masthead blog sm

Tech Tips

Be in the know with the latest IT tips, tricks, and tidbits

How to review your BCP: Steps and tips

img blog IT staff at work teams 03

Business continuity plans (BCPs) play a vital role in modern business. They combine various tools, plans, and contingencies to hasten the recovery process following a threat (e.g., a data breach) or emergency (e.g., fire, flooding, or hardware failure). In doing so, they minimize the disruption to business operations for the benefit of both a company and their customers. However, BCPs should never be treated as set in stone once established. 

Organizations grow, leading to increased data and traffic, expanded systems (if not whole new ones), additional personnel, and more customers, all of which results in greater complexity that can affect your BCP. In addition, new threats are constantly on the rise, especially as cybercriminals develop new, more innovative and destructive ways to breach cybersecurity. It is for these reasons you need to regularly review your BCP. 

This article covers the steps and methods you use in a BCP review, as well as some tips on how to optimize it.  

How to conduct a BCP review

A BCP review can be broken down into a series of steps:

1. Determine scope and objectives

The first step is to determine what aspects of your BCP you want to assess. This might include your risk assessment, the impact a disruption could have on your business, recovery strategies, plan documentation, training processes, and how you maintain your BCP.

You’ll also want to clarify the purpose of the review. Are you looking to ensure compliance with regulations? Identify weaknesses? Measure how well your BCP is working?

2. Choose a BCP review method

There are various tools and approaches for collecting data during your review. You can conduct interviews, surveys, or document reviews. In addition, you can perform simulations and exercises that test the effectiveness of your BCP and how well your team implements it. These various tools and approaches can be broadly organized into three different testing methods:

  • Tabletop testing: By simulating emergency situations through discussions and role-playing, you can identify gaps in your BCP while ensuring all your team members know their responsibilities in the plan.
  • Simulation testing: This takes tabletop exercises further by involving the team in actively responding to a simulated disaster, restoring backups and testing recovery procedures.
  • Full recovery testing: This involves actually running your backup systems and processing data as if a real disaster occurred to confirm the functionality and speed of your recovery process.

3. Collect data

Collect the data using the tools and approaches laid out in the method you’ve chosen and according to your objectives. Make sure you involve all relevant participants, such as your BCP team, different departments within the company, senior management, and any external partners who might play a role in recovery efforts. You must also ensure that the data collection is accurate, comprehensive, and ethical. 

4. Study findings

Analyze your findings in the context of your initial goals to identify areas where your BCP excels and where it needs improvement. Prioritize any shortcomings based on their potential impact on your business so you can direct resources, time, and effort in an efficient manner later. 

5. Disclose conclusions and recommendations

Once you’ve completed your review, communicate the results and your recommendations to all relevant parties. Present the information in a clear and concise way, highlighting key points and issues you can address. In addition, provide both supporting evidence and recommendations for improvement. Be sure to get feedback and address any concerns to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Tips to optimize your BCP review

When you prepare and conduct your BCP review, be sure to incorporate the following tips to get the most out of it.

  • Set expectations: Let employees know what to expect during the review so they can prepare accordingly.
  • Minimize disruption: Schedule review times that are convenient for everyone involved.
  • Clarify goals: Share the objectives of your BCP review with all stakeholders. This helps them understand what a successful outcome looks like.
  • Focus on critical systems: Make sure your review covers vital systems and processes, such as communication channels, contact lists, key personnel, supply chains, equipment, and data backup and restoration procedures.
  • Account for change: As your business grows and evolves, document any changes that could impact your BCP. These include new equipment, software, security policies, and changes in your business goals.

Learn more about utilizing BCPs and other business continuity measures by speaking with a predictiveIT expert. Reach out to us today.