According to research, about 25% of businesses fail to recover after disasters. If they lack a recovery plan, it becomes hard to cope with the repercussions. That’s why your business needs an ideal business continuity plan (BCP). In this article, we discuss how to test your BCP plan using several different business continuity exercise scenarios.
To top off business security in case of exercise scenarios, testing your BCP prior is crucial. However, it’s good to understand that each business has a distinct BCP depending on size and other factors. That’s why you need to carry out a risk assessment and business impact analysis to be aware of the ideal risk factors.
Luckily, below, we discuss seven of the most common business continuity exercises, types of tests, and the importance of testing your continuity plan.
Types of Tests
These are the three most common tests for your plan to ensure business continuity if the risk occurs.
1. Plan Review
It’s one of the most straightforward tests. The planning and recovery team goes through all the points on the BCP. The team ensures the plan covers all the company’s objectives without conducting any practical work.
2. Tabletop Testing
It’s the most common in many businesses and a better version of the plan review. In this test, employees test the plan in a conference setting. The employees get to act and respond to specific exercises as they would if it was the actual day of the incident.
3. Simulation Test
It’s the most realistic of the three, where employees perform the exercises in their workstations. It’s also the most practical, as they don’t skip any activity.
Importance of Testing
Testing your business’s BCP is crucial because it creates a picture of the scenarios, making it easy for team members to relate. Here’s why you need to conduct the tests.
- Team members get practical preparation.
- It’s good to identify any loopholes in the BCP.
- It ensures you cover all your company’s objectives.
- Lastly, it gives room to amend the BCP before the ideal scenarios.
Want to put your tabletop exercises on auto-pilot?
In our experience, business teams that practice crisis, disruption, and business continuity scenarios respond faster and recover more quickly than teams that do not.
Managing crisis & continuity exercises for hundreds of business units worldwide is a tall order. That’s why we’ve developed a set of crisis & continuity exercises that can be executed by a business leader in an hour or less – and don’t require expert facilitation from a crisis management or business continuity team.
Our Exercise in a Box scenarios and materials were written by the battle-tested experts in crisis management, business continuity, and crisis communications at Bryghtpath.
Business Continuity Exercise Scenarios
Now that you understand why you need a business continuity plan, the kind of tests to conduct, and their importance, let’s dive into the ideal exercise scenarios.
Cyber security is still a worrying issue for most businesses, as it poses a threat to a company’s data. Since most companies today share their data through the internet, they are prone to phishing, ransomware, and malware. These could lead to data loss and an expensive yet risky recovery process.
For instance, imagine a scenario where one of the employees gets exposed to phishing, leaking the company’s critical details. To handle such a case, you need to answer a few questions like, do you have the proper means to retrieve the data? How fast would the process take? Is the information encrypted? And lastly, who should the employee report to first? That will help you develop the best plan to help you in such a situation if it happens.
In as much as pandemics don’t happen every so often, COVID-19 came as a reminder that you cannot avoid preparing for one. You should have measures to control the effects of the pandemic as a business since inception.
For instance, if it’s a contagious disease, your BCP should stipulate what departments need to report to work physically. It should also state how remote workers can access the company’s data. Lastly, your business continuity plan should note if such an arrangement would affect payroll for better coordination. With such measures in place, the situation becomes manageable, and you have an assurance of business continuity until the pandemic is over.
3. Physical Disruptions
These could involve fire, active shooters, or workplace violence. For instance, if there was a fire, is your team aware of how they could respond to that? Depending on your company’s location, some areas have a requirement to conduct fire drills often. Either way, it’s wise to prepare your employees in advance.
Conduct a fire drill often, and let your team know how they respond if it happens. The same goes for active shooter scenarios. Let them know the essential measures for their protection.
4. Natural Disasters
Especially in disaster-prone areas, prior preparation is crucial. These disasters could include earthquakes, hurricanes, and wildfires. For instance, in the case of earthquakes, the west coast is prone to earthquakes and wildfires, while the east coast is more prone to hurricanes and snowstorms.
Depending on your business location, you need to prepare to handle such occurrences. You can even set aside a budget to control damages and set up your business in a way it can withstand disasters. Also, it would help if you prepared for a time when it’ll be impossible to have employees reporting to work physically.
5. Power Outage
For instance, in a scenario where there’s a power outage because of a storm and the power company gives a power outage notice for a few days, do you plan to run the business? Do you have backup generators? Will all employees have to report to work physically? These are some questions you should consider when making a continuity plan for a power outage.
6. Network Outage
Today, access to a network is crucial for communication and completing everyday tasks. Having a backup plan is vital. You should ensure employees can access company data through a secure means. That ensures business continues, especially in critical departments.
7. Emergency Communication
It’s the most critical part of any business. That involves a channel of informing the ideal personnel when there’s a hitch or any shortcoming. For instance, how fast is your channel for emergency communication? Does your channel offer emergency contacts, people that are first to get information? In case of a power or network outage, would you still communicate? Is your team well informed on how to access it?
These are some of the questions you need to ask when selecting an ideal communication channel. That’s because communication is the backbone of success in any undertaking. It helps with coordination, ensuring you conquer any barriers your business might encounter.
It would be easier for a business to respond to a risk occurrence with measures already in place. That’s because you are not starting from zero. Also, you get to minimize the downtime and survive the season until recovery. Every business needs this for its continuity despite setbacks.
Want to work with us or learn more about Business Continuity & Crisis Management?
- Our proprietary Resiliency Diagnosis process is the perfect way to advance your business continuity & crisis management program. Our thorough standards-based review culminates in a full report, maturity model scoring, and a clear set of recommendations for improvement.
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- Our Ultimate Guide to Business Continuity contains everything you need to know about Business Continuity while our Ultimate Guide to Crisis Management does the same for Crisis Management.
- Our free Business Continuity 101 Introductory Course and/or our Crisis Management 101 Introductory Course may help you with an introduction to the world of business continuity & crisis management – and help prepare your organization for your next disruption.
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