Test the Plan, Plan the Test – Why Successful Business Continuity Plans Are Put into Action Before a Crisis

How will your business respond if faced with a natural disaster, a cyberthreat or an active shooter scenario? Will the organization stay afloat in the midst of such a crisis?

Any amount of disruption costs your business money and can destroy customer relations. In fact, 75 percent of companies without a continuity plan fail in three years after facing a disaster. Those companies unable to get back up and running in 10 days post emergency do not survive at all. This is where a business continuity plan (BCP) comes in.

What is a Business Continuity Plan?

business continuity plan provides your company with the roadmap to navigate a major business disruption, including a natural disaster or large-scale emergency. However, having a plan in place is only the first step; business continuity plan testing for gaps or obstacles is also essential. This blog will outline key considerations on how to test a business continuity plan.

Who Should Be Involved in Business Continuity Testing?

According to the Department of Homeland Security, there are four groups that should be involved in testing business continuity plans:

  • All employees of your business
  • Your emergency response team
  • Your business continuity team
  • The crisis communications group

All employees need to know about protective actions they need to take. This involves testing the plan to see what to do in terms of safety and security, as well as loss prevention. The emergency response team needs to test its ability to follow roles and responsibilities defined in the plan. This includes evacuation, shelter, incident management, cleanup and medical care.

The business continuity team, which generally includes division or department management, is responsible for testing incident management and oversight. As for the crisis communications group, they manage the testing of the emergency notification system.

What Should Testing Accomplish?

Testing a BCP verifies how effective the plan is in real-time scenarios. Therefore, when you test the plan, you are looking for weaknesses or gaps in the plan. Once weaknesses are identified, your teams can work together to improve them.

When Do You Test the Business Continuity Plan?

Business continuity plan testing should take place quarterly at a minimum. For a quarterly plan review, organize a meeting with the division or department managers who are directly involved with the business continuity plan, including new hires. If the organization is growing rapidly or experiences high management turnover, you may want to consider increasing testing frequency to monthly.

Where Does Your Business Conduct Testing?

Testing typically includes a variety of tabletop scenarios and full-scale exercises. Tabletop scenarios can effectively be conducted in a conference room. During a tabletop session, employees read through potential emergency situations. Participants then describe how their role would respond based on the business continuity plan.

Full-scale simulations include a dry-run test in which everyone participates in a walk-through scenario on premises. For example, with a cyberthreat, this will most likely be focused on the IT department and company data centers. For an active shooter incident, the testing will involve closing entrances and exits and testing emergency notification alerts.

Why Should You Test Your Business Continuity Plan?

Along with training and practice, testing provides your teams with an opportunity to improve the plan. When testing the plan’s strengths and weaknesses in a non-emergency environment, all parties brainstorm and streamline the procedures and processes. This helps bolster the BCP in the event of an actual adverse situation.

Make a Better Continuity Plan with OnSolve

Now is the perfect time to consider your business continuity program and the value effective business continuity notification systems can have for your organization.  The most resilient organizations leverage proactive critical event management (CEM) as part of a strong and consistent plan for business continuity in today’s dynamic world.

Building Business Continuity for Resiliency in a Chaotic World

Learn more about the elements of designing a successful business continuity plan, as well as how to deliver and test your plan to ensure your organization is ready to handle a crisis.

OnSolve

OnSolve® offers advanced critical event management capabilities to help organizations achieve successful outcomes during a crisis. By combining artificial intelligence (AI), unmatched expertise and a modern platform, we do what no one else can: We provide actionable intelligence and get the right information to the right people at the right time – so you can mitigate risk, strengthen organizational resilience and better protect your people, places and property.