Invenio IT

Business Continuity

Can we break it 9 business continuity plan testing scenarios, march 22, 2022.

most basic business continuity plan testing

by Tracy Rock | Mar 22, 2022

Nobody wants to get those dreaded 3 a.m. phone calls. “The servers are down.” “The backups failed.” “Ed from logistics opened a phishing email again!” These calls are an IT professional’s worst nightmare. But the good news is: by exploring the right business continuity plan testing scenarios, you may never have to get such a call.

Creating a business continuity plan (BCP) is only the first step toward implementing a rock-solid continuity strategy. The systems and protocols outlined in your plan might sound good in theory, but how do they hold up in a real-world disaster?

There’s no way to know for sure without  testing . This is a critical component of continuity planning. Without putting your BCP to the test, you’ll never know if your company is truly prepared for a disaster—until it’s too late.

Today, we look at 9 business continuity plan testing scenarios that can ensure your technologies and teams are ready for anything.

Get your hammer ready (metaphorically speaking)

Once your plan is finalized, it’s time to try to  break it.

Don’t worry—you’re not actually shredding the document that you spent so many weeks writing, editing and getting approved from higher-ups. And you’re not actually  breaking  anything at all.

However, you  do  need to prove the soundness of everything you put in the plan. By that, we mean using strategic tests that will help you to:

Don’t make the mistake of creating a comprehensive plan but never putting it to the test. That’s more than just laziness. It’s dangerous.

Without testing your plan, you’re putting both the business and its people at risk.

Keep this in mind: only 6 percent of companies without a disaster recovery plan survive a disaster, according to Datto.  Having an inadequate plan is just as risky as having no plan at all.

Before you get started

The question you’re probably already asking is: what do you test and how often?

If you’ve done your job, then your BCP is already filled with hundreds of procedures for various events, including even the smallest of emergency-response steps, such as calling 9-1-1 in a fire. Do you test everything? How much is too much?

This depends on your company’s unique risks (as you’ve hopefully identified in a thorough risk assessment and business impact analysis).

For example:

Every business is different, and thus its BCP is different as well: in scope and priority.

Below, we’ve included tests that we recommend for most businesses who are concerned about continuity. Some of the recommendations may be a bit general, depending on your operations. Customize and implement as needed for your business’s unique needs.

Business continuity plan testing scenarios

As you prepare for your tests, you’ll also need to determine just how “real” you want the test to be.

Testing is often a challenge for companies. The tests require time and resources for planning and executing them. For that reason, you may find it easier to conduct certain tests sitting around a conference table, rather than involving the entire organization in a full-scale drill. In  business continuity , these varying types of tests are typically defined as follows:

Full-scale simulation tests are ideal because they allow you to evaluate your teams’ and technologies’ response to disasters in a way that’s as close to the “real thing” as possible. But if time and resources don’t allow for repeated simulations, then fall back on the tabletop tests (rather than not testing at all).

Okay, let’s dive into the tests …

1) Data loss

Let’s start with one of the most common workplace disasters today: a loss of data. This loss could be caused by a number of culprits:

Assume that the lost data is mission-critical. Perhaps it’s your CRM information or the data that runs your sales and logistics applications.

The obvious goal is to get that data back as quickly as possible, ideally by restoring a  backup . But whose job is it to do that? How should they communicate the problem with other personnel (and at what point in the crisis)? What are the priorities? Do outside vendors, such as managed service providers (MSPs) need to be contacted?

If your primary IT person isn’t available to start the recovery, do other team members know how to do it?

These are all questions that should be answered by your test.

2) Data recovery

You need to make sure your BC/DR systems work like they’re supposed to. Conduct a test that involves losing a massive amount of data, and then try to recover it.

Here’s what you’ll need to evaluate:

Make sure that the teams who rely on this business-critical data participate in the test. For example, if they’ll be expected to work with a virtualized environment, watch them do this – see what questions they have or what issues they run into.

3) Power outage

Scenario: Last night, power was knocked out by a storm. The utility company says it won’t be back up for days.

So, what now? What does your BCP say should happen in an event like this?

As part of the test, you’ll want to make sure that your DR team knows their responsibilities and how to communicate with the rest of the organization.

These answers should already be in your BCP. But with the test, you’ll be able to confirm that everyone follows the protocols as outlined.

4) Network and/or Internet outages

Very similar concerns here. Chances are if there’s no electricity then there’s no network either. Although there are numerous situations in which you could have electricity but the network is down.

For situations like this (if the outage is prolonged), it’s increasingly common for organizations to provide personnel with the means to work remotely from home (more on that in the next continuity plan testing scenario, below). So as part of this test, you’ll want to make sure that this plan works as designed:

What about network tests?

In addition to testing your preparedness for a network outage, you’ll want to test the network itself. This will enable you to verify the resilience of the network in various scenarios, such as cyberattacks, heavy bandwidth usage, changes in network configurations and so on.

There are numerous types of network stress tests that allow you to simulate congested network conditions. Sometimes referred to as “torture testing,” these tests give you insight into how your network performs when stressed to the max. Most network testing tools will allow you to measure bandwidth utilization and latency, and see how spikes in packet levels affect the performance of your network devices.

In addition to routine testing, these tests should also be conducted prior to the rollout of new applications or other significant changes to the network.

Remember: a critical aspect of these testing scenarios is to test your response to the simulated incident. So in a simulated network outage, for example, you’ll want to run through the steps needed to resolve the problem. Then, conduct a post-incident analysis to measure the speed and effectiveness of that response.

5) Application failure

What happens when an application that is most critical to your operations suddenly stops working? Aside from bringing your operations to a halt, your employees will likely be idled with nothing to do. This is an extremely costly scenario for most businesses, because it means that revenue is halted while expenses continue (and are wasted).

Routinely testing your applications can help to prevent these costly outages from happening and ensure that teams know how to rapidly respond when failure does occur.

Here’s what to consider as part of this testing scenario:

Stress tests and performance tests are especially valuable, as they can help to identify how the application performs under different workloads. If the applications are externally developed and there are bugs or other issues inherent in the software (as opposed to adverse internal conditions, such as network issues), then organizations should work with their software vendor to identify a fix.

6) Public health crisis

This is a larger-scope continuity testing scenario that businesses became well-acquainted with during the Covid-19 pandemic.

As the coronavirus spread, organizations raced to adhere to critical health guidelines that ushered in a new era of remote work, virtually overnight. Not all businesses were able to quickly adapt to this sudden shift. However, some organizations had been testing such a scenario as part of their continuity planning long before the pandemic started.

Businesses of all sizes need to be sure they can continue to operate during a public health crisis that threatens the health, wellness and availability of workers. This means testing the ability to shift operations, as it relates to both logistical feasibility and IT infrastructure:

As we discovered in 2020, a global health crisis can occur at any time. Businesses need to continually test their ability to adapt to such an event to ensure their operations can continue without interruption.

7) On-site danger

This is a very important office-wide drill that you must conduct at least once a year. Chances are that your local fire codes may already require you to have a periodic fire drill. If not, it’s critical that you conduct one anyway.

In addition to fire, these drills can be used for testing response to other dangerous situations, such as:

As part of your test, make sure people know their emergency procedures, whether it’s evacuation, duck and cover, retreating to a safe area or even staying at their desks.

Additionally, you should be testing your procedures for maintaining operations in case such an event is prolonged.

8) Communication protocols

Communication is critical in a disaster. And in the most disruptive events (such as a severe natural disaster), you’ll probably lose most of your traditional communication means.

Your BCP should already outline how communication should occur in these situations: who should call whom and how. Some companies use calling trees. Some have an emergency email alert system, a call-in number for updates or special company websites used exclusively for communicating during these events.

Your tests should check that these systems and steps actually work: that personnel know they exist, that they know how to use them and that they work as designed.

9) Crisis of any kind

Let’s face it—there are so many different disasters that threaten your operations. Hopefully they’re already thoroughly defined in your business continuity plan.

Your job is to make sure you’re creating realistic tests that prepare the business for each of these crises. We’ve included some of the most destructive (and common) disasters in the recommended tests above, but there are numerous others to consider as part of your testing, including:

As with each of the tests outlined above, your drills for these scenarios should be designed to ensure that personnel know how to respond, that they’ll be  safe and that the business can continue running.

Documenting your testing scenarios

All tests should be thoroughly documented. This enables organizations to identify how the test was conducted, what went right and what needs to be improved. Each test provides a baseline for conducting future tests and also for making changes to continuity planning.

Each testing scenario should be individually documented, but can also be summarized to provide a high-level overview. Here is a very basic example of what that might look like, just for templating purposes:

This summary should be followed by a more detailed description of each test, when it was conducted, what occurred and recommendations for further testing and/or improvements.

Frequently asked questions

1) What is an example of business continuity?

Business continuity is an operational objective that means a business can continue to function without disruption or interruption. One example of maintaining business continuity would be a hospital that is able to continue providing healthcare services during a hurricane.

2) How do you write a business continuity plan?

Writing a business continuity plan involves outlining your business’s unique risks, the impact of those adverse events, protocols for mitigation, response and recovery, and the systems that support those continuity efforts. For more tips, see our related post on how to develop a business continuity plan .

3) Why is a business continuity plan important?

Planning for potential operational disruptions is the best thing businesses can do to prevent, mitigate and recover from such events. A business continuity plan serves as important documentation for understanding risks and guiding an organization through all stages of a disruption, from prevention to recovery.

4) How often do we test our business continuity plan objectives?

The timing and frequency of your plan testing will depend on the unique objectives of each business, and you will likely need to test different parts of your BCP at different times. For example, you might decide to conduct emergency preparedness drills for employees once a year, while your data backups may need to be tested every few months.

Get more information

To learn more about how your company can mitigate downtime after data loss and other disasters, contact our business continuity experts at Invenio IT.  Request a free demo  or contact us today by calling (646) 395-1170 or by emailing  [email protected] .

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5 Essential Scenarios for Testing Your Business Continuity Plan

most basic business continuity plan testing

By Lauren Groff:

Business continuity planning is being widely embraced as an essential component of business strategy. With a continuity plan, you’ll ensure your organization will be able to deal with and recover from any potential threat that could arise. Despite widespread adoption, however, too many businesses consider a BCP a once-and-done affair. However, to ensure the greatest resilience in your organization, regular testing of your plan will ensure it’s up to scratch.

Testing your plan often reveals gaps and flaws that would otherwise be unforeseen – business threats are dynamic, and your BCP needs to be adaptable to ensure your business survives.

How Often Should You Test? Once you acknowledge the need for testing your BCP, the questions of how and when arise. The unique position of every organization, and the threats to their position, means that there’s no right or wrong time to test your BCP. A larger organization with more at stake – as well as more variables affecting performance – will need to test more often than a smaller organization. What’s key, however, is that your BCP is tested. Without assessing the performance of your BCP in test conditions, you’ll never know if your organization has the resilience it badly needs.

1) Data Loss or Data Breach

No company can operate without its data. Yet data is inherently vulnerable, and often an avenue of attack. Testing your BCP for the eventuality of a data breach will ensure your business has a proactive response to a loss, whether that’s caused by an external attack or internal error.

In the event of a data breach, regaining possession of your data is critical. Your BCP will outline how your data has been backed up. But does your business continuity plan facilitate the restoration of your data, and determine who is responsible for implementing this procedure?

2) Power Loss Power outages happen for a variety of reasons and are more and more common as adverse weather becomes the norm. Utility companies can take several days to restore power in worst case scenarios. An absence of power causes huge knock-on effects on business operations and this is one essential scenario for your BCP to perform against.

Logistical strategy in response to power outage should be outlined in your BCP and a hierarchy of relief should be established to ensure that the departments that need a quick response get the help they need. Make sure you know if your BCP is equipped to respond to this scenario.

3) Network Outage A network outage often follows from a power outage, but the network can drop without power disappearing, with no indication of how long it may last. Any business continuity plan needs to be prepared for the unique elements of this scenario.

Testing your BCP under these conditions will ensure that the network is restored without delay. In 2021 more employees than ever before are working from home and ensuring your BCP hasn’t become outdated can prevent dramatic losses of productivity when the network fails.

4) Physical Events Fire, hurricanes, or tsunamis – we never expect a natural disaster to land on our doorstep, until it does. Whilst all organizations will have regular fire drills in place, ensuring your BCP is ready for any extreme act of nature will build great resilience into your business.

Beyond acts of nature, situations such as bomb threats and civil unrest may need to be taken into account in a BCP. Whilst some scenarios will unfold in unforeseen ways, planning a BCP that’s flexible in the face of disaster is vital to success.

5) Emergency Comms Communication is essential to your ability to operate your business, and whilst comms may fail during natural disaster or power outage, communication is so important it deserves its own place within your BCP testing procedure.

Preparing non-traditional methods of staying in contact with your team such as emergency notification software will allow you to keep in touch no matter what happens. This is likely to be the groundwork for any action plan contained within your BCP and its performance should be tested regularly.

Wrapping Up Business continuity plans are vital to the resilience of your organization in the face of disaster. As challenging circumstances emerge, the corporations that have assembled and tested their responses will be ready to thrive. Make sure you’re on the winning side.

About the Author: Lauren Groff has been Emergency Management Coordinator for 4 years and is the lead tech writer at Essay writing services reviews and Best assignment writing services AU . She’s passionate about protecting organizations from the influx of variables the world throws at them. You can read more of her work at Best essay writing services .

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Business Continuity Plan

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Business Continuity Planning Process Diagram - Text Version

When business is disrupted, it can cost money. Lost revenues plus extra expenses means reduced profits. Insurance does not cover all costs and cannot replace customers that defect to the competition. A business continuity plan to continue business is essential. Development of a business continuity plan includes four steps:

Information technology (IT) includes many components such as networks, servers, desktop and laptop computers and wireless devices. The ability to run both office productivity and enterprise software is critical. Therefore, recovery strategies for information technology should be developed so technology can be restored in time to meet the needs of the business. Manual workarounds should be part of the IT plan so business can continue while computer systems are being restored.

Resources for Business Continuity Planning 

Business Continuity Impact Analysis

Business continuity impact analysis identifies the effects resulting from disruption of business functions and processes. It also uses information to make decisions about recovery priorities and strategies.

The Operational & Financial Impacts worksheet  can be used to capture this information as discussed in Business Impact Analysis . The worksheet should be completed by business function and process managers with sufficient knowledge of the business. Once all worksheets are completed, the worksheets can be tabulated to summarize:

Those functions or processes with the highest potential operational and financial impacts become priorities for restoration. The point in time when a function or process must be recovered, before unacceptable consequences could occur, is often referred to as the “Recovery Time Objective.”

Resource Required to Support Recovery Strategies

Recovery of a critical or time-sensitive process requires resources. The Business Continuity Resource Requirements worksheet should be completed by business function and process managers. Completed worksheets are used to determine the resource requirements for recovery strategies.

Following an incident that disrupts business operations, resources will be needed to carry out recovery strategies and to restore normal business operations. Resources can come from within the business or be provided by third parties. Resources include:

Since all resources cannot be replaced immediately following a loss, managers should estimate the resources that will be needed in the hours, days and weeks following an incident.

Conducting the Business Continuity Impact Analysis

The worksheets Operational and Financial Impacts  and Business Continuity Resource Requirements should be distributed to business process managers along with instructions about the process and how the information will be used. After all managers have completed their worksheets, information should be reviewed. Gaps or inconsistencies should be identified. Meetings with individual managers should be held to clarify information and obtain missing information.

