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4 Business Continuity Testing Scenarios to Prepare for

In this era of disruption, business continuity planning alone isn’t enough. BCPs need to be tested regularly to ensure the organization is ready for disruption.

But what which testing scenarios will prepare you in the event of a disaster?

In this article, we lay out the 4 business continuity testing scenarios you need to prepare for. So, read on to find out.

What is business continuity testing?

But first, what is business continuity testing? Well, it’s the process of training for, assessing, practicing, and improving your business continuity capabilities.

The purpose of business continuity testing is to confirm that your established business continuity practices – chief among them, the business continuity plan – meet the objectives you’ve set out.

Why test at all?

Why do I need to test?

Remember, the purpose of the business continuity plan (BCP) is to identify all potential threats to the enterprise and the operational impacts those threats would pose should they materialize.

As a result, the BCP provides a collection of resources, including business continuity software, actions, procedures, and information to prepare the enterprise to maintain essential functions in the event of a disaster or other major disruption.

Given its outsized importance, the BCP must be validated to ensure it will hold up in times of organizational stress.

The role of business continuity testing

That’s where business continuity testing comes in.

Business continuity testing provides an organization-wide awareness of BC objectives and broader organizational strategic objectives. The role of business continuity testing consists of:

  • Helping to identify (and drive investment in) specific roles and responsibilities that support BC to become embedded within the organization
  • Supporting additional learning and training to improve competencies and behaviors
  • Evaluating the continuity suitability, adequacy, and effectiveness of the business continuity management system (BCMS)

What is a business continuity testing scenario?

Once you understand the parameters of business continuity testing, it’s time to get the exercise management program off the ground. That entails running business continuity exercises.

Exercises, however, fall into multiple categories. One of the most common is the scenario.

So, what’s a scenario? The industry definition of a scenario is a pre-planned narrative that guides an exercise, along with the stimuli used to meet exercise objectives.

Scenario exercises run on a timeline, occurring either in real time or with time jumps to cover different stages.

As scenarios are typically held in a table-top environment, participants must understand and demonstrate their knowledge of the plan as the scenario unfolds.

These exercises might include practicing relevant response activities, e.g., completing checklists, using log sheets, or drafting media statements.

What’s the advantage of running a scenario?

Are there any benefits to running scenarios?

For starters, scenarios tend to be more cost effective to run than other exercise categories.

And since they can be run with loser costs than simulation exercises, scenarios have proven to be more efficient.

What’s more, scenario exercises can be enhanced using the media to augment their level of realism. Media releases or other forms of employee communication often flow from scenario exercises.

4 types of business continuity testing scenarios

But what type of business continuity testing scenarios should you prepare for? The answer to that question will, of course, depend on your organization’s unique risk.

Industry, size of company, regulatory pressure will also inform the business continuity testing scenarios you should prepare for.

There are, however, certain generic testing scenarios most business should prepare for. The four that come to mind include:

1. Loss of systems and data

A no brainer, businesses should prepare recovery plans for the potential loss of systems, networks, and data, due to natural disasters, property crime, or cybersecurity breaches.

In most highly regulated sectors, for instance, healthcare and hospitals, data breaches will likely have to be disclosed to relevant regulators. As a result, plans should include law enforcement involvement and meeting breach notification requirements.

2. Loss of facilities

Even in this age of remote work, businesses tend to be anchored around key facilities, whether it’s a corporate headquarters, data center, or something else.

As a result, business continuity plans should account for scenarios involving the loss of such facilities, whether it’s from fire damage, an incident involving hazardous materials, or a psychopathic attack.

Potential ways of scenario planning for this risk include reciprocal agreements with other businesses for office space as well as preparation for personnel to securely access applications, systems, and data remotely.

3. Loss of a third party

Businesses are becoming increasingly reliant on third parties for both critical activities and back-office services.

Although these preparations will verge into third-party risk management, recovery plans should account for the loss of third-party services. To this end, businesses should identify alternate providers as well as seek to lessen their reliance on any single vendor.

4. Loss of people

The loss of a key employee, e.g., founder, CEO, important technical personnel, etc. can significantly impact a business. To scenario plan for this risk, business owners should back train relevant staff on recovery plans.

Business continuity software to improve scenario testing

How about taking exercise management to the next level in addition to scenario planning. That’s where business continuity software comes in.

Using the new digital transformation technologies of analytics and workflows, these platforms help businesses to (1) better anticipate and identify trends, (2) prevent situations that may generate an interruption, and (3) respond more efficiently to disruptions that do arise.

They also work to better fuse the planning and exercise management competencies together within the greater business continuity program.

How so?

Well, the platforms in question function as plans. That means when customers need to develop their continuity and resilience plans, all the data they have previously entered seamlessly comes together. This way continuity and resilience managers don’t have to go sifting through documents to find the data they need, eliminating the risk of someone referencing an out-of-date plan during a crisis.

What’s more, because the plan is in the platform, multiple stakeholders can collaborate on the development and updating of the plan, which enables better engagement. All data associated with building plan is managed centrally, in a controlled way. And data points only need be captured once and updated, which reduces the risk of duplication.

The platform as plan approach leads to more efficient exercise management, as does the platform’s own enhanced exercise management functionality.

What are they?

For starters, exercise dashboards navigate users and their teams through each phase of an exercise, ensuring everyone understands what needs to be completed and when. From there, the platform’s automation capabilities ensure the correct teams and/or personnel are invited to participate in the exercise and receive regular updates via automated notifications throughout the exercise.

Once the exercise is activated, all users can easily see what type of exercise is being
completed. And based upon the affected assets/activities, the recovery strategies required for the affected assets will automatically be populated for the team.

Built-in communication and collaboration tools, e.g., chat, email, SMS, and voice messages, then, make it easy to collaborate in real time, better coordinate responses, and keep everyone informed.

Finally, to ensure scenario planning goes off without a hitch, platforms like Noggin provide the capability to record meetings, minutes, and action items. This is a mirror of the platform’s incident management functionality, designed to ensure a consistent user experience. Which gives your practitioners the benefit of familiarity in the event of a crisis.

But don’t take our word for it. Request a demonstration to see Noggin in action for yourself.

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