Understanding disaster recovery and business continuity

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For any company, safeguarding vital operational information should extend beyond maintaining cyber security. A company should create a disaster plan in case something as complex as a natural disaster or as simple as a power outage prevents business from continuing on as usual. Failure to prepare for disaster scenarios can have devastating effects. The Federal Emergency Management Agency states that 40 percent of business do not reopen after enduring a disaster. Another 25 percent fail within one year, and 90 percent fail within two according to the U.S. Small Business Association. One of the best ways for a business to ensure it can continue to operate regardless of circumstances is by protecting vital information and establishing emergency protocols.

Two men look at a whiteboard full of notes.

Focusing on disaster recovery plans and a business continuity strategy can help protect an organization’s ability to conduct business. Often combined into a single entity, disaster recovery and business continuity are separate strategies businesses should have in place.

Whether creating a process to handle a natural disaster or a cyberattack, MIS professionals implementing these plans should develop knowledge related to security, technology, and management. MIS professionals can further develop this knowledge with a master’s degree in management information systems. Helping build the right skill set in relief, support, and strategy, an MS in MIS degree teaches individuals how to differentiate between disaster recovery and business continuity.

Disaster recovery

Disaster recovery plans outline the steps employees should follow during and immediately after a disaster. Often included are communication instructions, exit procedures, and an IT disaster recovery plan. Each element revolves around protecting people and crucial operational elements to restore business once the disruptive event is over.

MIS professionals take on a variety of roles within this area, from IT disaster recovery specialist to disaster response and recovery consultant to disaster recovery manager. At each level, they collaborate with other business managers and personnel to create a plan focused on restoring data and applications connected to an organization’s ability to function. Plans of this type not only create strategies that can quickly recover data, but they also focus on how to continue operations should servers, other infrastructure, or even a physical building get damaged or destroyed.

Business continuity

Business continuity strategies outline how businesses will continue operations after the occurrence of an event that halts productivity. Addressing bigger issues like natural disasters, business continuity strategies also tackle how to handle smaller disruptive events, even down to power outages. While disaster recovery plans focus on how to keep everything safe and secure in an unlikely event, business continuity plans describe how and where an organization can continue to operate if forced into a temporary location as a result of something unexpected.

With the goal of creating minimal downtime when being forced to relocate operations, a business continuity plan identifies long-term critical strategies that help an organization maintain stability. Preventative measures can help ensure continuity of business. Strategies like redundant servers, storage, and data centers can all provide support to ensure operation continues.

For someone interested in pursuing a career in business continuity, job opportunities range from consultant to analyst to manager based on experience, knowledge, and educational background.

Similarities between business continuity and disaster recovery

It may now be easier to differentiate between business continuity and disaster recovery. Despite these differences, both processes prove essential as a business recovers after a catastrophic event. Preparing an organization for the unexpected, whether looking at how to protect vital elements of a business or how to safeguard operations, requires a few common steps:

  • Know what constitutes normal business
  • Determine prevention or recovery plans for any event that can negatively impact business
  • Implement plan elements that keep an organization prepared for the future
  • Conduct periodic plan reviews to check for consistency and adjust as business changes and grows

Overall, the development of any disaster recovery or continuity plan should include constant communication and collaboration between an organization’s senior management and the IT team.

Preparing for a career in business continuity and disaster recovery

Pursuing a career within this vital element of business requires a strong background in a variety of areas related to business and technology. An online Master of Science in Management Information Systems from University of Alabama at Birmingham can help you expand your technical knowledge while developing new skills related to business. Offering a concentration in cyber security management, the master’s in MIS can help you learn how to manage security teams that implement IT disaster recovery plans or business continuity strategies that protect sensitive and crucial information. Courses within this concentration focus on areas such as cyberattacks and threat migration, incident responses and business continuity, digital forensics, and information security management, all of which can support a successful career in disaster recovery or business continuity.

Discover how you can enhance your existing career with a master’s degree in management information systems from the Collat School of Business. Reach out to an enrollment advisor today.

Recommended Reading:

Cybersecurity vs. network security: How an information systems degree can prepare you for this growing employment landscape

What is the MS MIS Bridge Program?

Benefits of earning an MS MIS online


Protecting your business by the Federal Emergency Management Agency

SBA Disaster Workshop: Are You Prepared for the Next Big Disaster? by the U.S. Small Business Administration

Disaster Recovery Plan vs. Business Continuity Plan by Chron

The difference between disaster recovery and business continuity by DELL

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning Definition and Solutions by CIO from IDG

Business Planning for Disaster Survival by Chamber 101

Business Continuity Manager by PayScale

Online Master of Science in Management Information Systems – University of Alabama at Birmingham