Testing/Rehearsing the Plan

You have a business continuity plan, so now you need to rehearse it.  Here we cover how to do that.

The words ‘rehearsal’, ‘test’ and ‘exercise’ are interchangeably used for checking a business continuity plan in a practical way.  It doesn’t really matter what you call them, but you’ll probably find more people are willing to join in if you don’t call it a ‘test’!  

There are 3 common reasons to hold an exercise to rehearse a business continuity plan, and they’re all perfectly valid:

  1. Because you need a tick-in-the-box that you’ve done this for an audit trail
  2. To make sure people know what the plan says 
  3. To see where the plan can be improved
There are also several ways you can exercise a plan.  The most common are:
  • a talkthrough – where a small group of people sit with the plan and go through it from start to finish to make sure it works
  • a walkthrough - where a small group of people sit take the plan an walk through it, going to the places it says and doing what it says to do
  • a relocation- where resources (e.g. people, technology) go to the recovery location as per the plan instructions and work from there,
  • a technical test – a technology-based plan is enacted under controlled conditions to check that it works
  • a multiple plans rehearsal - where two or more plans are rehearsed at the same time to check they work together (may be internal teams, supply chains, etc.)
  • a scenario-based exercise - where a story is told to a group of people who have to test the plan works under those circumstances
Simple plans usually rely on simple rehearsals, while complicated technical plans might likely to need more in depth rehearsals that are specially devised for that particular plan.
There are three top rules that many find useful to remember:
  • Decide what your aims are first, and then design your rehearsal
  • Make sure someone’s keeping notes during the rehearsal so you remember what needs to be done when it’s over
  • Make sure your rehearsal cannot and will not affect real-life business

If you need help with rehearsals, then you’re in the right place.  Have a look at our business continuity rehearsal resources.  There’s a free guide on how to design and run one, and an example rehearsal that you could use in your organisation.
Plus, we’re continually adding more ‘ready-to-go’ scenario-based rehearsals: they come with powerpoint slides and a facilitators pack so you can literally download it, personalise it, and deliver it with minimal effort.   We don’t like to think of them as cheap, but they are really good value for money, because want you to come back and see us again!
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