Business Continuity Plan Audit Checklist: Everything You Need To Know
The rise in cyber threats and attacks has been phenomenal in the last few years.
Businesses are under constant threat, and these threats can erupt from anywhere.
The threat’s source can be:
- Human errors (about 95%)
- Power failures
- Cybersecurity risks
Data loss can happen due to any mishap.
In 2023, ransomware attacks surged by a staggering 37%, resulting in average enterprise ransom payments surpassing $100,000. Meanwhile, the typical ransom demand reached a staggering $5.3 million. These statistics highlight businesses’ growing cybersecurity challenge, emphasizing the need for strong protective measures.
This is where your Business Continuity Plan comes to your rescue.
Let’s look at what it is and why it is important.
Business Continuity Plan and Its Importance
A Business Continuity Plan outlines how your business can continue its operations despite unplanned service disruption. It can be defined as your organization’s capability to continue delivering products and services uninterruptedly at acceptable pre-defined levels despite facing disruptive incidents.
Business Continuity Plans (BCP) are critical for your organization. No doubt, building BCP and Business Continuity Plans testing can be time-consuming and requires lots of effort.
However, it is worth having BCPs in place, as they help in Disaster recovery, help an organization to restore their data backups, and offer a competitive edge to the businesses as compared to those who don’t have business continuity plans in place.
Benefits of Business Continuity Plan Audit Checklist
A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) Audit Checklist offers various crucial benefits for organizations that want to ensure the effectiveness of their business continuity planning and preparedness. Some of the essential benefits include:
You can assess your level of preparedness with a business continuity plan audit for disruptive events like natural calamities, cyberattacks, and supply chain disruptions.
Vulnerabilities and risk identification
This is a checklist that helps in identifying vulnerabilities and risks that exist in your BCP and helps your organization address them proactively.
It ensures your organization is in compliance with all the industry-specific regulations and standards related to business continuity planning. It is critical for your organization to avoid any legal and regulatory issues.
Vendor and Supply Chain Resilience
Business Continuity Plan Audits help organizations resiliency in their vendors and supply chains. It ensures the preparedness of these critical partners to continue operations during disruptions.
It encourages proper documentation of all aspects of the business continuity plans, including procedures, contact lists, and recovery strategies, and ensures they are readily accessible when needed.
What Should Your Business Continuity Plan Audit Checklist Contain?
While not an exhaustive list, the Business Continuity Plan Audit Checklist serves as the starting step for the Business Continuity Plan process. The list is created to ensure that your organization has started a business continuity plan process and the management has considered the steps to ensure critical functions are operating during a disastrous event.
The Audit checklist should be segregated into three phases.
There are various sub-steps under the pre-planning section, including:
- Program initiation and management include setting the need for a business continuity program, selecting a spokesperson, and deciding on the core assets.
- Risk evaluation and control incorporates risk tolerance, physical property, information and company reputation, among other factors like resource allocation.
- Business Impact Analysis is an important aspect of a business continuity program and determines critical, time-sensitive, and prioritized business processes.
The various sub-steps under planning are as follows:
- Developing Business Continuity Strategies includes assessing strategies, supporting the services or resources needed, and the advantages and disadvantages of cost.
- Emergency Preparedness and Response is the second step in planning, including emergency types, tactical and strategic planning, faculty stabilization, and life safety. It also includes crisis management.
- Development and implementation of business plans are also a part of planning.
It includes types of plans like COOP, BCP, ERP, DRP, and crisis management, among other plans.
It also includes disaster recovery management, critical continuity functions, and recovery communications.
Post-Planning or Execution
The Post-planning or execution stage is where you will be doing the following:
- Holding Awareness and Training programs to emphasize the importance of business continuity plans. You can also organize awareness and training activities for your team.
- Business continuity plan exercise, audit, and maintenance also come under post-planning, including exercise and business continuity plan testing. It also includes establishing an audit process.
