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How to Test Your Business Continuity Plan

November 16, 2020

Business continuity planning isn’t complete unless it is frequently tested. These testing workshops create a safe place to help everyone learn and practice their roles and identify areas for improvement. 

Follow this business continuity plan (BCP) testing checklist to make sure your next business continuity planning workshop is a success. 

1. Plan a Purpose

When you’re testing a business continuity plan, have a set purpose and intent. Are you conducting tests in the event of a power outage? Or is it something more serious like a natural disaster? 

You should also determine who needs to attend the workshop. While the information is vital, not every person in your organization is required to attend each workshop (TTX, structured walkthrough, end-to-end exercise, etc.). 

Create the boundaries and limitations of the test. What is being tested? How will you test it? What information or materials will be provided and not provided? Your workshop is like creating your own game. During this phase, you have to create the rules everyone else will play by. 

If you are having difficulty selecting a specific plan or topic for your workshop, choose to go smaller. It is better to have more frequent smaller workshops than to try and shove everything together into one large meeting.

2. Send Out Invites

Invite everyone that needs to be involved in the workshop. This should also include people outside of your organization. If you plan to contact or work with other organizations or departments as part of your continuity plan, include them in the workshop. 

Including them gives them a chance to get to know your organization, the people they will be working with in case of emergencies, and the entire process. 

In the invite, share clear directions or instructions on what will be happening on the day of the workshop. This will help people come prepared and help reduce confusion.

3. Start the Meeting

After you have welcomed everyone, briefly explain the purpose of the workshop and the boundaries and limitations of the test. Answer any questions the group might have and make sure everyone is on the same page with expectations.  

4. Conduct the Test and Observe

Once the test starts, stick to your rules. Do not interrupt or try to correct the process at any point. Even if it goes horribly wrong or not as intended, that is okay. 

Take note of any shortcomings of the BCP and be willing to address them later. The purpose of the workshop is not to correct or fix the plan—it is to test it. 

5. Evaluate the Experience

The workshop doesn’t end when the test ends. 

When the test is finished, set aside time for feedback. Ask all of the participants about their experience. This should include not only what they enjoyed, but what was uncomfortable, confusing, or misleading. Document all of their feedback for a later time when you can work on improving your BCP.

6. Create a Plan to Improve Your BCP

Create a plan to implement your learnings into your continuity plan to continue improving it. Those adjustments may be elements added to your plan, training key members of your team on their roles, or creating processes to follow during an event. By creating a plan to implement your learnings you stay on track to continue improving your continuity plan, rather than assuming you’ll get back to it at some point.

To learn more about exercising and testing continuity plans, check out chapter eight of the ebook, How To: Business Continuity Planning Basics for Higher Ed.

Kuali Ready Can Help

Kuali Ready helps with both academic and business continuity planning using built-in best practices to help users make a unique plan for their organization or department. It offers plan management features to help monitor your continuity planning efforts and streamline reporting. 

Your organization is unique and unlike anything else out there. You need a program that can be flexible and adaptive, rather than rigid and prescriptive. Find out more about how Kuali has been able to simplify and amplify continuity planning for higher ed.

Additional Resources

Button to Building Organization Resilience in Higher Ed
Button to 8 Things to Look for in Continuity Planning Software
Button to Higher Ed Continuity Planning Software Buying Guide

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