When to test a business continuity plan

To keep your business continuity plan current, you’ll want to establish a regular schedule for testing it. Following are tips on performing each test, followed by a suggested time table for testing:

  • Establish your objectives right up front. These objectives will change as your recovery teams become more experienced and your plan will become stronger and better as you adapt it to your real-life situation.
  • Choose your testing time to have the least impact, i.e., not during a product launch or other critical time. Testing should never disrupt normal operations or customer service.
  • Discuss and walk through each of the tests ahead of time to prepare participants and help estimate the time required for each exercise.

Sketch out your own five-year schedule, based on these recommendations:

  • Checklist test – twice a year
  • Emergency evacuation drill – once a year
  • Structured walk-through – every other year
  • Review of the risk assessment, BIA and recovery plans – every other year
  • Recovery simulation test – as makes sense for your business, but at least every two or three years

After testing, use the results to:

  • Update the business recovery plan
  • Develop your testing schedule for next year
  • Prepare and present a report on the exercises, along with a proposed future exercise schedule, to senior management and board of directors

Your business continuity plan should be reviewed, evaluated and updated every year as well, as whenever there are significant changes in personnel, equipment, operating software or recovery strategies.

Learn more from our ebook, the Definitive Guide to Business Continuity Planning.