The coronavirus pandemic presents a major challenge to many companies, leading to decreasing revenue, job cuts or even bankruptcy. The resilience of companies, especially their ability to withstand a crisis, has proven to be crucial. Different standards exist to help strengthen the resilience of companies in a global crisis. 

Resilient companies are characterized by their ability to recognize and adapt to changing environments, enabling them to persist in situations of crisis. Business Continuity Management (BCM) provides a framework for systematic management to increase a company’s resilience. 

On the way to a more resilient company, many different management disciplines and standards should be considered. The ISO 22316:2017 standard on organizational resilience lists different relevant management disciplines. There are various general, as well as organization-specific, standards that relate to more specific topics, such as emergency management. ISO 22301:2019 is the most applied standard in the field, particularly because it can be certified.  

Standards can make an important contribution to increasing the resilience of companies and improving their BCM. For example, by having standardized management systems in place, changes in relevant environmental conditions – as well as their impacts on objectives and activities – can be identified at an earlier stage, resulting in a more structured emergency response. In addition, the implementation of management standards can increase the efficiency of processes and establish a culture of continuous improvement. They can also help the company be better prepared for various potential risks, such as disruptions in supply chains. 

The application of these standards in developing and emerging countries has not yet been thoroughly evaluated. As a result, in the field of international development cooperation there is a lack of information on effective contributions to increase corporate resilience. The National Metrology Institute of Germany (PTB) is conducting a pilot project on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) on “Strengthening the Resilience of Businesses through a Pilot Application of Standards”. Ferdinand Consultants is working with Efficiency Consulting GmbH (Austria) to help implement the project.  

So far, the project has brought together an international group of experts and representatives of the national ISO mirror committees from various countries such as Bosnia-Herzegovina, Colombia, Kosovo, Mexico, India, Indonesia, and South Africa. Currently, the national experts are conducting gap analyses and developing action plans to reach compliance with ISO 22301:2019 amongst selected companies. This work, along with the international evaluation of experience and lessons learned, will contribute to increasing our collective knowledge of effective support for corporate resilience in emerging and developing economies. 

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Publication: How Standards Contribute to Business Resilience in Crisis Situation