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Guidelines for Testing a Disaster Recovery Plan

The Testing Process

This is the process to be followed when your organisation's Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is tested, in order to assess its viability, and to ensure your staff are fully conversant with the proposals.


Prior to testing the plan, two previous milestones should have been completed:-

  • Assessing the Risk and Likely Impact
  • Developing the Plan

Frequency of Testing

How often, and to what extent, you test your BCP is determined by the nature of the potential changes to systems, personnel, business processes, location, services and infrastructure; plus any legislative or contractual issues. Re-test the BCP whenever material changes have been made to its contents or to the organisation's business operations.

Testing in Authentic Conditions

Where the BCP Testing does not reproduce authentic conditions, the value of such testing is limited.

Test Plan

Develop a plan to test the BCP. Consider a range of planning activities, including start, stop, objectives, coordination, documentation of results, observers etc.

Resource Requirements

Resource the Test Plan with the same persons who would be likely to deal with a live situation. Test the plan by making certain key staff ‘unavailable’, simulating where practical the potential absence of personnel in a live situation.

Documented Test Procedures

Ensure that the BCP is tested using the documented procedures, thereby testing the adequacy of the instructions.

Test Results

Having concluded the BCP Test, the results must be analysed. A failure to undertake this task will likely detract from the value of the test. Learn from the results! The problems arising should be documented and addressed subsequently. You should have a formal mechanism for ensuring that this takes place.

Management and Staff Awareness

You must ensure that knowledge of the BCP is disseminated throughout the organisation.

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