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Testing Your Business Continuity Plan

If the employees in your organization are spending the time, energy, and resources to develop your business continuity plan, your organization must be ready for any disruption, right? Possibly, but making this assumption isn’t going to help anyone during an emergency if the plan is not spot on! If you document your plan, but don’t share it with your team or train on it, it’s like not having a plan at all.

RUNNING DRILLS & EXERCISES

Even more critical to your business continuity program’s success is to run your BC team and your plan through regularly scheduled drills and exercises. Organizations that perform well-planned exercises get better results when they are faced with a real event. Not only will these planned tabletop, functional, or full-scale exercises exploit issues with your plan and its execution, but they will allow your employees the opportunity to become comfortable with their roles and assigned tasks before an unexpected business disruption requires them to execute these mission-essential functions and be on top of their game during a real event.

MAKING NECESSARY ADJUSTMENTS

After running a drill or exercise, your business continuity plan should be reviewed, updated, and modified based on results of the latest test. Perhaps your checklists and outlined mission-essential functions aren’t comprehensive enough and require some notification. Maybe critical steps weren’t documented or identified previously. Discovering these omissions or necessary additions during a test allows you the time to rectify them prior to a real event. Additionally, drills and exercises allow the BC team to utilize support tools, whether they are fully integrated emergency notification and incident management systems or just conference bridges and shared drives, and practice utilizing this technology they may not work with on a daily basis. Technology should help speed resolution rather than hinder the BC team’s effectiveness.

Since most business continuity team members are not formally trained in business continuity management but rather recruited based on their functional expertise, drills and exercises are a critical aspect of their training and education to successfully fulfill this role. Training should happen regularly and cover incident management concepts, as well as specific tasks for completion. Business continuity management drills and exercises also allow for team building within the group. Since most business continuity teams are comprised of a variety of people from various departments who may not typically collaborate, drills and exercises give them time and an opportunity to get to know one another and build comradery and trust.

At a minimum, organizations should run their entire business continuity plan through drills and exercises annually.

HOW TO USE THIS INFORMATION

Learn more about Business Continuity Planning to make sure your organization is ready for any type of business disruption!