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ISO 22301 Societal Security Business Continuity Management Systems


Recent natural disasters, environmental accidents, technology mishaps and man-made crises have demonstrated that severe incidents can and will happen, impacting the public and private sectors alike. The challenge goes beyond providing an emergency response plan or using disaster management strategies that were previously used.
 Organizations of all sizes and types should now engage in a comprehensive and systematic process of prevention, protection, preparedness, mitigation, response for business continuity and recovery.  It is no longer enough to draft a response plan that anticipates and minimizes the consequences of naturally, accidentally, or intentionally caused disruptions, but rather organizations must also take adaptive and proactive measures to reduce the likelihood of a disruption. Today’s threats require the creation of an on-going, managed process that ensures the survival and sustainability of an organization’s core activities before, during, and after a disruptive event.
 The ability of an organization to recover from a disaster is directly related to the degree of business continuity planning that has taken place BEFORE the disaster. Studies show that two out of five businesses that experience a disaster will go out of business within five years of the event.
Business continuity plans are critical to the continuous operation of all types of businesses. More importantly, these plans are assuming increased importance as companies become increasingly reliant on technology to do business.
Despite this clear message that downtime is disastrous, Gartner research shows that less than 30 percent of Fortune 2000 companies have invested in a full business continuity plan. The reason for this oversight may simply be that the technical challenges seem to be too daunting. Or perhaps the cost of implementation is
perceived as too great. All of these are viable concerns, but they can be addressed with business continuity solutions.
ISO 22301, the world’s first international standard for Business Continuity Management (BCM), has been developed to help organizations minimize the risk of such disruptions. ISO has officially launched ISO 22301, “Societal security – Business continuity management systems – Requirements”, the new international standard for Business Continuity Management System (BCMS). This standard will replace the current British standard BS 25999.
According to research by the META Group, the potential financial loss due to downtime  is  staggering.  For an online retailer, the hourly loss is over one million dollars, on average. For a financial institution, the average hourly loss is closer to $1.5 million. And for utility companies such as telecommunications and energy, the potential loss can reach as high as $2.8 million per hour. That’s over $67 million in a day. Or, $24.5 billion per year

 An overview of ISO 22301:2012

ISO 22301 specifies requirements to plan, establish, implement, operate, monitor, review, maintain and continually improve a documented management system to prepare for, respond to and recover from disruptive events when they arise.
The requirements specified in ISO 22301 are generic and intended to be applicable to all organizations (or parts thereof), regardless of type, size and nature of the organization. The extent of application of these requirements depends on the organization’s operating environment and complexity
Business continuity standardization evolves with ISO 22301 by adding:
  • Greater emphasis on setting the objectives, monitoring performance and metrics;
  • Clearer expectations on management;
  • More careful planning for and preparing the resources needed for ensuring business continuity;
ISO 22301 applies to all types and sizes of organizations that wish to:
  1. establish, implement, maintain and improve a BCMS;
  2. assure conformity with the organization’s stated business continuity policy;
  3. demonstrate conformity to others;
  4. seek certification/registration of its BCMS by an accredited third party certification body; or
  5. make a self-determination and self-declaration of conformity with this International Standard.
ISO 22301 is the first standard to be fully compliant with the new guidelines from ISO/Guide 83 (“High level structure and identical text for management system standards and common core management system terms and definitions”). It has been developed in response to standards users’ critics that, while current standards have many common components, they are not sufficiently aligned, making it difficult for organizations to rationalize their systems and to interface and integrate them.
This means that ISO 22301 will be the first standard to fully integrate a high-level structure and common text that will make it totally aligned with all other management systems once the related standards have also adopted the ISO Guide 83 guidelines.
What is Business Continuity Management?
BCM is a holistic management process that identifies   potential   threats   to an organization and the impacts to business operations   those   threats, if realized, might cause, and which provides a framework for building organizational resilience with the capability for an effective response that safeguards the interests of its key stakeholders, reputation, brand and value-creating activities

Key clauses of ISO 22301:2012

ISO 22301 applies to all types and sizes of organizations that wish to:

Clause 4: Context of the organization
Clause 5: Leadership
Clause 6: Planning
Clause 7: Support
Clause 8: Operation
Clause 9: Performance evaluation
Clause 10: Improvement
Each of these key activities is listed below.

