Business continuance is a strategy for putting the processes and procedures in place that an organization requires to operate during and after a disaster. Business continuance plans seek to prevent mission-critical services from being interrupted and re-establish full operations as swiftly and smoothly as possible.
The first step in business continuance planning is to decide which of an organization's functions are absolutely essential, and apportion budget for recovery accordingly. Although business continuance is important for any enterprise, it may not be practical for any but the largest to maintain full functioning throughout a disaster crisis. Once crucial components have been identified, the second step is to put failover mechanisms in place to ensure that operations can carry on with minimal interruption in the event of a disaster. Ideally, an organization maintains up-to-date copies of data in geographically dispersed locations so that data access can continue uninterrupted if one location is disabled.
Every business continuance action plan should include a disaster recovery plan that documents an organization's planned strategies for post-failure procedures; a business resumption plan that documents how essential services at the crisis location will be restored; a business recovery plan that documents how to recover business functions at an alternate location; and a contingency plan that documents what actions should be carried out if operations cannot continue at the crisis center or alternate location.
Business continuance became an increasingly common area of concern since the September 2001 World Trade Center disaster, in which an unforeseen incident created a sudden and severe threat to crucial functions for a number of companies. Business continuance is sometimes referred to as business continuity or more recently, business resilience.