Business Continuity Planning: Still Lacking in Many Organizations

March, 2004

Enterprises today must look realistically at the potential impact of a catastrophic disaster that–through a loss of the IT infrastructure–could cripple their ability to meet customer needs, fulfill functions in the service or public sectors, or create a large financial loss. In looking at the technology available to support disaster recovery and business continuity, two key elements emerge.

First, for a particular enterprise application, how quickly do you need to recover access to that function in order to maintain the viability of your business: 24 hours, four hours, one hour, or four minutes? This is your Recovery Time Objective (RTO). The answer to this really depends on the application and the business function or mission.

Second, for a particular application, how many transactions, or how much data, can you lose without significant damage to your business? Will recovery from database backup from 24 hours ago be sufficient, or can you ill-afford to lose a single transaction? This is your Recovery Point Objective (RPO). Again, this really depends on the business function.

The following table shows the relationship between recovery cost and availability requirements.

Relationship Between Recovery Cost and Availability Requirements

Application Impact on Business

Availability Requirement (%)

Maximum Minutes of Downtime (per year)

Recovery Costs

Mission critical




Very high








Departmental functions




Non-critical functions







Figure 1 


Business Continuity Planning (BCP) is instrumental in determining the requirements—by application and function—to support disaster recovery and business continuity. Such a plan will help you determine the RTO and RPO characteristics of enterprise applications to support recovery.

Preliminary data from Computer Economics’ 2004 Information System Spending study shows that many companies have increased their spending on BCP, indicating that more emphasis is being placed on this important management strategy. However, when questioned about the effectiveness of their BCP effort, 37% of the executives in the 2004 study indicated that their current BCP strategy is either minimally effective or not effective at all in terms of meeting the overall requirements of their business needs.

April 2004

Computer Economics’ annual Information Systems Spending study has assisted hundreds of senior IT managers in making critical budget and technology forecasting decisions for 15 years. The 2004/2005 study will be available in June. To order your copy, contact us at 1-800-326-8100, ext. 51.