After all worksheets have been completed and validated, the priorities for restoration of business processes should be identified. Primary and dependent resource requirements should also be identified. This information will be used to develop recovery strategies.

Recovery Strategies

If a facility is damaged, production machinery breaks down, a supplier fails to deliver or information technology is disrupted, business is impacted and the financial losses can begin to grow. Recovery strategies are alternate means to restore business operations to a minimum acceptable level following a business disruption and are prioritized by the recovery time objectives (RTO) developed during the business impact analysis .

Recovery strategies require resources including people, facilities, equipment, materials and information technology. An analysis of the resources required to execute recovery strategies should be conducted to identify gaps. For example, if a machine fails but other machines are readily available to make up lost production, then there is no resource gap. However, if all machines are lost due to a flood, and insufficient undamaged inventory is available to meet customer demand until production is restored, production might be made up by machines at another facility—whether owned or contracted.

Strategies may involve contracting with third parties, entering into partnership or reciprocal agreements or displacing other activities within the company. Staff with in-depth knowledge of business functions and processes are in the best position to determine what will work. Possible alternatives should be explored and presented to management for approval and to decide how much to spend.

Depending upon the size of the company and resources available, there may be many recovery strategies that can be explored.

Utilization of other owned or controlled facilities performing similar work is one option. Operations may be relocated to an alternate site - assuming both are not impacted by the same incident. This strategy also assumes that the surviving site has the resources and capacity to assume the work of the impacted site. Prioritization of production or service levels, providing additional staff and resources and other action would be needed if capacity at the second site is inadequate.

Telecommuting is a strategy employed when staff can work from home through remote connectivity. It can be used in combination with other strategies to reduce alternate site requirements. This strategy requires ensuring telecommuters have a suitable home work environment and are equipped with or have access to a computer with required applications and data, peripherals, and a secure broadband connection.

In an emergency, space at another facility can be put to use. Cafeterias, conference rooms and training rooms can be converted to office space or to other uses when needed. Equipping converted space with furnishings, equipment, power, connectivity and other resources would be required to meet the needs of workers.

Partnership or reciprocal agreements can be arranged with other businesses or organizations that can support each other in the event of a disaster. Assuming space is available, issues such as the capacity and connectivity of telecommunications and information technology, protection of privacy and intellectual property, the impacts to each other’s operation and allocating expenses must be addressed. Agreements should be negotiated in writing and documented in the business continuity plan. Periodic review of the agreement is needed to determine if there is a change in the ability of each party to support the other.

There are many vendors that support business continuity and information technology recovery strategies. External suppliers can provide a full business environment including office space and live data centers ready to be occupied. Other options include provision of technology equipped office trailers, replacement machinery and other equipment. The availability and cost of these options can be affected when a regional disaster results in competition for these resources.

There are multiple strategies for recovery of manufacturing operations. Many of these strategies include use of existing owned or leased facilities. Manufacturing strategies include:

There are many factors to consider in manufacturing recovery strategies:

Resources for Developing Recovery Strategies

Manual Workarounds

Telephones are ringing and customer service staff is busy talking with customers and keying orders into the computer system. The electronic order entry system checks available inventory, processes payments and routes orders to the distribution center for fulfillment. Suddenly the order entry system goes down. What should the customer service staff do now? If the staff is equipped with paper order forms, order processing can continue until the electronic system comes back up and no phone orders will be lost.

The order forms and procedures for using them are examples of “manual workarounds.” These workarounds are recovery strategies for use when information technology resources are not available.

Developing Manual Workarounds

Identify the steps in the automated process - creating a diagram of the process can help. Consider the following aspects of information and work flow:

Internal Interfaces (department, person, activity and resource requirements)

Create data collection forms to capture information and define processes for manual handling of the information collected. Establish control logs to document transactions and track their progress through the manual system.

Manual workarounds require manual labor, so you may need to reassign staff or bring in temporary assistance.

Last Updated: 05/26/2021

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3 Ways to Test Your Business Continuity Plan

You’re a positive person. We think that’s spectacular. And though remaining positive is great in principle, sadly it isn’t always a smart risk management mindset. The companies that subscribe to Murphy’s Law are generally best equipped to mitigate risk and handle the unknowns – whether that’s economic downturns, natural disasters, data breaches or server failures. Regardless of risk appetite, smart companies plan against interruptions to business with what’s known as a Business Continuity Plan or BCP. A Business Continuity Plan evaluates how your company will sustain operations, communicate to personnel and clients, and generally weather the storm in the event of a business interruption. If the Murphy Law mantra feels negative, then just stack the deck and consider it a smart wager instead, since it is FAR better to be ready for a disaster that may never come than be caught unprepared and risk your business collapsing.

We’ve discussed the value of Disaster Recovery Plans (DRPs) and Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) in previous articles, so today we turn this topic toward a vital and often overlooked component of risk mitigation and continuity assurance….Testing.

Even the best plans fall apart without proper implementation. Success in plan execution increases exponentially with testing. Consider testing your Business Continuity Plan annually at a minimum so that all employees and stakeholders are knowledgeable and primed for continuity measures in case of an emergency. Here’s our suggestions for three (3) things you can consistently do to ensure your Business Continuity Plan is tested and your organization is better prepared should disaster strike.

It’s not just for the compulsive personalities like project managers and analysts. Creating a checklist not only defines the successive order in which key operational and administrative procedures should be carried out, it also naturally comes in the form of a quick-reference guide (also known as a QRG). When confusion increases and communication deteriorates, a continuity plan checklist at either a high-level or multiple checklists across your more granular functional areas are an easy and comforting distillation of the business continuity plan that ensures two key components for successful plan implementation: 1) that steps are conducted in the right order, and 2) that no steps are missed.

Two sets of checklists should be made. The first set encompasses those key procedures, contacts, communications, and steps that should be done at the moment of business interruption and throughout any disaster in order to successfully execute on the Business Continuity Plan. The second set of checklists – your BCP Audit Lists – are the items and key information that should be tested and verified on the previous set. Using both in tandem during annual or periodic testing greatly increases the quality of your Business Continuity Plan testing and also the likelihood of successful plan implementation if a disaster occurs.

Common things to include on your BCP Audit List include your employee’s contact details. Much of business downtime and conversely a company’s speed in operations getting back up and running is contingent on internal communications. Having an outdated phone number is a painfully avoidable mistake that can carry considerable cost to your company. At testing time, validate all internal and external contact information to be sure details are current and accurate. If you maintain an offsite cache of emergency supplies, check to ensure that you have the appropriate types and volumes of supplies and backup equipment to last you until normal operations can be restored. Work with your analysts or external business consultation partners to help you determine which supplies, equipment and quantities are appropriate at varying levels and types of business interruption. In addition, be sure to review and secure copies of all required and supplemental documents for personnel, processes and operations (especially emergency forms, contact info, and the Business Continuity Plan itself).

One BCP Audit List item to include should be an evaluation of the overall plan for validity and appropriateness based on the current state of the company. Testing helps business continuity plans stay up to date and provides for more continual adaptation and updating, but your company’s key strategic leadership should periodically evaluate the current state of the company in light of new strategies, technologies, or capabilities and determine whether the existing Business Continuity Plan still covers all of the current needs, strategy and direction. New strategies/technologies may now exist that are more practical and efficient than the ones currently in your plan from last year, and company direction and capabilities may reveal a need to overhaul the business continuity plan or at least amend it.


A walk-through or run-through promotes both procedural and muscle memory. Recall the fire drills and tornado drills of your elementary school days. Drills were conducted as a live activity rather than a verbal this-is-what-we-would-do review. The reason for this may be intuitive but studies show that active practice facilitates more efficient internalization of procedures, and (as instructional gurus will tell you) key process components have a much higher likelihood of cognitive transfer from working to long-term memory. What that boils down to is simply that your employees will care about it more and remember it longer.

Consider a structured walk-through with department heads to make sure that key points of command and delegation points to internal teams know precisely what to do in an emergency. Elect a team leader from each department and have each form their own testing team which should have extra duties and responsibilities (like making sure the building is clear) and will likely require extra rehearsal. After testing, department team leaders should discuss findings and then draft a unified report on plan efficacy and suggestions for improvement.

Walk-throughs are not just for the human parts of the plan. Kick off boot sequences, scripted and automated contingencies, data replication tasks, stand-by server switch-overs, cloud backup and data validation – whatever key technical components fall into your operations and continuity plan procedures. And then measure key continuity performance indicators (KCPIs) to report and leverage in your plan’s overall evaluation, such as quality or viability and speed to accessibility.

Simulation testing methods address the recovery and restoration aspects of the plan through seemingly real-life scenarios. Build your continuity simulation by creating scenarios that feel real and address key components of the Business Continuity Plan. Form testing teams and assign each a specific scenario that its members will enact using the facilities, equipment, and supplies available to them. If you can create cascading scenarios – ones that overlap and require inputs from or depend on processes to be completed by other testing teams – your simulation will be a better true-to-life representation of a business-interruption event or disaster.

Members of the company’s disaster response team should evaluate overall company response performance based on the simulation, determine how well teams were able to effectively carry out critical functions of the Business Continuity Plan, and identify key improvements and lessons learned to incorporate in the Business Continuity Plan and implementation procedures.

Don’t have a disaster response team? Assemble one as soon as possible.

Use the results from your checklists, walk-throughs and simulations to identify your Business Continuity Plan’s strengths and weaknesses, signal gaps between your plan and company’s current state of strategy and capability, determine how well your personnel can comply with the plan, and assess how ready you are for a disaster now that you’ve done the work of creating the BCP.

If testing your plan feels daunting, you aren’t alone. Many BCPs are constructed and then are shelved due to hesitation around the critical component of testing. The journey of a thousand tests begins with a single checklist, so start planning your Business Continuity Plan testing today. And as always, if you have questions about testing your Business Continuity Plan, need help with any of the techniques mentioned above, or need help constructing your Business Continuity Plan, let us help. Dynamic Quest offers business consultation services with a focus on disaster recovery, business continuity, plan testing, data analysis, and more. Just click the orange “Ask an Expert” button below to inquire about Dynamic Quest’s services or ask one of our experts a question.

Curious to learn more? Contact Dynamic Quest, your managed IT service provider ?

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Forty-three percent of attacks are aimed at SMBs, but only 14% are prepared to defend themselves (Accenture).

The average cost of a data breach in the United States is $8.64 million, which is the highest in the world, while the most expensive sector for data breach costs is the healthcare industry, with an average of $7.13 million (IBM).

The internal team was energized. With the Level 1 work off its plate, the team turned its attention to the work that fueled company growth and gave them job satisfaction.

Large Healthcare Company

It takes an average of 287 days for security teams to identify and contain a data breach, according to the “Cost of a Data Breach 2021” report released by IBM and Ponemon Institute.

The three sectors with the biggest spending on cybersecurity are banking, manufacturing, and the central/federal government, accounting for 30% of overall spending (IDC).

40% of businesses will incorporate the anywhere operations model to accommodate the physical and digital experiences of both customers and employees (Techvera).

More than 33 billion records will be stolen by cybercriminals by 2023, an increase of 175% from 2018.

The cost of cybercrime is predicted to hit $10.5 trillion by 2025, according to the latest version of the Cisco/Cybersecurity Ventures “2022 Cybersecurity Almanac.”.

We did a proof of concept that met every requirement that our customer might have. In fact, we saw a substantial improvement.

Steve Fout, VP Sales, Godlan, Inc

We did everything that we needed to do, financially speaking. We got our invoices out to customers, we deposited checks, all the things we needed to do to keep our business running, and our customers had no idea about the tragedy. It didn’t impact them at all.

Denise Koontz, CFO, Got You Floored

“We believe our success is due to the strength of our team, the breadth of our services, our flexibility in responding to clients, and our focus on strategic support.”

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Four Steps to Better Business Continuity Plan Testing

Four Steps to Better Business Continuity Plan Testing

Business continuity planning is a process that is vital to your organization. There is always the possibility that your organization’s critical business processes could be negatively affected for reasons that are often beyond your control, so it's best to be prepared. If a disruption occurs, it’s essential that your organization has a plan to address any potential issues and ensure that your organization can still serve your customers.

However, if you’ve never enacted your plan, it’s hard to be confident that your plan will be sufficient. Testing your business continuity plan (BCP) helps to continuously improve your ability to recover successfully from various scenarios, whether it be a natural disaster or a communications failure. The good news is that there’s not just one way to test your BCP. Here are four steps to help you build a better business continuity plan testing program and ensure you are prepared for any situation that may come your way.


The first step to better BCP testing is to incorporate different testing methods. You can utilize various methods to test the usability and effectiveness of your business continuity plan. Some of the possible test methods provided by the FFIEC include:

Step two is to understand how often to test. Although there is no hard-and-fast standard for determining how often to test your business continuity plan, some general guidelines are typically recommended. Note that each of these timeframes will depend on your organization’s industry, size, personnel, available resources, and current BCP maturity levels. Don’t take these timelines as gospel, as they are strictly that: guidelines.

SBS recommends reviewing each of your emergency preparedness plans (business continuity, disaster recovery, incident response, and pandemic preparedness) throughout the course of a given year. Testing would typically include an annual tabletop test of all four individual EPP plans, testing multiple scenarios for threats you identify as a higher risk to your organization. Be sure to test the scenarios you believe to be the highest risk to your organization most frequently. You can use your business continuity risk assessment to help identify which threats are particularly impactful/probable to the organization.

Additionally, a limited-scale exercise is recommended at least annually, but such a test is largely dependent on the size and complexity of your organization and the maturity of your failover procedures. For example, if your organization’s goal is to have a fully-functional failover DR backup site, but you have not yet achieved full-failover mirroring and backups, implementing this complex backup process and testing to ensure everything works correctly from failover to failback may take years to achieve. In comparison, testing file-level restores from nightly backups is something any organization can do quickly and frequently today.

However, if your organization has any significant changes in processes, systems, or plan details, you may want to perform these tests more frequently. To reiterate, these timelines are highly dependent on your organization; it may not be feasible or logical to perform some of these tests at a particular frequency. Base this decision on your organization and its specific needs.

If you are looking for somewhere to start and what should be prioritized for testing, refer to your business impact analysis . This is an excellent way to not only identify your most critical processes, but also the assets/systems you rely on the most. Systems that you require to keep your most critical processes functioning should be tested more frequently, allowing you to validate proper recoverability and the timeframes of that recovery. Most organizations benefit greatly by having a testing schedule documenting their plans. This allows for a strategic approach to testing involving the organization's processes, systems, and vendors deemed necessary.

Including your vendors is the next step in improving your BCP testing. In the course of your testing cycle (whether a tabletop test, limited-scale exercise, or full-scale exercise), you’ll want to ensure your critical vendor partners are included in the testing process to whatever extent possible. Involving your vendors in this process not only allows you to test to a greater degree of accuracy and usability but also allows your vendors a chance to provide feedback that may be valuable to your plans or testing process.

Step Four: Document Your Testing

Finally, step four is to document your testing. Be sure to document the results of any testing performed, along with any actionable findings from those tests. Following up on these items and incorporating recommendations resulting from tests is the most important process in the BCP testing lifecycle. Testing, documenting the results of your testing, and implementing processes to improve your BCP is the best way to strengthen your organization’s response processes.

Testing, documenting the results of your testing, and implementing processes to improve your BCP is the best way to strengthen your organization’s response processes.

