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Finagle’s Law and the importance of business continuity plan testing
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Finagle’s Law and the importance of business continuity plan testing

Julia Wailes-Fairbairn

Written by Julia Wailes-Fairbairn

19th September 2019

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Business Continuity Consulting

When it comes to Business Continuity Plan testing, we should all consider Finagle’s Law. Similar to Murphy’s Law, Finagle’s agrees that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. But it adds a twist: that it will happen at the worst possible time.

In the world of information security, it’s an axiom for us to live by. Because, although it may sound homespun and out of kilter with today’s techno jargon, it reminds us of what is important (and often overlooked) when it comes to Business Continuity planning: that your BCP will invariably be called upon at a truly inconvenient time.

That’s because the law according to Finagle dictates that your BCP will not be activated in the week or month that you develop it, when it is shiny new and totally up-to-date. Much more likely, it will need to be invoked some months or even years later, when you least expect it, when some elements of it could have been improved upon if only you had had time to address them. But we don’t need to accept this fate. By implementing a regular schedule of business continuity plan testing we can ensure that our BCP is regularly updated and improved so that we are primed and ready at any given moment.

While you would be extremely unlucky to experience scenarios like natural disasters, terrorism or pandemic illnesses, a BCP should be broad enough to encompass these. Much more likely are incidents involving political change (Brexit), data loss or cyberattacks and, depending on the nature of your business, these are likely to be the key areas of focus. These exercises will provide you with the intelligence required to refine your response and recovery strategies across the whole organisation.

Professional input into the information security element of your business continuity plan testing will pay dividends. Consultants with first hand experience of enacting BCPs and experience in conducting table top exercises will ensure that the project is conducted with minimal disruption while delivering maximum benefit in a cost-effective manner. They can also advise on remedial action and help to develop a forward-thinking strategy which includes other test and exercise tools to provide your network system with an element of future-proofing.

Melanie Taylor says, “One of the key benefits to bringing in one of our consultants to support the development of a Business Continuity Plan is that we offer an objective view on the resilience of an organisation. Having an impartial individual working with in-house teams undoubtedly makes it easier to identify weaknesses in a plan and ask those challenging questions that might be an accidental blind spot for employees.”

Although Finagle’s Law was first coined by John Campbell Jr, editor of Astounding Science Fiction in the 1940s, it provides as much of a relevant warning today as it did back then. Table top exercises conducted in a measured, unhurried way will help you to develop a BCP which delivers resilience. There will be no such thing as ‘the worst possible time’. No matter when disaster strikes, you will be prepared.

To find out more about SRM’s Business Continuity Consulting click here or contact Mark Nordstrom on mark.nordstrom@srm-solutions.com