Tabletop Exercises bring together heads of lines of business and leaders of business processes to evaluate their state of readiness for crisis management, disaster recovery, and business continuity. Realistic scenarios are presented in an engaging, low-stress environment, where teams walk through their plans for responding to an unfolding situation. Participants are presented an evolving set of facts and circumstances that require them to make a series of real-time decisions. The goal is to test both their established plans and their ability to respond to unanticipated events.
Exercise objectives are set by the organization to test a plan and the team who are responsible for implementing the plan when activated. Plans range from crisis and business continuity to emergency and security management. The tabletop scenario is carefully designed to ensure exercise objectives are met. In addition to assuring that the organization has effective plans in place, the tabletop exercise brings together internal teams and critical partners to work in a simulated environment so they are prepared for real crises. Working together in a simulated crisis environment is the most effective way to build trust and effective communication among the team members who might not otherwise have regular contact under normal business conditions.
PreparedEx creates unique-to-your-company tabletop exercises, delivered with our industry-leading technology.
Certain enterprise activities face threats that require exercises to practice crisis response utilizing actual systems and tools as if there were a real event. PreparedEx Functional Exercises are designed to conduct “near real” simulations utilizing existing incident management systems and all relevant tools available to the incident management team. These exercises can include the use of a Red Team to carry out activities for a high level of realism. By their nature, Functional Exercises are delivered at a faster pace than Tabletop Exercises and require live communication among a larger range of constituents, including external parties. For many organizations, a Functional Exercise is often the natural progression from a Tabletop Exercise.
Functional Exercises simulate a crisis in the most realistic manner possible without moving real people or equipment to and from or around actual sites. The Functional Exercise requires a carefully designed and scripted scenario, with timed messages and communications between participants and simulators. The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) – the facility or location from which crisis response is coordinated – is usually activated during a Functional Exercise and actual communication systems, equipment and other relevant response tools are used. This “near real” exercise helps organizations go beyond testing of plans in order to identify any gaps or weaknesses that may exist with current equipment, systems and tools.
Full Scale Exercises
PreparedEx runs a Full Scale Exercise as a simulated training event that incorporates all operational aspects of a business, including external parties such as critical vendors, appropriate government agencies, and other key stakeholders. Full Scale Exercises are the closest thing to a real event and demand a high degree of physical participation and wide scale communication. Our expert war gamers design each exercise to help identify weaknesses and gaps in processes, procedures and plans to propel your organization to achieve an even higher level of preparedness. PreparedEx Full Scale Exercises benefit organizations conducting their first ever exercise of this sort, as well as for the most experienced companies who require ongoing systematic evaluation of the most critical threats. Typically, Full Scale Exercises are the culmination of previous tabletop and functional exercises that have helped refine the enterprise’s awareness of the risks that require a near-real, comprehensive exercise.
In certain sectors, such as energy, chemical and education, these types of exercises are regulated by government and must be conducted according to very specific standards to maintain certifications and operational compliance.
Full Scale Exercises are particularly useful for testing logistics, communications, notification, and physical response capabilities of organizations and their critical partners. They test the mobilization of all – or as many as possible – of the response components, they take place in “real time,” deploy real equipment, and test several emergency functions. In the emergency management domain, a Full Scale Exercise often involves local, state and federal agencies, along with communities and corporations. Live exercises demand the most extensive preparation because of the range of issues tested and the number of participants.
Corporate War Games
War games have been used for centuries to help the military and more recently government agencies examine their dynamic environment to uncover vulnerabilities—both with their own and the enemy’s, and to then make critical changes that produce a more complete and effective strategy. In particular, the military uses red teams to simulate the actions that the enemy can use to counter their strategy and uses the insights to formulate best courses of action to counter the enemy actions. And beginning about 20 years ago, FEMA and later Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began to use war games to prepare for disasters, both natural (e.g., hurricanes and earthquakes) and man-made (cyber attacks, potential terrorist actions). By the same token corporations can use a competitive war game to gain a better understanding of the total competitive arena, and anticipate competitive developments and moves within their industry.
PreparedEx believes that its exercise and wargaming expertise, with emphasis on analysis of the business implications of protecting a corporation from a specific threat, or responding to its consequences, are of particular value today to many corporations. The war gaming process can be used to assist a client to examine a particular threat, review facilities or other vulnerabilities, conduct disaster preparedness planning, review business continuity (and, if applicable, business resumption) planning, and conduct executive or other individual training.
The mix of services required will vary from corporation to corporation depending upon a client’s existing state of preparedness, the threat(s) in its business circumstances, the client’s specific objectives, the budget, the schedule, and other relevant factors. But the wargaming process also has value in examining many business issues far beyond a threat scenario. The following list contains a number of potential areas in which wargaming can contribute.
- Examine a restructuring of corporate organization to meet new business environment
- Explore issues and implications of new technologies
- Technology implementation
- E-technology implications
- Explore / assess the strategic future of an organization / industry / business environment
- Develop alternative potential futures for a corporation
- Paths to consider
- Paths not to take
- What to take with you from the game
- Evaluate acquisition / marketing strategies for new products
- How will your completion respond
- Assess / train on workplace ethics in e-business environment
- Develop teamwork / leadership skills
Drills are a common way to test one aspect of an emergency response plan and are usually not complex.
Fire drills are the most common type of drill that is conducted and are often a requirement by law or required internal by EH&S or building management groups. One of the main issues with fire drills is the fact that they are often predictable and do not simulate realistic conditions.
Other types of drills include safety and security related situations such as workplace violence and active shooter drills.
Drill should be considered as part of a larger exercise program. They can be very useful in the build-up to larger scale exercises.