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British Standard for business continuity shows record interest.

Business Continuity Expo And Conference : 17 February, 2008  (Technical Article)
The long overdue standard on business continuity, BS 25999 shows high interest demonstrating level of interest in the business community.
It's rare for a new British Standard to attract as much interest as the latest Business Continuity standard - BS 25999 has attracted. It has seen unprecedented demand and being quoted as the fastest ever selling British Standard as well as more downloads during the public consultation phase than ever before. So it's no surprise that in a poll that was carried out this month by Business Continuity Expo 2008 it showed that 60% of companies are now considering certification to BS 25999 - bringing Business Continuity planning and management right to the top of the corporate agenda for the first ever time.

Paul Lanham Global Marketing Manager for BSI Management Systems says "It would seem that at last companies are now taking Business Continuity seriously and investing in a framework to ensure that they have structures in place so that if a crisis hits they are prepared for it. Since the introduction of this standard and certification we have seen new types of organizations who have not traditionally embraced independent verification to standards as well as existing ones who see it as an extension of their Risk Management initiative. Many organizations are using the standard and evaluating certification against it to gain competitive advantage while others are using it as a management and assurance tool in their supply chain - ensuring a continuity of supply being a major issue for most. So far we have certified the first two organizations in the world to BS 25999 (TDG, the logistics company, and SunGard, the Information Availability and business continuity specialist)) and have many more lining up which is also unusual bearing in mind that the Specification standard (Part 2) was only published in November."

There has been a lot of pressure for such a standard from both the private and public sectors underlining the importance of Business Continuity within the business environment. According to the BSI there have been many drivers for the standard including Civil Contingencies and Homeland Security type legislation, rising insurance premiums, investor focus on risk, the trend towards outsourcing, protection of corporate reputation as well as the opportunity to reduce the cost of responding to tenders.

"It is hard to overstate the importance of BS 25999 - not just to the organisations that adopt it, but to the UK economy as a whole," agrees Keith Tilley, managing director UK and senior vice president Europe, SunGard Availability Services. "The Standard provides real clarity, helping organisations ensure they can continue to serve their customers in an increasingly uncertain world. Our own experience of being the first BC provider to secure certification to the Standard means we are in a unique position to help our customers implement its recommendations."

"In fact, a survey of SunGard's own customers in late 2006 showed that a quarter of them believed that BS 25999 was long overdue, a third believed the standard would make achieving BCM easier and just over half felt that regulation was the main driver for BCM", continues Tilley, "making it quite clear that there is both appetite and intent for BS 25999".

Malcolm Cornish - Operations Director for Continuity² said "This enthusiasm for a British Standard for 'business continuity' shows that there is now a real business need. Whilst there are overwhelming benefits for every organisation to implement business continuity to the degree that is appropriate to its circumstances, it has been a hard struggle to convince management. The advent of the Standard is a clear signal that business continuity is a serious management discipline and a vital element of good governance."

According to Cornish "The industry has always been hampered by the confusion of inconsistent terminology and methods. The Standard sets out definitions and terms that have been agreed through full consensus. It quite rightly falls short of setting out how business continuity should be done, however, the Standard, and Part 2 in particular, does provide a clear statement of what BCM must deliver."

Cornish goes onto add "Organisations should not underestimate the cost of certification in terms not only of the financial cost but also of the manpower and effort involved. In many cases, just following and complying with the Standard may provide the best business return. The additional cost may well be worth it for organisations seeking competitive advantage or market differentiation and those having to comply with customer or regulatory requirements."

Richard Fitzhugh Content Manager for Business Continuity Expo 2008 said "Business Continuity has been viewed in the past as rather nebulous - this standard defines and formalises both the semantics and scope of activities that come under BC practice. It is a real milestone in the BC story, and this is why we have dedicated a theatre to presentations on the steps to certification at the free-to-attend Expo, as well as a dedicated focus from the standard's Architects in the main conference. The event is a great place to find out how you can get your company firmly on the road to certification, and practicing BC to common and accepted guidelines in a way that you can clearly demonstrate competence to your value chain. "
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