Business Continuity Planning: Testing

14 Jan

As previously discussed, business continuity and disaster recovery, despite going hand in hand, are actually different functions. disaster recovery, as defined by CSO, is the process by which you resume business after a disruptive event, whereas business continuity refers to the plan by which companies will adhere to in the event of a disaster, which is drawn up before any such event occurs.

According to White (2006), the main purposes of a business continuity plan are:

  • To find any weaknesses and put into place a procedure for any unforeseen disaster;
  • To reduce the length of any consequences of such a disaster;
  • To ensure effective organisation of recovery activities and;
  • To eliminate any unnecessary work that may arise during disaster recovery.

By the above definition, it would appear that the performance of disaster recovery can only be calibrated as it is implemented. business continuity can be tested prior to such an event taking place. Sully1210 already discussed the 5 main sections of a BCP. In this post, using information provided by Goh Moh Heng (2006), I will discuss the various standards by which the success of a BCP is measured, which are based around some of the sections discussed by Sully1210.

Plans, measures and arrangements for business continuity/Readiness Procedures

As defined by business dictionary, business readiness is “the preparedness of persons, systems, or organizations to meet a situation and carry out a planned sequence of actions.” The plans, measures and arrangements are also what dictate the success of any business continuity plan.

How many can conceivably take part in the test? Were there an adequate number participating? Did the plan succeed with the number involved or will more be needed?

Were people prepared for the test? Individuals’ preparation for a test of this nature can say a lot about the success of a plan. If they are unprepared, their reaction will differ wildly from those who were.

Business Impact Analysis
This would be the business’s level of sensitivity to any sort of disaster; essentially, the loss that would be incurred due to disasters or accidents (business dictionary).

Plans (Early Stages)
How well did those involved react to the initial stages of the issue? How quick were their response times? Did they react too slow, leading to a worsening of the situation? The test can be useful in determining the areas in which reaction is weak, and areas which reacted quickly. Extra attention can be devoted to those weaker areas.

Plans (Later Stages)
How exhaustive were the plans drawn up for issues including the co-ordination and allocation of key resources? In some cases they may require more attention and detailed preparation.

This can be any internal politics, and supervision tactics (business dictionary).

Support and External Players
In terms of the main support group, how helpful were they? Which were needed most, and how well did they perform during the test?

Did those in charge during the co-ordination of the plan during the test react well? Did any pre-established chains of command play a role? In some cases they may not have been adhered to, which can be attributed to a failure on the part of those involved, or the design of the chain itself.

Information Flow
Were those in relevant positions kept well informed during the process?This is particularly important in the case of the above leaders, or players in important positions. If they are not kept well informed, it will inevitably lead to the failure of the business continuity plan.

Quality Assurance
As discussed by sully1210, this is all about reviewing. As such, the test itself is a quality assurance measure, and it is responsible for identifying areas in need of improvement.

As you can see, a business continuity plan can include a huge number of areas, and tests can be extremely comprehensive. In later blogs, we will discuss these areas in greater detail, as well as the various benefits of such tests.


Moh Heng, Goh (2006), Testing & Exercising Your Business Continuity Plan (Second Edition)

White (2006) “Success or Failure?Your Keys to Business Continuity Planning” Ingenuity

Business Dictionary


One Response to “Business Continuity Planning: Testing”


  1. Business Continuity Planning: Testing & Possible Issues « So Opinionated … - January 28, 2013

    […] my previous post I discussed a number of different aspects of a BCP. In this post I will look at the different […]

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