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Four ways to test a business continuity plan

To really know if your BC plan is complete and will do the job it’s intended to do, you’ve got to test it. It may help if you think of this as “exercising” the plan to make sure it’s up to the task if called upon. Testing should be done at least twice a year; the type of test you choose will depend on the experience of your team.

So how do you go about testing your plan? Let me count the ways:

  1. Checklist test
    A checklist test can help determine if the plan is current, adequate supplies are stored at the backup site, correct telephone numbers are available, emergency forms are available, and copies of the plan and any supplemental documentation are present.
  2. Structured walk-through test
    This test is typically performed on a team or departmental basis and involves a detailed walk-through of the various components of the plan by each team customer. The team leader will choose the type of disaster and the parts of the plan to be tested.
  3. Emergency evacuation drill.
    A facility evacuation should be practiced at at least once a year with all personnel to be sure they understand how the evacuation should proceed, how to handle personnel with physical limitations, external assembly locations, and how verification of all personnel is to be accomplished.
  4. Recovery simulation
    Recovery simulation testing requires your team to use equipment, facilities and supplies as they would in a disaster situation, and as provided in the plan, to carry out critical functions using the recovery and restoration procedures.

These tests will reveal weaknesses and strengths—approach each with an exploratory, open attitude to get the most from them.