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First introduced to business continuity practitioners in British Standard (BS) 25999 as a Business Continuity Management System (BCMS), the management systems concept continues to gain traction in our profession through a number of “societal security” related standards authored by the International Standards Organization (ISO), as well as new and updated standards from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and ASIS International. The purpose of this updated article is to introduce the management system concept and offer reasons why this relatively simple concept can be a powerful tool in capturing and keeping management’s support for a business continuity program. ISO released and is in the process of finalizing a number of standards (requirements and guidelines documents) that define expectations for business continuity using management system concepts? The British Standards Institution (BSI) developed BS 25999 based on management system concepts. All three of the DHS-selected PS-PREP standards are based on or reference management system concepts?
Your organization may already be familiar with management system concepts and successfully using them to address complex quality or security problems? Even more importantly, your executive leadership team may already be familiar with management system concepts and understand their role in operating within a management system.
A management system exists to continuously improve key processes and outcomes in order to meet core business objectives. A management system always outlines roles and responsibilities for its key interested parties, ranging from the most senior managers (often called “top management”) to employees in general. Processes are not designed for one-time use; rather, they are designed to be revisited on a periodic basis in order to adapt the management system’s outputs to organizational change.
Management system repeatability is ensured through management-approved documentation outlining expectations and process characteristics.  Organizations develop documentation in the form of standard operating procedures, or SOPs.
A management system has identified resources designed to enable alignment with business objectives.
With a focus on continual improvement, a management system includes methods of assessing performance based on senior leadership’s expectations. A management system defines the role-specific skills and experiences necessary to meet senior leadership expectations. Building, promoting and embedding a business continuity management culture within an organization through training and appropriate communications mechanisms ensures that it becomes part of the organization’s core values and possibly the corporate governance structure. Anyone with exposure to management systems often equate them to something known as a “Plan, Do, Check, Act” systems methodology, or PDCA.
By incorporating a risk-based process into business continuity management, organizations can make informed decisions tailored to their unique needs. Overall, despite the common perspective that a management system follows either a PDCA or a process model, the reality is that the best management systems contain attributes from both, working together to enable continuous improvement.
Risk management efforts are greatly enhanced with management-oriented models that avoid professional jargon and focus on business outcomes.
But, most importantly, management systems connect business continuity planning efforts to the most senior leaders in an organization, using structured approaches that align strategic scope and objectives (“Plan”) with resources, processes and procedures (“Do”) and audit and management review (“Check”) in order to apply management-approved continuous improvement actions (“Act”). What’s the Relationship Between a Business Continuity Program and a Business Continuity Management System?
As Figure 3 below indicates, a management system is the set of processes designed to keep business continuity program outcomes current and relevant.
When you read the new ISO business continuity management systems standard (ISO 22301), you’ll see some of the more common business continuity program solutions, including risk assessments and business impact analyses, exercises, plans and maintenance processes. Review management systems and PDCA with an open mind and imagine yourself as an inexperienced business continuity practitioner (perhaps even your program sponsor).
Overall, management systems are now part of the business continuity profession, and we’re lucky to have them. This entry was posted in Business Continuity, Business Continuity 101, Current Events, Management Systems, Regulatory Compliance by Brian Zawada.
The environmental impacts related to your daily working activities, and how they can be controlled. The business continuity industry has heard a lot about Plan, Do, Check Act (PDCA) recently. The PDCA model is the basic building block of a management system, focused on weaving management-level decision making into traditional program practices. The “plan” process establishes objectives, targets, controls, processes and procedures for the program to deliver results in accordance with an organization’s overall policies and objectives. One of the most important “plan” activities is for executive management to identify what they want to protect and recover with respect to their business continuity program.
The “do” process implements and operates the business continuity policy, controls, processes and procedures. As mentioned earlier, the “do” process is where the common business continuity tasks are performed. The second step is the identification of risk mitigation, response and recovery strategy options, and once selected, the implementation of these risk treatments.



