Business continuity plan management

Your business continuity plan is a living document. Testing your plan regularly will help you evaluate how reliable it will be if you have to respond to an incident or crisis. You can then update it with any improvements, including reallocation of roles and responsibilities if required.

You should update your business continuity plan regularly (every 6 months). You will also need to update it whenever there are changes in your business, your industry or the location you operate in.

Keeping your staff up to date with any changes to your plan will help them put it into action in case of an incident, which will in turn reduce the impact to your business.

Strategies for testing your business continuity plan

Some parts of your business continuity plan will be easier to test than others. For areas that are difficult to physically test, consider paper-based exercises and meetings to review and assess the plan.

The following are some strategies for testing your plan.

Drills and training

You may be legally required to provide training and conduct drills to test some of the work health and safety aspects of your business continuity plan, such as fire evacuation plans. Read the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008 to find out what rules apply to your business.

If you deal with hazardous materials, special equipment, or in risky environments, you may need to provide training for your staff so they can do their jobs safely and respond appropriately if there is an incident. Find out what work health and safety codes of practice apply to your business.

Planning meetings

Planning meetings are a good way to bring staff together to inform them of the business continuity plan and their individual responsibilities in an incident.

Examine the plan as a group to identify problems and solutions. If you have developed a new plan or updated your old one, this will highlight any oversights. You will then be able to modify the plan before undertaking testing exercises (e.g. training or drills).

Scenario testing

Scenario testing works by simulating a live event and allowing staff to make decisions as the scenario unfolds in much the same way they would in the event of a real incident. When writing scenarios, think about the risks to your business that you identified in your risk management plan. This will help you make the scenarios more realistic and give you a better idea of how effective your plan is likely to be.

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