How is your company testing and training on your emergency preparedness and business continuity plans? It is important to take a proactive approach when considering the threat of any crisis or disaster. Your organization can do this by implementing prevention, recovery and response plans, and a good way to test and train on these plans is by using tabletop exercises.  

A tabletop exercise is an engaging, interactive training resource that will allow you to walk through a real-time crisis or disaster with your employees and/or your crisis team. Not only is this a great way to communicate your emergency preparedness and business continuity plans, but tabletop exercises also allow you to expose any gaps that may exist in those plans.

Why Use a Tabletop?

When using the word “test”, many people think of pass or fail, hours of studying or a long, daunting list of questions. By using tabletop exercises to test your emergency preparedness plans, you can break this stereotype. For example, if you wanted to conduct a training exercise for what to do in the event of an active shooter, you can use a tabletop to break down the situation step-by-step and receive feedback from participants on the current knowledge and efficiency of your plan.

Not only do tabletop exercises help develop effective prevention and response programs, but they also help you develop plans for how to recover should an incident occur or analyze potential gaps within existing plans. Organizations can face barriers that negatively affect business functionality, as well as cause reputational damage. Of the organizations that have gone through some type of crisis or disaster, 80% end up closing within two years of the incident. Having a business continuity program in place is great, but having one that you’ve tested and trained on is best and will help keep your organization out of that percentage.

Who Should Participate in a Tabletop?

You could use a tabletop exercise with your crisis team first and after exposing gaps and refining your plans, you may want to involve other employees in order to actively communicate those plans. Appoint one facilitator and assign specific roles to the members of your crisis team. Try allowing the appointed members to respond according to the particular role that they play within the team. Not only will this help your organization respond to and recover from a crisis, but it will also provide comfort and security to your employees knowing that you have actionable emergency preparedness and business continuity programs in place.

What Types of Tabletops Does Preparis Offer?

A tabletop is a simple presentation of a real-life emergency situation, and Preparis provides these for many different scenarios from active shooter and bomb threats to natural disasters like a hurricane or earthquake. You can easily access tabletop templates in the Knowledge Center section of the Preparis Portal and conduct these trainings yourself, or have a Preparis consultant come to your workplace and do an onsite exercise with your crisis team. While tabletops are crisis-specific, it is best practice to implement programs using an all-hazards approach. This means your programs will revolve around 4 different impacts that could occur regardless of the crisis or disaster. These impacts are as follows:

  • Loss of facility
  • Loss or failure of information or technology
  • Reduced workforce
  • Reputational damage

Just as a flood could cause all four impacts, so could a Zika outbreak or workplace violence. When using tabletop exercises to test and train on your emergency preparedness and business continuity programs, keep this impact-focused strategy in mind.

A tabletop is simple, interactive and effective. In many incidences there isn’t much time to respond, and few think to grab a binder or document explaining emergency preparedness procedures. With a tabletop, your crisis team and employees will be trained and educated, no binder needed.