Keeping Business Continuity Plans Up to Date – Say “Aah”!

It’s kind of like going to the dentist. You might not want to make the appointment, because you don’t know how it might turn out. However, you know down inside that regular care and attention will mean you’ll stay in better shape than if you let things slide. If visits to the dentist annually are recommended, how frequently should you inspect and update your business continuity plan – once a year, once a semester, once a quarter? Or are BCP reviews and updates driven by other factors?

Things that drive business continuity plan updates include any fundamental changes in the organisation, (human resources, equipment, processes or applications) to which the plan applies. Besides making assessments of such changes in real time, it’s also useful to have a list of events that would trigger the need to review. The other things that can prompt a revision of the plan are regular business continuity tests and exercises that reveal the need for modification. These drills can then be tied into an overall review agenda that would normally schedule reviews at least once every year or more often if circumstances justify it.

It still remains to make sure that your organisation and its personnel are also updated appropriately on changes. Updates to plans don’t help if the people concerned are not ready to act on them. You may also find that in between times some of the BC players have changed because of moves in the organisation or people leaving. Whether it’s by presentations, internal publicity or more exercises, those people also have to say “Aah” as well, and understand that business continuity is a continuing programme, and not just a one-off project. Similar comments apply to external stakeholders in the business, and to key customers and suppliers.