Test and Rehearse
Simply having a Business Continuity Plan, Backup or Disaster Recovery solution and not testing it is a very dangerous situation to be in. How do you know that the assumptions made in the plan will come to pass at the very time when they must?
During the early stages of your planning, consultation should have been made with Stakeholders and Service Level Agreements to arrive at an expected return to normal operations.
Whether you backup data on-site, with a third party or cloud provider you will need to work through scenarios relevant to your organisation to ensure you gain access to what you need when you need it. Furthermore and data aside, you will have designed new ways of working as a contingency to continue operations during the disruption period. The credibility of these plans will also require testing to ensure you continue those vital areas of operation that you planned.
Testing can be an excellent way of promoting and maintaining awareness by the involvement of employees in exercises and also via the reporting of results to the board. Often testing and rehearsals are a very effective tool to promote the program and build the case for more resources with Executive levels as further improvements and benefits become evident. So what is the difference?
An exercise is an opportunity for team members to rehearse the roles they have to play and to learn how the plan is expected to work; it is probably fair to say that an exercise is a big test. An exercise can also be a full test of the recovery or continuity of systems.
At its highest level the exercise will:
- Take place in the live environment
- Be a simulation of a real event
- Simulate losses.
- Exercise all aspects of emergency response
- Be realistic and stringent
A test is a way of making sure that a particular business continuity process, action or instruction will work. The test will be aimed at a specific area whereas exercises cover a wider area. Among other things it will look at:
- Proof of concepts
- Testing documentation
- Walk through – will this work?
The major purpose of testing is to ensure that all your plans will work. Here are a number of reasons to test (many of them also provide testing themes):
- Ensure the Business Continuity Plan works as anticipated and required
- Exercise Business Continuity Plan arrangements and infrastructure
- Rehearse roles
- Prove and validate recovery procedures
- Check all other procedures
- Practise recovery
- Highlight questionable assumptions
- Build confidence
- Raise Business Continuity awareness
- Demonstrate competence
- Proof of concepts – will your ideas work
- Chance to catch errors, omissions and incorrect assumptions
- Will equipment fit where planned
- How easy is it to get replacement equipment
- How easily can you getting to the recovery site
Remember that your test results and the lessons you can learn are valuable and they can educate and help to improve your plans and your organisations resilience.
Testing and Rehearsal Course
This one or two day course is primarily intended to benefit organisations with an existing program. This course provides the skills to design, plan and test an exercise to provide the best learning outcomes that can be used to improve future responses.
You will learn how to develop, manage and run Business Continuity and Incident Management exercises. The course is mostly practical, with participants developing and then managing an exercise, using other course participants. The course follows the requirements of ISO22031 and can be adapted to fit specific organisational objectives.
Some of the learning objectives that will be achieved by delegates who complete this course include:
- Planning the Exercise Programme
- Exercises: Desktop and Crisis Management
- Planning the Timetable
- Structure, Scenario & Materials
- Sources of resources
- Exercise Management Skills
- Control and timing
- Running and Exercise
- De –briefing, Evaluation, Feedback and Reporting
- Developing an Exercising Policy