Beyond business continuity planning, the need to move to a business continuity management system
As a practice, Business Continuity Management aims to maintain essential functions in the event of a disaster or other, major disruption. Organizations get that. After all, they’ve poured time and money into developing business continuity management plans.
But the research shows that those plans alone aren’t enough to achieve organizational resilience. What’s more, teams without business continuity management systems are courting the risk of business failure after a major disruptive event. What can businesses do to prepare?
The short answer is move toward a business continuity management system (BCMS), defined as the overall management system that establishes, implements, operates, monitors, reviews, maintains, and improves business continuity.
Developing business continuity management systems, rather than just building business continuity plans, offers numerous benefits. For one, it helps organizations better understand their needs and evaluate the necessity of certain policies and objectives. The BCMS also reinforces the importance of implementing and operating controls and measures for managing a firm’s overall capability to manage disruptive incidents. Additionally, the BCMS enables continual improvement based on objective metrics. The only question is, how to develop a BCMS at your organization?
That’s where the ISO 22301 business continuity management standard comes in. ISO 22301 offers an internationally-recognized standard for implementing business continuity management systems. More specifically, the standard details requirements to plan, establish, implement, operate, monitor, review, maintain, and continually improve a documented management system that protects against, reduces the likelihood of occurrence, prepares for, responds to, and recovers from disruptive incidents when they arise.
For some organizations, though, full compliance with the standard won’t be feasible in the short term, despite the organizational resilience benefits. Those businesses still have much to gain from learning more about ISO 22301, since the standard itself is based on industry best practices.
Then, there will be businesses who do need to implement ISO 22301, so as to comply with requirements from external stakeholders, like customers, supplier partners, regulators, etc. It’ll be tempting for those firms to treat compliance as a box-ticking exercise, not adequately engaging business owners and, instead, siloing business impact analysis (BIA) in the Business Continuity Manager’s Office.
Those firms, then, risk the value-destroying consequences of a post-incident business interruption. And the interruption itself doesn’t have to be long; interruptions of any length heighten the likelihood of business closure.
To that end, ISO 22301 tasks teams with taking a broader look at potential threats to business continuity than just data loss and the loss of IT systems. Natural disasters and severe weather events like hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and earthquakes can also cause road closures, utility outages, supply chain interruptions, key staff loss, and other issues that force firms to fail.
Finally, building a BCP in the context of a wider business continuity management system is an important survival factor in the event of a critical incident. But it’s not the only one. Integrated safety and security technology also helps organizations turn their BCPs into action based on pre-defined scenarios, facilitating speedy responses and recovery activities. To learn what it takes to build a best-practice business continuity management system at your firm, download our guide to ISO 22301.
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