Securing investment by management in business continuity resources is getting easier and easier. Current events, customer demands, regulatory requirements and governance imperatives are all leading executive managers to invest more resources into business and technology recovery and resiliency strategies. However, the business continuity planner’s current challenge is getting executive managers to invest more of their own time participating in testing and training sessions.
We would like to recommend a method for guaranteeing management’s attention over the long-term (short of a bad experience with a real-world disaster!). Ask for two or three hours for all members of your organization’s crisis management team (a.k.a. incident management team) and propose the following agenda:
- Crisis management process overview training (15 minutes)
- What is a table top exercise? (10 minutes)
- Scenario Introduction (5 minutes)
- Scenario Inputs – 1 through 3 (2 hours)
- Scenario Debriefing (following each input)
- Lessons Learned and Program Next Steps (15 – 30 minutes)
Without exception, we have never left such a session where management has not asked for more training like this where they can gain additional experience in managing a response effort. Even though executive managers are often exceptional at dealing with operational issues on a day-to-day basis, they often are inexperienced and uncomfortable dealing with crises that endanger the organization and its employees. Crisis management table top exercises are a safe way to gain experience and comfort in applying the organization’s crisis management framework.
For those business continuity planners who have struggled with getting management to not only pay attention but to invest in business continuity planning, this session can prove equally valuable. Unfortunately, without a proven, repeatable and defined business continuity program, the executive management team will struggle, but they will walk away with an understanding of what’s at stake without a repeatable process where executive managers understand their roles and responsibilities, as well as the organization’s objectives in a crisis. They will provide the resources necessary to develop and implement a sustainable, repeatable business continuity program.
Overall, use table top exercise methodologies to demonstrate the need to participate in the business continuity planning effort, and if necessary, invest in more formal planning. Executive managers will walk away with the feeling that their time was well spent, and they will feel better connected to the planning effort.