Businesses today need to be ready for unexpected impacts on their business. Business Continuity Plans are a great way to prepare for unexpected events. They consolidate everything you need to do in the event of a disruption to your business. However, any Business Continuity Plan must be regularly tested to make sure it is fit for purpose.
We will be discussing what a Business Continuity Plan looks like, how testing works, and when it should be tested.
What is a Business Continuity Plan (BCP)?
The Business Continuity Plan explains how a business functions after a disaster. It provides procedures for dealing with fires, natural disasters and mass disease outbreaks.
Data backups are a key concern for today’s plans. Many industries, such as content marketing for SaaS, require extensive planning. We need to be aware of our protected data. The plan must also include contact information for staff to ensure productivity, whether it is short-term or long term.
You can see that a business continuity plan doesn’t stay static if you have a manual QA tester. Regular testing is necessary to make sure they are doing what they should. It also allows you to identify blind spots and areas that can be improved.
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What Business Continuity Plan do I need?
The past few years have shown that no one can predict the future. Unexpected events can cause major disruptions in our lives and can lead to businesses being shut down or even going out of business.
Invenio IT found that 51% of global businesses didn’t have a business continuity program in 2020. This is a mistake we simply can’t afford, given how rapidly the world of work has changed. If businesses don’t get back to normal quickly after a disaster, 90% of them will fail within one year.
Unable to persevere in the face of difficulties is a threat for customer acquisition. Customers will reject your business, regardless of how detailed you are with customer onboarding templates.
Planning for business continuity requires significant time and financial investments. They can make the difference between a company’s survival or its demise.
How do I test my plan?
Businesses today can approach business continuity planning testing in many different ways. Understanding the common tasks of all test types is important. They all require understanding your plan, putting it into action, and identifying opportunities for improvement. It’s how you approach your plan and what resources you have available that will make the difference.
It might be a good idea to look at the software testing process as a quality assurance. First, you need to have a clear vision of the things that you are trying to improve or change. Next, include everyone involved and have a dedicated team of people assigned.
Review of Business Continuity Plan
The most simple approach to plan testing is a Business Continuity Plan Review. This review is a basic audit of the plan and includes key personnel such as the main BCP (Business Continuity Plan), department heads, and management staff. Participants simply go through the plan and look for any flaws.
Modern-day business data can be easily preserved thanks to cloud services. To track progress, for example, when we are calculating CSAT we might use a cloud graph. These services are not a panacea. Make backups and keep track of which cloud services you use.
This type of test is simple to set up and allows you to introduce your plan to new members of the BCP team. This test is however very lightweight. It lacks a detailed assessment of a plan’s effectiveness, and it doesn’t communicate benefits or procedures to the wider workforce.
Tests on the Tabletop
Tabletop testing, also known as structured walkthrough, is a roleplay scenario. The key stakeholders of a business gather together to simulate a business risk and to determine how they will respond. The best continuity plans require human eyes.
Tabletop testing typically looks at several scenarios. Participants review the response procedures and outline their responsibilities to see if they can improve on the overall plan. Start with hacker attacks if you are just starting out. These are common and easy to defeat.
This type of testing is great for getting employees on the same page about what they need to do. This type of testing requires a detailed approach to the plan and often brings together multiple departments. This makes amending and understanding the project easier.
However, tabletop testing is not without its challenges. Tabletop testing is difficult to perform properly and requires extensive documentation to make it useful. You don’t have to do it as often as with other types of testing. In many cases you are more focused on the plan than actually implementing it.
This is the most challenging form of continuity planning testing. Participating in a walkthrough perform recovery actions, such as testing redundant systems and restoring backups. This includes the plan’s key personnel and all relevant employees.
You might need to travel outside of the office for external data storage locations, or localization testing. A walkthrough, which is similar to localization testing, ensures that all components of your plan work wherever they are located.
This hands-on approach gives you the best idea of how efficient your recovery plan is. It is also the most time-consuming. A walkthrough requires a lot investment by a business. If you have multiple colleagues who want to take part, it can be difficult to organize.
How often should I test my plan?
The frequency of testing depends on the needs of your business and the resources available to you. Detail plan testing is not something you can do every single day, as you can see. To be truly effective, even at a basic level it will require multiple people from different departments.
It is also important to think about what you are testing. Businesses today face many threats. However, some are more likely than others. If you live in an area that is susceptible to flooding, it may be a good idea to concentrate on your business’s flood response. However, you should also consider common threats such as data breaches which can be addressed with a security assessment.
It is best to conduct at least one tabletop test each year for each area of concern. This covers areas such as business continuity, recovery from possible disasters, and incident response. An in-depth walkthrough should be done every two years. To ensure your work schedule doesn’t get interrupted, time-intensive tests such as tabletop testing may need to be done on weekends.
What else should I consider?
Documentation is the most important part of any test. Take notes on everything that is useful and document your testing. To make the testing worthwhile, you must also follow-up on these actions.
You should increase your frequency for any major changes in your business, such as moving premises or increasing the size of your workforce. These big changes can have a profound impact on the continuity plan.
Tell your entire workforce about the plan and encourage them to participate where possible. You might be able to discover new and valuable ideas like wiping sensitive files off your hard drives.
Your Business Continuity Plan can be viewed as an organic component, which means it is subject to revision and evolution. This will help you do a great job in keeping your business safe for the future.
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