ISO 22301 Basics

What is ISO 22301?

The full name of this standard is ISO 22301:2012 Societal security – Business continuity management systems – Requirements. This standard is written by leading business continuity experts and provides the best framework for managing business continuity in an organization.

One of the features that differentiates this standard from other business continuity frameworks/standards is that an organization can become certified by an accredited certification body, and will therefore be able to prove its compliance to its customers, partners, owners and other stakeholders .

Relationship with BS 25999-2

ISO 22301 has replaced 25999-2 – these two standards are rather similar, but ISO 22301 could be considered an upgrade from BS 25999-2. For differences between these two standards see ISO 22301 vs. BS 25999-2 infographic

What are the benefits of business continuity?

When implemented properly, business continuity management will decrease the possibility of a disruptive incident, and if such incident does occur, an organization will be ready to respond in an appropriate way, thus drastically decreasing the potential damage of such incident.

Who can implement this standard?

Any organization – large or small, for profit or non-profit, private or public. The standard is conceived in such a way that it is applicable to any size or type of organization.

How does business continuity fit into overall management?

Business continuity is part of overall risk management in a company, with areas that overlap with information security management and IT management.

Note: Risk management is part of overall corporate management.

Basic terms used in a standard

  • Business Continuity Management System (BCMS) – part of an overall management system that makes sure business continuity is planned, implemented, maintained, and continually improved
  • Maximum Acceptable Outage (MAO) – the maximum amount of time an activity can be disrupted without incurring unacceptable damage (also Maximum Tolerable Period of Disruption – MTPD)
  • Recovery Time Objective (RTO) – the pre-determined time at which an activity must be resumed, or resources must be recovered
  • Recovery Point Objective (RPO) – maximum data loss, i.e., minimum amount of data that needs to be restored
  • Minimum Business Continuity Objective (MBCO) – the minimum level of services or products an organization needs to produce after resuming its business operations

Content of ISO 22301

The standard includes these sections:

0.1 General
0.2 The Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) model
0.3 Components of PDCA in this International Standard
1 Scope
2 Normative references
3 Terms and definitions
4 Context of the organization
4.1 Understanding of the organization and its context
4.2 Understanding the needs and expectations of interested parties
4.3 Determining the scope of the management system
4.4 Business continuity management system
5 Leadership
5.1 General
5.2 Management commitment
5.3 Policy
5.4 Organizational roles, responsibilities and authorities
6 Planning
6.1 Actions to address risks and opportunities
6.2 Business continuity objectives and plans to achieve them
7 Support
7.1 Resources
7.2 Competence
7.3 Awareness
7.4 Communication
7.5 Documented information
8 Operation
8.1 Operational planning and control
8.2 Business impact analysis and risk assessment
8.3 Business continuity strategy
8.4 Establish and implement business continuity procedures
8.5 Exercising and testing
9 Performance evaluation
9.1 Monitoring, measurement, analysis and evaluation
9.2 Internal audit
9.3 Management review
10 Improvement
10.1 Nonconformity and corrective action
10.2 Continual improvement

Mandatory documentation

If an organization wants to implement this standard, the following documentation is mandatory:

  • List of applicable legal, regulatory and other requirements
  • Scope of the BCMS
  • Business Continuity Policy
  • Business continuity objectives
  • Evidence of personnel competences
  • Records of communication with interested parties
  • Business impact analysis
  • Risk assessment, including risk appetite
  • Incident response structure
  • Business continuity plans
  • Recovery procedures
  • Results of preventive actions
  • Results of monitoring and measurement
  • Results of internal audit
  • Results of management review
  • Results of corrective actions

Click here to see detailed explanation of each mandatory document.

Related standards

Other standards that are helpful in implementation of business continuity are:

ISO/IEC 27031 – Guidelines for information and communication technology readiness for business continuity
PAS 200 – Crisis management – Guidance and good practice
PD 25666 – Guidance on exercising and testing for continuity and contingency programmes
PD 25111 – Guidance on human aspects of business continuity
ISO/IEC 24762 – Guidelines for information and communications technology disaster recovery services
ISO/PAS 22399 – Guideline for incident preparedness and operational continuity management
ISO/IEC 27001 – Information security management systems – Requirements

To learn more about ISO 22301 implementation, please visit our ISO 22301 Free download page. You’ll find a host of helpful resources.


Dejan Kosutic
Lead ISO 27001/ISO 22301 Expert

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