18. Sep 2020

Avoiding business disruption

Protect your organization from damage

The Corona crisis is a massive challenge for all business enterprises and public administration in particular. Organizations now have to overcome this unexpected situation while simultaneously preparing for the upcoming challenges of the „new normal“.

The ISO 22301 – Business Continuity Management System Standard – is strongly oriented towards the economic performance of companies and follows the same structure as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001, etc. It is therefore a supportive Standard that can easily be integrated into any existing management system.


„It’s not a question of foreseeing the future, but of being prepared for it.

Pericles, Grecian Statesman, 493-429 B.C


The term „Business Continuity Management (BCM)” refers to a management system with the clear economic objective of „maintaining the business continuity or quickly recovering from disruptions when they arise”.

The application of ISO 22301 should systematically ensure that critical business processes are identified and analyzed. On the basis of analysis and prioritization, the processes are shaped in such a way that the occurrence of unplanned business disruption can be prevented in advance or overcome as quickly as possible.

The following two examples of practical application, one from industry and one from public administration, show how active emergency and crisis management can be planned and implemented using the BCM structure.

An example from industry „Siemens AG Österreich - Digital Industries“

Markus Stelzhammer, Head of Quality Management Siemens Central and Eastern Europe

Sustainable and efficient quality management is a cornerstone of our Siemens Quality Management Philosophy and has supported us in managing the lockdown during the SARS-CoV2 pandemic. Based on our existing process model and a Business Continuity analysis method, which is based on ISO 22301, we comprehensively assessed the impacts of limited functionality or possible failure of processes on our business continuity. Furthermore, we evaluated the specific crisis scenarios after disruption and their criticality in close cooperation with the persons responsible for the key business and support processes and defined the appropriate remedial actions with foresight and even before the actual lockdown in March. This has enabled us to quickly determine the actions that needed to be taken to keep business processes running effectively during a lockdown and associated home-office situation and in the case of possible interruption of supply chains. The QM department coordinated this process and was able to quickly achieve a concrete overall result due to its profound knowledge of process interactions and complex interfaces.

The focus has always been on the promise to our customers to continue to deliver the best possible service at the agreed conditions and to maintain operations as far as possible and without business disruption. Our ongoing efforts to optimize business processes and – where appropriate – to digitize them (keyword „Digital Enterprise“) – have brought us enormous advantages. Based on this, many operational processes have already been organized and operated “remotely” from the home office.

„In the industrial environment, Siemens is one of the world market leaders in the innovative development of companies in the direction of Digital Enterprises” says Bernhard Kienlein, Head of Siemens Digital Industries Central Eastern Europe.

Another challenge revealed by the Business Continuity analysis was that the lockdown forced us as a company to immediately move our entire workforce to Home Office, with only few exceptions. This sometimes brought our IT infrastructure to its limits and led to short-term bottlenecks. Employees who had to be available on site (e.g. goods receive, shop floor, building security) worked under special protective measures in order to ensure operations. We switched most of the personal customer contact to a virtual working media, from sales talks via Web conferences to virtual commissioning.

Where on-site customer assignments were absolutely necessary, these were carried out in close cooperation with the customer while analyzing all conditions and specifications. Thanks to this forward-looking approach, we were able to organize and promptly implement essential preparatory work even before the lockdown.

„The committed and close cooperation of all key stakeholders involved in the process, the systematic approach of the Business Continuity analysis based on ISO 22301 and the ongoing internal digitization initiatives have enabled us to remain effective during the lockdown”, summarizes Markus Stelzhammer, Head of Quality Management Siemens Central and Eastern Europe.

The example of the public administration "Municipality Al Khobar (Saudi Arabia)"

Dr. techn. Mohamed Hassan, Regional Manager, Lead Auditor, Trainer,
qualityaustria Network Partner and Support for the Arab countries

Planning for business continuity at state level is a task that requires multiple years of preparation and an extensive testing phase of the implemented systems before they can be deployed on a large scale. At the highest level, the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has the task of preparing the provinces and municipalities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the implementation of digital government services and of offering them maintenance and development services.

This is primarily done through strategic planning and taking into account the different local factors and needs of the provinces and municipalities. These instructions are then transformed into applicable programs and strategies at the Amana (Provincial Government) level. Since the Eastern Province is, in this respect, the leading province in the Kingdom, the Guidelines are finalized in consultation with the Mayor of the Eastern Province, Eng. Fahad Al-Jubeir.