Clause 4: Context of the organization

Determine external and internal issues that are relevant to its purpose and that affect its ability to achieve the expected outcomes of its BCMS such as:
  • the organization’s activities, functions, services, products, partnerships, supply chains, relationships with interested parties, and the potential impact related to a disruptive incident;
  • links between the business continuity policy and the organization’s objectives and other policies, including its overall risk management strategy;
  • the organization’s risk appetite;
  • the needs and expectations of relevant interested parties;
  • applicable legal, regulatory and other requirements to which the organization subscribes.
Identifying the scope of the BCMS, taking into account the organization’s strategic objectives, key products and services, risk tolerance, and any regulatory, contractual or stakeholder obligations is also part of this clause.

Clause 5: Leadership

Top management needs to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to the BCMS. Through its leadership and actions, management can create an environment in which different actors are fully involved and in which the management system can operate effectively in synergy with the objectives of the organization. They are responsible for:
  • ensuring the BCMS is compatible with the strategic direction of the organization;
  • integrating the BCMS requirements into the organization’s business processes;
  • providing the necessary resources for the BCMS;
  • communicating the importance of effective business continuity management;
  • ensuring that the BCMS achieves its expected outcomes;directing and supporting continual improvement;
  • establish and communicate a business continuity policy;
  • ensuring that BCMS objectives and plans are established;
  • ensuring that the responsibilities and authorities for relevant roles are assigned.

Clause 6: Planning

This is a critical stage as it relates to establishing strategic objectives and guiding principles for the BCMS as a whole. The objectives of a BCMS are the expression of the intent of the organization to treat the risks identified and/or to comply with requirements of organizational needs. The business continuity objectives must:
  • be consistent with the business continuity policy;
  • take into account the minimum level of products and services that is acceptable to the organization to achieve its objectives;
  • be measurable;
  • take into account applicable requirements;
  • be monitored and updated as appropriate

Clause 7: Support

The day-to-day management of an effective business continuity management system relies on using the appropriate resources for each task. These include competent staff with relevant (and demonstrable) training and supporting services, awareness and communication. This must be supported by properly managed documented information.
Both internal and external communications of the organization must be considered in this area, including the format, the content and the proper timing of such communications.
The requirements on the creation, update and control of documented information are also specified in this clause.

Clause 8: Operation

After planning the BCMS, an organization must put it in operation. This clause includes:
Business impact analysis (BIA): This activity enables an organization to identify the critical processes that support its key products and services, the interdependencies between processes and the resources required to operate the processes at a minimally-acceptable level.
Risk assessment: ISO 22301 proposes to refer to the ISO 31000 standard to implement that process. The goal of this requirement is to establish, implement, and maintain a formal documented risk assessment process that systematically identifies, analyzes, and evaluates the risk of disruptive incidents to the organization.
Business continuity strategy: After requirements have been established through the BIA and the risk assessment, strategies can be developed to identify arrangements that will enable the organization to protect and recover critical activities based on organizational risk tolerance and within defined recovery time objectives. Experience and good practice clearly indicate that the early provision of an overall organizational BCM strategy will ensure BCM activities are aligned with and support the organization’s overall business strategy. The business continuity strategy should be an integral component of an institution’s corporate strategy
Business continuity procedures: The organization shall document procedures (including necessary arrangements) to ensure continuity of activities and management of a disruptive incident. The procedures have to:
  • establish an appropriate internal and external communications protocol;
  • be specific regarding the immediate steps that are to be taken during a disruption;
  • be flexible to respond to unanticipated threats and changing internal and external conditions;
  • focus on the impact of events that could potentially disrupt operations;
  • be developed based on stated assumptions and an analysis of interdependencies; and;
  • be effective in minimizing consequences through implementation of appropriate mitigation strategies.
Exercising and testing: To ensure that business continuity procedures are consistent with its business continuity objectives, an organization will have to test them regularly. Exercising and testing are the processes of validating business continuity plans and procedures to ensure the selected strategies are capable of providing response and recovery results within the timeframes agreed to by management.

