Companies today face a range of potential disruptions that can significantly impact the bottom line – or even long-term survival. Adopting the ISO 22301 standard can make your organization more resilient to threats – like natural disasters, cyberattacks, or supply-chain disruptions – and reassure customers, investors, and other stakeholders that you are prepared to continue critical functions during and after unexpected events.

Revised ISO 22301 standards go into effect April 30, 2023. Businesses currently ISO 22301 certified — or those seeking certification — must comply with the updated standards to maintain certification.

What is ISO 22301?

ISO 22301 is an international standard that lays out best practices for establishing and maintaining a business continuity management system. It provides a systematic way for companies to proactively identify threats and formulate a response. It uses a range of business continuity tools and techniques, including risk assessment, business impact analysis, emergency response, communication, and recovery planning. Adhering to this standard can help you minimize the impact of unexpected events and ensure the continuation of critical functions.

What makes ISO 22301 different from other business continuity plans is that you become certified by an accredited body, therefore proving your commitment to customers and stakeholders.

Understanding the ISO 22301 Requirements

The current version of this international standard puts a stronger emphasis on the way businesses proactively manage risks and vulnerabilities. To comply, you need to have a robust business continuity management system (BCMS) in place that includes conducting comprehensive risk assessments to identify and understand specific risks that could impact your business operations. Your plan should prioritize business impact analysis, emergency response planning, communication strategies, and recovering planning.

Additionally, you need to establish and maintain a system of documenting procedures and processes that align with the standard. You must test the effectiveness of your emergency response and recovery plans. It is also important to establish a culture of continuous improvement by regularly reviewing and updating your BCMS to adapt to changing risks and business needs.

Benefits of ISO 22301

ISO 22301 certification takes time and effort, but the advantages are many. Here are four main benefits:

  • Mitigate and recover from large-scale damage or loss. Every minute of downtime costs money. Complying with ISO 22301 can speed recovery from data breaches, damage to physical infrastructure, or other disruptive event. Having a plan in place will help safeguard your critical assets and continue operations during and after unexpected events
  • Protect your brand. Responding effectively to disruptions will help maintain the trust of customers, employees, and stakeholders. An ISO 22301 certification also can help you stand out among competitors — which can potentially increase sales.
  • Spread knowledge and awareness. The standard provides a common language and framework, which helps promote knowledge and awareness of resilience and preparedness across the organization.
  • Save time and money. Having a plan in place will help you quickly respond to disruptions, minimize the negative impact on the business, and generally bounce back to normal operations faster.

How to Get Started with ISO 22301 Certification

The ISO 22301 certification is basically a well-conceived and well-documented business recovery plan. Here are seven steps to get started:

  1. Get buy-in from top management. Support from the top is a requirement of ISO 22301. Assign roles and responsibilities for each action item.
  2. Conduct a gap analysis. Assess where your organization currently stands in relation to the ISO 22301 standard. Identify areas that need improvement and create an action plan to address these gaps.
  3. Establish your process. Use a business impact analysis to identify priorities, risk assessments to evaluate potential threats, risk mitigation to minimize the impact, and risk monitoring processes to evaluate performance. Make sure your actions align with the ISO 22301 requirements and are integrated into your business operations.
  4. Develop the BCMS. Build a robust business continuity management system that includes policies and processes for managing efficiency and functionality. And establish a document management system to ease the burden of collecting and maintaining supporting documentation.
  5. Train stakeholders and employees. Provide comprehensive training to all employees and stakeholders regarding the BCMS and their individual roles and responsibilities before, during, and after a crisis. Options include activities such as awareness programs, drills, and even simulations to bolster understanding.
  6. Monitor performance. Put the tools and technologies in place to help you to monitor the performance of your BCMS and make necessary improvements. Specialized business continuity software offers features like automated risk assessments, emergency response plans, and instant alerts. Advanced software also supports ISO 22301 guidelines, which makes the certification process much easier.
  7. Engage in an audit. An audit is required for ISO 22301 certification. Work with an accredited auditor to make sure you comply with each requirement of the standard. Annual audits are required to maintain certification.

The certification process can take several months, and the certification is valid for three years. Software can simplify the certification – and recertification – process and ensure your BCMS is on a path of continuous improvement.

With a certificate in hand, you can show customers and other stakeholders that you are a reliable business that will be able to restore operations in a timely manner should something happen. And it just might keep your organization in business for years to come.

If you are searching for software to support ISO 22301 certification, download this RFP template with the most critical business continuity-related questions to include – and check out Riskonnect’s Business Continuity & Resilience solution.