Training and exercise
A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is not considered valid until it has been tested. The whole point of a test/ exercise is to see if the plan actually works. For example does it give the intended outcome? Are there any gaps in arrangements? Are staff prepared?
This is where specific scenarios come into play, for example if you chose to test your plan using a severe weather incident, such as heavy snow, would your strategies for coping with a loss of staff work? Is there anything else you can do to make your business more resilient? Do you need additional arrangements you didn't consider when writing your plan?
There are many different types of plan 'test' or 'exercise', so it is important to choose the type of approach that works best for your organisation e.g. a desktop-based event, using a fictitious scenario for a full 'walk-through' of the plan, or a 'live' exercise a bit like a "dress rehearsal" where people take on specific roles and simulate your response.
In certain cases you might also want to just test specific elements of your plan, such as checking your key contact list is up-to-date. This 'component' test approach would enable more frequent testing as it is not as time or resource intensive as other types of plan exercise.
The most crucial element of this stage is to identify the lessons learned from the exercise. This should help inform improvements to the plan as well as identifying any training needs for those with specific responsibilities as part of the plan.
Training and raising awareness is a core part of embedding a culture of resilience. It is pointless to invest time and energy in writing a plan and developing your response arrangements if nobody knows about it!
It is important to train for staff involved in activating or delivering specific elements of the plan, so that they are fully aware of their roles and responsibilities. A general programme of business continuity education and basic awareness-raising activity for other staff in your organisation should also form part of your training strategy - this applies to both internal and external stakeholders e.g. external suppliers or key partners to ensure consistency of approach and a common understanding of the subject.