Businesses urged to plan during recession to avoid significant disruption

Press release - 16th May 2012

BSI releases top five organizational tips to beat the economic unrest

With the UK facing a double-dip recession BSI today released their top five tips for organizations to ensure they are prepared for any social, political and economic threats.

The tips, which coincide with the release of a new standard for business continuity management (BCM), ISO 22301 - an evolution from the internationally recognised British Standard BS 25999 – outline an approach to implement precautionary measures against issues such as strikes, mass supply chain disruption, political unrest and customer loss.

Preparing a business continuity and survival strategy heads the list of tips from BSI’s internationally renowned panel of experts to beat the threats. Managing organizational balance sheets and conducting full risk assessments are also recommended with a view to ensuring businesses don’t just look at internal processes but also the management of its key suppliers.

BSI has also urged businesses to follow international good practice and adopt a systematic approach to testing and exercising BCM plans with senior management buy in. “Not enough of today’s organizations exercise their business continuity. It doesn’t matter what size business you run, if you don’t exercise your plans you put your business and its employees at risk,” says Howard Kerr, Chief Executive at BSI. “Our clients who have adopted a holistic approach to BCM reported an 82% improvement in their speed of recovery from incidents and disruptions”1

Environmental incidents over the last 12 months, including severe weather and natural disasters across the globe, have led to greater awareness and a shift in attitudes towards business continuity management. Now with the UK showing little sign of economic improvement BSI is urging organizations to bring the issue of business continuity management higher up the boardroom agenda and prepare for the potential fall outs from political instability, social unrest and economic meltdown.

BSI recently sponsored the renowned Chartered Management Institute’s report, “Planning for the worst” which shows clear advantages for organizations that have business continuity plans in place to deal with incidents and crises when they hit. Of those who had to activate plans in 2011, 82% said BCM enabled their organisation to return to normal operations more quickly than otherwise would have been possible, while 81% agreed it reduced disruption.

The report also identifies corporate governance as the biggest external driver for BCM. As well as providing assurance that an organization will be able to continue its daily operations, implementation of such standards will also help businesses to address the more strategic aspects of BCM such as the potential threats to their supply chains.

Rick Cudworth, Chair of the BSI Technical Committee for Business Continuity, said: “This new business continuity standard is a significant step forward. It will simplify the task of planning for the unexpected and empower organizations to react on the front foot when difficulties arise. With the standard being accepted internationally, it will allow for a joined up approach across the globe.

“The success and sustainability of a business is highly dependent on the prevention plans that are embedded within the organization”, said Cudworth. “These not only define the organization’s ability to serve customers in the event of disruption, but also demonstrate a duty of care to its staff no matter what happens.”

Dave Austin, Director at Operational Resilience (Oprel) Ltd commented: “The new standard brings international consensus on good practice in the key discipline of business continuity management and for the first time, organizations across the globe will be able to demonstrate their capability to interested parties and top management through accredited certification. It builds upon and will supersede the immensely successful specification on BCM”.

As the world at large continues to deal an unexpected hand to organizations of all shapes and sizes, BSI states that simply buying the new ISO standard will not be enough. With the CMI report citing that only 22% of organizations actually conduct a full emergency scenario to test out their BCM plan, it is evident that organizations still have a long way to go before BCM is fully embraced and the benefits of planning excellence are reaped.


BSI’s top tips include:

  1. Make sure senior management are continually involved and engaged in Business Continuity. Senior management have the most comprehensive view of the organisation and their support will ensure BC is taken seriously across the organization.
  2. Don’t skip on exercising and testing, short of a real incident this is the best way to find the holes in your plans, with the advantage that your customers won’t read about it in the press/on social media!
  3. Undertake a thorough risk assessment and business impact analysis and include all dependencies – be outward, as well as inward looking, in particular looking further down your supply chain.
  4. Implement a systematic approach to business continuity ensuring the currency of BCM.
  5. Follow international good practice – why reinvent the wheel when 100s of experts have helped develop a BCM good practice approach that works and is recognised internationally?

1 BSI Excellerator Research 2011

BSI will be providing practical tools in support of ISO 22301 which include a revised set of books and self-assessment-tool; new training courses and certification scheme; and free events plus a commercial conference.