Business Continuity Exercise

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On Wednesday, May 19th, 2010, Prometric conducted its annual business continuity exercise in Baltimore. We conduct this exercise once per year in order to validate that the plans and procedures Prometric has in place to restore business operations in the event of a natural or other “disaster” are sound and effective. The exercise itself is designed to validate the ability of Prometric teams ranging from technology, global command center or channel operations to client services, marketing and global help desk, to execute their respective business continuity plans (BCPs)and disaster recovery plans (DRPs) to address any unscheduled, extended loss of access to the Prometric facilities located in Baltimore, MD. This half day exercise, which included participants representing 18 Baltimore-based teams, was observed and audited by Eagle Rock Alliance (ERA), a third-party evaluation team. Some of ERA’s feedback is below.

“This tabletop exercise was very successful. Regarding staff awareness and training in BCP concepts this exercise deserves top scores. All teams were highly engaged, they were seen conferring with other teams and appeared to be very familiar with their plans. The exercise allowed teams an opportunity to validate their documented recovery tasks and to work through the scenario presented. Nearly all teams had their plan documents and most were well versed with the recovery process. ”

“It is clear that Prometric and the BC/DR team in particular have a “Best Practice” attitude and are always looking to improve. The concept of Best Practice at its highest level is that of “searching for continuous improvement” which is strongly emphasized in these exercises year over year. There are several areas that have been flagged in past exercises and where Prometric has since matured.”

A number of improvements were noted during this year’s exercise, including:

  • the impact to testing facilities and scheduled administrations was in the exercise foreground more so than in previous exercises;
  • the structure of the Incident Management Team calls, intended to gather in and communicate out critical information on all areas of the business was improved this year in terms of how issues brought forth were handled;
  • simulated “shift changes” were incorporated to account for the reality that during a true disaster, not every employee will be awake for 24 hours a day. The shift changes were greatly improved in both the 2009 exercise and in this year’s exercise, with nearly all teams (and the Incident Management Team) rotating the spokesperson for business status calls.

Exercising these plans once per year also gives us the opportunity to identify areas where we can improve or tighten process and procedures. This year, there were several lessons learned that Prometric plans to address:

  • Better documenting and streamlining the communications between Prometric and its parent company once a “disaster” has been declared;
  • Having teams more clearly document, in advance, (and sharing with the Incident Management Team) the number of laptops or employee seats required at the emergency back-up facility
  • Ensuring that the Continuity of Operation Plan is always up to date with current staff as authors.

We take pride in the effort and planning invested in business continuity and disaster recovery preparation. We realize that in the event of a natural or manmade disaster, we need to protect your assets and business, and we conduct these exercises with our clients’ businesses top of mind.