Crisis Management Exercise Examples – A Review of Real Exercises

Richard Long

Over the past several weeks we have discussed mock disaster exercises and how to plan and facilitate them, as well as different types of exercises – large and small. In today’s blog, we’ll discuss some results from recent crisis management exercises MHA has performed.

These crisis management exercise examples will give you insight on how exercises are conducted and what type of results you can expect.

Exercise A

IT-focused Crisis Management with actual actions being performed, not just plan review. A targeted exercise, limited scope but planned for 2 hours.

During an update, the scenario required the team to relocate to an alternate site. Typically, this would entail everyone reviewing how they would get to the alternate site, the transportation, and estimated time. Then it’s a good time to take a break for the “travel.”

Comments:

  1. In this case, we had the team actually relocate to the alternate site. In previous exercises, the estimated time for travel and organization was 30 minutes. When performed, the time required was closer to 90 minutes. It took longer to get to the company cars or get transportation because personal vehicles were not available. Travel took longer than expected and once at the alternate site, not everyone could find the room.
  2. It was enlightening. We documented several changes to the plan to make the process more efficient. Performing actions identified gaps and issues that would not have been found by performing a thought exercise.

Exercise B

Senior Management focused Crisis Management regarding a remote location impacting the entire organization’s supply chain. The scenario revolved around a workplace violence event impacting operations. A comprehensive exercise – 3 hours.

Comments:

  1. During the analysis, questions were asked which did not have answers and information was not available. Participants started making assumptions and tried to make decisions.
  2. Several comments heard during the debrief were variations on “it was uncomfortable to not have the information.” It is important in exercises to not allow assumptions to be used as facts.
  3. This was like real life. In real events you may not have all the information you would like and may have to make some assumptions. This team did a good job in making decisions based on the information at hand, identifying milestones to take actions.

Exercise C

Tabletop review of Business Continuity Plans. No specific scenario, but a general review of the procedures. This was a short exercise for documentation review – around 30 minutes.

Comments:

  1. Even after several working sessions and a review, the tabletop identified important changes to be made to the plans. A good example – updating the information regarding relocation areas.
  2. Between the time of the working sessions and review, changes in the organization occurred making some areas no longer valid which emphasized the importance of BC as part of the culture and not just a project or annual review of plans. When significant changes occur, the impact to BC -both process and documentation – must be addressed.  

These are just a few examples of the benefits and improvements which come from performing crisis management exercises whether comprehensive or short. The goal was not to demonstrate a “successful” exercise or “check a box” but to identify gaps and areas for improvement to obtain more functional capability.

Use these crisis management exercise examples for your own references, so that you can effectively strengthen your bc program.

FURTHER READING ON CRISIS MANAGEMENT EXERCISES

For more crisis management exercise examples and other hot topics in business continuity and IT/disaster recovery, check out these recent posts from MHA Consulting and BCMMETRICS:

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