10 ways to improve Business Continuity Plan Exercise, Audit, and Maintenance – tip 2 Objectives

Your organization has now invested valuable time and money developing business continuity plans. As a professional business continuity planner, you know that the next steps – exercising, auditing and maintaining the business continuity plans – are all important to successful resilience in the event of a disaster. In this article, I will provide 10 tips to advance your business continuity plan exercise, audit and maintenance program.


The true value of a business continuity plan will not be recognized by an organization until it is exercised. Each exercise can give participants a chance to see the plan in action and recognize its importance.  It will also provide opportunities for training and plan enhancement which will increase the effectiveness of the plan in the event of a real disaster.

Tip #2: Develop a clear scope statement and a set of objectives for every exercise

If you are unable to communicate a clear exercise purpose, you cannot expect to obtain ever-elusive budget dollars, time commitment in key staff’s hectic schedules or agreement from upper management to proceed. A clear scope statement enables the exercise to be structured and organized so that the results can be measured and your plan fine-tuned. A typical scope statement will outline what will be included as well as what will be excluded from the exercise:

Scope of the exercise

  • Date, time and duration
  • Exercise type: tabletop
  • The exercise players will be:_________________
  • This exercise will be focused on actions found in Section aa.bb the Business Continuity plan
  • This exercise activity will be contained within the designated room

Out of Scope

  • The response component found in Section xx.yy of the Business Continuity plan
  • Multiple locations
  • Real simulation
  • Communications outside of the exercise room

Each exercise should have at least three but not more than six objectives. Objectives must be measurable after the exercise. A typical set of objectives[i] might be:

  1. To provide an opportunity to practice business continuity or emergency response skills
  2. To validate specific parts of the business continuity plans (example)
  3. To validate assumptions within the plan document
  4. Determine if the recovery time objective is obtainable
  5. To identify areas for improvement in the plan, strategy, procedures and resources
  6. To validate establish timings for activities outlined in the business continuity plans

Discuss and debate these objectives with those managers who have responsibility for business continuity activities and modify or extend them accordingly. Try to engage as wide an audience as possible in this debate as this will help to raise the level of awareness and support for the whole Business Continuity Management program. Make certain that the list of objectives is approved by the executive sponsor.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Eight – Business Continuity Plan Exercise, Audit, and Maintenance DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

[i] “Mastering Exercise Development”, Jim Burtles, Automata Ltd, March 22, 2005, Continuity Central

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