Photo: Eng. Fahad Al-Jubeir, Mayor of Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province (right), Gregor Kössler, Ambassador of Austria in Riyadh (center), Dr. Mohamed Hassan, Quality Austria (left)

Local implementation, preparation and execution as well as feedback are left in the hands of the mayors of local municipalities such as the young and highly motivated Eng. Sultan Al Zaidy, Mayor of Al Khobar Municipality, one of the leading municipalities in the Kingdom, and his management team. The municipality has always attached great importance to the quality of the services offered and the efficiency of the work processes and has implemented quality management systems in all departments of the municipality. The Austrian ambassador attended the handover of the ISO 9001 certificate in 2018.

Photo: Prince Abdullah bin Khalid bin Sultan, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (right), Eckehard Bauer, Quality Austria (center), Dr. Mohamed Hassan, Quality Austria (left)

The ministry's foresight in initiating plans and preparations, the online software systems used and the high quality standards in the municipality all helped in increasing the effectiveness of the Business Continuity Management System. The ISO 22301 inspired way of working in the municipality has led it to be at the forefront of implementing online services for citizens, additionally a push towards the paperless municipality (to bring the management system into compliance with ISO 14001) and hard work in ensuring the security of citizens. The ISO 22301 certificate was handed over to His Highness Prince Abdullah bin Khalid bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Austria.

Strategic emergency plans for the municipality are drawn up by contracting companies such as Al Yamama for the prevention of damage from flash floods or storms. Other public contractors such as Nabatat ensure that green spaces and parks in the city remain relaxing destinations for citizens even on exceptionally hot summer days. A successful example of service digitization is the BALADY Software, which makes all municipality services available to the citizens online. The BALAGAT Software offers a service in which complaints and suggestions from citizens can be reported online and the progress be followed. If complaints are not dealt with within 24 hours, they are automatically forwarded to Eng. Fahad Al Jubeir Mayor of Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province.

All of these programs and preparations have proven themselves during the current Covid-19 crisis, as they minimize the need for face-to-face interaction on the one hand and allow the municipality to continue working and provide services without interruption on the other.

General information on ISO 22301

BCM = Business Continuity Management


Based on the High Level Structure, ISO 22301 (BCM) is designed to support all organizations, regardless of type and size, in implementing a Business Continuity Management system. This structure allows complete integration of ISO 22301 into an existing management system acc. to ISO 9001 (also ISO 14001 or ISO 45001, etc.) in a simple and effective way.

The use of existing elements from already established management system standards shortens the implementation time and significantly increases the achievement of benefits, so that business disruption can be avoided or that the capability to deliver products and services can be restored quickly. The risk-based approach or risk-based thinking (improvement or ensuring the achievement of objectives by managing the uncertainties of companies) and the systematically processed context of the organization from ISO 9001:2015 or ISO 14001:2015 form a strong foundation on which ISO 22301 can build for the benefit of the company.

BCM systematically ensures that critical business processes are identified and analyzed. On the basis of analysis and prioritization, the processes are shaped in such a way that the occurrence of unplanned business disruption can be prevented in advance or overcome as quickly as possible.

Our highly interconnected and globalized economy requires increasingly reliable and uninterrupted supply chains. Business disruptions affecting just one part of the supply chain can be dangerous for an entire group of companies.

The main purpose of ISO 22301 is to support organizations in implementing structures and plans to avoid business disruptions or, if this is not possible, to quickly recover and restore the delivery of products and services.

The aim of a Business Continuity Management System is to …

  • protect against incidents that lead to business disruption,
  • reduce the likelihood of their occurrence,
  • prepare for possible disruption,
  • systematically respond to disruption, and
  • recover from disruption when they arise.

In the Annex you will find a comparison of the main ISO Standards that shows the interconnection of ISO 22301 with other ISO Standards.


Eckehard Bauer, MSc

Executive Vice President Business Development Risk and Safety, Business Continuity,


Markus Stelzhammer

Head of Quality Management Siemens Central and Eastern Europe


Dr. techn. Mohamed Hassan

Regional Manager, Lead Auditor, Trainer, qualityaustria Network Partner and Support for the Arab countries


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