Business Continuity

How to test your BC plan with a structured walk-through test

By rmckinney

The structured walk-through test is usually performed with a single team. A version of the test can be performed with team leaders to exercise coordination between teams.


  • Business recovery coordinator
  • Team leaders, customers and alternates
  • Facilitator
  • Other personnel as determined necessary


  • Facilitator
    • Be sure that the plan, including exhibits, has been distributed to each participant and has been updated before the exercise
    • Meet with all participants to explain the purpose and scope of the test and explain the sections of the plan to be exercised
    • Describe the disaster scenario (situation) to be used for the exercise backdrop, including:
      • Description of the type of disaster
      • How the situation was reported
      • Time of day and day of month the disaster was reported
      • Extent of damage to the involved site and anticipated period of unavailability
      • Extent of damage to equipment, including time frame for replacement or repair
      • Effect on facilities, surrounding geography, voice and data communications, personnel (i.e., injury or death) and other pertinent information
    • Describe the plan activation criteria and whether the plan is activated under the described circumstances
    • Request the team leader to provide direction to the team customers as they describe their responses and actions to the situation
    • Monitor the various team activities, noting the performance of the team customers to the disaster scenario
    • Provide additional events, clarifications to the situation, and simulate responses from other recovery teams, as appropriate, to keep the simulation active
    • Identify enhancements needed to the plan
    • Assemble the team customers at the completion of the structured walk-through test for a debriefing to discuss general observations, ideas, suggestions and team-specific changes or suggestions relating to the plan
    • Prepare an evaluation of the team’s performance and identify enhancements to the plan and exercise
    • Meet with the team leader to discuss specific suggestions and changes that will enhance the team’s preparedness, the plan and future testing
    • Assign responsibilities for updating the plan; include the date the update is to be completed, based on the team leader’s feedback
    • Maintain a file of update forms to provide evidence that the review and test have been performed
  • Team leader and alternate
    • Review the applicable sections of the plan and prepare the team customers for the exercise
    • Direct the team customers through the recovery process as dictated by the simulated disaster situation
    • Note additions, changes and deletions to the plan
    • Provide the plan maintenance form to appropriate personnel to record amendments to the plan
    • Complete the test results worksheet to help the team in documenting the tests and results
    • Return the completed forms to the person responsible for updating the plan or the to the business recovery coordinator by the due date. If no revisions were necessary, the team leader should prepare a brief memo documenting that no plan update was required
    • Prepare the exercise report, which should contain the following information:
  • List of participants
    • Date the test was performed
    • Statement that no revisions were noted during the review, if applicable
    • Team manager’s signature
    • Comments, observations and enhancements
  • Team customers
    • Review the applicable sections of the plan
    • During the walk-through session, describe the activities to be performed as documented in the plan, noting how the activity will be accomplished; who will specifically perform the task; what resources are required to accomplish the task; the estimate of time required to perform the activity or the duration in which it can be performed; whether the activity can be completed successfully
    • Complete all exhibits and worksheets relevant to the scenarios
    • Participate in the post-exercise debriefing and evaluation
    • Business recovery coordinator
    • Schedule personnel and arrange for facilities to conduct the structured walk-through test
    • Assist in documenting the activities that occur during the exercise and discussions during the debriefing
    • Participate in the post-exercise debriefing and evaluation
    • Maintain a file of update forms to provide evidence that the review and test have been performed
    • Assurance business recovery plan updates are applied and revised plans are distributed according to the distribution register

    Interested in learning more? Download the Definitive Guide to Business Continuity Planning.