Please note: on May 15, 2012 BS 25999-2 was replaced by international standard ISO 22301.What is ISO 22301?

BS 25999-2 Basics

A leading business continuity standard

Human resources management

Business impact analysis and risk assessment

Defining the business continuity strategy

Business continuity plan

Maintenance of plans and system; improvement

Documentation

Other related standards

 

A leading business continuity standard

BS 25999-2 is a British standard issued in 2007, which has quickly become the main standard for business continuity management – although it is a British national standard, it is used in many other countries, and it is predicted that it will soon be accepted as an international (ISO 22301) standard.

Just like ISO 27001, ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and other standards that define management systems, BS 25999-2 also defines a business continuity management system which contains the same four management phases: planning, implementing, reviewing and monitoring, and finally improving. The point of these four phases is that the system is continually updated and improved in order to be usable when a disaster occurs.

The following are some of the key procedures and documents required by BS 25999-2:

  • Scope of the BCMS – precise identification of that part of the organisation to which business continuity management is applied
  • BCM policy – defining objectives, responsibilities, etc.
  • Human resource management
  • Business impact analysis and risk assessment
  • Defining business continuity strategy
  • Business continuity plans
  • Maintenance of plans and systems; improvement

Human resources management

The standard states that it is essential to determine the necessary knowledge and skills, to identify the necessary training sessions, to conduct such training sessions, to check whether the required knowledge and skills have been achieved, and that records must be kept.

BS 25999-2 also requires conducting awareness programs, and also communicating the importance of business continuity management to employees.

Business impact analysis and risk assessment

Business impact analysis deals with important activities in an organisation, defines the maximum tolerated period of disruption, the interdependence of individual actions, determines which activities are critical, explores the existing arrangements with suppliers and outsourcing partners, and finally sets the recovery time objective.

Risk assessment is carried out to establish which disasters and other disruptions in business operations may occur, what their consequences are, but also which vulnerabilities and threats can lead to such business disruptions. Based on such assessment, the organisation determines how to reduce the probability of risk, and how it will be mitigated if it should occur.

Defining the business continuity strategy

A strategy refers to defining how an organisation will recover in case of disaster. The strategy is determined on the basis of the results of risk assessment and business impact analysis, and usually involves alternative locations, data recovery options, recovery of human resources, communications, equipment, management of suppliers and outsourcing partners, etc.

Business continuity plan

Business continuity plan include plans for incident response, {activation procedures for business continuity plan}, as well as recovery plans for critical activities – they are all written based on the business continuity strategy.

An incident response plan must specify the manner of determining types of incidents, communication channels, types of response, responsibility, etc.

Recovery plans must specify roles and responsibilities, key steps for recovery, locations, resources to be used and where they are located, priorities, what actions to take when recovery is completed, etc.

Maintenance of plans and system; improvement

The standard stipulates the following:

  • Regular exercising and testing of plans to make staff more familiar with the plans and to check their up-to-datedness
  • Conducting internal audits at regular intervals
  • Management reviews to ensure that the BCMS is functioning and to make appropriate improvements
  • Taking preventive and corrective actions to improve not only plans but also other elements of the system

Documentation

BS 25999-2 requires the following documents:

  • The scope of the BCM
  • The BCM policy
  • Specific responsibilities for the BCM
  • Procedures for managing documents and records, procedures for corrective and preventive actions
  • Methodology for business impact analysis, and results of the analysis
  • Risk assessment methodology
  • Business continuity strategy
  • Business continuity plan which includes the incident response plan(s) and recovery plan(s)
  • Records

The amount of documentation depends on the number of critical activities in an organisation – an organisation with a small number of critical activities will also have a small amount of documentation related to business impact analysis, risk assessment and business continuity plans, while the documentation of larger organisations will be much more extensive.

Other related standards

In addition to BS 25999-2, BS 25999-1 is an “auxiliary” standard which provides more details on how to implement specific parts of BS 25999-2.

Other useful standards are ISO 27001, which places business continuity in a broader context of information security, and ISO 27005 which gives a detailed description of the risk assessment process.