Resources and Testing Options

Numerous additional resources that your organization may use or participate in to continue maturing your BCP testing program are widely available. Here is a list of organizations and resources to help you perform such testing on your own organization’s BCP:

Other Sources

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Testing, testing: how to test your business continuity plan

Related articles, disruptions are by their nature unexpected. but your organisation’s response to hitting pause on normal business operations doesn’t have to be equally as unexpected..

A comprehensive business continuity plan maps out every stage of your business’ response to relevant risks that could affect business-as-usual. This could be a powercut, a cyber-attack or a supply failure. Whatever the disruption, the right continuity plan can ensure that your business minimises downtime and recovers as quickly as possible, reducing the risk of lost revenue or reputation.

However, even the most detailed plan can become ineffective if it is not regularly tested. Businesses rarely stand still, and this means your plan may have to adapt to new circumstances. Lack of knowledge, communication and practice can also compromise your business’ response, which could extend your recovery.

So, how should you test your business continuity plan, and how often should it be put in practice?

How often should a business continuity plan be tested?

There is no hard and fast rule that governs how often your business should test its plan.

It really depends on the complexity of your business and the number, scale and likelihood of the risks it faces. These should be identified as part of a Business Impact Assessment (BIA), which will inform your business’ response.

If your business has high risks for revenue loss, a damaged reputation or the possibility of lengthy downtime, then testing should be carried out more regularly and more areas of the plan should be tested.

The regularity of the testing is also dependent on the type of test being performed.

How can a business continuity plan be tested?

There are three main ways of testing your business continuity plan: checklist or walkthrough exercises, desktop scenarios or simulations.

Checklist or walkthrough exercises

A checklist or walkthrough exercise is one of the easiest forms of test. It consists of a desktop exercise in which senior managers determine if the plan remains current by checking off or ‘walking through’ each step.

When going through the plan they should also ask key questions, such as does the business have the right supplies to cope? Are copies of the plan known by key personnel? Do key personnel know what their roles are?

To make this test as valuable as possible, an emphasis must be placed on any weak areas. The mission is not to find fault or assign blame, but to promote improvement, which will make your plan more effective if the worst should happen.

Desktop scenarios

A desktop scenario test is a little more specific than the checklist. Using a scenario relevant to the business, this test can help you to establish all the processes of your business’ response to a specific disruption. For example, you can check the processes of your plan in the event of sudden data loss.


Simulations are full re-enactments of business continuity procedures and could involve most, if not all, of your workforce. They also tend to take place on site in the relevant business areas.

In this test, each employee involved will need to physically demonstrate the steps needed in order to react to the disruption and recover from it. This could involve driving to a back-up location, making phone calls, completing communication templates or visiting server rooms. These kinds of tests are good for establishing staff safety, asset management, leadership response, relocation protocols and any loss recovery procedures.

Due to the large scale of a full simulation, these kinds of tests may be limited to annual occurrences. They may also need to be moved to quieter business days or even non-operational days so that disruption to normal work is minimised.

Organising a test

Before beginning a test, you will need to set out a clear objective as well as define exactly what is being tested. For example, you may want to check your continuity plans in the event of a power outage.

For a desktop exercise, you need to ensure that key personnel or top management are available to participate. A venue also needs to be arranged, but this doesn’t necessarily have to be in a key location unless you are planning a simulation.

Before the test, circulate the testing plan along with the objective to everyone involved. This team should also familiarise themselves with the current business continuity plan.

Assign some people within the team to record the test’s performance and any shortcomings that are identified. After the test, feedback should also be sought. These findings then need to be formally recorded and used to update the business continuity plan. Once finalised, the revised plan should be shared among the workforce.

Remember that testing a business continuity plan is not about passing or failing – it is about improving processes to give your business the best possible chance of dealing with disruption. Regular testing asserts the effectiveness of your processes, trains your staff in what to do for faster, more confident responses and highlights areas that need strengthening.

Solution for disruption

Business continuity plans give your business a blueprint for disruption survival, but only if they are fit for purpose.

An internationally recognised mark of best practice, ISO 22301 will enable you to implement, maintain and improve a business continuity management system, which will support your business before, during and after disruption.

To find out more, visit our dedicated webpage for  ISO 22301 .

You can also get in touch on  0333 259 0445  or by emailing  [email protected] .

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About the author

Claire Price

Content Marketing Executive

Claire worked for Citation ISO Certification between 2020 and 2022 writing creative and informative content on ISO certification and consultation to help businesses reach their potential.

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Business Continuity Basics: Management, Planning and Testing

Business Continuity

In our previous blogs, we discussed at length about business impact analysis and business continuity and disaster recovery , and how these concepts are a part of business continuity in general. Today, let’s take a deeper dive into business continuity and why every organization must have a business continuity plan to survive.

What Is Business Continuity?

Business continuity is the capability of an organization to overcome a disaster, whether natural or man-made, through the implementation of a business continuity plan.

Businesses today are susceptible to all kinds of incidents – breaches, cyberattacks, natural disasters, power outages and more. For a business to maintain its operations in the wake of such incidents, business continuity planning is critical.

Check out this short video on business continuity from BCI:

Business Continuity Management (BCM)

TechTarget defines BCM as a framework for identifying an organization’s risk of exposure to internal and external threats.

BCM provides a framework for building resilience and the capability for an effective response that safeguards the interests of the organization and its stakeholders, which includes employees, customers, suppliers, investors and the communities in which the organization operates.

Why Is Business Continuity Management Important?

BCM is a subset of a larger organizational risk strategy. Its strategies focus on the processes that need to take place after an event or disaster occurs. The aim of BCM is to restore the business to normal operations as efficiently and effectively as possible.

There are a growing number of industry guidelines and standards that businesses can leverage to start the process. Adopting and complying with BCM standards is a good way for companies to put a plan in place that will protect the business and ensure that it can continue in the aftermath of an incident.

Continuity of business operations following a disaster helps retain customers and reduces financial risk.

Who Is Responsible for Business Continuity Management?

A sound BCM strategy requires defining roles and responsibilities and resource planning for specific actions that need to be taken in the event of an incident.

Typically, organizational leaders should create, analyze and approve the BCM strategy and actively communicate the value of BCM and the risks of insufficient BCM capabilities.

All corporate functions and business units, including executive teams, IT teams, finance/accounting and more, must act within their areas of responsibility and help establish continuity response strategies.

Business Continuity Planning (BCP)

A business continuity plan is an integral part of BCM and outlines the risks to an organization due to an unplanned outage and the steps that must be taken to alleviate the risks.

It details the processes and the systems that must be sustained and maintained to allow business continuity in the event of a disruption.

What Are the Key Components of a Business Continuity Plan?

Business continuity plans must be continuously reviewed and updated for various scenarios. Plans should be tested regularly to ensure they work in the event of an outage.

Business Continuity Testing

BCP is not a one-time task, but rather a continuous process that an organization must undertake. For business continuity plans to be efficient, testing is absolutely essential.

Business continuity testing ensures that your BCM framework works. Regular testing reduces risk, drives improvements, enhances predictability and ensures the alignment of the plan with the ever-evolving business.

How Often Should a Business Continuity Plan Be Tested?

Testing business continuity plans annually or biannually is recommended by most experts. Here are three steps you can take to test the effectiveness of your business continuity plan.

A well-structured business continuity plan enables organizations to mitigate the negative effects of a natural disaster or any other unexpected event and minimize downtime. Learn how Kaseya can help you keep your IT operations running with its enterprise-class backup solutions .

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most basic business continuity plan testing

most basic business continuity plan testing

Checklist for Business Continuity Testing

checklist for BC testing

Testing in Numbers

According to 2019 BC Benchmark Study, 57% of companies stated that semi-annual or quarterly (consistent) testing helps to gain buy-in throughout the organization, making it more likely to be prepared for an interruption.

Testing your business continuity program allows you to validate your BC plan and manage risks. In fact,   88% of our online poll respondents  test BCP’s at their companies to identify gaps, and 63% of them do that to validate their plans. Business continuity testing isn’t about pass or fail. It’s about continuous improvement by learning from findings uncovered in a live exercise.

Reasons to Test a BCP

A well-orchestrated test strategy helps protect the brand, its promise, and its value proposition. If your competitors had a poor test performance or made a critical mistake in a real-life situation with a client, your company can shine by demonstrating its reliability and advance its business forward.  

So, why test your BCP? 

Download our Checklist for Business Continuity Testing to get an actionable plan.

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Business Continuity Plan Maintenance: How To Review, Test and Update Your BCP

most basic business continuity plan testing

We've written before about how all organizations need to have a robust business continuity plan . A comprehensive BCP gives your business assurance that it can continue operations, even in the event of an unexpected incident or full-blown crisis.

Putting in place a plan is the first stage in this process, but far from the only on Business continuity plan review checklist . Business continuity plan maintenance, review and testing form equally vital steps in your business continuity strategy.

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Questions you should ask when scheduling bcp reviews and drills.

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Business continuity plan testing types, how to keep your business continuity plan current.

Maintain Confidence in Your BCP

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Kezia Farnham Diligent

Business Continuity Plan Template

Prepare for business disruption and disaster recovery.

most basic business continuity plan testing

Published 15 Feb 2023

What is a Business Continuity Plan Template?

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) template is a tool used by business continuity managers and IT teams to outline strategies for keeping businesses operational despite emergencies such as extreme weather events, building evacuations, power outages, etc. It identifies high business impact operational areas, assets, and recovery strategies with assigned personnel.

Download Free Template

Use this Business Continuity Plan (BCP) template as an outline for your business continuity plan that will critically assess all aspects of the business and make sure the emergency procedures and equipment are adequate. This business continuity template can help with ISO 22301 compliance and allow business continuity managers and consultants to:

Click on the Web or PDF report below to view the business continuity plan example.

most basic business continuity plan testing

bcp template

Business continuity templates can be used in any industry for IT disaster recovery, continuity of customer-facing operations, and backup of transport & logistics operations.

In this article

7 elements of business continuity planning, components of a bcp template with examples, faqs about bcp, how do you write a business continuity plan with safetyculture (formerly iauditor), featured business continuity plan templates.

business continuity planning

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, the economy took a massive hit. The need for a business continuity plan became more apparent to organizations. Business continuity planning enables businesses, small or large, to build a more resilient operation.

A Business Continuity Plan should include:

1. BCP Team

In the midst of a disaster or emergency, having a team or point person to go to will be essential. The BCP team will be responsible for planning and testing business continuity strategies. Background of each member in the BCP team can vary from organization managers or supervisors to specialists.

2. Business Impact Analysis

A business impact analysis (BIA) identifies, quantifies, and qualifies the impact of a loss, interruption, or disruption. Having a BIA will be essential in discovering risks that your business is exposed to and the potential disruptions that may occur.

3. Risk Mitigation

This element pertains to the strategies against the risks that were discovered during the BIA. Risk mitigation strategies may include putting up security and safety systems in the workplace, conducting preventive maintenance of vehicles, machines, equipment, or any asset vital to operations, and training of employees, among others.

4. Business Continuity Strategies

A good business continuity plan should establish strategies or alternate practices to keep the business running despite disruptions or disasters. An example of a continuity strategy that a lot of businesses had to implement during the pandemic was remote working or work-from-home. This enabled businesses to continue their operations and keep their employees safe from contracting COVID-19 in the workplace.

5. Business Continuity Plan

The business continuity plan is a combination of findings from the performed BIA and the recovery strategies established by the organization. A BCP plan typically includes 4 key components: scope & objectives, operations at risk, recovery strategy, and roles and responsibilities.

6. Training

All relevant personnel associated with the business continuity, disaster recovery, and incident response process should be trained according to the BCP plan that’s established and agreed upon.

In the testing phase, strategies and plans are being rehearsed or exercised to demonstrate its effectiveness. Testing the plan before rolling it out will enable the BCP team to discover potential flaws and fix them before they lead to damage or injury. It is recommended to review and test the plan periodically to ensure that all protocols and strategies are up-to-date.

sample business continuity plan template

Business Continuity Plan Template | Preview Sample PDF Report

BCP serves as a guide for organizations on creating an effective strategy for responding to potential business-disrupting events. Here are four key components of a BCP:

Scope & Objectives

States the purpose of the BCP, including specific business functions that should be prioritized for recovery during an emergency. This section should include examples of emergency events that would trigger the response of this BCP.

This BCP is to ensure the continuity of IT services and customer lines in the event of an unforeseen and prolonged power shutdown. Power disruption could be caused by emergency weather conditions or a building fire. Functional areas that are prioritized for recovery in this BCP include the customer support desk and finance team.

Operations at Risk

Includes possible risks with key operational functions which would greatly disrupt business and customer continuity. This also involves the magnitude of risk to each function, which will help the BCP committee decide on appropriate preventive actions.

Operation: Customer Support Operation Description: Customer support team looking after 24-hour global operations of live chat and customer calls for US, EMEA and APAC regions Business Impact: Critical Impact description: 100% of live chats go through the customer support team in Manila. 20% of live calls are routed to Manila office. A disruption would mean no more live chat support and customers experiencing significant wait times on calls Project timeline and team schedules

Recovery Strategy

Outlines all the relevant procedures to restore business operations after an incident or crisis. A good recovery strategy includes a realistic recovery timeline and essential emergency resources.

IT personnel and BCP committees should operate alternate backup programs and servers to help save customer requests after power outage. Customer support should be able to receive the requests and respond to customers within 30 minutes. IT Director should operate alternate server rooms in Area B if the power outage last more than an hour to prevent huge revenue loss.

Roles & Responsibilities

Refers to key personnel and their assigned tasks during or after an incident. Each committee member has a unique set of responsibilities to successfully carry out the BCP for each business function.

Representative: Jon Sims Role: Head of Operations Contact Details: [email protected] Description of Responsibilities: 1. Must ensure BCPs are updated and must coordinate with team leaders regarding changes 2. Helps notify key stakeholders in EMEA region of threats in Customer Support programs & tools

Business Continuity Planning (BCP) is important because it helps organizations protect their business amid a crisis or emergency. A business continuity plan contains instructions that will serve as a guide for the organization to maintain their operations.

A business continuity plan should be tested at least every 6 months to verify the BCP’s effectiveness. Frequent testing can also allow the discovery of gaps, and potential issues. This will help the organization update protocols and strategies accordingly.

BCP documents should be updated regularly. If any organizational changes have been made in terms of team structures and operational procedures, the BCP should be updated. A review will be conducted to check if information in the BCP is still reliable. .

Outdated BCPs might result in loss of customer trust, huge revenue loss, and damage to brand and company reputation. This is why it is crucial for BCPs to remain up-to-date.

Regular BCP audits are essential to help evaluate emergency procedures and identify if there are vulnerabilities. They also help realign emergency procedures to the ISO 22301 standard, business goals, and industry practices. Up-to-date and efficient BCPs help businesses effectively manage any unexpected event, prevent extra costs, and continuously develop their overall processes and key functions. Using a business continuity plan checklist can aid business continuity managers and IT teams to ensure comprehensive BCP audit reports.

