Make Time to Review Your Business Continuity Plan

March 17th, 2021   |     |  security & compliance

In the past year, most of our worlds have been turned upside down. Plague, floods, and freezes have affected all of us, but no matter what hits us, we need to find ways to continue on. We need to make sure the lights stay on, food is available, hospitals remain open, our children continue to learn; we need to make sure that our businesses can continue to operate. Some businesses might have been prepared for disaster, some may have been prepared for certain types of disasters, many unfortunately weren’t very well prepared at all. No matter where your business is on the preparedness spectrum, it is always good to periodically review your business continuity plan (BCP).

A BCP is a document that outlines how a business will be able to continue on in the face of service disruptions or disasters. It is more than just a plan that outlines how systems will failover in the case of outages. A BCP covers how the business will be able to continue in terms of personnel and physical resources such as locations and materials.

Update your BCP Docs

BCPs should be looked upon as living documents. You cannot just create your BCP and check it off of your to do list forever. Businesses are constantly changing and a BCP needs to be able to capture those changes and plan accordingly. What this means is you need to basically retrace the steps you took to create the BCP in the first place.

  • Ensure that all critical systems, applications, processes, employees and resources have been identified. Has anything new been introduced since the last time the BCP was reviewed?
  • Confirm that the correct point people are still the people who need to be contacted when something goes wrong and that their contact information is up to date.
  • Have all types of issues been planned for?


Time to Test your BCP

In addition to making sure that the documentation is up to date and accurate, you will also want to test your BCP. The plan is only really useful if it actually works. There are five main steps you need to take to truly test your BCP:

  1. Create a fake scenario
  2. Determine how long the test should take
  3. Communicate both the plan and the need to test to employees
  4. Perform the test
  5. Evaluate success


  1. Create a fake scenario
  2. Create a fake scenario that could affect your business. This could be a tornado warning or flood warning or perhaps just a power outage. You will want to ensure that your employees act as though the scenario is real.

  3. Determine how long the test should take
  4. Testing could take a day or more. But you might be able to easily determine how effective the plan is after only a few hours of monitoring employee responses. For example, if they are not following the guidelines as set forth in the BCP, your time will be best spent stopping the test and reviewing what needs to be done with those involved.

  5. Communicate both the plan and the need to test to employees
  6. Before you start the test, you will need to make sure that employees are aware of what needs to be done. Studying before this test is a good idea. Most business continuity plans fail because they were never fully communicated to employees. Employees need to understand the importance of the BCP and the importance of testing to make sure everyone knows what to do before a real disaster hits.

  7. Perform the test
  8. Once you have ensured the first three steps have been completed, you can perform the test. The goal is to monitor employees’ responses to see if they are following the plan and making good decisions.

  9. Evaluate success
  10. Make sure you have scheduled time after the test is complete to review with all who were involved, what went well and what needs to be improved upon. You will then be able to update your plan as necessary.


How Often Should You Review your BCP?

This is always tricky because there never seems to be enough time to get your day-to-day tasks completed, let alone test a plan that you hopefully never have to implement. But it is important to make the time at least once a year if not twice a year. This means both reviewing the document to make sure it is accurate and up to date as well as testing the plan in some way.

If we have learned one thing in the past year, everything and anything can happen and get in the way of our plans and our day-to-day business. Things are slowly getting back to normal. Now is the perfect time to look into reviewing your BCP so you will be prepared for whatever might be around the corner.

Alicia Townsend, Dir. of Content and Documentation
About the Author

For almost 40 years, Alicia Townsend has been working with technology as both a consultant and a trainer. She has a passion for empowering others to use technology to make their lives easier. As Director of Content and Documentation at OneLogin, Ms. Townsend works with technical writers, trainers and content marketing writers to inspire and empower everyone to take advantage of what OneLogin’s platform has to offer them.

View all posts by Alicia Townsend

Alicia Townsend, Dir. of Content and Documentation
About the Author

For almost 40 years, Alicia Townsend has been working with technology as both a consultant and a trainer. She has a passion for empowering others to use technology to make their lives easier. As Director of Content and Documentation at OneLogin, Ms. Townsend works with technical writers, trainers and content marketing writers to inspire and empower everyone to take advantage of what OneLogin’s platform has to offer them.

View all posts by Alicia Townsend

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