How to Achieve Business Continuity Management Certification (ISO 22301)

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Business continuity is an organization’s ability to maintain critical functions during various incidents that may disrupt normal business processes. It’s about being prepared for when disaster strikes—like power outages, natural disasters, cyber attacks, and other external threats—and making sure that your organization can continue to operate with as little disruption as possible during such incidents. Namely, business continuity means establishing efficient risk management processes that will keep critical operations up and running even when a disaster occurs and allow you to recover from incidents quickly and without significant losses.

To ensure your business processes are immune to various disruptions, you need to focus on setting up and maintaining a robust BCMS. In this article we will focus on business continuity management and how you can meet all the requirements needed to achieve ISO certification. But before we begin, let’s take a closer look at business impact analysis.

What is business impact analysis and why is it important?

A business impact analysis (BIA) is a process that helps companies identify critical business functions and quantify the risks of different threats to their business. It can be used to help companies determine how to protect themselves against threats and whether their current strategies are sufficient.

The main reason BIA is important is because it helps companies understand how their operations might be affected by different threats. This helps them make more informed decisions about how best to protect themselves from those threats. Additionally, it allows companies to make more accurate plans—BCP and DRP—for responding if an attack does occur and/or spend less money on protecting themselves from scenarios that are unlikely to happen or do not pose much of a threat.

When speaking of BIA—and business continuity in general—there are various terms you should be familiar with:

  • Maximum Acceptable Outage (MAO) or Maximum Tolerable Period of Disruption (MTPOD) is the maximum length of time that an event can last without causing significant damage.
  • Recovery Time Objective (RTO) refers to the amount of time it takes for a company to recover from an outage or disruption. The RTO is also used to determine how fast critical systems need to resume production once they’re back online again.
  • Recovery Point Objective (RPO) refers to the measures that a company needs to take in order to address risks associated with their operations during unexpected outages or disruptions.
  • Minimum Business Continuity Objective (MBCO) is used to define the minimum amount of services that should be provided during a disruption.

A business impact analysis takes into consideration all of the above points and is an essential step when developing a business continuity plan and ensuring your organization’s ability to maintain critical functions during emergencies.

Why do companies need a business continuity certification?

This is a question that is on most companies’ minds. Is certification really worth it? Isn’t having a business continuity plan enough? Well, the short answer is—it depends on the direction you want to take your business. If you’re happy with where you are now, then having a good business continuity plan might suffice. However, if your goal is to expand your business, attract new clients, and build a great company reputation, then getting a business continuity management certification will help you achieve these goals and more.

With a business continuity management certification, you can:

  • Anticipate potential risks. Be prepared for any disaster by having a business continuity plan that contains detailed instructions on how to respond to different types of disruptive events.
  • Improve business resilience. Maintain continuous business operations even in the face of a disaster by having a robust plan and clear strategies for employees to follow.
  • Strengthen system security. Integrate cybersecurity into your business continuity plan to ensure procedures are in place to protect data and assets, and be able to smoothly recover from potential attacks.
  • Protect core functions. Keep your business operating during unanticipated events and your core systems intact by implementing a business continuity plan.
  • Minimize business losses. Avoid losing money or getting a blow to your reputation as a result of unexpected disruptions like cyberattacks or downtime.

What type of certification do you need?

If you’re in the IT sector, there are various ISO certifications for IT companies, however, ISO 22301—specifically, ISO 22301:2019—is the certification you need for business continuity. This standard is aimed at companies that want to develop and implement an efficient business continuity management system (BCMS) and prove compliance to customers, partners, and other important stakeholders. This standard provides a practical framework to set up and manage an effective business continuity management system. A certified BCMS indicates that an organization is well prepared to manage crisis situations. This helps customers, partners, and employees feel safe and more secure. In addition, it demonstrates that the organization is thoughtful about its risk management and that it is capable of handling unforeseen circumstances.

Essentially, the ultimate goal of a BCMS is to help organizations:

  • understand their needs and establish business continuity policies and objectives.
  • operate and maintain processes, capabilities, and response structures.
  • monitor and review the performance and effectiveness of the BCMS.
  • improve their processes regularly based on qualitative and quantitative measures.

How can companies achieve ISO 22301 certification?

There are various steps companies should take in order to achieve ISO 22301 certification:

  • Understand standard requirements. The first step is to understand the requirements of the standard and how they will impact your business.
  • Carry out a gap analysis. Look at your current processes and procedures to identify how they compare to those described in the standard. This way, you will know exactly what needs to be changed or updated in order to comply with requirements.
  • Develop a robust BCP and DRP. Create detailed business continuity and disaster recovery plans to ensure critical services continue to operate during disruptive events and minimize losses and damages.
  • Perform BCP/DRP exercises. See how well your business continuity and disaster recovery plans perform in real-life scenarios and identify gaps by performing business continuity exercises.
  • Conduct internal audits regularly. Review and update your risk management processes by conducting internal audits regularly to check how effective the BCP is against various threats and provide recommendations for improvements.
  • Organize training sessions for employees. Provide ISO training for employees to learn more about the ISO 22301 standard, its requirements, and how to implement it in their daily work processes.
  • Invest in business continuity as a service (BCaaS). Work with business continuity experts on an as-needed basis and get expert advice on implementing and maintaining risk management processes.
  • Get professional advisory services. Team up with experienced ISO advisors who will guide you through the steps to ISO certification and make sure your company is ready to meet all the requirements for certification.

What should you look for in an ISO advisor?

When looking for an ISO advisor, there are a number of factors you should consider:

  • Ample experience. Find someone with plenty of experience in their field and who knows the ins and outs of setting up and maintaining a strong BCMS.
  • Industry knowledge. Look for an ISO advisor with industry knowledge and who has worked with other companies in the same industry as yours.
  • Personalized approach. Make sure that your ISO advisor has a personalized approach that will work well for your company and is flexible enough to adjust based on what your needs are at any given time.
  • Good reputation. Be aware of the reputation of the ISO advisor and do your research. Find out whether they have a history of success working with other companies in your industry.
  • Flexible schedule. Ensure that the ISO advisor is easy to reach and always available when you need them most—either for a quick call or an in-depth consultation.
  • Ongoing support. Work with an advisor that can offer ongoing support throughout your journey towards ISO certification and meeting business continuity requirements.

How long does it take to get certified?

As with any ISO standard and certification, the answer is—it depends. Every company is different in terms of business-critical services, business practices, number of employees and of course, industry. However, a rough estimation would be that it would take at least six months to get ready for certification. But again, this depends and varies from project to project.

Key takeaways

The importance of having and maintaining an efficient business continuity management system cannot be understated. When an organization is faced with a crisis, it is crucial that its employees are ready to handle any situation. It is also important for customers and partners to know that the company has taken steps to ensure that they can continue to do business with them in the event of a disaster or emergency.

In addition, being ISO 22301 certified gives you the power of providing a premium level of services to your customers and stakeholders regardless of disruptions. It is essential for companies who want to follow the best international practices, meet supply chain requirements, and open up new business opportunities.

While you can embark on the journey to certification on your own, we strongly recommend working with an experienced ISO advisor. This is the safest way to ensure that your organization complies with all the requirements and has efficient business continuity processes set up.

At TestDevLab, we offer various ISO advisory services—including business continuity as a service (BCaaS)—to help you get certified and ready to handle any type of business disruption. We can help you understand requirements, implement changes to your internal processes, perform audits, and provide ongoing support. Contact us to find out more about our ISO advisory services and how we can help you.

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