Unknown Truth Behind Auditing a Business Continuity Plan

by | Oct 13, 2016

What you need to know about auditing a business continuity plan

A business continuity plan is a detailed document describing how a business will restore its essential functions as soon as possible in the event of a disaster. If your business experiences some type of disaster, you owe it to your customers and stakeholders to get up and running with minimal disruption as soon as possible. According to TechTarget, when auditing a business continuity plan, the goal should be to “determine whether the plan is effective and in line with the company’s objectives.” A good audit will identify weaknesses in the business continuity plan and suggest ways in which it can be improved.

Priorities

When auditing a business continuity plan, it is important to ensure the plan is workable and enables your business to get up and running as soon as possible following a disaster. According to Knowledge Leader, an audit should ensure an “efficient and effective” business continuity plan is in place.

Here are three things to consider when auditing a business continuity plan:

  1. How is the Program Governed: Is your organization doing enough to encourage investment in the business continuity plan? Have you successfully identified all potential stakeholders? Are all the critical components of the business accurately represented in the business continuity plan? Is someone accountable for the plans ultimate success or failure?
  2. Program Management: It is important to ensure the business continuity plan is managed correctly and that it meets its objectives “despite the company’s inevitably competing priorities.”
  3. System Updates: When evaluating the companies resiliency, you may find many systems and processes that can be improved. When implementing changes, it is important to ensure the changes are “handled effectively to provide the best assurance that improvement results are beneficial.’

Parts of a Business Continuity Plan Audit

Auditing a business continuity plan can be a long and detailed process. According to the Disaster Resource Guide, an audit of a business continuity plan has five main parts. These are “scoping, planning, fieldwork, analysis and reporting.”

  1. Scoping: Scoping is where you define the scope of your audit. When setting up any audit, it is important to clearly define the goals and objectives. When defining the goals of a business continuity plan audit, consider the potential risks to your business, and make sure your business continuity plan is prepared to address these risks. Consider the way your programs are managed and ensure all critical programs are given adequate investment.
  2. Audit Planning: Once you have defined the scope of your audit, it’s time to create a detailed auditing plan keeping in mind the available resources at your disposal. When planning the audit, be sure to address the complexity of the business continuity plan, whether or not it identifies all potential risks and the effects to “the organization if the program fails.” The auditing team should contain representatives from both the business and information technology spheres of the company. The individuals who are to be audited should be identified, and the audits priorities should be addressed by creating a series of tests that can be conducted.
  3. Auditing Fieldwork: Once a plan is in place, it’s time to test your business continuity plan based on the goals you’ve set. During this phase, auditors ensure the business continuity plan is able to keep the business operating in the event of a disaster. They do this by interviewing stakeholders and reviewing the details of the business continuity plan.
  4. Reporting and Analysis: Once the field work is complete, the auditors review their findings and create recommendations to make the business continuity plan better. In the audit report, the auditors will explain the purpose of the audit, the methods used, what was found and their recommendations for improvement.
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If you’d like to learn more about how to set up and conduct an audit of a business continuity plan, contact us.

Dale Shulmistra is a Business Continuity Specialist at Invenio IT, responsible for shaping the company’s technology initiatives -- selecting, designing, implementing & supporting business continuity solutions to bolster client operational efficiencies and eliminate downtime.

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