Business continuity

Business continuity encompasses a loosely defined set of planning, preparatory and related activities which are intended to ensure that an organization's critical business functions will either continue to operate despite serious incidents or disasters that might otherwise have interrupted them, or will be recovered to an operational state within a reasonably short period. As such, business continuity includes three key elements:

  1. Resilience: critical business functions and the supporting infrastructure are designed and engineered in such a way that they are materially unaffected by most disruptions, for example through the use of redundancy and spare capacity;
  2. Recovery: arrangements are made to recover or restore critical and less critical business functions that fail for some reason.
  3. Contingency: the organization establishes a generalized capability and readiness to cope effectively with whatever major incidents and disasters occur, including those that were not, and perhaps could not have been, foreseen. Contingency preparations constitute a last-resort response if resilience and recovery arrangements should prove inadequate in practice.

If there is no Business Continuity plan implemented and the organization in question is facing a rather severe threat or disruption that may lead to bankruptcy, the implementation and outcome, if not too late, may strengthen the organization's survival and its continuity of business activities.

The management of business continuity falls largely within the sphere of risk management, with some cross-over into related fields such as governance, information security and compliance.
Risk is a core consideration since business continuity is primarily concerned with those business functions, operations, supplies, systems, relationships etc. that are critically important to achieve the organization's operational objectives.
Business Impact Analysis is the generally accepted risk management term for the process of determining the relative importance or criticality of those elements, and in turn drives the priorities, planning, preparations and other business continuity management activities.