SafetyCulture , the world’s leading digital form mobile software, can help businesses create and prepare a good business continuity plan more efficiently. Paper-based business continuity plan templates and Excel spreadsheets can be troublesome for management to keep and regularly update. With SafetyCulture as a business continuity software , businesses can switch to a paperless planning process where you can create your own templates, easily assess the accuracy of recovery procedures, and update your plans as needed in your mobile device. With SafetyCulture, you can:

To help you get started on your paperless planning, we have created the business continuity templates and checklists you can download and customize for free.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan Template (IT)

A business continuity and disaster recovery plan template is used to identify business functions at risk during an emergency and come up with a plan for continuous operation and recovery. This business continuity and disaster recovery plan template aims to help IT teams and business continuity managers become proactive in preparing for events that could disrupt operations and come up with strategies for disaster recovery. This template empowers you to:

Business Continuity Plan Checklist

Perform regular audits of your organization’s BCP with a business continuity plan checklist. Whether small or medium business, this checklist can be used to ensure BCPs are up to date and reflect current high impact operations. Review key operational functions outlined in the BCP including recovery strategies and relevant assigned resources. SafetyCulture (iAuditor) BCP templates can be edited to fit the organization’s needs.

Business Continuity Awareness Checklist

This template highlights the importance of employee awareness and employee knowledge of business continuity plans and business continuity processes. As a business continuity process template, this document helps:

most basic business continuity plan testing

SafetyCulture staff writer

Erick Brent Francisco

Erick Brent Francisco is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture since 2018. As a content specialist, he is interested in learning and sharing how technology can improve work processes and workplace safety. His experience in logistics, banking and financial services, and retail helps enrich the quality of information in his articles.

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Testing The Business Continuity Plan

Published on : 06 Aug 2020

Business Continuity Plan is a process of recovery and prevention systems for organizations to deal with an incident that could severely hamper business operations.  There is always a possibility that an organization’s critical business process comes to a standstill due to the impact of an unforeseen event that is beyond one’s control.  To deal with such incidents, it is best to be prepared for the worst. Organizations should have a recovery plan in place to ensure minimum impact or disruption of business operations and client servicing. However, simply creating a Business Continuity Plan will not protect one’s business. Organizations should have in place a solid BCP strategy that is not just well laid out but is also effective in implementation. So, once an organization develops a Business Continuity Plan it is crucial to test its effectiveness. Testing the Plan verifies the effectiveness of the strategy in place and trains responsible personnel for the real scenario. Moreover, the test helps identify areas of concern where the plan needs to be strengthened.

Objective of Testing a Business Continuity Plan

Testing of BCP strategy is not just about passing or failing, but ensuring there is constant improvement in the strategy implemented. Here are some reasons why running a strategic test is essential for an organization-

Without testing the plan, one may put their business and stakeholders at great risk. 

How often should the company test its BCP?

While there is no hard-and-fast rule for determining how often an organization should test their Business Continuity Plan , there are certain guidelines that must be followed to ensure its effectiveness. Reviewing established Business Continuity Plans like Disaster Recovery, Incident Recovery, and Risk Management programs depends on threat scenarios that your organization identifies as high-risk and anticipate its frequent occurrence. While the number of tests to be conducted depends on the industry background, size and complexity, available resources, and BCP maturity levels, it is recommended that the tests are conducted twice a year for critical processes but at least minimum once a year. In some cases, it may not be feasible or logical to perform some of the tests frequently, so we suggest organizations to base their decision on their needs. Moreover, if your organization undergoes major changes in its processes, systems, or plan details, you may have to consider testing the performance more frequently.

Testing your Business Continuity Plan 

Once the organization develops an initial version of the BCP, the entire team responsible should review the plan. All the members should examine the plan in detail and, attempt to identify inconsistencies or issues that may have been overlooked during the process of development. The reviewing process should involve higher-level management and department heads to analyze and discuss potential improvements, and ensure contact information and recovery contracts are in place. The team should at least conduct a review on a quarterly basis to ensure it is effective. The focus of the review should be on identifying weak areas and accordingly implement measures to strengthen it. 

Incorporating different testing methods

1.tabletop exercise/ test.

Tabletop Test is a scenario-based role-play exercise conducted with an intention to discuss concrete plans for managing a simulated emergency situation systematically. The basic objective of conducting this test is to ensure all personnel responsible for actionable measures are aware of the relevant process and procedures pertaining to the BCP. The test typically involves discussion of one or more disaster scenarios, during which the potential response and procedures will be reviewed, and ensure responsibilities outlined are appropriately handled by concerned authorities. This will help organizations identify shortcomings in their set process and will ensure improvement.  

2.Walk-Through Drill/Simulation Test:  

Walkthrough Drill/Simulation Test is a rather practical version of the tabletop exercise. The test goes beyond talking about the process and actually gets the team out to conduct the recovery process. So, while a Tabletop Test involves sitting around the table discussing plan details, the Walk-Through/Simulation Test involves the team responding to a pretend disaster as stated and act as directed by the BCP. This would include restoring backups, live testing of redundant systems, and implementing other relevant processes. The test will involve validation of response, processes, systems, and resource mobilization. 

3.Full Recovery Test: 

A Full Recovery Test involves a complete process of practically running up the backup systems and processing transactions or data, considering the simulation as a real-life disaster. It is a functional test that checks how quickly a system can recover after a crash or failure. The test conducted is to ensure that that live and backup systems can run in conjunction assuring hassle-free transitioning of operations to your backup systems in case of a sudden system failure or crash. Organizations should review the effectiveness of their system recovery every time they release or upgrade their systems. Ideally, organizations should conduct BCP drills at least once/twice a year, including recovery testing, to make sure everyone involved is aware of their roles and responsibilities, and ensure smooth functioning of critical business operations when there is a failure or disaster.

Involve Vendors

During the course of the BCP, testing organizations should ensure their critical vendor partners are included in the process as much as possible. This will not only facilitate accuracy in testing but also lets your organization get valuable feedback from vendors about the current organization’s Business Continuity Plan and testing process. It will also facilitate possible suggestions for improvement from the Vendor. 

Post Test Report

Finally, the organization should document the results of the tests conducted with actionable findings of those tests. This is the most important part of the BCP testing process. The document should also have recommendations detailing key actions/ measures to be taken for improvement and building resilience. It should also contain considerations for the next annual/six-monthly reviews of your Business Continuity Planning. 

Post-Test Actionable Measures

How can VISTA InfoSec help Organizations with BCP?

Organizations are constantly under the risk or threat of damage or disruption caused by an unforeseen event. Implementing actionable measures to prevent the impact of an unexpected incident is extremely challenging. So, to help organizations build an effective Business Continuity Plan and ensure it works, we at VISTA InfoSec offer Advisory services based on our years of industry experience and knowledge on various standards for Business Continuity Planning such as ISO 22301. VISTA InfoSec has been a part of the Information Security industry for the past 16 years. Knowing the in’s and out of the industry makes our team highly proficient and capable professionals to assist clients with their Business Continuity Plans. Our highly integrated solutions and advisory services help businesses develop a solid BCP that assure to stand to the test of times and help clients quickly recover from the incident. Our testing and training programs help create awareness and enable organizations to efficiently deal with the incident. Availing our BCP services includes- 

Prior to an Incident – Our team shall help organizations manage and develop emergency action plans, and provide training with supportive expert content for guidance. 

During an incident – In case of an incident occurring, our team shall help the organization recover faster by providing the necessary assistance in terms of implementing their Disaster recovery plan and incident management plan along with testing, office space, and suggesting immediate remediation.  

Post an Incident Occurrence – Our team will ensure quick recovery of your business in terms of making it fully operational and preparing them to withstand the impact. We offer complete support and guidance throughout the process and ensure minimum impact and least exposure to more vulnerabilities. 

Narendra Sahoo (PCI QPA, PCI QSA, PCI SSF ASSESSOR, CISSP, CISA, CRISC, 27001 LA) is the Founder and Director of VISTA InfoSec, a global Information Security Consulting firm, based in the US, Singapore & India. Mr. Sahoo holds more than 25 years of experience in the IT Industry, with expertise in Information Risk Consulting, Assessment, & Compliance services. VISTA InfoSec specializes in Information Security audit, consulting and certification services which include GDPR, HIPAA, CCPA, NESA, MAS-TRM, PCI DSS Compliance & Audit, PCI PIN, SOC2 Compliance & Audit, PDPA, PDPB to name a few. The company has for years (since 2004) worked with organizations across the globe to address the Regulatory and Information Security challenges in their industry. VISTA InfoSec has been instrumental in helping top multinational companies achieve compliance and secure their IT infrastructure.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The Bottom Line

What Is a Business Continuity Plan (BCP), and How Does It Work?

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Pete Rathburn is a copy editor and fact-checker with expertise in economics and personal finance and over twenty years of experience in the classroom.

most basic business continuity plan testing

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What Is a Business Continuity Plan (BCP)? 

A business continuity plan (BCP) is a system of prevention and recovery from potential threats to a company. The plan ensures that personnel and assets are protected and are able to function quickly in the event of a disaster.

Key Takeaways

Understanding Business Continuity Plans (BCPs)

BCP involves defining any and all risks that can affect the company's operations, making it an important part of the organization's risk management strategy. Risks may include natural disasters—fire, flood, or weather-related events—and cyber-attacks . Once the risks are identified, the plan should also include:

BCPs are an important part of any business. Threats and disruptions mean a loss of revenue and higher costs, which leads to a drop in profitability. And businesses can't rely on insurance alone because it doesn't cover all the costs and the customers who move to the competition. It is generally conceived in advance and involves input from key stakeholders and personnel.

Business impact analysis, recovery, organization, and training are all steps corporations need to follow when creating a Business Continuity Plan.

Benefits of a Business Continuity Plan

Businesses are prone to a host of disasters that vary in degree from minor to catastrophic. Business continuity planning is typically meant to help a company continue operating in the event of major disasters such as fires. BCPs are different from a disaster recovery plan, which focuses on the recovery of a company's IT system after a crisis.

Consider a finance company based in a major city. It may put a BCP in place by taking steps including backing up its computer and client files offsite. If something were to happen to the company's corporate office, its satellite offices would still have access to important information.

An important point to note is that BCP may not be as effective if a large portion of the population is affected, as in the case of a disease outbreak. Nonetheless, BCPs can improve risk management—preventing disruptions from spreading. They can also help mitigate downtime of networks or technology, saving the company money.

How to Create a Business Continuity Plan

There are several steps many companies must follow to develop a solid BCP. They include:

Companies may also find it useful to come up with a checklist that includes key details such as emergency contact information, a list of resources the continuity team may need, where backup data and other required information are housed or stored, and other important personnel.

Along with testing the continuity team, the company should also test the BCP itself. It should be tested several times to ensure it can be applied to many different risk scenarios . This will help identify any weaknesses in the plan which can then be identified and corrected.

In order for a business continuity plan to be successful, all employees—even those who aren't on the continuity team—must be aware of the plan.

Business Continuity Impact Analysis

An important part of developing a BCP is a business continuity impact analysis. It identifies the effects of disruption of business functions and processes. It also uses the information to make decisions about recovery priorities and strategies.

FEMA provides an operational and financial impact worksheet to help run a business continuity analysis. The worksheet should be completed by business function and process managers who are well acquainted with the business. These worksheets will summarize the following:

Completing the analysis can help companies identify and prioritize the processes that have the most impact on the business's financial and operational functions. The point at which they must be recovered is generally known as the “recovery time objective.”

Business Continuity Plan vs. Disaster Recovery Plan

BCPs and disaster recovery plans are similar in nature, the latter focuses on technology and information technology (IT) infrastructure. BCPs are more encompassing—focusing on the entire organization, such as customer service and supply chain. 

BCPs focus on reducing overall costs or losses, while disaster recovery plans look only at technology downtimes and related costs. Disaster recovery plans tend to involve only IT personnel—which create and manage the policy. However, BCPs tend to have more personnel trained on the potential processes. 

Why Is Business Continuity Plan (BCP) Important?

Businesses are prone to a host of disasters that vary in degree from minor to catastrophic and business continuity plans (BCPs) are an important part of any business. BCP is typically meant to help a company continue operating in the event of threats and disruptions. This could result in a loss of revenue and higher costs, which leads to a drop in profitability. And businesses can't rely on insurance alone because it doesn't cover all the costs and the customers who move to the competition.

What Should a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) Include?

Business continuity plans involve identifying any and all risks that can affect the company's operations. The plan should also determine how those risks will affect operations and implement safeguards and procedures to mitigate the risks. There should also be testing procedures to ensure these safeguards and procedures work. Finally, there should be a review process to make sure that the plan is up to date.

What Is Business Continuity Impact Analysis?

An important part of developing a BCP is a business continuity impact analysis which identifies the effects of disruption of business functions and processes. It also uses the information to make decisions about recovery priorities and strategies.

FEMA provides an operational and financial impact worksheet to help run a business continuity analysis.

These worksheets summarize the impacts—both financial and operational—that stem from the loss of individual business functions and processes. They also identify when the loss of a function or process would result in the identified business impacts.

Business continuity plans (BCPs) are created to help speed up the recovery of an organization filling a threat or disaster. The plan puts in place mechanisms and functions to allow personnel and assets to minimize company downtime. BCPs cover all organizational risks should a disaster happen, such as flood or fire.  

Federal Emergency Management Agency. " Business Process Analysis and Business Impact Analysis User Guide ," Pages 15 - 17. Accessed Sept. 5, 2021.

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How to create an effective business continuity plan

A business continuity plan outlines procedures and instructions an organization must follow in the face of disaster, whether fire, flood or cyberattack. Here's how to create one that gives your business the best chance of surviving such an event.

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We rarely get advance notice that a disaster is ready to strike. Even with some lead time, though, multiple things can go wrong; every incident is unique and unfolds in unexpected ways.

This is where a business continuity plan comes into play. To give your organization the best shot at success during a disaster, you need to put a current, tested plan in the hands of all personnel responsible for carrying out any part of that plan. The lack of a plan doesn’t just mean your organization will take longer than necessary to recover from an event or incident. You could go out of business for good.

What is business continuity?

Business continuity refers to maintaining business functions or quickly resuming them in the event of a major disruption, whether caused by a fire, flood or malicious attack by cybercriminals. A business continuity plan outlines procedures and instructions an organization must follow in the face of such disasters; it covers business processes, assets, human resources, business partners and more.

Many people think a disaster recovery plan is the same as a business continuity plan, but a disaster recovery plan focuses mainly on restoring an IT infrastructure and operations after a crisis. It’s actually just one part of a complete business continuity plan, as a business continuity plan looks at the continuity of the entire organization.

Do you have a way to get HR, manufacturing and sales and support functionally up and running so the company can continue to make money right after a disaster? For example, if the building that houses your customer service representatives is flattened by a tornado, do you know how those reps can handle customer calls? Will they work from home temporarily, or from an alternate location? The BC plan addresses these types of concerns.

Note that a business impact analysis is another part of a business continuity plan. A business impact analysis identifies the impact of a sudden loss of business functions, usually quantified in a cost. Such analysis also helps you evaluate whether you should outsource non-core activities in your business continuity plan, which can come with its own risks. The business impact analysis essentially helps you look at your entire organization’s processes and determine which are most important.

Why business continuity planning matters

Whether you operate a small business or a large corporation, you strive to remain competitive. It’s vital to retain current customers while increasing your customer base — and there’s no better test of your capability to do so than right after an adverse event.

Because restoring IT is critical for most companies, numerous disaster recovery solutions are available. You can rely on IT to implement those solutions. But what about the rest of your business functions? Your company’s future depends on your people and processes. Being able to handle any incident effectively can have a positive effect on your company’s reputation and market value, and it can increase customer confidence.

