In order to stay competitive, relevant, and profitable, an organization can’t afford to be out of the game for long. Even a minimal amount of downtime can wreak havoc on an enterprise. A well-designed business continuity plan (BCP) can allow an organization to bounce back quickly, whether a short interruption or a major disaster. However, maintaining a proper BCP is an ongoing process; enterprises experience change from time to time. As organizations encounter these changes, they need business continuity plans and solutions to keep pace. Regularly testing and reviewing BCPs ensures that they meet and protect the current needs of an organization.
How Often Should a Business Continuity Plan Be Tested and Reviewed?
When it comes to scheduling a business continuity plan test and review, there are no mandated rules. However, most organizations should consider testing and reviewing their business continuity plan once a year. Some enterprises may conduct a BCP test and review every six months. A BCP test and review aims to ensure the plan will work based on the design should disaster strike. To that end, enlisting the help of someone unfamiliar with the plan is helpful. Their unbiased evaluation will help highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the plan, allowing the organization a chance to strengthen the BCP. Including a BCP test and review in your organization’s operational schedule is always a good idea. How often you decide to conduct a review and test your BCP depends on the unique makeup of the organization. Of course, the more complex the BCP is, the more testing and reviewing it will require.
Factors that Determine the Frequency of BCP Testing
Each organization is unique, which makes their BCP one-of-a-kind as well. Here are some of the most common factors that will determine the frequency of your organization’s BCP testing:
With a larger enterprise comes a larger BCP. From personnel to data to equipment and more, the functionality of an organization can be quite complex. For bigger companies, a BCP will require much more oversight and testing. Enterprises with fewer elements to contend with can afford to have less frequent testing.
Organizations that are part of a highly regulated industry, such as healthcare or finance, may be responsible for overseeing a wide range of sensitive data. There may be strict requirements by industry regulators to ensure the data is secure. In this instance, organizations will want to be sure their BCP is solid. On the other hand, smaller enterprises with less oversight may be able to test less frequently.
The design of a BCP will determine how often it will need to be tested. If the current BCP is complex, it has more chances to fail. A lower probability of failure equals a lower need for frequent testing.
Fluctuation Within the Organization
When organizations experience employee turnover or scale business up or down, it can affect the BCP. Also, departments can change, as well as the employee job functions within those departments. Sometimes, employees may be asked to take on additional responsibilities when an organization’s workforce is reduced. Outside of the direct operations of an enterprise, the vendors and clients can change. Big shifts in organizations, such as switching landlines to VoIP phones or moving an IT network to the cloud can cause business continuity plans to be significantly rewritten. Even the changes in the physical structure of an enterprise’s location can alter the design of a BCP.
Advantages of Constant BCP Reviewing and Testing
When it comes to an enterprise’s ability to bounce back from a disaster, winging it is not a wise plan. Here are three key benefits of upholding consistent BCP reviewing and testing practices:
Time is a precious commodity for any enterprise. The longer it takes for an organization to recover from a disaster, the greater the damage to its ability to conduct business efficiently. A flawed BCP can end up hampering an organization with severe expenses, lost revenue, and a damaged reputation. A regularly tested and reviewed BCP allows an enterprise to be prepared for potential risks, create adequate responses, and return to “business as usual” quickly.
Identifies Vital Areas in Need of Improvement
Reviewing and testing your BCP with an organization-wide approach can allow you to uncover every stone and discover any flaws in the design. Enlisting the help of each department within the organization can help illuminate problem areas that may not have been an obvious concern. Each area of an enterprise may have its own unique risks that can be limited to its department or affect the organization’s overall function. All of this information only serves to enhance your BCP.
Increases Confidence for Stakeholders
Investing resources into strengthening your BCP is money well spent. Not only will your organization have a solid response for potential risks, it will also go a long way in assuring investors, employees, vendors, customers, and even regulators that the business is in good hands. Staying ahead of risks is always a wise investment. Above all, reputation is everything. Maintaining good governance can bolster your organization’s reputation in the marketplace as a responsible, safe, and secure business.
Cynergy Technology is a leading full-service technology provider specializing in cloud computing solutions. With over forty-two years of experience, our team of professionals can assist your organization in creating a business continuity plan and provide backup and disaster recovery solutions. Contact our team of experts today for a free consultation!