How to Test Your Business Continuity Plan

Written by Tejas Katwala
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Business Continuity

Creating a business continuity plan is effective only if it has been tested.

A completed business continuity plan gives your company the tools it needs to anticipate, remediate, and respond to risk effectively. The plan ensures that the enterprise and its customers will remain operational with minimal to no loss of continuity or threat to operations.

However, completion is just part of the puzzle. The next step is to ensure your business continuity management plan is sound, practical, and usable. That is why business continuity plan testing is so important.

Do you know how to test your business continuity plan? Here are a few suggestions on how to conduct the four basic types of tests.

  1. Walkthrough self-assessment

Usually done at various steps in the development, review, or updating of the pan, this process engages key participants in a discussion that follows the plan step-by-step.

The discussion focuses on the content and layout of the plan and can determine if key players understand the plan and are aware of its components and their roles. It is a quick way to determine if there are discrepancies or oversights that can be easily corrected.

  1. Supervised walkthrough

This facilitated discussion uses a scenario to test the plan’s efficacy. A mock scenario is described, allowing staff to determine appropriate actions, responsibilities, responses, and decisions that would need to be made if real.

This test can identify incomplete or inaccurate areas of the plan, pinpoint bottlenecks, and point out weaknesses that need to be remedied. It also begins to assess interdependencies, resources, and timeframes that can be adjusted.

Team around table

Is your team well prepared to implement your business continuity plan?

  1. Process or plan simulation

This simulated ‘real life’ situation allows key employees to act out actual roles and responsibilities. It deploys recovery resources and locations and tests whether resource allocations are realistic and appropriate.

This testing process also allows for simulated communication to determine if those strategies are timely, accurate, and useful in conveying necessary information that can be used to assess outcomes and make decisions.

Such a test can be resource-intensive and be disruptive to day-to-day business activities. Simulations are best led by a facilitator who can devise a believable, realistic scenario and who can relay relevant information at key times during the exercise to gauge how new variables affect the plan’s effectiveness.

  1. Full end-to-end simulation

Such a test is only recommended for fully mature plans and often requires the approval of senior management. A full-scale test enables participants to carry out the complete response and recovery efforts. These efforts need to involve all business areas of the enterprise. 

As the most robust and comprehensive test, this approach allows for all of the assessments in the above testing spaces, while also evaluating recovery timeframes. It also allows testers to determine the responses of groups and interdependent work among business areas and employees. 

These tests are difficult and expensive to conduct as they often require certain business functions to be shut down during the testing window.

At Continuity Logic, we help companies develop and test comprehensive business continuity management plans that ensure organizations remain operational and resilient in the face of adverse incidents. Contact us to learn how Continuity Logic can help your organization be prepared and ready for risks and threats.