“There’s an increase in consumer and regulatory expectations for security today,” says Lorraine O’Donnell, global head of business continuity at Experian. “Organizations must understand the processes within the business and the impact of the loss of these processes over time. These losses can be financial, legal, reputational and regulatory. The risk of having an organization’s “license to operate” withdrawn by a regulator or having conditions applied (retrospectively or prospectively) can adversely affect market value and consumer confidence. Build your recovery strategy around the allowable downtime for these processes.”

Anatomy of a business continuity plan

If your organization doesn’t have a business continuity plan in place, start by assessing your business processes, determining which areas are vulnerable, and the potential losses if those processes go down for a day, a few days or a week. This is essentially a business impact analysis.

Next, develop a plan. This involves six general steps:

One common business continuity planning tool is a checklist that includes supplies and equipment, the location of data backups and backup sites, where the plan is available and who should have it, and contact information for emergency responders, key personnel and backup site providers.

Remember that the disaster recovery plan is part of the business continuity plan, so developing a disaster recovery plan if you don’t already have one should be part of your process. And if you do already have a disaster recovery plan, don’t assume that all requirements have been factored in, O’Donnell warns. You need to be sure that restoration time is defined and “make sure it aligns with business expectations.”

As you create your plan, consider interviewing key personnel in organizations who have gone through a disaster successfully. People generally like to share “war stories” and the steps and techniques (or clever ideas) that saved the day. Their insights could prove incredibly valuable in helping you to craft a solid plan.

The importance of testing your business continuity plan

Testing a plan is the only way to truly know it will work, says O’Donnell. “Obviously, a real incident is a true test and the best way to understand if something works. However, a controlled testing strategy is much more comfortable and provides an opportunity to identify gaps and improve.”

You have to rigorously test a plan to know if it’s complete and will fulfill its intended purpose. In fact, O’Donnell suggests you try to break it. “Don’t go for an easy scenario; always make it credible but challenging. This is the only way to improve. Also, ensure the objectives are measurable and stretching. Doing the minimum and ‘getting away with it’ just leads to a weak plan and no confidence in a real incident.”

Many organizations test a business continuity plan two to four times a year. The schedule depends on your type of organization, the amount of turnover of key personnel and the number of business processes and IT changes that have occurred since the last round of testing.

Common tests include tabletop exercises , structured walk-throughs and simulations. Test teams are usually composed of the recovery coordinator and members from each functional unit.

A tabletop exercise usually occurs in a conference room with the team poring over the plan, looking for gaps and ensuring that all business units are represented therein.

In a structured walk-through, each team member walks through his or her components of the plan in detail to identify weaknesses. Often, the team works through the test with a specific disaster in mind. Some organizations incorporate drills and disaster role-playing into the structured walk-through. Any weaknesses should be corrected and an updated plan distributed to all pertinent staff.

It’s also a good idea to conduct a full emergency evacuation drill at least once a year. This type of test lets you determine if you need to make special arrangements to evacuate staff members who have physical limitations.

Lastly, disaster simulation testing can be quite involved and should be performed annually. For this test, create an environment that simulates an actual disaster, with all the equipment, supplies and personnel (including business partners and vendors) who would be needed. The purpose of a simulation is to determine if you can carry out critical business functions during the event.

During each phase of business continuity plan testing, include some new employees on the test team. “Fresh eyes” might detect gaps or lapses of information that experienced team members could overlook.

Review and improve your business continuity plan

Much effort goes into creating and initially testing a business continuity plan. Once that job is complete, some organizations let the plan sit while other, more critical tasks get attention. When this happens, plans go stale and are of no use when needed.

Technology evolves, and people come and go, so the plan needs to be updated, too. Bring key personnel together at least annually to review the plan and discuss any areas that must be modified.

Prior to the review, solicit feedback from staff to incorporate into the plan. Ask all departments or business units to review the plan, including branch locations or other remote units. If you’ve had the misfortune of facing a disaster and had to put the plan into action, be sure to incorporate lessons learned. Many organizations conduct a review in tandem with a table-top exercise or structured walk-through.

How to ensure business continuity plan support, awareness

One way to ensure your plan is not successful is to adopt a casual attitude toward its importance. Every business continuity plan must be supported from the top down. That means senior management must be represented when creating and updating the plan; no one can delegate that responsibility to subordinates. In addition, the plan is likely to remain fresh and viable if senior management makes it a priority by dedicating time for adequate review and testing.

Management is also key to promoting user awareness. If employees don’t know about the plan, how will they be able to react appropriately when every minute counts? Although plan distribution and training can be conducted by business unit managers or HR staff, have someone from the top kick off training and punctuate its significance. It’ll have a greater impact on all employees, giving the plan more credibility and urgency.

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Business Continuity Plan: A Complete Guide

Business Continuity Plan: A Complete Guide

Featured Bonus Content: Get The Checklist For Business Continuity Planning And Implementation for FREE! Click Here To Download It.

Unplanned downtime costs business enterprises billions of dollars annually. According to IDC , infrastructure failure can cost a large company an average of $100,000 per hour. 

However, critical application failure can ramp up the amount to between $500,000 and $1 million every hour. While your costs may not be on this scale, unplanned downtime costs time and money for every business, no matter what the size.

Most enterprises have realized that to remain afloat and thrive despite the numerous potential threats calls for the creation of effective and reliable infrastructure. This essentially means infrastructure that supports growth while protecting company data and critical applications.

Unexpected events and situations test your company’s capabilities and competitiveness. If your business can manage crises effectively, it will not only survive, but its reputation and market value will soar. A business continuity plan is the key to making this a reality.

Chapter 1: What is a Business Continuity Plan?

Chapter 2: benefits of a business continuity plan, chapter 3: what are the main business continuity plan goals, chapter 4: what major business threats do business continuity plans mitigate, chapter 5: features of a business continuity plan, chapter 6: effective business continuity tools, chapter 7: how to create a business continuity plan that works, chapter 8: common challenges faced when creating and implementing business continuity plans, chapter 9: smoothen your business continuity planning and implementation with sweetprocess.

What is a Business Continuity Plan?

A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that details how company operations will continue after an unforeseen service disruption. When carried out effectively, the plan enables an organization to respond swiftly and efficiently when unpredictable events occur.

This comprehensive plan contains contingencies for every aspect of the business that the disruption might impact. They include developing alternative business processes, protecting assets, improving human resources, and safeguarding business partners. 

The BCP creates a system designed to help businesses prevent and recover from potential threats. It ensures that personnel and company assets remain safe and capable of functioning quickly during a disaster.

The business continuity plan: 

Here is a short video explaining what business continuity planning is all about:

Why a Business Continuity Plan is Important

Any business can suffer from disasters of varying magnitudes, from a minor breakdown to a catastrophic cyber attack. Thus, business continuity plans are crucial in allowing a company to continue operating despite threats and disruptions that could result in revenue loss, higher costs, and low profitability.

Failure to plan can spell disaster for your business. Not only can it cost you loyal clients, but your company might fail to recover from a disaster. Having an established BCP assists in reducing downtime, which helps attain sustainable improvements in business continuity, resiliency, security, crisis management, disaster recovery, and regulatory compliance.

In addition, a good BCP integrates all the key aspects of your business. As such, it:

The Difference Between a Business Continuity Plan and a Disaster Recovery Plan

A disaster recovery plan forms a crucial part of the business continuity plan. It’s one of the integral steps necessary in safeguarding a business against contingencies. Hence, it contains strategies for managing disruptions to IT infrastructure like servers, networks, computers, and mobile devices. 

The key difference between the two plans is that a BCP focuses on keeping your business open and operational during unfavorable circumstances. Conversely, disaster recovery aims to restore full functionality (data access and IT infrastructure) as soon as possible after a disaster.

An effective disaster recovery plan should include how to re-establish employee productivity and the systems and processes necessary to meet key business needs. As such, it needs to outline manual workarounds so that normal operations can continue until regular computer systems get reinstated.

Other types of BCPs include crisis management plans, crisis communication plans, and emergency response plans. 

Business Continuity Plan Misconceptions

It seems fairly obvious that all businesses should have workable continuity plans. However, the reality is that several misconceptions hamper business continuity planning by generating confusion that could limit a plan’s effectiveness. Some of the most common misconstructions include the following: 

1. The company is insured.

Many business owners believe that as long as they have insurance, they are covered in case of any losses. While this is true to some extent, insurance alone is not enough as a business continuity strategy. Proper insurance coverage forms an essential part of a BCP, but it cannot cover everything, such as loss of market share, customers, or delays in launching new products. 

2. We have a disaster recovery plan. 

A disaster recovery plan and BCP are not synonymous. The former is reactive, responding after an event has occurred. It forms part of a BCP and handles the safety and restoration of critical personnel and operational procedures after a disastrous occurrence. 

On the contrary, a BCP is a proactive plan designed to prevent and alleviate risks resulting from disrupted business operations. It details the exact steps to be undertaken before, during, and after the event to maintain the organization in a financially viable position.

3. We have no time to create a continuity plan.

This perspective is wrong. Any time you spend creating and maintaining a BCP is time spent investing in your business. In the event of an interruption, your business will continue incurring fixed costs even if you are not open for business. 

Therefore, the sooner you can resume normal operations, the faster you can have a successful recovery. Simply put, your business cannot afford to not have a BCP.

4. Our employees already know what to do in an emergency.

When disaster strikes, even the best employees might not know what to do. Without a system, each would respond in their own way, adding more confusion. Besides, relying on them to make correct decisions during an emergency is extremely risky because they have limited or no time to think or collaborate with colleagues. 

Following a well-documented BCP ensures that all employees are trained to follow a safe, systematic, and timely recovery. In addition, identifying critical functions beforehand enables you to build a better plan before a crisis. You’ll also be able to execute it better during a crisis. 

BCP plans should ideally assign particular recovery activities to specific employees, who then receive training on the required procedures. Expecting all personnel to learn every step in the BCP could again create chaos during a crisis. 

5. Testing a business continuity plan is unnecessary.

You need to test your business continuity plan to make certain it has no weaknesses, so check for flaws and missing steps. Besides, without regular testing, you cannot tell whether it will work when the need arises. Some might argue that testing is challenging and costly. However, a BCP that’s hard to understand or implement is already a source of concern. 

An ideal continuity plan should have clear recovery steps for each particular operation. Such a plan is easy to test, and this should be undertaken two to four times annually, depending on the amendments to the BCP or turnover on key roles.

BCPs should be an integral part of standard business operations. To maximize your continuity plans and eliminate any misconceptions, involve all your employees and ensure you cover every business aspect.

Benefits of a Business Continuity Plan

Modern businesses are increasingly aware of their vulnerability to business continuity threats. Today’s threats take many forms, ranging from crippling cyber-attacks, natural disasters, and malicious damage to accidents and unintended consequences brought on by hyper-convergence. 

These vulnerabilities require a proactive approach that can offer ample protection plus a strategy to withstand disruptive incidents, such as provided by a BCP. The plans typically include ways to defend against those risks, protect critical applications and data, and recover from security breaches in a controlled, measured manner.

Below are the many benefits of having a business continuity plan :

Let us explore some of these benefits briefly:

It Saves You Money 

A business that stays closed is bound to suffer revenue loss. The longer the interruption, the more substantial the losses become. Besides, missed supply deadlines and failure to honor service level agreements (SLAs) can translate to extra fees or fines for non-compliance with regulations.

Fortunately, when your business continues running during and after a disaster, you get to save money and mitigate financial risks. Note that small businesses can also incur heavy losses after an unexpected downtime, where one hour can cost a minimum of $100,000, according to a 2019 ITIC survey .   

Ensures Safety of all Stakeholders

A BCP can help keep employees and customers safe. It allows your business to continue running in the midst of a crisis while ensuring the environment is safe for both workers and clients. You will also have an uninterrupted flow of information going out to all stakeholders.

Training staff on how to respond in case of an accident or how to implement evacuation procedures also keeps everyone safe during a disaster. To prevent serious or fatal injuries, your company should have a way of sending out alerts during emergencies. Colleagues need to be able to check in too, confirming they are safe. 

A fall-back plan is invaluable as it eliminates distractions that arise during emergencies. People worry about their safety and that of other colleagues and friends, leading to anxiety and a lack of focus.

Boosts Your Brand’s Reputation

A company that’s well-prepared to handle unexpected disruptions has no fear of appearing incompetent, bungling over what steps to take, or miscommunicating during a crisis. A BCP helps ensure a smooth recovery while safeguarding your brand value and the stellar reputation you’ve built over time. Furthermore, how your business responds to a crisis can affect its reputation for years.

But that’s not all. Business continuity also provides your company with a competitive edge. This is because businesses that pursue business continuity are among the first to get back on their feet after an unfortunate event.  

Smoothens Business Operations

A business continuity plan offers you a blueprint that makes it easier to execute business operations, increasing your chances for success. Additionally, it helps to ensure your company continues functioning smoothly after a disaster. 

Workers receive access to files, applications, and any other resources they might need, and the firm continues providing products or services, thereby reducing or eliminating downtime.

Also, a strong continuity system identifies and trains crisis response managers, ensuring people are equipped to take charge and assign tasks to the team.

Builds Customer Trust

Being transparent about ongoing business continuity efforts communicates powerfully to your customers. It informs them that their needs are important, and you are putting things in place to ensure you are always available, always there for them. 

Showing such high commitment to business continuity helps build confidence amongst both clients and business partners. Customers are assured of continued access to your services. 

Helps You Comply With Regulatory Requirements

Having an emergency action plan (EAP) is a standard business requirement. Your business can find itself playing host to auditors at any time with non-compliance resulting in a hefty fine.

Adopting a system of business continuity standards helps your business become compliant with industry regulations. Compliance also provides your stakeholders with proof that you’re running the business responsibly.

Gives You Valuable Business Information 

Since business continuity planning entails putting your business under a microscope, the process helps you better understand your business processes. 

Business continuity activities help produce lots of valuable company data on business operations, such as critical business units and crucial tasks, giving you a rough idea of the financial impact of a disruption.

With this information, you can focus resources on critical functions and find solutions to operational inefficiencies, thereby improving your processes and making your company more resilient. You can also use the data to plan strategic activities that propel your business forward. 

What Are the Main Business Continuity Plan Goals?

The first step in business continuity planning should be to identify your objectives. These provide a guideline for what the plan aims to accomplish. They pinpoint the areas that need to be addressed during the document’s creation, giving all stakeholders a clearer picture of the plan’s scope and purpose. 

The primary goal of having a business continuity plan is to enable a company to continue supporting critical functions during a crisis while minimizing revenue losses. This allows the enterprise to run on limited resources or restricted access to the physical office while pushing to resume normal operations as soon as possible.  

Here are the most common goals of a business continuity plan :

Let us explore these goals a little further:

Guide Recovery Teams 

Offering guidance to recovery teams is a fundamental goal of the BCP. This is not a document to be left gathering dust. Instead, the BCP template should provide step-by-step instructions for your recovery teams during an actual emergency, disruption, or disaster.  

Assess Risks

Another key aim of creating a BCP is to establish the potential threats to your business operations. Your plan should also outline the various disasters that could disrupt the business, leading to downtime.    

Analyze Potential Impact of Disruption 

A business impact analysis helps a company project the potential impact a disruption would have on daily operations. This captures the financial impact on the organization too, in terms of operational losses. The information received helps the business continuity planning team determine restoration timelines and prioritize the order of events.