- Crisis communication is an essential part of post-planning and includes sources and methods of communication. It includes a crisis communication plan, the key message, and the role of the media and spokesperson.
- Coordination with external agencies is also a crucial part of post-planning and includes identification and establishing the organizational emergency management procedures. It also includes a review of current laws and regulations.
How to Create a Business Continuity Plan Audit?
What You Need For a Business Continuity Plan Audit
|Audit Team||You can either have an internal employee or an external audit firm.|
|Documentation||Must include business impact analysis, risk assessments, established business continuity, and disaster recovery response plans.|
|Guidance||Standard industry best practices can help your audit and ensure all the bases are covered, and your BCP meets all the requirements|
|Actionable Results||Once your audit is done, your findings must offer the next steps to improve your business continuity plan and prepare for your next audit.|
When creating your business continuity plan audit, understand that it can be as simple or complex as per the organization’s requirements. So, before diving into the steps that will help your organization create a robust business continuity plan audit that is tailored to your business needs, understand your organization’s goal in creating one.
Once the goal is identified, follow these steps to create a business continuity plan audit.
- Audit plan preparation is the first step in creating a business continuity plan audit. This is the step where you outline the plan’s scope, how you approach it, and when you want to schedule the business continuity plan audit.
- Documentation information review and summarization for the audit is the next step. It includes business continuity and disaster recovery plans, risk assessments, and emergency communication plans. This is the step where any document gaps are addressed, and the information is updated as required.
- To validate preliminary findings and prepare audit paperwork, you must also review and apply relevant standard regulations, legislation, and best practice documents.
- Next, identify audit controls and prepare work papers reflecting established business continuity metrics defined by standard groups, legislators, and regulators.
- Conducting business continuity plan audit interviews with relevant personnel across your organization is the next step.
- You must prepare a draft audit opinion report based on those audit interviews and discovery. This report is used for discussion with interested parties in your organization.
- Once the audit interviews are done, you must complete the final audit report and communicate the findings to relevant stakeholders. Interview results, documentation notes, and recommended actions to improve the business continuity plan may be included in the report’s findings.
- Next, you must complete your action plan and set a time frame to remediate the business continuity plan per your audit findings.
- Next, you must implement your action plan per the set time frame.
- Last but not least, you need to schedule the next business continuity plan audit.
Business Continuity Plan Audit Checklist plays a crucial role in keeping your business healthy, thus quickly recovering from any crisis or disaster.
To learn how Acsense can enhance your business’s IAM resilience and preparedness, schedule a demo with us today!
1. How do you audit a Business Continuity Plan?
Here are the steps to audit a business continuity plan:
- First, you need to formulate a team that is aware of business continuity plans. Creating an awareness team is the first step to ensure there is a record of employees who have attended the awareness sessions.
- Next, you would need to create a business continuity plan template document, which must contain all the details of the business continuity procedures.
- Internal audits by the business continuity awareness team help improve any loophole or vulnerability.
- Appointing a business continuity spokesperson for each business unit is critical. It is critical to ensure there is a clear communication of business continuity procedures across all the business units.
Conducting mock drills, performing third-party audits, and ensuring awareness management collaboration are ways to audit a business continuity plan.
2. What are the 5 components of a Business Continuity Plan?
The five most important components of a business continuity plan are:
- Risks and potential business impact.
- Planning and effective response.
- Roles and responsibilities.
- Testing and training.
3. What is a business continuity plan checklist?
A business continuity plan checklist is a list prepared after a clear understanding of a crisis or disaster’s impact on a business.
An effective business continuity plan checklist must comprise:
- Risk assessment
- Business Impact Analysis (BIA)
- Critical Business Functions and Dependencies
- Recovery plan and phases
- Backup and restoration procedures
- Test, exercise, and educate
4. How do you validate a business continuity plan?
The process of validating your business continuity plan can be broken down into three essential parts – exercising, maintenance, and review. The process outlines a controlled and systematic approach to business continuity plan validation while considering each component and discussing their methods and techniques.