companies had off-site copies of their data, but many of them didn’t plan for the possibility that the data in their secondary site would also be unavailable. Companies that stored all of their data at secondary locations discovered that they couldn’t get to these locations to get their data recovered.


Digging Deeper: More About Disaster Recovery Management

The basics of disaster recovery are that data will be kept at a secondary site and there will be plans to recover that data in the event of a disaster. However, the data isn’t available while the disaster is going on. It first must be recovered. Recovering it can take a lot of time, depending on how the recovery processes, planning, and infrastructure were chosen and tested.

Compare that to business continuity, which generally refers to the planning involved in ensuring that IT functions continue in the event of any type of system or enterprise disasters. There are numerous elements required for successful business continuity, including the location, staffing, equipment, and data recovery procedures.


Business Continuity Is a Totally Different Process

While they are related, business continuity is totally different. For one thing, it doesn’t solely involve data. Instead, it focuses on business. The entire point of business continuity is to create a plan for what a business does during a failure or disaster—not how it handles it afterwards.

Put simply, it means that if a failure or disaster happens, a company can access their data without downtime. Generally, a business continuity plan is a mixture of hardware and software technologies that assures data is in 2 separate places at all times. As an example, if a production server in one office goes down, the data and applications would be sent to the second system that the application could then use. In a scenario like this, the application would only pause during the switch, and users wouldn’t even realize there was an issue.


The Role of Document Management Systems

There are numerous parts involved in business continuity management, and they can vary based on the particular business sector and needs of a business; however, one part is common to all plans, and that is document management software (DMS). In order for data to be easily retrievable and to avoid a disaster negatively impacting a business’s ability to function, data must be stored and backed up off-site. A document management system will include a wide variety of documents, including:

  • Administrative documents that outline everything from project plans to requests for proposals to vendor contracts
  • Plan documents including disaster recovery plans, business continuity plans, incident response plans, and other specialized plans
  • Reports that include business continuity, risk analysis, internal and external audits, and vendor assessment reports
  • Team documents that outline emergency response rosters and lists of authorized users
  • Specialized documents including diagrams of data centers and details on work recovery sites
  • Standards and regulations as they apply to your particular business sector



Getting the Most Out of Document Management Software

Document management software is an essential part of your disaster recovery and business continuity management, but it is worth a lot more than that. When properly used, it makes everything from organizational growth to mergers much easier. Companies should never underestimate the storage and management capacity of DMS.

Your DMS should be paperless and should be organized through a third-party that backs up files in numerous secure locations. Having a paperless system also protects your company against cyberattack, theft, and mishandling. eFileCabinet’s products even meets industry compliance standards set by major organizations like FINRA, the SEC, and HIPAA.

In the event of a disaster, your company can access files saved through the DMS from anywhere they have internet access. While this is essential in the event your primary office is not accessible, like every part of DMS, it also has applications for everyday use: your employees can access crucial documents from anywhere.