Reveal Prioritized Emergency Communications

Business continuity planning enables your company to have ready answers to pertinent questions during an emergency. These include queries such as who informs personnel, communicates with customers, or talks to media people. It also means that recovery teams understand and appreciate their roles regarding all emergency communications.

Identify Disaster Recovery Teams

Identifying and assigning a business continuity team is essential to your continuity plan’s success. The team is tasked with coordinating and implementing the plan. The plan should contain information on the team members, their contact details, show the management structure, and detail the roles to be played by each team member.

Give Step-by-Step Recovery Procedures

Your BCP will offer the exact steps to be followed in the recovery process. In the event of a disaster, your employees are unlikely to remember exactly what they need to do. While the disaster recovery team might have a general idea, having the document on hand will ensure that the team follows the precise protocols.

Show Where Specific Critical Assets and Data Are

A crucial goal of an IT BCP is to locate the storage point of critical data, backup resources like workstations or devices, plus other company assets. This ensures the recovery teams can commence recovery procedures without any confusion, even without key IT personnel.  

The team also needs to identify where to move operations, how to do that, and the resources to employ. Your plan will also contain information on backup office space, if any, or how to secure one on short notice. 

Pinpoint Weaknesses and Suggest Solutions

The BCP is a dynamic document that requires regular evaluation to address any weaknesses or loopholes. Since business continuity planning is an ongoing process, regular reviews allow for assessing any new risks. During the evaluation, pinpoint any scenarios that would expose operations to threats and suggest workable solutions to immediately address the situation.

Point out Preventative Measures

A BCP helps reassure all stakeholders that the company is doing all it can to prevent potential disruptions. To this end, it describes the tools, technologies, and protocols already established to ward off or alleviate the effects of an unfavorable occurrence. 

What Major Business Threats do Business Continuity Plans Mitigate?

Businesses the world over are grappling with numerous threats that target their day-to-day operations . While some of the threats are natural and beyond human control, others are accidental, and a few are intentional, resulting from malicious attacks.

Being in the know about possible threats to your business continuity is key to creating a comprehensive business continuity plan that can effectively mitigate the threats. Also, knowing the current trends can help you monitor, identify likely threats, and prepare better for any eventuality. 

Below are some of the top business threats in today’s business environment:

Let’s examine some of the key threats:

Natural Calamities

Losing access to your business premises because of a fire or flood means losing your entire company data. That is, if you have no cloud storage or if your disaster recovery strategies are not as efficient as required. Keeping an off-site copy of critical business data means that your employees continue working uninterrupted in the unfortunate event of a natural calamity.

Cyber Attacks and Data Breaches

Cyber attacks and data breaches take many forms, including ransomware, malware, phishing attacks, or an attack targeting network security vulnerabilities. All companies are vulnerable to such attacks, as shown by the recent attack on Goggle . Your BCP should offer security guidelines on how to prevent and cope with a cyber attack. 

Disease Outbreaks and Pandemics 

Widespread lockdowns over the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic have brought into sharp focus the need for businesses to remain open and operational at all times.

Deliberate Sabotage

Burglary or vandalism aimed at disrupting your business poses a substantial risk to on-site data. This is not restricted to your office premises, though, as it can occur wherever your employees work from—public places or at home. Deliberate sabotage could also take the form of data breaches through hacking. Customers’ data could be at risk here, leading to reputational damage in the event of a severe breach.

Critical Utility Outages 

Power, water, communication, and internet outages can cause significant disruptions. Some could result from human error, deliberate action, or inadequate planning. Regional power outages can be quite devastating since they can cause a total loss of essential services. This will, in turn, affect your ability to function or implement recovery strategies as most depend on the internet. 

Political Change or Unrest

Political change or unrest can cause major disruptions to businesses. For instance, political change in the UK due to Brexit means that businesses need to plan how to deal with the repercussions of the UK leaving the EU.

Supply Chain Disruption

Many organizations that rely on digital applications for critical business processes lack viable backup solutions, while others rely on a single vendor or supplier. As a result, disruptions can cause severe adverse impacts on effective business processing, leading to costly losses.  

Lack of Key Skills

Having improperly trained personnel means that you lack specialized people to perform critical tasks during an emergency. If the people assigned to carry out specific duties are also not trained sufficiently, this can only worsen the situation.  

Features of a Business Continuity Plan

Merely having a business continuity plan is not enough. An effective plan must restore regular operations as soon as possible. Every minute lost to downtime translates to revenue loss, unhappy customers who might shift to the competition, negative brand impact, and lost productivity, among others. 

There are several critical components without which a BCP might fail to achieve a successful recovery after an unplanned disruption. So, what elements should characterize an ideal business continuity plan? 

They include:

Let’s unpack some key features next: 

Purpose and Scope

Defining the purpose and scope of your plan is the first step in creating a BCP plan. Large organizations consist of several subsidiaries, and each might have different needs. You can choose to have a BCP covering each location or create one that focuses on a specific portion of the business.

Impact Analysis, Risk Assessment, and Mitigation 

These processes involve identifying, appreciating, and assessing the risks that might affect your organization’s operations, such as natural disasters, cyber threats, and outages. They also identify how to cushion yourself against the likely after-effects such as financial loss, property damage, business interruption, or penalties.

Raising staff awareness about your BCP is important in helping them to appreciate their role in responding to disasters. Regular training sessions are therefore necessary, while staff inductions should include lessons on business continuity. The training can enhance overall company resilience.

Once your BCP is complete, you need to test it regularly. Routine testing helps you ascertain whether the plan adequately suits your needs, identify loopholes, improve processes, anticipate changes, and carry out necessary updates. It entails tabletop testing, walkthroughs, emergency enactments, and practice crisis communication, allowing you to see how personnel react in stressful conditions.

Contact Information 

This is the contact details of all stakeholders, key personnel and backup, service providers, emergency responders, backup site operators, and facility managers. 

Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

You need to include SLAs in your BCP. This is because some applications or processes might have a low tolerance for data loss. Examples include:

Identification of Critical Functions

This process helps to reveal the systems and processes that are crucial in maintaining and keeping the business afloat during an unexpected disruption. They are also the kind of processes that would deliver the most harm to the business overall in terms of revenue loss, dented reputation, or the company’s ability to operate.

Therefore, you might want first to establish your company’s primary priorities and focus your recovery efforts there. These may include information security, core functions, data protection, and access management.

Effective Business Continuity Tools

As we have seen, businesses contend with a wide array of threats that can bring their operations to a halt at a moment’s notice. Consequently, companies need to prepare for any eventuality by acquiring effective business continuity tools that can lessen disruption, enabling them to sustain operations despite the interruption. 

That said, it’s essential to get proper tools, as this facilitates efficient execution of your plan and allows for a swift and organized response in a crisis. Proper tools also ensure you keep communicating and operating without interruptions or losing vital data. In other words, business continuity tools are complementary software for your BCP. 

To help you identify the best tools for your business, here’s a list of essential business continuity tools to implement alongside your BCP:

Here’s a breakdown of the business continuity tools:

Communication Software

Effective communication is vital in maintaining operational stability. As such, you need to perform regular tests on your company’s crisis communication systems to determine whether there are any issues. 

Streamline your communication by using tools that facilitate internal and external communication. You need secure and direct messaging to personnel, recovery teams, shareholders, and suppliers to promote trust and maintain control of assets. Ideal tools here include Convene App and Flock .

Mass communication tools like Crises Control or InformaCast are also suitable for emergencies. They are excellent for alerting all concerned parties about an emergency speedily and efficiently.

Business Continuity Plan Creation Tools

There are tools designed specifically to build data-based BCPs. Such one-stop-shop preparatory solutions help you develop comprehensive plans that streamline the process of company data collection and evaluation. 

The tools assist in analyzing data, identifying risks, testing, and administrative activities, making it easier for you to manage your business continuity program. Examples include Orbit4BC and ResilienceONE .

Tools to Help With Documentation 

You can create your BCP on word processing software like Microsoft Word. Swift and secure access to the BCP in an emergency is a major consideration and Dropbox or Google Docs are cloud-based solutions that can help make this possible. 

However, a better solution is to go for a robust tool that allows you to build an easy-to-read document that’s customizable to your company’s needs. An excellent tool here is SweetProcess .

Backup Tools

Backup solutions allow data storage in off-site locations, facilitating business continuity. They provide data protection, replication, access, recovery, migration, automatic backups, and information management. 

They also enable virtual storage, optimize efficiency across networks and allow for the continuous availability of key data, ensuring business continuity. Good examples include Altaro VM Backup and Unitrends .

Software for Internal Auditing

One way to make your business continuity planning effective is to evaluate your assets thoroughly. This helps to uncover any vulnerabilities, pain points, and irregularities in the infrastructure.

The goal of carrying out an internal audit of your BCP is to assess its scope. The audit also evaluates how outlined procedures can safeguard the company in a crisis. You can perform the internal audit manually by evaluating the processes and confirming their relevance. However, for a more comprehensive audit, opt for specialist BCP auditing applications like Onspring and Open-AudIT .

Disaster Recovery Tools

Safeguarding IT assets during a disaster is fundamental to any viable business continuity program. This might entail data recovery, data backup, infrastructure reinstallation, or creating a cloud environment that simulates corporate assets to provide essential services. 

Disaster recovery tools focus on mitigating interruptions on IT infrastructure. They help restore crucial systems quickly, enabling your company to resume core operations while minimizing losses. Recommended tools include Azure Site Recovery and Ekco Protect .

Physical Tools

These too can alleviate the effects of certain disasters, thus promoting business continuity. Fire suppression tools like extinguishers and fire exits help safeguard computer equipment and data from fire while backup power sources support companies through power outages.

Other Tools  

These include:

Business continuity tools are meant to make your business continuity program more efficient. Put simply, they are not a fix for a poorly-designed BCP. When selecting your tool, always start by identifying your need, i.e., documentation or data recovery, then look for the tool that best addresses it.

How to Create a Business Continuity Plan That Works

Creating an effective BCP is no walk in the park. It needs to be a well-thought-out document given its critical role in running a resilient business. Here are the steps you need to take: 

Determine Your Approach 

Decide how your company plans to manage its response to disruptions, the plan’s coverage, and the type of plans to use depending on your firm’s size and complexity.

Build a Team

Create a core team tasked with preparing the BCP and training the support team. Pick key staff in IT, security, finance, and communications. Have a contact list detailing the names, titles, and contact details of the key people in the BCP. Finally, clearly outline their roles and responsibilities so everyone understands what’s expected of them in a crisis and establish proper communication channels.

Gather the Necessary Information

This involves getting all the information necessary to perform the next step—risk analysis. Use your team here to get as much information as possible.

Do a Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

Business impact analysis helps you pinpoint threats to your operations, staff, financial well-being, and reputation. It allows you to determine and prioritize processes bearing the highest impact on the company’s finances and operations. Determine what activities need immediate resumption, the timelines, performance level, and resources needed. 

Conduct a Gap Analysis to Identify the Resources Needed

Your BIA might have uncovered the variance between the resources at hand and what is required for recovery. Conducting a gap analysis establishes the gap between current resources and recovery requirements, recovery options, and the strategies agreed upon. After the analysis, you can investigate and execute recovery strategies.

Point Out Your Brand’s Critical Functions

Your company’s critical functions help to maintain essential services during a crisis. You want to prioritize them by starting your recovery efforts here. They might include data protection, access management, order fulfillment, inventory management, customer service, and e-commerce platform functionality.

Assess Risk and Consider Mitigation Strategies

Evaluate the risks that pose the highest threat to your organization and brainstorm potential mitigation strategies. Mitigation activities should aim at reducing the severity of an interruption and should address emergency response, resource management, staff communications, and public relations.

Establish a Business Continuity Process

The BIA results will inform the business continuity requirements. The continuity process covers prevention, response, and recovery strategies. It entails identifying backup suppliers, establishing safety protocols, alternate work locations, work-at-home strategies, outsourcing, and the use of manual working procedures.

Create the Plan Structure

Start by collecting all the information required to respond to an interruption, then write down step-by-step procedures. These are the tasks and processes that staff must perform to keep your business in operation. Create a simple plan outlining the minimum resources necessary for business continuance, potential relocation sites, and the staff and resources required to achieve this.

Implement and Train

Once your plan is ready, implement it. Conduct training for the planning team to familiarize themselves with their roles and obligations and for the rest of the staff to learn what to do in an emergency.

Test and Optimize Frequently

Testing your BCP is essential as it enables you to validate it as well as identify gaps. Continuous improvement happens when you establish your findings via a live exercise then act upon them. Conduct annual tests and exercises or after a significant change to ensure relevant, complete, and accurate procedures.

Common Challenges Faced When Creating and Implementing Business Continuity Plans

A BCP is an invaluable document in protecting your company and minimizing disruptions. Unfortunately, it’s not very easy to develop one due to the many challenges encountered. One way to overcome the obstacles is to appreciate their existence, then formulate strategies to resolve them. Here is a list of the most common challenges.

The process can be highly complex

Creating a BCP can seem overwhelming, especially in a large organization with complex systems and processes. As the business owner, you need to create individual plans for subsidiaries in different locations or a plan that addresses the entire organization. Planners also need to be familiar with basic business continuity planning concepts.

Planning and implementation can be expensive

This is because you need to avail resources that are necessary but not currently available, or hire a consultant to assist. Implementation also entails buying business continuity solutions and templates , which tend to be pricey.

Poor staff involvement may slow down the process

All staff need to have a fair understanding of the BCP. To ensure their commitment, involve them in the planning process and provide training. This will inform them what they need to do in a crisis.

Lack of executive support can be a critical issue

If management is not keen to invest in a BCP, you might not get the resources you need to craft a concrete plan. To get their buy-in, tell them the benefits of having one and the potential damage that lack of a BCP can cause. You can use real case studies.

Insufficient technology can make the plan ineffective

A BCP relates, to a large extent, to technical issues like technology failure, data loss, and communication breakdown. Resolving these challenges requires specific tools and the budget to acquire the same. Try to get comprehensive tools that cover more than one function or process to maximize your technology.

Not routinely testing, even after top-notch planning, can reduce impact

Routine testing using different scenarios helps you determine your BCP’s viability, identify inherent weaknesses and areas for improvement.

Lack of constant training reduces the long-term effect

Constant training is necessary as the BCP keeps changing with new updates or new threats arise. Besides, new employees need to be put on board with the program.  

Reliance on outdated templates can hinder the ability to mitigate new threats

Templates make creating a BCP easier, but they must add value and be customizable to the organization. Otherwise, the plan will be riddled with irrelevant material; hence, it might be hard to read and not actionable. Any tool used should not dictate what’s to be included in the program. Rather, it should complement the BCP.

A plan that’s too generic may not work for your business

This happens when planners fail to incorporate existing strategies well or are unaware of them. Every business is unique, so create a plan that suits your company’s specific circumstances in terms of the business environment, potential threats, and critical business operations.

Lack of focus can hinder the creation process

A BCP can lose focus and become ineffective if recovery requirements are poorly defined. The plan should describe the recovery process clearly, the people involved, recovery performance levels, and how to operate during recovery.

Creating a plan for the wrong audience may decrease efficiency

Assigning the task of documenting the BCP or delegating business continuity activities to unqualified people is the root of this challenge. The core planning team should have experienced team leaders, key staff in each department, and subject matter experts to guide the process.

