Testing a Business Continuity Plan

Business continuity planning (BCP) or disaster recovery planning is key to avoiding the perils and anguish of surviving a business disaster. There is a three stage process:

In this section we look at stage 2 – Testing a Business Continuity Plan

Towards the end of 2002, the Inland Revenue tested part of their disaster recovery plan. They found some “oversights” in it.

Peter Shelly, a telecoms operations manager said; “The main lesson we learned was that the devil is in the detail. A business continuity plan is not worth the paper it is written on until it is tested”.

Testing a business continuity plan is as vital as developing it in the first place.

The testing of a plan is divided into three stages.

Stage 1: Paper walk through

Here we run the recovery as a “mind game”. We set the scenario and work through the plan looking for things that don’t work, or have been overlooked. The idea here is to check that the structure and processes of the plan work. Although this takes some time, it is a lot cheaper than running a “live” test and finding that something is broken. Problems are corrected and the paper walk through is re-run until we are all satisfied that it will work.

Stage 2: Component testing

Here we test components of the plan, checking that each part works practically. This would include the backup or restore procedures, recovery of telecommunications, the ability to contact clients and suppliers. The idea here is to build up to testing the full plan knowing that all the components work. Again, problems are fixed and the component test re-run until a satisfactory result is reached. This may involve going back into part of the paper walk through.

Stage 3: Full testing

This is the fun bit!

This is where we get to run the whole recovery plan in its entirety. With some companies the people involved won’t know in advance that a test is about to happen. This can be skipped or modified to your requirements or circumstances.

We offer a free one hour consultation where we can discuss your current plan and identify areas for review.

All business continuity plans developed by Network Midlands are confidential and will not be disclosed to any 3rd party without your permission, unless there is a legal requirement for us to do so.