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Stage 5: Exercising and plan maintenance

You need to treat the plan as a living document which changes with circumstances and the needs of the business. You should review the plan at least yearly and also if there are significant changes in the organisation, whether they are changes in staff or processes.

You also need to check and exercise the plan to ensure it's still valid and those with emergency response roles can rehearse their activities.

If those trained to use the plan don't rehearse their roles and responsibilities, it's likely they won't be effective in an emergency.

How to check and exercise your plan

There are many ways to do this, including:

  • reading through and reviewing the plan, or asking someone else to read the plan
  • you could also do a quick assessment of your current arrangements against our 20-minute BCM checklist
  • desk-top walk-throughs: Set staff the task of reviewing the plan against a set scenario (for example, the reaction to a loss of an important piece of equipment or being unable to access their normal workplace)
  • staff awareness training: Ensure everyone in the business knows their role should an emergency occur. You could combine this with fire evacuation training, by asking staff what they would do if they couldn't return to their usual workplace
  • component testing: Check a part of the plan to ensure it works. For example, you could test the recovery of your IT systems, or check all the emergency telephone numbers are correct
  • 'live' testing - This could be a full recovery exercise where you set up your critical activities elsewhere, or have one part of the organisation move to confirm the arrangements