Smoothen Your Business Continuity Planning and Implementation With SweetProcess

Are you wondering how you can smoothen your business continuity planning and implementation? Look no further. SweetProcess is an invaluable tool that can take the headache out of developing and implementing your BCP. Read the below case studies to get an idea of what SweetProccess can do.

How Streamlining Business Operations Helped Create a Safer Environment Post-COVID Shutdown 

Dr. Olesya Salathe, dentist, and Alex Jacks, office manager, proprietors of The Dentist Off Main , had a passion for providing excellent dental services to their patients but encountered one problem. With COVID-19, the duo needed to ensure the clinic offered maximum safety . They desired to streamline their business operations, but using Word documents wasn’t helpful. 

Thankfully, they discovered SweetProcess, which enabled them to operate safely post COVID restrictions and boosted their staff’s efficiency. It helped create effective documentation for patient care, eased employee training and onboarding, and created an accessible knowledge base.

Dr. Olesya’s recommendation? Find key team members on your team. “You can’t do it alone. You can start identifying the most problems and start with that process first.”

Texas DFPS Streamlines Its Operations to Process 40,000+ Requests Annually

Justin Compton, manager II, and Heather MacLean, management analyst II, from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services , process 40,000+ record requests annually. 

The sheer volumes demand accurate documentation, but after trying different basic workflow software, it was clear their work required a more effective system like SweetProcess. This system eliminated complexity, streamlined operations, and simplified workflow, making the agency more efficient. Heather confesses:;

“I really like SweetProcess because it lets you build a process machine. It lets you plug everything in so that it’s all cohesive and yet independent.”

The key challenge was the information was kept in different places, making access difficult and complex. Also, updating the manuals was cumbersome and took too long, a major setback for an agency required to make quick decisions on custody or childcare. SweetProcess sorted all that. It also made employee training easier and created a remotely accessible knowledge base with controlled access.

Atlantic Sapphire Transfers Operational Knowledge Between Facilities by Documenting Business Processes

Stanley Kolosovskiy’s job as technology process coordinator was to ensure that Atlantic Sapphire’s business operations were optimized. But despite his IT background, he struggled to use the existing software to create an effective workflow system for his colleagues and boost their performance.

The Denmark-based salmon-farming company was opposed to environmental pollution resulting from air freighting salmon in non-sustainable packaging, preferring to distribute them by road transportation instead. 

However, producing salmon locally and sustainably meant strict adherence to operational procedures. The employees needed standard operating procedures to guide them in performing tasks. Stanley sourced a better alternative and found SweetProcess, a more intuitive, easy-to-use software that fostered an eco-friendly environment, expediting their move to the United States.

SweetProcess streamlined process documentation, made employee onboarding straightforward, and decentralized the company’s knowledge base. Stanley was pleased. 

“I just want to implement more SweetProcess everywhere because this means everybody knows what’s going on. Everybody has the right training…incorporating data collection…and being able to get more reports out of the data that’s collected.”

You too can streamline your procedures, making it easier to resume normal operations after an interruption. Sign up for the SweetProcess free trial and experience how it works. No credit card required! 

Conclusion: Create the Shield Your Business Needs to Survive for Generations 

Today’s businesses boast digitally interconnected networks that demand uninterrupted connectivity to run operations. This means that whenever connectivity gets disrupted, business halts. This state of affairs is both expensive and unsustainable. It can also cost you your business since availability, reliability, and strong security are all key in running a successful business.

Fortunately, SweetProcess can help keep your business open during and after a crisis by ensuring all critical processes keep running. Join the free trial (no credit card required) and see the impact SweetProcess can make. Don’t leave without downloading the free Business Continuity Planning and Implementation Checklist below!

Get The Checklist For Business Continuity Planning And Implementation for FREE!

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What is Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery ?

As the use of IT as a key business enabler continues to propel businesses to serve the global markets, the need to be prepared to manage any major disasters or downtime becomes increasing relevant and important. Recent reports indicate that a significant proportion of businesses do not have proper plans in place and hence are putting their brands, services and customers at risk.

A Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Plan – sometimes referred to as Business Process Contingency Plan (BPCP) – describes how an organization is to deal with potential disasters. Just as a disaster is an event that makes the continuation of normal functions impossible, a disaster recovery plan consists of the precautions taken so that the effects of a disaster will be minimized, and the organization will be able to either maintain or quickly resume mission-critical functions.

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Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

most basic business continuity plan testing

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most basic business continuity plan testing

most basic business continuity plan testing

Testing your business continuity plan

Trouble ahead

Relevant factors such as your business’s resources, location, suppliers, customers, and employees must be carefully analyzed before a business continuity plan can be formed. It is also necessary to test the plan and check whether it’s working or not. Here are some proven methods to test your continuity plan’s efficiency.

Review the BCP

You have a business continuity plan ready with all the necessary information, contingency locations, personnel, contacts and service companies. The question is can you really pull it off? Have the plan reviewed regularly, or at least quarterly. Gather a team of individuals, heads of departments and managers to discuss the plan. Focus on the business continuity plan’s feasibility and pinpoint any areas where it might be strengthened.

Determine time and duration to test the plan

You should decide how often you test your business continuity plan, and for how long. Even if you have a solid plan in place, it’s still wise to review it again after a few months. Come up with a schedule for testing the plan and share it with employees. Testing time may take anywhere from one day to two weeks. However, it can also take as little as three hours to determine the effectiveness of the plan by monitoring employees’ responses and decision-making abilities, based on the guidelines of the business continuity plan.

Outline objectives to employees

Most business continuity plans fail because they have never been properly relayed to employees. Emphasizing the plan’s importance to your business and demonstrating it to employees are crucial. You need to outline objectives for the business continuity test to your employees, informing them how you plan to measure its success and failure, so that they get a general idea of their roles and your expectations.

Create a scenario

Create a fake scenario that affects your business – whether it’s setting off fire alarms or announcing another disaster. Employees should act as though the scenario is genuine, and refer to their duties in the business continuity plan, going through it step by step. Monitor the time it takes to get everything under control, from contacting customers to checking business resources and temporary meeting locations.

After the business continuity plan is put to test, gather your employees to discuss the plan’s overall performance. Identify where it needs improvement and encourage the parts that worked best. Make changes to key persons and actions where necessary, to ensure that the continuity plan is working at its best.

Having a business continuity plan is good, but testing it regularly is equally important. Contact us today and see how we can help you cope with unexpected disasters.

most basic business continuity plan testing

What is business continuity and why is it important?

Business continuity is an organization's ability to maintain essential functions during and after a disaster has occurred. Business continuity planning establishes  risk management processes and procedures that aim to prevent interruptions to  mission-critical services , and reestablish full function to the organization as quickly and smoothly as possible.

The most basic business continuity requirement is to keep essential functions up and running during a disaster and to recover with as little downtime as possible. A  business continuity plan considers various unpredictable events, such as natural disasters, fires, disease outbreaks, cyberattacks and other external threats.

Business continuity is important for organizations of any size, but it might not be practical for any but the largest enterprises to maintain all functions for the duration of a disaster. According to many experts, the first step in business continuity planning is deciding what functions are essential and allocating the available budget accordingly. Once crucial components have been identified, administrators can put failover mechanisms in place.

Technologies such as disk mirroring enable an organization to maintain up-to-date copies of data in geographically dispersed locations, not just in the primary data center. This enables data access to continue uninterrupted if one location is disabled and protects against data loss.

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What is BCDR? Business continuity and disaster recovery guide

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Why is business continuity important?

At a time when downtime is unacceptable, business continuity is critical. Downtime comes from a variety of sources. Some threats, such as cyberattacks and extreme weather, seem to be getting worse. It's important to have a business continuity plan in place that considers any potential disruptions to operations.

The plan should enable the organization to keep running at least at a minimal level during a crisis. Business continuity helps the organization maintain resiliency , in responding quickly to an interruption. Strong business continuity saves money, time and company reputation. An extended outage risks financial, personal and reputational loss.

Business continuity requires an organization to take a look at itself, analyze potential areas of weakness and gather key information -- such as contact lists and technical diagrams of systems -- that can be useful outside of disaster situations. In undertaking the business continuity planning process, an organization can improve its communication, technology and resilience.

Business continuity might even be a requirement for legal or compliance reasons. Especially in an era of increased regulation , it's important to understand which regulations affect a given organization.

What does business continuity include?

Business continuity is a proactive way to ensure mission-critical operations proceed during a disruption. A comprehensive plan includes contact information, steps for what to do when faced with a variety of incidents and a guide for when to use the document.

Business continuity features clear guidelines for what an organization must do to maintain operations. If the time comes for response, there should be no question about how to move forward with business processes. The company, customers and employees are all potentially at stake.

Proper business continuity includes different levels of response. Not everything is mission-critical, so it's important to lay out what is most vital to keep running, and what could stand to come back online at later times. It's crucial to be honest about recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives .

The process includes the whole organization, from executive management on down. Although IT might drive the business continuity, it's essential to get buy-in from management and communicate key information to the entire organization. One other important area of collaboration is with the security team -- although the two groups often work separately, an organization can gain a lot by sharing information across these departments. At the very least, everyone should know the basic steps for how the organization plans to respond.

Three key components of a business continuity plan

A business continuity plan has three key elements: Resilience, recovery and contingency.

An organization can increase resilience by designing critical functions and infrastructures with various disaster possibilities in mind; this can include staffing rotations, data  redundancy and maintaining a surplus of capacity. Ensuring resiliency against different scenarios can also help organizations maintain essential services on location and off site without interruption.

Rapid recovery to restore business functions after a disaster is crucial. Setting recovery time objectives for different systems, networks or applications can help prioritize which elements must be recovered first. Other recovery strategies include resource inventories, agreements with third parties to take on company activity and using converted spaces for mission-critical functions.

A contingency plan has procedures in place for a variety of external scenarios and can include a chain of command that distributes responsibilities within the organization. These responsibilities can include hardware replacement, leasing emergency office spaces, damage assessment and contracting third-party vendors for assistance.

Business continuity standards

Table 1 lists the standards in the ISO 223XX Series that apply to business continuity and related activities. The ISO 22398 and 22399 standards are also worth a look.

The ISO 223XX Series -- Societal Security

Table 2 lists the Business Continuity Institute's Good Practice Guidelines. The guidelines provide a comprehensive foundation for understanding the business continuity process, and they map closely to the ISO 22301 standard.

U.K. Standards and Good Practices

Table 3 provides a partial listing of standards, regulations and good practices developed in the U.S. by several different organizations such as ASIS International, the National Fire Protection Association, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Institute for Standards and Technology.

U.S. BC/DR Standards and Good Practices

Business continuity vs. disaster recovery

Like a business continuity plan, disaster recovery planning specifies an organization's planned strategies for post-failure procedures. However, a disaster recovery plan is just a subset of business continuity planning.

Disaster recovery plans are mainly data focused, concentrating on storing data in a way that can be more easily accessed following a disaster. Business continuity takes this into account, but also focuses on the risk management, oversight and planning an organization needs to stay operational during a disruption.

Business continuity and disaster recovery planning

Business continuity development

Business continuity starts with initiating the planning project. Business impact analysis (BIA) and risk assessment are essential steps in gathering information for the plan.

Conducting a BIA can reveal any possible weaknesses, as well as the consequences of a disaster on various departments. The BIA report informs an organization of the most crucial functions and systems to prioritize in a business continuity plan.

A risk assessment identifies potential hazards to an organization, such as natural disasters, cyberattacks or technology failures. Risks can affect staff, customers, building operations and company reputation. The assessment also details what or who a risk could harm, and the likeliness of the risks.

The BIA and risk assessment work hand in hand. The BIA provides details on potential effects to the possible disruptions outlined in the risk assessment.

Business continuity management

It's important to designate who will manage business continuity. It could be one person, if it's a small business, or it could be a whole team for a larger organization. Business continuity management software is also an option. Software -- either on premises or cloud-based -- helps conduct BIAs, create and update plans and pinpoint areas of risk.

Business continuity is an evolving process. As such, an organization's business continuity plan shouldn't just sit on a shelf. The organization should communicate its contents to as many people as possible. Implementation of business continuity isn't just for times of crisis; the organization should have training exercises, so employees know what they'll be doing in the event of an actual disruption.

Business continuity testing is critical to its success. It's difficult to know if a plan is going to work if it hasn't been tested. A business continuity test can be as simple as a tabletop exercise , where staff discuss what will happen in an emergency. More rigorous testing includes a full emergency simulation. An organization can plan the test in advance or perform it without notice to better mimic a crisis.

Once the organization completes a test, it should review how it went and update the plan accordingly. It's likely that some parts of the plan will go well but other actions might need adjusting. A regular schedule for testing is helpful, especially if the business changes its operations and staff frequently. Comprehensive business continuity undergoes continual testing, review and updating .

Business Continuity Institute

The Business Continuity Institute (BCI) is a global professional organization that provides education, research, professional accreditation, certification, networking opportunities, leadership and guidance on business continuity and organizational resilience .

The BCI, which is based in the United Kingdom, was established in 1994 and features about 8,000 members in more than 100 countries, in the public and private sectors. Business continuity professionals and those interested in the field can use the products and services available from the BCI.

The BCI's objectives and work includes raising standards in business continuity, sharing business continuity best practices, training and certifying BC professionals , raising the value of the BC profession and developing the business case for business continuity.

The institute's many published resources include its Good Practice Guidelines, which offers guidance for identifying business continuity activities that can support strategic planning.

Professional membership in the BCI conveys an internationally recognized status -- certification demonstrates a member's proficiency in business continuity management.

BCI Chapters have been established in countries or regions where there is a large community of members. The Chapters, which include the United States, Japan and India, have locally elected officers who represent the BCI in their region.

Continue Reading About What is business continuity and why is it important?

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Free Business Continuity Plan Templates

Smartsheet Contributor Andy Marker

October 23, 2018

In this article, you’ll find the most useful free, downloadable business continuity plan (BCP) templates, in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and PDF formats. Customize the templates to fit the needs of your business, ensuring you maintain critical operations at all times.

Included on this page, you’ll find a business continuity plan template , a small business continuity plan template , a business continuity framework template , and more.

Business Continuity Plan Template

Business Continuity Plan Template

Download Business Continuity Plan Template

Word | PowerPoint | PDF  | Smartsheet

Use this template to document and track your business operations in the event of a disruption or disaster to maintain critical processes. With space to record business function recovery priorities, recovery plans, and alternate site locations, this template allows you to plan efficiently for disruption and minimize downtime, so your business maintains optimal efficiency. This template is available for download in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and PDF formats.

Additionally, you can learn the definition of a business continuity plan, the steps involved in business continuity planning, as well as about the business continuity lifecycle in our article about business continuity planning .

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IT Service Continuity Plan Template

IT Service Continuity Plan template

Download IT Service Continuity Plan Template

This template is geared specifically to IT business operations and aims to maintain IT processes despite any possible harmful disruption. Use this template to document recovery objectives, teams, and strategies in order to accurately capture all facets of the continuity plan needed for an IT team. This template is available in both Word and PDF formats.

Business Continuity Framework Template

Business Continuity Framework Template

Download Business Continuity Framework Template

Word | PowerPoint | PDF

This template outlines the structure involved in creating a business continuity plan. It provides an easy, comprehensive way to detail the steps that will comprise your unique BCP. Use this template to plan each phase of a typical BCP, including the business impact analysis, recovery strategies, and plan development. This template can serve as an overall framework for your larger BCP plan.

