Business Continuity Plan Testing Exercises

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BCP Should Account For Change

It is imperative to have a business continuity plan (BCP) and disaster recovery plan in place. When your business unexpectedly experiences a disruption to normal operations, you want to resume regular business operations as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Your BCP helps you achieve this goal. Having a plan is important. Revising and exercising your plan is crucial.

One of the of the few constants in businesses – both small and large – is change. Your plan needs to account for this change through on-going review and revision. One way to establish a regular revision of your plan is through a scheduled exercise of your business continuity plan. There are a variety of exercises your company can run – plan read-throughs, table-top exercises, simulations, and full-blown drills. Whichever form you choose, it’s important to establish a routine of at least an annual exercise of your plan.

Effective Business Continuity Plan Exercises


The simplest way to exercise your plan is a read-through involving all departments. The purpose is to review and adjust the plan according to staffing and business process changes that have occurred within the company since the last review.

A table-top exercise is a more rigorous review process which involves creating a scenario of a business disruption that is likely to occur. For example, you could create a scenario in which you lose the use of your place of business due to a fire. Remember, the scenario has to be something that is likely to occur. If you create a “Zombie Apocalypse” event, no one will take it seriously, you will lose the respect and support of your colleagues, and you won’t achieve the goal of revising and improving on your plan.

At the end of the exercise, evaluate how each party handled their part of the plan. Compile notes during the exercise and identify any adjustments that need to be made. Remember, this is not about being perfect. The focus of these exercises is to identify where your business continuity plans and disaster recovery plans fall short. What are the limitations in the plan and how can you improve and get better?

Important Tips During Exercises


  • Set ground rules for the exercise and make sure all participants are on the same page with what is taking place to achieve the best results.
  • Establish a set of goals you want to achieve with the exercise. From those goals, create measurable objectives you want to achieve in the exercise.
  • Document all responses to the exercise.
    1. Did people respond as you predicted?
    2. Were there any surprises during the exercises?
    3. What gaps were uncovered?

Continue to get feedback from all participants whether their role is small or large. You want as much information of success and failures as possible to be able to revise your plan.

After Testing Your Business Continuity Plan


Businesses and business continuity plans are always going to be changing, thus, the importance and need of plan exercises. If you had to implement a lot of changes and adjustments as a result of the exercise, it would be wise to run a follow-up table-top exercise to make sure everyone is on the same page and the changes made are effective. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Regular review, revision, and exercise of your plan will improve your business’s ability to get back to “business as usual” as quickly as possible when a disruption occurs.

If you have questions on the most effective way to exercise your business continuity plan, contact Discenza Business Continuity Solutions today. Let us help you create the best continuity plan exercise possible.

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