Clause 9: Performance Evaluation

Once the BCMS is implemented, ISO 22301requires permanent monitoring of the system as well as periodic reviews to improve its operation:
  • monitoring the extent to which the organization’s business continuity policy, objectives and targets are met;
  • measuring the performance of the processes, procedures and functions that protect its prioritized activities;
  • monitoring compliance with this standard and the business continuity objectives;
  • monitoring historical evidence of deficient BCMS’ performance conducting internal audits at planned intervals; and evaluating all this in the management review at planned intervals

Clause 10: Improvement

Continual improvement can be defined as all the actions taken throughout the organization to increase effectiveness (reaching objectives) and efficiency (an optimal cost/benefit ratio) of security processes and controls to bring increased benefits to the organization and its stakeholders. An organization can continually improve the effectiveness of its management system through the use of the business continuity policy, objectives, audit results, analysis of monitored events, indicators, corrective and preventive actions and management review.

Link between ISO 22301 and other standards

ISO 22301 can be easily linked with other Business Continuity and Information Security standards, like the recent ISO/IEC 27031:2011 – Guidelines for information and communication technology readiness for business continuity. Published in March 2011 and superseding BS 25777, this international standard describes the concepts and principles of ICT readiness for business continuity and provides a framework of methods and processes to identify and specify all aspects for improving an organization’s ICT readiness to ensure business continuity.
Similarly, the BCMS will also be achieved in practice thanks to ISO/IEC 24762:2008 – Guidelines for information and communications technology disaster recovery services.
In this section, we present some standards that ISO 22301 can be in relation with to create an integrated management system.

Link with other business continuity standards

In addition to ISO 22301 business continuity standard, several other well-known standards include:
  • British Standards Institute: BS 25999, Parts 1 and 2
  • National Fire Protection Association: NFPA 1600:2010
  • ASIS International: ASIS SPC.1-2009
  • Australia/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 5050
  • Singapore Standard SS540
  • Canadian Standard: CSA Z1600
  • Government of Japan BCP Guideline
  • Japanese Corporate Code – BCP
  • National Association of Stock Dealers: NASD 3510/3520
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology: NIST SP 800-34
  • New York Stock Exchange: NYSE Rule 446

Link with ISO 27001

ISO 22301 is obviously useful as part of a certification process to ISO/IEC 27001:2005. ISO 22301 can be used to directly comply with the objective of clause A.14 – Business continuity management. Additionally, regarding the implementation and execution of a risk assessment in the context of ISMS compliance, an organization could always refer to ISO/IEC 27005:2011 or, in a broader context, to ISO 31000:2009 – Risk management – Principles and guidelines or, to execute the assessment itself, to ISO 31010:2009 – Risk management – Risk assessment techniques.

Training and certifications of professionals

PECB has created a recommended training roadmap and personnel certification schemes for implementers and auditors of an organization that wishes to get certified against ISO 22301. Whereas certification of organizations is a vital component of the business continuity field as it provides evidence that organizations developed standardized processes based on best practices, certification of individuals serves also as documented evidence of professional competencies and experience for/ of those individuals that attended one of the related courses and exams.
It serves to demonstrate that the certified professional holds defined competencies based on best practices. It also allows organizations to make an informed selection of employees or services based on the competencies that are represented by the certification designation. Finally, it provides incentives to the professional to constantly improve his/her skills and knowledge and serves as a tool for employers to ensure that training and awareness have been effective.
PECB training courses are offered globally through a network of authorized training providers and they’re available in several languages and include introduction, foundation, implementer and auditor courses. The table below gives a short description about PECB’s official training courses for Business continuity management system based on ISO 22301.
Principal Authors: 
René St-GERMAIN, PECB (France),
Faton ALIU, PECB (Canada),
Eric LACHAPELLE , PECB (Canada),
Pierre DEWEZ, Devoteam (Belgium)

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