How To Test Your Business Continuity Plan

It is important for your organisation to have a business continuity plan so that in the event of a disaster that causes a serious business interruption, such as a fire, flood or building issue, you’ll be able to minimise losses, down time and the impact on the future of your business. Once you have developed your business continuity plan (BCP), it is vitally important that you test it. Testing verifies the effectiveness of your plan, educates the plan participants on what to do in a real-life scenario and identifies areas where the plan can be improved.

The following steps should be followed in a business continuity testing program:-

1. Review your at least annually. You should involve your team of key business continuity plan participants including senior management and department heads. Discuss the elements of the plan with a focus on the discovery of any areas where the plan can be improved. Educate new managers regarding the plan and incorporate any new feedback.

2. Conduct table-top sessions, which is essentially disaster role-playing, that allows plan participants to walk through the various elements of the BCP, gaining familiarity with their responsibilities given a specific emergency scenario. Conduct the dry-run training to document errors and identify inconsistencies for correction and improvements. Schedule these sessions at least once a year for all departments.

3. Perform a simulation of a possible disaster scenario. Include business leaders, partners, vendors, management and staff in the BCP test simulation. Test your data recovery capability, staff safety, asset management, leadership response, relocation procedures and loss recovery procedures. Plan a full simulation at least once each year with different, realistic scenarios that test the effectiveness of your BCP.

4. Accommodate any work stoppages due to the testing of the BCP by scheduling simulations and other testing exercises between Friday and Saturday. Conduct table-top sessions that include management and higher level staff exclusively on the weekends, and plan review sessions usually lasting two to four hours that can be scheduled during the business week.

5. Communicate the importance and benefit of the BCP to all levels of the workforce. Promote the review and active participation in the BCP simulation. Use the simulation to identify competencies within your workforce that may signify additional resources during a disaster situation.