June 21, 2024 Knowledge Center

How often should a business continuity and disaster recovery plan be tested?

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In times of crisis, a business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) plan can be a lifesaver. It outlines the procedures an organization must follow in the face of disaster, ensuring its critical functions can continue with minimal interruption. With a well-prepared BCDR plan, you can protect your company’s reputation and profits in the long run.
However, a BCDR plan is only as good as its relevance to your current business situation. You need to regularly test your plan to ensure it remains effective during emergencies. Below, we break down the best way to plan a consistent BCDR plan testing schedule, and our top tips for ensuring a successful review.

Twice a year: BCDR checkup

A regular, high-level checkup will help ensure that your plan’s objectives align with your business’s current goals and operations. Take the time to identify whether there were significant changes in your business processes, structure, or external environment that require adjustments to the plan. This way, you’ll make sure your BCDR plan remains effective and up to date.
Next, review the critical components of the BCDR plan. Make sure that all essential business functions and processes are adequately covered. Validate the contact information for key personnel and stakeholders to ensure they’re current. In case of an emergency, it’s crucial that everyone involved can be reached quickly. Additionally, check that your documents and records, including your list of critical resources and assets, are still accurate and up to date.

Every year: Emergency drills

Emergency drills test the effectiveness of your BCDR protocols and ensure your team is prepared to act quickly and efficiently in a crisis. Drills should include realistic scenarios that could impact your business such as natural disasters, cyberattacks, or supply chain disruptions. Rotate different scenarios each year to cover a broad range of potential risks to ensure your team is prepared for various types of emergencies.
It’s also important to evaluate their performance during these drills. Measure response times and assess decision-making processes to identify areas for improvement. Collect feedback from participants to gain insights into their experiences and perspectives. This will be invaluable for refining your protocols and making the necessary changes to your BCDR plan.

Every other year: Full plan review, updates, and simulation testing

Make sure your company’s BCDR response team, key leaders, and other relevant stakeholders conduct a thorough examination of your BCDR plan every other year. Identify any gaps or outdated elements that need to be addressed, then update your plan to reflect the current state of your business. Additionally, review your BCDR plan any time a major business change is implemented to ensure it still aligns with new company policies and procedures.
You should also perform full-scale disaster simulations, which create realistic scenarios to assess how well the updated BCDR plan works in practice. Engage all departments and key stakeholders to ensure comprehensive participation and realistic testing conditions. Applying these new protocols to real-world situations will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your BCDR plan, allowing you to make further improvements.

How can I ensure a successful BCDR plan review?

Ensuring a successful BCDR plan review requires careful preparation and the right resources. Here are a few tips to make the process more efficient and effective.

Have the right tools in place

Investing in the right technologies can streamline the BCDR plan review process and help you maintain and update your plan as necessary. Cloud backups, for instance, ensure all your critical information is securely stored off site and can be quickly accessed in an emergency. Many providers offer cloud backup plans suitable for small- and medium-sized businesses. Additionally, open-source disaster recovery tools can be valuable resources, as they enable you to maintain and test your BCDR plan without straining your budget.

Partner with an MSP

Working with an MSP gives you access to expert knowledge and experience in business continuity and disaster recovery. They can offer valuable insights into best practices and help you pinpoint vulnerabilities in your plan. MSPs can also provide ongoing support and maintenance for your BCDR plan and conduct targeted training for your staff.
Moreover, when you work with an MSP, you’ll gain access to all these valuable services without having to break the bank. They typically charge a flat monthly fee while being scalable to help accommodate your changing needs. This means you’ll pay only for what you need at a given time, minimizing wasted resources.

Minimize disruptions during tests

Schedule your BCDR plan tests during periods of low business activity to reduce their impact on your daily operations. Coordinate with all departments to choose times that work best for everyone involved. Advance notice is essential so employees can prepare and adjust their schedules accordingly.
Effective communication is also vital throughout the testing process. Inform all relevant parties about the test’s objectives, procedures, and expected outcomes. Providing detailed briefings ensures everyone understands their roles and responsibilities, which helps the test run smoothly and efficiently.
Looking to improve your business continuity plan? At SUCCESS Computer Consulting, we’ve got all the tools and industry experience required to help you develop an effective BCDR plan for greater peace of mind. Get in touch with our experts today to learn more about our managed IT, disaster recovery, and crisis management services.