Business Continuity is the activity performed by an organization to ensure that critical business functions will be available to customers, suppliers, regulators, and other entities that must have access to those functions. These activities include many daily chores such as project management, system backups, change control, and help desk. Business Continuity is not something implemented at the time of a disaster; Business Continuity refers to those activities performed daily to maintain service, consistency, and recoverability.
The foundation of Business Continuity are the policies, guidelines, standards, and procedures implemented by an organization. All system design, implementation, support, and maintenance must be based on this foundation in order to have any hope of achieving Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, or in some cases, system support. Business continuity is sometimes confused with disaster recovery, but they are separate entities. Disaster recovery is a small subset of business continuity.
The term Business Continuity describes a mentality or methodology of conducting day-to-day business, whereas Business Continuity Planning is an activity of determining what that methodology should be. The Business Continuity Plan may be thought of as the incarnation of a methodology that is followed by everyone in an organization on a daily basis to ensure normal operations.