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Countries adopted ISO 22301 as national standard

ISO 22301 and ISO 22313 under revision

Five years ago ISO 22301 was published together with its supporting guidance documet ISO 22313. Together they serve as the base for implementing a Business Continuity Management System in an organisation. ISO 22301 has become a very popular standard used by thousands of organisations and adopted by numerous countries all over the World. ISO has now taken the decision that it is time to look at the possibility to improve both ISO 22301 and ISO 22313 based on user experience and therefore initiated a revision.

At the last Working Group 2 meeting in London in November, we took the opportunity to discuss with Mr Saul Midler from Australia and project leader for the revision of ISO 22301.

Could you briefly describe the project you are leading and what you are trying to achieve?

As time moves forward, our experience and understanding of Business Continuity Management continues to develop. While the standard provides the systematic approach for BCM, each country, each organisation and each practitioner has undertaken BCM in their own way. This creates a wonderful opportunity to take stock of the experience gained from across the global BCM community to identify opportunities for aligning ISO 22301 with today’s BCM thinking.

Why is ISO 22301 being revised at this time?

The mechanics of the ISO processes dictates that a Systematic Review be undertaken every 5 years and, you may be surprised to realise, ISO22301 is 5 years old.

What kind of work is involved in revising a standard and how is the extent of the revision determined?  

Each P Member country is required to draw upon their local subject matter experts and provide commentary and proposed changes to ISO 22301. This feedback is then reviewed by the Working Group using assessment criteria we will finalise over the next month or so. This review process will be undertaken at the 5th ISO TC292 Symposium schedule for March in Sydney Australia.

I am very fortunate to be working with a large team of experts (over 30) from many countries (over 14) to assess each recommended change and use agreed criteria to decide if and how a change should be implemented.

The deliverable from this meeting will be the first draft of the revised standard.

What are the key challenges in revising an existing and well-established standard like ISO 22301? 

As you can imagine all contributors will have a substantiated opinion on what BCM is in 2017 and how it has changed since 2012. My aim is to produce the best ISO22301:2018 as possible. So, its important to have defensible (well as defensible as possible) criteria to apply to each change. We must take into consideration the ramifications of making change to ISO22301 especially given its place as the foundation stone reference for all BC related standards. This includes the tight relationship with ISO 22313 – I’m looking really forward to working with Malcolm Cornish (project lead for the revision of ISO 22313) to ensure we maintain all the right integration points.

Beyond the potential change impact on other standards, there’s the potential change impact on the ISO 22301 certification process. While this aspect not an issue for most P Member countries, we must consider the ramifications for countries where certification is prevalent. 

Why did you decide to join ISO/TC 292 and work with standards?

My original intention was to simply join the Standards Australian Technical Committee to resolve some challenges around the adoption of the ISO22301 and 22313 in Australia. I was very passionate about having Australia formally adopt standards representing global consensus. Soon after joining, I travelled to Morioka Japan to represent Australia as a BCM subject Matter Expert to assist in the development of new standards and technical specifications (primarily ISO TS 22317 - BIA). All of a sudden, I found myself working with experts from around the world collectively combining thought leadership for the benefit of all. I must say it was a humbling experience and at the same time amazing.

Over the last 4 years I’ve directly contributed to the development of 5 standards (with more on the way). Its an incredibly rewarding experience that’s also created new friendships with very clever people around the world.    

Interview made by Deborah Higgins