In general, a business continuity plan focuses on strategies for sustaining an organization’s critical business processes in the event of a disruption. It provides detailed guidance for continuing operations as normally as possible during and after a major, unplanned incident. Since information technology often supports key business processes, planning specifically for IT disruptions is a necessary part of business continuity planning.
IT contingency planning refers to the plans, policies, procedures and technical measures that enable the recovery of IT operations after an unexpected incident. A disruptive event could include a major natural disaster such as a flood, or something smaller, such as malfunctioning software caused by a computer virus. Since no computer system can be expected to operate perfectly at all times, unplanned service interruptions are inevitable.
The content, length and resources necessary to prepare an IT contingency plan will vary depending on the size and sophistication of your organization’s computerized operations. Larger organizations may need a suite of plans that go by many different names — business continuity, IT contingency, emergency management, incident response — to fully meet their planning needs.