10 ways to improve Business Continuity Plan Exercise, Audit, and Maintenance – tip 5 credible scenario

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.

Tip # 5: Choose a scenario that is stimulating and vivid, yet credible

The scenario needs to explore the exercise objectives and to engage your people. Begin by reviewing your threat and risk assessment and choose a scenario that has a medium to high probability of occurring. If you choose an implausible event such as a meteor impact you will lose credibility and team discussions may centre on the unlikelihood of the event versus realizing the objectives of the exercise.

Like any action-packed Hollywood blockbuster, an exciting scenario will draw the participants in. In order to create a challenging exercise for the crisis communication team, the story should be one that the media would pick up on. However, the scenario should not be overwhelming and should not contain obscure or technical implications which might confuse the team or open the way for you to lose control or credibility. It should set up a challenge which is likely to stretch the team’s capabilities.

You might want to create your own database of possible scenarios. Research famous events or track unique current incidents. Take note of reported details and understand the effects on the organization, so that you can incorporate realistic details.  Follow the story over several days and note how the organization responded.

Finally, do not forget to use both your reason and imagination in developing the plot of the exercise.

(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

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