Business continuity drills are an organizations best tool to detect, analyze and improve their weakest link in the operating chain. The common phrase “practice makes perfect” remains true in the IT world. Business continuity drills allow an organization to review their current operating system and the detrimental impacts that could occur should an accident or threat cause them to halt operations.
Periodic business continuity drills identify gaps in process dependencies and allows your organization to build safeguards to improve incident response rate. Below we will breakdown different business continuity drills and walk you through how to test your business continuity plan.
There are several different types of BCP drills your company can implement to test your business continuity plan. Drills can be difficult to perform due to the large amount of support and management required, but the information you gather from tests can be invaluable to your organization.
Business continuity plans should be tested annually to ensure the plan is covering current operations. Annual scheduled drills should be communicated to the staff at least one week in advance to the drill. This allows the team to secure projects they are currently working on and it provides a reasonable heads-up to staff to communicate with end-users.
Surprise or unannounced drills are used to simulate actual disaster scenarios. These events are triggered by an organization announcement and immediately followed by a period of staff purposely shutting down the systems being tested and communicating with end users that a drill is currently in progress.
Once the systems have been shut down, staff will be tested on their knowledge of following the pre-built business continuity plan. All support staff participating in the drill must report if there were any unexpected issues during the drill. For example, communication difficulties both internal and external, application issues, and operational roadblocks.
Your team designated to build and update your business continuity plan should meet each year to review the plan. This meeting should run through each potential threat and the processes to restore operations. If your organization has adjusted business operations or added additional products or services, your business continuity plan must be updated.
This meeting is meant to provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to voice their concerns and to revisit processes.
Process isolation involves testing specific parts of your business continuity plan that are either vulnerable, new or in need of adjustments. Isolated tests allow you test the key processes that play a critical role in your businesses ability to operate. These may include financial processes, backup restorations and tangible manageable action items.
Comprehensive business continuity drills are completely unannounced and involve all members in the company. The sole purpose of a full-scale drill is to shut down your current operations and get them fully running again at the backup site with little downtime.
Mature organizations, with trust in their plans, perform these tests. Staff members are well-trained and executive staff exude confidence in the team’s ability to execute the plan efficiently and effectively.
For organizations to have successful business continuity drills, they must build confidence within their staff and their processes set in place. This confidence is only accomplished through proper education, simulation and review of processes.