How to test a business continuity plan?
There is no point in writing up a business plan, only to find out its flaws when it meets reality. Here are some basic steps to ensure your plan works when it’s needed.
- Regular reviews.
You should review your BCP at least once every four months. Ideally, you should arrange a meeting with key members of your plan and discuss which areas need to be strengthened.
- Role-play and testing.
Bring out the method actor in your staff! By going through a dry run and making a note of any errors you encounter, you could raise valuable points. Try and make it engaging for your staff, perhaps by awarding joke prizes to those who do the best (and worst!). If possible, undertaking a full simulation is also a valuable way to test your plan.
- Updating and adjusting.
Make a note of the tools, suppliers and personnel involved in your continuity planning. Should any changes occur (people leaving, suppliers going out of business, tools becoming obsolete) then update your plan accordingly.
Types of exercises to test a business continuity plan.
There are a number of different exercises you can conduct to test your BCP…
- Walkthrough exercise.
This involves you and your team sitting down together and going through your plan, making sure it has all it needs.
- Desktop exercise.
In a desktop or table top scenario, you and your team will sit down to see how the plan withstands a deeper examination under a specific set of circumstances. In order to achieve this, you must start with a specific scenario that evolves during the exercise. This is probably the most popular type of exercise and is perfect for new teams to get together and bond.
- Time-pressured desktop exercise.
This is the same exercise as above but it also involves “injects”, which are designed to arrive at pre-determined times to mess with the team, putting them under more pressure and making it more realistic.
- Live/real-time exercise.
This exercise is to be conducted in real time with normal business suspended. You and your team (or a pre-determined smaller team) must stop what they’re doing and focus on a time pressured scenario with live injects. This sort of exercise is conducted in order to see if your employees can do what’s expected of them and within the timescale.