Good business continuity planning may be half the battle. But if you haven’t tested to check your plan works, then don’t expect to win. The example of organisations that did data backups, failed to test and found afterwards their files were unrecoverable proves the point. But how should you test your BCP? Approaches from other areas may have some useful pointers. Good software testing for instance is often a matter of mixing and matching human tester personalities. Here’s a tester profile model adapted for testing your BC plan and preparations.

  1. The person who asks ‘Why?’ Thinks it is pointless to waste resources on testing an unnecessary item when another vital item might be neglected. May tax some people’s patience, but can help to better focus your business continuity testing.
  2. The systems specialist. Knows some of the systems and processes of the organisation very well, but sometimes makes unsound BC testing suggestions when in unfamiliar territory. Suggestions tend to improve over time.
  3. The visionary. Doesn’t spend time on individual threats as much as the possible combinations that could truly sink an enterprise. Finds less holes in your plan, but more likely to find the really big ones.
  4. The quick take. Spots the immediate weaknesses. The counterpart to the visionary in some senses. A useful resource for running quick, iterative checks on your plan as you develop it or before you show it to your own manager.
  5. The thick-skinned. Considers that keeping people and the organisation safe are top priorities and is prepared to dive into possible problems or shortcomings (while exercising tact where possible). Less of a specialist, but sees each test also as an opportunity to add to his or her personal collection of methods, tools, tips and tricks to make BC work properly.

If you can only have one tester, then number 5 – ‘thick-skinned’ – will often be the best compromise. Maybe you are that person! But if you can also get testers 1, 2, 3 and 4 to positively contribute to testing your business continuity, then that will be even better.