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A business continuity audit questions and tests the plan a company has in place to remain operational during internal or external threats. Businesses can face a multitude of threats that disrupt the organization’s ability to complete tasks and activities. While continuity plans may not receive a lot of use in a company, business owners and managers may need to know how well the plan will work. The business continuity audit will conduct a series of tests and reviews to determine the strength of the continuity plan, and how well the company insulates itself from operations disruption.
Continuity plans typically have a life cycle that requires analysis, design of solutions, implementation guidelines, testing for acceptance, and maintenance to keep the plan on track. In many companies, continuity plans are written well ahead of threats actually causing problems in an organization. While the plan may include a number of well thought-out ideas, the practicality of using the plan may be completely different. The business continuity audit will test these phases of the continuity plan, and possibly result in suggestions that will strengthen the plan and make it easier to implement when necessary.
Conducting a business continuity audit will start with the individuals involved in the testing and review process. A public accounting firm or other professional auditors can provide an objective opinion on the continuity plan. Additionally, they may have specific industry experience that internal auditors do not have. Although external auditors may be more expensive, the offsetting benefits can result in a more productive audit.
The business continuity audit should start with a meeting between the auditors and company owners or managers. This meeting will decide the scope of the audit and what expectations the company’s management has in terms of audit results. A timeline will come from the meeting that requires the auditors to issue a report by a certain date, which saves the company money and also ensure the changes will be in place before too much time passes, during which a threat can disrupt the business.
Fieldwork is the main thrust of the business continuity audit. Auditors will conduct interviews with the individuals who made the continuity plan and learn about the design and implementation process. A walkthrough helps auditors understand how the company will allocate resources to fend off threats to the company. Watching employees work through their tasks and learning how line managers conduct operations is also necessary for the audit. A final review of the company’s internal and external operations allows auditors to complete the fieldwork and discover how well the company’s continuity plan would stand up in face of singular or multiple threats.
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