Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) need to be regularly tested and updated to ensure accuracy and effective recovery in the event of a disruption.
Testing (sometimes referred to as Exercising) shouldn’t be viewed as a Pass or Fail exercise as every test is an opportunity to find potential problems with your plan and to have an opportunity to rectify them.
We view testing as an opportunity to continually evolve not only the strategy and plan documents themselves but to build the competence of the key staff members involved. A regular BCP test will help to embed the skills required to effectively manage a business interruption.
Once you’ve mastered the basics of testing your business continuity plan, put your strategy to the test by seeing if it can hold up in a variety of circumstances. It also helps to engage the interest of the business continuity team members if the test scenarios are dynamic and evolving.
Some ideas on how to keep your testing fresh and continually improving are to try some different ‘incidents’ such as a catastrophic loss of premises, extended power failure resulting in denial of access to building or loss of significant staff due to a pandemic.
Other ways to put your plan through its paces is to throw in a complication such as the unavailability or loss of a key recovery staff member Eg. The IT Recovery Co-ordinator or the Command Team Leader. Other complications could include, mobile phone telecommunications being unavailable.
A robust business continuity plan and the business continuity team should be able to respond to these challenges.
Most importantly, to ensure you are getting value out of your testing process, ensure someone is assigned the responsibility for noting down issues and action items for rectification arising from the test and for following up to make sure they are completed.