Using Tabletop Exercises to Promote Corporate Resiliency

Given the interconnected and interdependent nature of our nation’s infrastructure, corporate resiliency and business continuity plans are integral in securing the success of your company and the protection of your assets.

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The National Incident Management System (NIMS) defines the preparedness cycle as “planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating and taking action to correct and mitigate.” Exercises play a vital role in the preparedness cycle. Exercise evaluation helps to highlight potential preparedness shortcomings and effectually enable an entity to reallocate resources as needed. These resources could come in the form of training and/or equipment purchases.

There are two types of exercises that can be beneficial to emergency preparedness plans: discussion-based exercises (tabletop exercises) and operations-based drills.

Tabletop exercises (TTX), in particular, serve as a vital tool in securing resiliency as they are intended to facilitate the understanding of concepts; the realization of an entity’s strengths and weakness; and achievement of meaningful changes in planned responses to simulated emergency conditions. They work by highlighting existing plans, policies and procedures; and subsequently familiarizing personnel with the entity’s capabilities. TTXs focus on strategic, policy-oriented issues.

Tabletop Exercises are highly affordable and effective. They involve the discussion of hypothetical scenarios by key players (internal and external personnel) in informal settings. TTXs are used to assess plans, policies and procedures as well as test and evaluate the systems needed to prevent, respond to, and recover from an emergency event.

Individuals participating in a tabletop exercise are encouraged to discuss potential incidents in depth and utilize critical thinking and slow-paced problem-solving skills to develop their response and resiliency plans.

Tabletop Exercises serve as an invaluable resource in promoting your company’s corporate resiliency. They require only a modest commitment in terms of time, cost, and resources and are a highly effective method for reviewing plans, procedures, and policies. They effectively acquaint key personnel with protection and resilience issues. If utilized and properly employed, tabletop exercises will ensure the protection of your company and its assets in the event of an emergency situation.

For more on how to plan and employ a tabletop exercise, please consult the Protection and Resilience Toolkit for local and regional critical infrastructure owners and operators.