The ISO’s recently announced business continuity standard (ISO 22301), developed to help businesses of all sizes, location or industry, will have wide ranging implications for organisations across the world. The standard, based on the British Standard BS 25999, aims to ensure the creation, implementation and maintenance of successful business continuity plans across the globe – the essential core elements to managing business availability.
Research conducted this year by SunGard Availability Services demonstrates progress in continuity planning with 59% of organisations now factoring in more disruptions into operational plans, but this still leaves a gaping hole of businesses lacking sufficient preparation for known (e.g. Olympics, strikes, IT upgrades, etc) and unknown events (IT failures, freak weather, power outages, etc). Sufficient planning only gets you so far; if plans aren’t tested, tweaked (or in some cases, overhauled) and communicated across the organisation on a regular basis the potential impact could be far reaching. The international introduction of ISO 22301 goes some way to reflecting the increasingly important role of business resilience
Organisations need to really focus on advice available to meet the standard and take this as an opportunity to fine tune any kinks in their continuity armour (or at the very least to cross-check that their recovery plans match current needs).
Disruption can come in many forms, with even small events having huge knock-on effects. In our 24 hour culture the cost of downtime is capable of crippling a business and not simply due to lost revenues: if a company loses the trust of its customers or share-holders, this damage can take months or even years to rectify, as currently exemplified by the banking fraternity. By moving business continuity up the business agenda, ISO 22301 will go some way to help build resilience into strategic business planning and support everything from day-to-day to global operations to the testing, maintenance and communication of essential information.
Ultimately, ISO 22301 is a welcome step in internationalising business continuity practices and ensuring that organisations the world over are able to earn the trust of their partners, customers and supply chains.