BCP Test Plan

In this section we'll deal with developing the more complex type of BCP test - an incident simulation.  In this type of BCP test we require people to adopt the roles that they would normally adopt during a live incident and use the resources and tools that have designated to support  incident response and business continuity plans.

 

To create a BCP test that will support and guide an incident simulation we need to take several steps in order to produce a detailed BCP test plan or "playbook".  The BCP test plan is often referred to as a playbook because it brings together all aspects of the planned test in one place including:

Scope of the BCP test

Is this a test of the whole business continuity plan or just parts of it? A partial test might consist of performing a BCP test of one or two business activities or it might focus exclusively on ensuring that IT systems can be recovered effectively.

Who is participating in the BCP test?

This will be driven by the extent of the test (whether the incident simulation is being performed on the whole plan or just a specific aspect of it). This part of the BCP test plan identifies the participants who will be taking part in the incident simulation.

 

BCP test scenario & impact

The BCP test scenario and it’s associated impact complement the scope of the BCP test by providing a situational backdrop to provide realism to the test and to simulate the level of impact on the organisation that the participants will be expected to respond to. 

Instructions to participants

These instructions are normally sent to BCP test participants prior to the incident simulation. It provides them with a pre-briefing that will cover basic information such as where the incident simulation will be held and how long it will last and any materials that they may be required to bringing with them. the instructions will normally omit any details of the actual BCP test scenario and it’s associated impact.   As the BCP test is a “manufactured”  situation the briefing will also address information such pre-event priming including any BCP test "protocols" – such as how they should interact with colleagues and identify messages so that communications associated with the BCP test are not mistaken for a live incident.

BCP test support team & activities

The BCP test support team are the group of individuals who will design and subsequently facilitate the BCP test. Each activity  (including the production of the BCP test plan documents) will be identified for both the purposes of developing the test and for delivering/facilitating it.   The size BCP test support team will depend on the nature of the test and the number of participants – but is normally quite small by when compared to the number of participants

BCP test timeline

The BCP test timeline controls the execution of the BCP test itself. Perhaps the best way to think of the timeline is to consider it as a storyboard – in much the same way as a storyboard is used during the production of a film where a series of scenes is arranged to guide an overall sequence of events.  Applying this in the context of a BCP test the timeline determines the sequence of incident discovery, incident response team mobilisation, impacts assessment, decision to invoke the required recovery plans and steps taken to mitigate exposures and recover impacted parts of the organisation.

BCP test collaboration

All of the above does not come together immediately.  Before the BCP test is fully developed there will need to be a number of planning meetings to establish and agree on BCP test objectives,  scenario and impact,  participants, test location and duration.  Once these have been agreed the timeline is then developed in accordance with agreed BCP test scope and impact

That covers the BCP Test Plan - continue to read more about other aspects of  BCP testing