Business Continuity Program Template

Business Continuity Program template

Download Business Continuity Program Template

Similar to the business continuity plan template, this template documents the steps involved in maintaining normal business operations during an unplanned disruption or disaster. Using this template, you can plan out the critical elements needed to continue business as usual, including recovery priorities, backup and restoration plans, and alternate site locations. This template is available for download in both Microsoft Word and PDF formats.

Business Continuity Procedure Template

Business Continuity Procedure Template

Download Business Continuity Procedure Template

Much like the business continuity framework template, this template helps users create a thorough, streamlined BCP by detailing the procedure involved in creating and maintaining a plan, as well as implementing one. Use this template to document everything from a business impact analysis to plan development, plan testing, and exercises. Download this template in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or PDF to get started.

Business Continuity Plan Template for Nonprofits

Business Continuity Plan Template For Nonprofits

Download Business Continuity Plan Template for Nonprofits

In the event of a disruption in business that affects your nonprofit organization, use this template to document a business recovery strategy, identify alternate business locations, and effectively plan for inevitable business downtime. This template is available for download in Microsoft Word and PDF formats.

School Business Continuity Plan Template

School Business Continuity Plan Template

Download School Business Continuity Plan Template

Plan for disruptions in regular school activities and operations in the event of emergency or crisis with this helpful template. This template, designed with schools, colleges, and universities in mind, allows you to prioritize operations and responses, identify important phases of recovery, design a restoration plan, and more.

Small Business Continuity Plan Template

Small Business Continuity Plan Template

Download Small Business Continuity Plan Template

Record your business recovery priorities, identify alternate site locations to conduct business, create recovery teams, and assign recovery responsibilities to specific team members with this continuity plan for small businesses. Ensure that you are able to maintain critical processes and minimize downtime so your business can keep moving forward.

SaaS Business Continuity Plan Template

SaaS Business Continuity Plan Template

Download SaaS Business Continuity Plan Template

Use this business continuity plan template to keep your SaaS business productive and efficient, despite any unforeseen events or disruptions. With space to record everything from recovery procedures and strategies to relocation strategies and alternate site locations, you’ll be able to keep business moving and remain productive during a crisis or disruption.

Business Continuity Plan Template for Medical Practices

Business Continuity Plan Template For Medical Practices

Download Business Continuity Plan Template for Medical Practices

Identify risk strategies for specific areas of business, like clinical, finance and operations, and IT, designate specific recovery strategies, and prioritize the most important, mission-critical operations for your medical practice with this complete business continuity plan template.

Business Continuity Plan Template for Healthcare Organizations

Business Continuity Plan Template for Healthcare Organizations Template

Download Business Continuity Plan Template for Healthcare Organizations

Some businesses, like healthcare organizations, rely on critical processes and procedures to maintain productivity and keep both patients and staff safe. To ensure these processes are followed — even during a business disruption — use this business continuity plan template to identify all potential risks, create mitigation plans, and assign tasks to key team members.

Activities to Complete Before Writing the Business Continuity Plan

Certain steps can help you prepare to write a business continuity plan. See our article on how to write a business continuity plan to learn more.

Common Structure of a Business Continuity Plan

Every business continuity plan should include certain common elements. See our article on how to write a business continuity plan to learn more.

Tips For Writing Your Business Continuity Plan

Business continuity experts have gathered time-tested tips for business continuity planning. See our article on how to write a business continuity plan to learn more.

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What is the primary goal of business continuity planning, and how to achieve it

What is the primary goal of business continuity planning

Disaster often strikes without notice. Even with some prior warning, a multitude of factors can cause the best of intentions to result in errors, and mistakes when faced with disaster.  Every incident is unique, and understanding what is the primary goal of business continuity planning can ensure your business can respond to every disaster with a tailored and measured approach.

Below, we explain exactly what is the primary goal of business continuity planning, how to create a business continuity plan, and what measures you need to put in place to maximize your organization’s chances of success during a disaster.

On this page:

What is the primary goal of business continuity planning

Why business continuity planning matters, advantages of business continuity planning, how to write a business continuity plan, difference between disaster recovery and business continuity, business continuity and insurance, testing your business continuity plan, business continuity standards.

To overcome any crisis, and minimize any impact to your staff, customers and the business, you need a robust business continuity plan (BCP).  Having a BCP demonstrates to your customers, insurers, investors, and stakeholders that your business is robust enough to overcome any disaster that it may face.

So, what is the primary goal of business continuity planning?

A business continuity plan presents how the business will proceed during a crisis. It is considered a blueprint for an organization to maintain continuous business operations during disasters, emergencies, and other business disruptions, and get back to normal business operations as early as possible.

What is the primary goal of business continuity planning - BCP primary goal

What are the objectives of business continuity planning

Now we understand what the primary goal of business continuity planning is, let’s take a look at some of the objectives that businesses can achieve through business continuity planning:

While the terms business continuity and disaster recovery are closely related, they a different.  Typically, disaster recovery is associated with the technology function of your business.

See also: Business Continuity vs. Disaster Recovery

Your disaster recovery plan should form a core component of your business continuity planning and strategy. This approach puts the emphasis on the whole business, not just on technology alone, reinforcing the concept of continuity of all key business processes, beyond information technology systems.

What are the primary objectives of business continuity planning

The primary output from the business continuity planning process is a Business Continuity Plan (BCP). The BCP comprises many elements which, collectively, define the approach an organization should take to recover to normal business operations.

See also: Understanding Business Continuity

So, we understand what the primary goal of business continuity planning is, and we also understand some of the objectives that a business can fulfil through business continuity planning.  But why does business continuity matter, and what are the advantages for your business?

Businesses strive to remain competitive regardless of whether they are a small business or medium organization, or the industry they are in. For your business, it is crucial to retain and maintain your existing customers while simultaneously growing your customer base.

What does this have to do with business continuity planning and achieving the primary goal and objectives?

Having the capability to manage any adverse incident effectively can positively affect your business’ reputation and market value, increasing customer confidence.

At a basic level, there is no better test of your capability in serving your customers then than immediately following an adverse event.

Most businesses have several disaster recovery solutions available, ranging from data backups to data recovery. But what recovery processes do you have for the remainder of your business processes and workflows?

most basic business continuity plan testing

There is an increase in consumer and regulatory expectations for security today. Organizations need to understand the processes and workflows within their business and the impact of the loss of these processes in the event of an adverse incident.

Disruptions to an organization’s operations can be very costly, both in the short the long term. They can adversely affect the market value and consumer confidence.

If in the event of a disruptive event, customer experience is negatively impacted, then those customers can quickly abandon the organization permanently.

Building your recovery strategy around these processes can be mitigated through business continuity planning:

Business continuity planning can help your business react in an efficient and effective manner to unplanned disruptive incidents and events, reducing losses and impact on your business’ ability to operate.

Many businesses are facing deliberate and accidental damages. These damages can cause significant disruptions in the operations and interfere with preparing for emergencies.

That’s why we have business continuity planning. It helps you with the recovery strategy, prepare for the unexpected incidents, and show you the ultimate benefits.

Importance of business continuity planning

Whatever problems you’re facing with your business, you are bound to end up with some consequences for the best or the worst.

While you can’t altogether avoid getting hit, you can at least try to reduce the effect by executing a clear and comprehensive business continuity plan.

A perfect plan will help you survive. Make sure you throw your plan out there and test it. Don’t forget to see how you can minimize the potential impact of crises .

What is the primary goal of business continuity planning - BCP benefits

Key benefits of business continuity planning

While we’re at it, let’s see how business continuity planning can help you:

You may find the basis for business continuity planning to be two linked, but distinct practices :

Priorities and deadlines for activities are BIA’s territory. While risk assessment is limited to drawing the possible scenarios, the effects, and the danger.

These two provides you with the most reliable information you can use to develop your continuity plan.

What is the primary goal of business continuity planning - BCP process

Your business continuity plan (BCP) should outline the course of action you need to take to restore business functions as quickly as possible.

Business continuity plans are tailored to specific business workflows and processes, with each BCP unique to each organization.  However, there are some common steps that businesses undertake when developing business continuity plans:

What is the primary goal of business continuity planning

What should a business continuity plan include?

The nature of the solution will depend on the type of disruption.  Try covering the following areas:

However, despite these plans, you need to consider the fact that there could be different disruptive situations that call for a different response. That’s why you need to keep several alternatives to address different disaster scenarios, whether it’s the worst-case events or the partial outages.

Business continuity plan templates and tools

You have two options to start your business continuity plan with. Go from scratch or get some help from online templates. To find your best suit, you might need to customize the plan according to your business needs.

You can get some help from GOV.UK’s business continuity management toolkit (PDF, 569K) [8] and get yourself a tailored plan according to particular circumstances of your business

You can run into a lot of technological incidents during a crisis. To recover your business from the damage, you need a disaster recovery plan. This plan will help you restore the destroyed data and applications due to the data center, servers, or IT infrastructure damage.

Use the disaster recovery plan besides the business continuity plan to get the necessary strategies to handle the risk.

What is the primary goal of business continuity planning - BCP and DRP

Continuity planning relates very closely to business insurance. You’ll find that most of the insurers consider business continuity to be a prerequisite for providing cover. To get more details, check out business insurance .

Business continuity plans must be working documents which has to be written, updated, and tested daily to check the performance. Regular testing of your business continuity plan will provide an indication of performance during emergencies.

For effective testing, you should test it against something more plausible than hypothetical scenarios. Doing this will also help you figure out and fix some things before the test, like:

What is the primary goal of business continuity planning

Why should you test your business continuity plan?

To understand and verify that your plan is useful and fulfilling its purpose, you must run a thorough and careful. Doing this, you’ll be able to:

You may consider outsourcing certain functions of your business to a third party. If you do, you’ll need to evaluate the adequacy of their business continuity plan and the compatibility with your plan.

How to test business continuity plans

You can run a few tests to estimate the effectiveness of your plan. For example:

Now, besides running these tests, it’s vital that you take care of all the essential details involved in the plan, such as the correct contact information. If there’s something wrong with a phone number, then it can take a considerable chunk out of your precious time to find the right one and eventually resulting in a late response to the crisis.

How often should you test your business continuity plan?

It depends. You’ll see many businesses testing their continuity plan more than two times a year. You need to consider a few factors when concluding how often you should test the plan.

Factors such as the type of your business, turnover of staff, and changes in the procedures and technology used in your business, all need to be taken into account when determining the frequency for testing.

Maintain your business continuity plan

Creating and testing the plan may require a considerable amount of effort and time. But there’s more to it. You must update the plan daily to consider your business’ everchanging circumstances. Take moving into new business premises, for example.

The previous plan might not have anything in common with the new premises, which can be threatening as you face completely new sorts of risks. You’ll have to make a new plan and include a newly drawn map for the emergency services and also amend the contact numbers.

This can help review your business continuity plan annually and completing this review beside testing will ensure the maximum efficiency of the plan.

To understand the accuracy and efficiency of how your business continuity plans and procedures align with the best methods out there, you should measure them against and international standard.

What is the primary goal of business continuity planning

The standard defines the requirements for a management system to protect against, reduce the risks, and ensure the recovery from the crisis.

Find out more about the ISO 22301 business continuity management standard .

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Lucy has more than 23 years of experience in the technology industry. Specialising in the cloud and telecommunications sectors, Lucy has previously worked in senior management roles within HR & Operations for major national and international organisations such as BT, O2 and more recently, Vodafone. Lucy is currently the Deputy Online Editor at

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most basic business continuity plan testing

How Often Should A Business Continuity Plan Be Tested?

How Often Should A Business Continuity Plan Be Tested

In today’s business environment, even short amounts of downtime can lead to large losses. Ensuring your business or organization can quickly recover from both a short interruption and a major disaster is the basis of a business continuity plan (BCP.) That said, it’s important to understand that a BCP is an ongoing process rather than a singular action. For this reason, BCPs need to be regularly monitored, reviewed and tested to ensure they meet the needs of the organizations they’re meant to protect. So, how often should a business continuity plan be tested ? In this article, we’ll narrow it down.

How Often Should Your BCP Be Tested?

The frequency with which a BCP should be tested depends on the business or organization it’s been designed for. Below are some of the factors that will influence the frequency of your BCP tests.

Organization Size

The larger the organization, the more complicated the BCP is likely to be. For this reason, it will likely require more oversight, fine-tuning and testing. Smaller organizations often have fewer moving parts and may not require such frequent testing.

Organization Type

Highly regulated industries such as finance and medicine as well as organizations that deal with sensitive information may be required by law to have more stringent requirements than less controlled sectors. A small business based around arts and crafts would be less likely to need as much testing as a large healthcare centre.

The type of BCP you have in place will also determine how often it needs to be tested. Complex, wide-ranging plans have more room for failure and should be tested more often. Less complicated BCPs may not need to be tested as much because of the lower probability of complications. Conversely, an automated BCP might be able to regularly test itself and reduce the need for frequent manual tests.

BCP Testing Schedules

Regardless of how often your BCP requires testing, there should be an established schedule to ensure that testing occurs regularly and isn’t forgotten about completely. The timeline of a specific schedule may change according to the business, but this general outline can be used as a reference point.

Biannual Itemized Test

Twice a year, each item on the BCP should be checked to ensure it remains relevant and up to date. Items may need to be removed, improved, amended or fixed. If changes do occur, all affected parties need to be informed.

Annual Simulated Disaster Exercise

Every year a simulated disaster exercise should take place to ensure everyone understands their role and can perform the required tasks accordingly. The exercise should be evaluated and used to identify any changes needed to improve future responses.

Biennial Review

Every two years, all concerned parties should sit down to review and analyze the BCP to ensure it still meets the needs of each part of the organization. If the plan needs updating, improving or a wholesale overhaul, having the entire BCP team in one place should make implementing changes easier.

Disaster Recovery Test

Every two or three years, a full disaster recovery test should take place to ensure the BCP functions properly. Not only will this ensure everyone involved can rehearse their designated roles, but it will identify problems with the BCP and call attention to where improvements can be made.

Ensuring The Effectiveness Of BCP Tests

BCP testing is, by its nature, disruptive. However, it’s important to minimize this disruption to prevent testing fatigue which can reduce the willingness to participate in these necessary activities. All the involved parties should be given advance notice of tests and reminded of their duties. This will ensure they’re not caught off guard as it can lower morale and reduce the willingness to comply in the future. To ensure that your business has a proper disaster recovery plan in place and that unexpected downtime doesn’t mean lost revenue, get a free assessment from MBC today.


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  1. Business Continuity Plan: What is it and why do you need it?

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  2. Business Continuity Plan Testing

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  4. Creating, Testing and Updating Your Business Continuity Plan [Infographic]

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  5. Creating, Testing and Updating Your Business Continuity Plan [Infographic]

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  1. Can we break it? 9 business continuity plan testing scenarios

    In business continuity, these varying types of tests are typically defined as follows: Plan review: the most basic test, in which the recovery teams go over the BCP, line by line, to make sure everything is accurate and shipshape.

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  10. Checklist for Business Continuity Testing

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    Business continuity plans (BCPs) are created to help speed up the recovery of an organization filling a threat or disaster. The plan puts in place mechanisms and functions to allow personnel...

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  21. Free Business Continuity Plan Templates

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    Testing your business continuity plan. Business continuity plans must be working documents which has to be written, updated, and tested daily to check the performance. Regular testing of your business continuity plan will provide an indication of performance during emergencies.

  23. How Often Should A Business Continuity Plan Be Tested?

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