The “check” process monitors and reviews performance against established management system objectives and policies and reports the results to management for review.
You may be thinking: my organization’s management will hardly meet to establish objectives, let alone meet to review them. In short, the “check” process ensures that management is accountable for the program and the organization’s overall business continuity capability. The “act” process maintains and improves the program by taking preventive and corrective actions, based on the results of management review and re-appraising the scope, business continuity policy, and objectives. In many organizations, management systems concepts are already incorporated into many existing programs, such as quality management. Business continuity efforts are enhanced with management system-oriented models that avoid professional jargon and focus on business outcomes.
There are many benefits to implementing a business continuity management system, many of which have already been described in this article.
The key to a successful business continuity management system is gaining and maintaining the interest and support of executive management.
The second key benefit to implementing a business continuity management system is that it inherently solves the “audit a plan” problem that many organizations encounter.
How Can My Organization Implement a PDCA Model or Incorporate PDCA Into Our Existing Program? With the growing popularity and continued success of business continuity management systems, this approach and framework is proving to be the future of business continuity. This entry was posted in Business Continuity, Business Impact Analysis, Crisis Management, Management Systems, Regulatory Compliance, Risk Management by Jacque Rupert.
A management system is defined as the framework of processes and procedures used to ensure that an organization can fulfill all tasks required to achieve a set of related business objectives. As you’re about to find out, a management system is a great way to capture leadership support – and keep it.
This iterative, flexible methodology and its general concepts originated with Total Quality Management (TQM).
As has been demonstrated with environmental and quality management standards, the PDCA approach creates an organizational culture that drives continual improvement through performance measurement and feedback.
As described above, PDCA is simple to understand, proven and widely accepted as a means of engaging management. But unlike older standards and many regulatory requirements, these solutions will be addressed within standard ISO management system processes, mapped to the PDCA model. Management systems, and management systems-oriented standards, make business sense and are relatively flexible and straightforward.
Consider purchasing a copy of ISO Guide 72, which offers considerable information on key management system components and characteristics. Organizations struggling with capturing and keeping senior leadership’s attention will quickly realize value when implementing management system concepts – positive input and feedback will increase, as will the resources necessary to meet management expectations.
Nearly every emerging standard is following this approach, from BS 25999 and NFPA 1600 (2010 edition) to the new American business continuity standard being created by ASIS. The “traditional” business continuity program activities, like a business impact analysis and plan development, fall mostly into one of the categories (“do”) – see figure 1 – but the value of PDCA is that management input and feedback wraps around these activities, thus ensuring continuous improvement. Related to business continuity, this involves defining the business continuity management program; including identifying standards, creating a policy statement, appointing a program sponsor and steering committee, and establishing an initial program scope and risk tolerance. This includes a number of actions in order to understand, strategize, plan, and test the organization for business continuity events. The first step in “do” is to perform a business impact analysis, or BIA, as well as a risk assessment. The third step of “do”, involves developing plan documentation, which should be written in a way to enable repeatable response and recovery performance, regardless of the experience of the person leading the effort.
The program should be subject to internal review to measure program performance against pre-defined policies and objectives. If this is the case for your organization, implementing a management system is likely the exact solution that you need. Thus, it is likely that your executive management team may be already familiar with management systems concepts and understand their role in operating within a management system.
Putting the business continuity program into key organizational outputs is meant to focus on the objectives of management and to speak in the language of the organization. However, the benefits can be summarized into two key benefits: a business continuity management system compels management to be accountable to the outcome of the program, and provides an accepted approach for external validation. Guidelines on how to do this have been discussed throughout this article, but the main tip is to ensure the program speaks executive management’s language (key organizational outputs) and to communicate program performance and tasks in terms of alignment to the continuity capability of those organizational outputs.
Has your organization been asked for a copy of your business continuity plan to prove you’re prepared?


Organizations struggling with capturing and maintaining executive management’s attention will realize tremendous value when implementing a business continuity management system. Management system standards provide a model for establishing and operating a management system and executing capabilities that align to management’s expectations.
PDCA weaves decision making into the fabric of an organization’s overall operational and business practices, and often makes the organization more efficient and better positioned to meet important challenges. Rather, traditional business continuity program solutions become more current, aligned and complete when business continuity professionals develop and apply repeatable management system processes that fully connect with the business. Also, review existing management systems-oriented standards (ISO 22301, ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 27001), or consult with Security, Quality or EHS personnel in your organization with experience developing, implementing or operating management systems. However, there seems to be a lot of confusion about what PDCA is – and what it means for business continuity.
The following sections break down the components of a PDCA approach to business continuity, with a focus on which activities will provide your organization’s program the most value.
Of note, phrasing the key objectives of the business continuity program as key organizational outputs helps to position the business continuity program in management’s language, thus gaining understanding, support, and involvement from management.
The business impact analysis maps critical products and services to individual departments and activities, and seeks to identify recovery objectives for each. The last step is organization-wide training and validation of strategies and plans through exercises, and the initiation of program maintenance activities. The results of said assessments should be presented to management via the established business continuity steering committee. Instead of merely presenting metrics based on BIA and plan reviews and maintenance, the “check” process allows the business continuity program to communicate program performance in a language that management understands. Consequently, implementing a management system-framework connects business continuity planning efforts to commonly understood and defined business objectives.
Because of this, the business continuity program is able to communicate real capability and output, rather than focusing on micro business continuity-specific projects.
By communicating in this way, management understands the need for their continued interest in the program. We all know that a thick business continuity plan doesn’t equate to organizational capability. Input and continuous feedback will increase, as will the decisions and resources necessary to meet management’s expectations. PDCA provides a set of problem identification and problem-solving tools that can be implemented by an organization in many different ways, depending on its unique activities and needs. Management systems offer a series of processes wrapped around a common objective – in this case, mitigating business continuity-related risk, which includes protecting people, resources, business activities and the overall reputation of the organization. Lastly, review the numerous management system case studies posted on-line in order to further understand the value of the concept and how organizations have achieved success.
The purpose of the risk assessment is to describe the outcomes from disruptive events and the suitability of current-state controls to prevent the disruptive event from occurring, as well as control recommendations to align with the organization’s risk tolerance. Presenting the organization’s continuity capability in terms of alignment to pre-defined organizational outputs (critical products and services) will help management understand how the program is performing in association to what is important to them.
Management will be presented with choices to accept or take action on risks that directly contribute to the success and continuity of key organizational outputs. Unfortunately, third parties often have few other options than to review the plan and evaluate it. The business continuity management systems framework has one goal: to provide a business continuity program that works, is flexible, and is efficient. Many standards, including ISO 22301, focus on the “what” rather than the “how,” thus affording organizations the opportunity to implement management systems in a way suitable to their unique needs. This also helps them better recognize how key risks would actually impact the organization, allowing them to accept the risk or take action on the risk. A business continuity management system forces strong alignment with what management is thinking with what the business continuity program is doing and communicating – it actually compels management to be accountable to the program. By implementing a business continuity management system, especially one certified by a third party, it changes the focus from a “check the box” viewpoint (auditing a plan), to actually making sure that your organization has a real, useful, and capable business continuity capability (reviewing the performance of the management system). This enables the organization to validate and communicate program performance both internally (to executive management) and externally (to key stakeholders) – in many cases just by showing proof of certification!




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