Some organisations think that a huge, complex, all-singing, all-dancing relocation test is the only way to prove their business continuity plan. This type of test is often costly, difficult to arrange and can be fraught with risk. For these reasons it is usually done infrequently, if at all.
But there’s more than one way to test a business continuity plan. The different types of testing or exercising are many and varied and include :
- Callout tests, to ensure contact details are correct and the callout process actually works;
- "Talk through" reviews of recovery plans, to check plan contents are correct;
- Scenario-based walkthrough exercises, to familiarise team members with their roles and identify issues;
- Component tests, such as IT, communications or departmental recovery;
- Integrated tests, involving, for instance, multiple systems and/or business processes;
- Relocation tests (for both technical and business recovery);
- "Real" disaster simulations.
A sound exercising and testing strategy will involve most, if not all, of the above, conducted on a regular basis.