Rehearse, test, exercise

If you have a business continuity plan, how do you know whether the plan will actually work in practice? The time has come to put it to the test.

Whichever term you use, the objective is to ensure the business continuity plan is fit for purpose to enable your business to respond and recover effectively from an incident, crisis or other operational disruption.

(Not to be confused with Disaster Recovery Tests which are IT focused - for more information on DR Tests click here)

BC exercises should be focused for the Incident or Senior Management Team, the Business Recovery Teams, the IT Disaster Recovery Team or other response teams.

Fundamental to the success of an exercise is to ensure that everyone who attends understands why they are there, their roles and responsibilities in an incident and how the business continuity plan should be used to enable an effective response to an incident. Regular training and awareness opportunities are key to maintaining competency and understanding.

Realistic and relevant scenarios will bring to light any weak points in the plans and assumptions. Most importantly, keep your audience engaged. Try some innovative scenarios that will keep your teams on point and thinking ahead.

Top tips for a successful exercise:

  1. Review the current organisational structure in a crisis situation, likely threats and the plans and procedures in place to respond to and recover from an incident
  2. Agree scope and objectives for the exercise
  3. Develop appropriate scenarios that satisfy the exercise objectives
  4. Establish an appropriate test environment
  5. Ensure you have the right people at the exercise including decision makers
  6. Encourage participants to take part in a hot debrief and post exercise review discussion
  7. Produce an exercise outcome report clearly stating the results of the exercise and recommended actions
  8. Ensure post exercise actions are undertaken, revise strategies and update plans as appropriate

How can Teed help you exercise your plan?

Teed has designed, facilitated and documented hundreds of successful exercises covering a wide range of scenarios for teams at all levels of an organisation and at every stage of a BC programme. We know how to draw out any gaps in the recovery strategy using thought-provoking scenarios to stimulate team engagement enabling them to understand crisis communication and how to determine facts before acting.

Teed’s exercises start with a brief awareness session to ensure participants have the same level of understanding from the outset: what the BC plan is for, why it is important and what they should do in an incident. Participants come away knowing that BCM is fundamental to successful incident management.

Clients receive an outcome report with the consultant’s independent view of the team’s ability to deal with the scenarios faced and recommendations for actions to increase resilience, plus a business continuity preparedness score. This provides assurances for the client and stakeholders that business continuity plans have been tested and validated.

Exercises can be delivered as part of an end-to-end project or as a discrete element. Many clients return to Teed for an annual exercise to ensure currency of the plan and provide independent verification.

How did you do?

Teed has developed an effective and popular business continuity scoring methodology that allows organisations to benchmark their current exposure and motivate them to improve their preparedness on an ongoing basis.