Why is ISO 22301 Important?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 22301 is a set of standards that create a simple and consistent way for any business (regardless of size, location, or industry) to implement an effective business continuity management system. In 2019, language in the ISO 22301 was revised to make it even easier for implementers to understand and apply the system.

Why ISO 22301?

There are a number of different business continuity standards, so why should you specifically care about ISO 22301?

  • It is one of only three standards designated by Homeland Security’s Private Sector (PS) Preparedness program.

  • It is the only standard that can be applied fully on an international scale.

  • It pairs well with other standards and regulations like HIPAA and FFIEC.

By implementing the ISO 22301 standard, businesses can reap a number of benefits, including all the following (and more).

Retain high compliance

Because ISO 22301 is one of few standards that fits many businesses compliance needs, even on an international level, it can ensure that your business has a very high compliance level that fits your needs and any needs of your business regulators, partners, and clients.

Gain a competitive advantage

By becoming ISO 22301 certified, your business will be able to stand out from the competition—especially for clients and countries that require supplies to have business continuity procedures. Because ISO 22301 is one of the top standards, many businesses may be more likely to choose to work with your business, as ISO 22301 certification also signifies lower risk.

Create agility

ISO 22301 ensures that you have proper documentation of business processes and tasks. This ensures that the business doesn’t rely too heavily on employees who have these processes all stored in their mind. This results in business slowdowns or even failures should those employees leave their position.

By having processes documented, businesses are also better able to see their processes end-to-end and see where they need adjustments to improve efficiency.

Reduce risks and damages

Having a business continuity plan will help to reduce many risks and create a plan to quickly respond and resolve any events that do occur. This can help reduce legal, financial, and reputational damages.

What does the standard comprise?

ISO 22301 is divided into 10 main clauses, with 4-10 being key:

  • Clause 4 – Scope requirements and organizational context: Learning the organization’s needs and the requirements of the stakeholders, staff, and customers to understand the applicable legal and regulatory requirements

  • Clause 5 – Leadership role: Ensuring that top management provides appropriate resources, articulates expectations, and knows their role in the process

  • Clause 6 – Planning: Establishing the strategic objectives and how success will be measured

  • Clause 7 – Support: Ensuring people with appropriate knowledge, skills and experience contribute to planning and also know their role in responding when an event occurs

  • Clause 8 – Deep dive: Completing a business impact analysis and risk assessment and determining the steps that can be taken to reduce and resolve risks and incidents

  • Clause 9 – Evaluate: Ensuring the plan’s performance matches its outline and meets metrics

  • Clause 10 – Improvement: Identifying and improving any inconsistencies or areas where metrics are not being reached. This can include exercises, audits, and more.

Certification process

Becoming ISO 22301 certified is a highly beneficial part of using this set of standards. The process for receiving a certification consists of only four steps:

  1. Create and implement a business continuity management system.

  2. Select an accredited registrar.

  3. Conduct audits and make improvements and corrections.

  4. Obtain certification.

  5. Prepare for the first surveillance audit.

The standard must be updated every three years, and it is subject to mandatory annual compliance audits.

Best practices

To implement ISO 22301, there are a few best practices you should keep in mind:

  1. Make it fully inclusive: Ensure that all process owners are highly engaged in the process and that all risks and business impacts are captured for every department.

  2. Keep it simple: The goal is for your ISO 22301 standards to become a key resource, and the only way for it to be a resource that is used is to ensure it is created in a way that your team and stakeholders can refer to and use when needed.

  3. Appoint a champion: Someone should be the “owner” of the ISO 22301 standards to plan exercises, tests, updates, and more.

  4. Keep it updated: As processes change or new processes are implemented, ensure that your standards stay up-to-date by adding these new or changed processes to your documentation. It is important to consistently maintain and improve this file to ensure it remains highly useful.

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