Examples of good practice in public sector business continuity management: exercising

Guidance to support local responders in the fulfilment of their business continuity exercising and testing requirements.


Exercise Guidance for local responders with the statutory duties of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004

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The recent Chartered Management Institute BCM survey (2008), conducted in association with the Cabinet Office, highlighted a significant gap in provision for exercising. The report concluded that, “just under half of organisations with business continuity plans carry out regular and thorough rehearsals/exercises, despite strong evidence that rehearsals are vital to ensure the effectiveness of planning”.

This guidance aims to support local responders in the fulfilment of their business continuity exercising and testing requirements under the Civil Contingencies Act, 2004.

By taking account of the current edition of “Emergency Preparedness”, and reflecting the appropriate elements of the British standard on Business Continuity Management (BS 25999), this guidance provides fundamental advice and principles relative to exercising and testing, from concept through to post exercise delivery and review.

This guidance is designed to support local exercise and testing arrangements, specifically in the context of a single organisation. It offers reflective guidance based upon common principles and (sourced) industry wide documentation. The content has been developed by a group of professionals and reviewed by experienced practitioners in association with the Civil Contingencies Secretariat.

The need for regular and thorough exercising and testing spanning the principles of; incident management, business continuity, and business recovery is essential, as it provides rich learning opportunities that may prove crucial in the event of an actual disruptive incident.

The need for early learning and corrective actions are further illustrated in the Chartered Management Institutes survey, where it identified that, “seventy eight per cent of recipients who had exercised their plans… had revealed shortcomings in the plan”. This is an important finding as the purpose of exercising and testing is to validate and continuously improve the business continuity capability of an organisation.

Published 8 February 2011