Testing and Exercising
Arguably the most important phase in the BCM Planning Methodology is Testing and Exercising. For an organisation implementing BCM for the first time, this phase represents the culmination of the developmental efforts and serves to validate the business continuity plan.
Objectives of Testing and Exercising
Testing and exercising should be conducted with a few key objectives in mind:
- Identify and eliminate errors or omissions in the BC plan
- Familiarise staff with facilities, systems and procedures
- Assess BC plan effectiveness
- Enhance existing plans to optimise efficiency of recovery
- Evaluate and improve individual performance and organisational coordination
Difference between Testing and Exercising
While the main objectives of testing and exercising are the same, there is a subtle difference in how these terms are being used. Testing is used to validate recovery capabilities against specified objectives or criteria. That is, testing carries with it a connotation of “passing” or “failing” the test.
In the interest of readability, I shall use the term “test” to mean both tests and exercises for the rest of this article.
Types of Tests
There are several different ways BCM practitioners choose to classify tests. It is generally advisable to start with relatively easy tests, before attempting more complex ones, which, if not properly managed, could potentially lead to major problems. I like to group tests into initial (basic) tests, and advanced tests.
(a) Initial Tests
These basic tests include:
- Component tests
- Call notification tests
- Walkthrough exercises
(b) Advanced Tests
Once the initial tests have been mastered, the following more advanced tests can be conducted:
- Integrated tests
- Simulation tests
- Live tests
Video: Presentation by Dr Goh Moh Heng on Types of Tests and Exercises at a conference
Before, During and After A Test
What are the steps to be taken prior, during and after a test r exercise?
Before a Test
Before a test, it is important to develop a test plan that details the objectives, assumptions, type of test being conducted, and success criteria, as well the date, time, venue and other logistical details. The more complex a test, the more comprehensive the test plan would need to be. Information relating to test structure, injects and flow need to be addressed.
During a Test
During a test, observations and issues must be meticulously recorded, preferably on formatted templates or logs. These logs should be carefully designed, giving thought to what information is needed to validate or improve the BC plan.
After a Test
The conduct of a test is not the end all of testing. In the course of running the test, there will be lessons learnt and follow-up action items. Typically, we would have a hot-wash debrief immediately after a test, to solicit ground feedback on how the test went and to capture participants’ immediate thoughts and impressions.
Post Exercise Report
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