Testing and Training Your Business Continuity Plan
December 6, 2017 - Some say the most valuable outcome of a test is failure, because from failure you can learn where the faults are and you can make corrections. At the very least you should be able to run the test and identify any weaknesses. These articles address the need for testing and for training your people what's required to their roles.
After you have spent the time needed to develop Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plans, training and testing are your next steps. Training those who will use the plan, especially secondary resources who may not have participated in its development, is critical to the success of your efforts, as is the validation of the functional capability and accuracy of your plans.
Once you have developed your business continuity plan, or BCP, it is just as important to test your plan. Testing verifies the effectiveness of your plan, trains plan participants on what to do in a real scenario and identifies areas where the plan needs to be strengthened.
Testing a Business Continuity Plan (Plan) confirms whether the Plan is actionable and appropriate. It also ensures staff are trained in their responsibilities and understand what will happen in a disruptive event.
Good business continuity training helps managers and enterprises prepare business continuity plans. However, they'll also need to deal with a further factor -- human error. This element is a cause of anything from small business failure to nuclear power plant meltdowns. A little information on the subject can help make business continuity that much more robust. Although sophisticated analytical techniques exist to assess human reliability, in the first instance we'll take a common sense approach.
So if everyone agrees that testing of business continuity/disaster recovery plans is a genuine, certified good thing, then there's nothing to argue about here, right? I, however, have reason to disagree with the claimed success of disaster recovery testing. I've seen too many examples of DR plans that have been tested routinely over extended periods of time, but still fail when needed.
Just because a Plan says that doing A, B, C will lead to a successful recovery doesn't make it so. You could write a plan to put men on Mars -- but just writing about it doesn't mean it will work. Whether or not you can successfully carry out your Business Continuity Plan is unknown unless one of two things happens: either you test it, or you use it. Do you really want to find out your Plan doesn't work as the building floods or the backup generator fails? By then it's too late.
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