Hub - Business Continuity

18th November 2022

Practice Makes Perfect: Exercising Your Business Continuity Plan

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is here and the competing countries have undoubtedly put in their hours of practice, with an average of four-to-six hours of training each day. As the old saying goes, “practice makes perfect” – and this adage should be applied to every law firm’s business continuity plan (BCP).

When it comes to planning your BCP, a lot of effort is spent writing the plan but oftentimes, that is where all the hard work ends. Your plan must be a living document – something that is referred to, and exercised, regularly to ensure everything runs smoothly when disaster strikes.

In this blog, we provide practical guidance to law firms regarding the testing of their Business Continuity Plan (BCP).

Preparing for Defeat: Test for the worst-case scenario

Before you begin, understand the different scenarios in which you would be required to enact your firm’s BCP. This is key as the plan will differ depending on whether it’s an IT infrastructure failure, office shutdown, or other disaster that interrupts your day-to-day work patterns.

Firms must prepare for the worst, and continuously monitor the most relevant, present threats. As a minimum from a technology perspective, we recommend that an annual, all server shut down should be the minimum test you undertake – a half-hearted test will not ensure your firm is protected.

Enabling Agility: Ensure your staff can work remotely

The global pandemic catapulted all sectors into an agile working model, with many firms introducing cloud-based technology that allows staff to work more flexibly. However, it’s not just about having the tools – every member of your team needs to understand how to use the technology, and their role in the plan.

For example, does every member of staff know exactly how to log in from home? Are they adhering to company policy, for example taking their laptops home every day? And do they know how to get in touch with each other if a large number of staff are working remotely?

Not only do IT systems need to be tested, but people too. In the event of a disaster, vital time will be lost, and the impact on productivity even greater, if staff are poorly prepared. Firms need to ensure they have a representative test group – not just lawyers, but support staff and senior management too. The purpose is not only important to build for confidence for the firm, but also for individuals.

Making a Comeback: Measure how quickly you can return to business as usual

When creating your BCP, your firm should have carried out an exercise to determine your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) – this is the amount of time lost that your business can potentially sustain. As part of this analysis, you should be aware of how much downtime costs your firm.

It is important that, during a BC test, you measure how quickly your firm is able to return to ‘business as usual’ – and adapt and test the plan further if necessary. When disaster strikes, being able to easily open and find crucial documents can make the difference between hours and days in terms of lost fees, as well as keeping reputations intact.

Having a robust BCP in place isn’t just about creating a game plan. Putting in the practice and carrying out live testing provides you and your clients with assurance that your BCP is ready to perform, which is particularly important when there’s an active threat. Increasingly, panels and clients are asking for evidence of plans in place and asking firms to demonstrate their ability to prevent, and recover from, disaster.

Be prepared. “If only…” are famous last words of people who weren’t!

For more information about ensuring business continuity for your law firm, please get in touch with CTS today.

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