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We’re living in challenging times. Putting to one side the immediate personal health impacts of Coronavirus, its economic effects are likely to be felt for a long time. With suggestions that similar outbreaks might become a regular occurrence, we need to ask what we can learn, and what steps can be taken to prepare for the future.

Some businesses will be forced to close their doors permanently, and many will struggle to recover. Few will come through unscathed. CEOs and business owners alike count on perseverance, knowledge and adaptability, both from themselves and those around them, to get through times like these. But with a crisis of such unprecedented scale and so many unknowns, it will take more to survive.

A return to stability and growth will require systematic plans that take into account a fragile economy overshadowed by the threat of a drawn-out pandemic. An ISO business continuity management system is the right way to start filling in the blanks. Often abbreviated to “BCMS” within industry, we’re talking about ISO 22301 and related ISO standards.   

The entangled nature of globalized business adds layers of complexity to the current situation with governments and experts conflicted on the best way through. What they all agree on is that you can’t be too prepared. The good news is that increasingly granular data allows us to understand both the causes and effects of disruptions with better clarity. An information-driven approach is at the centre of ISO 22301, which was updated just last year under the direction of ISO’s technical committee on security and resilience (ISO/TC 292).  

Considering that a BCMS identifies preventative measures, leaders and entrepreneurs might well ask if it’s too late to start. Is now really the moment to create, or update, a BCMS?

At a time when all hands are on deck, most businesses will have more immediate priorities. But there is a message of hope for businesses of all sizes. You can get through this, but you cannot afford to be hit twice. If you have never implemented, or even considered, a BCMS, now could be the right time to do it. 

BCMS is covered in greater detail in the current ISOfocus magazine.


A number of ISO members around the world, including those in Europe who are part of CEN/CENELEC, have identified some standards that can help address the current crisis.

Related information

  • Stay informed and protect yourself with the latest advice from the World Health Organization on Coronavirus.
  • ISO 22301 - Business continuity
    A free publication about ISO 22301, the International Standard for implementing and maintaining effective business continuity plans, systems and processes.
  • ISOfocus
    The art of business
    Standards are a set of powerful business tools for organizations. They inspire confidence, drive down costs, boost productivity and improve profits. Browse for business trends and read all about standardization successes.
  • SDG 16
    Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
    Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels


Barnaby Lewis
Barnaby Lewis

+41 22 749 0523



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