The health and well-being of any organization and its operations does not simply happen without any care and maintenance. Just like an automobile’s engine needs tune-ups, inspections and oil checks, you need to tend to your business’s computing and human environments to ensure good health and preparedness for unforeseen events.

Tabletop testing is the industry standard when it comes to Business Continuity (BC) and Disaster Recovery (DR), following a damaging, or calamitous, incident. There are two categories of incidents that fall under the header of “disaster.”

The first types of disasters that could interrupt your organization’s BC include acts of nature, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and tsunamis. The other types of occurrences that are considered disasters are human-made and include fires, gas leaks and explosions.

What Is a Tabletop Test?

A tabletop test is a meeting to discuss a simulated emergency situation discussing concrete plans to manage the fine details of the occurrence and aftermath of a natural or human-made disaster. This popular modern method of laying out and testing your organization’s BC and DR allows you to run through a potential disaster scenario.

Tabletop testing gives you insights into how well your plan is set to help you respond to the event, uncovering strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to directly address them before an actual event unfolds.

GBQ’s IT Services provides table top exercises to test business continuity, disaster recovery and incident response plans.

A common tabletop exercise process would include an experienced IT Services consultant who helps to:

  • Set goals
  • Select functions or plans to be tested
  • Choose participants from each department
  • Establish ground rules
  • Develop a disaster scenario, related to your local environment
  • Confirm assumptions involving available resources, such as phone, internet and staffing
  • Conduct the exercise
  • Determine whether the exercise is tied to any key vendors
  • Document and discuss the results
  • Advise through the process of applying lessons learned

Once completed, your tabletop test results will give you and your team a good indication of how prepared you are for a certain event.

The Benefits of Conducting Tabletop Testing Make It Well Worth the Effort

If you are on the fence about performing your own tabletop test, there are plenty of benefits that might help convince you that a tabletop exercise is right for your organization, such as the following.

1. Tabletop tests encourage and improve your team’s critical thinking abilities in realistic event scenarios

Tabletop tests involve team members, often managers, from different departments, such as accounting, legal, marketing, communications, HR, facilities management. It is also important to invite a member of the executive staff to be a part of the exercise.

During the tabletop exercise, you help these distinct and usually independent section leaders learn to think and work in tandem, for the common goal of seeing a disaster scenario through to success for everyone involved. Learning how to work together, using a plan as a blueprint, in a controlled setting is far easier than trying to come together during an actual emergency situation.

2. Tabletop exercises are good for your business reputation

A Disaster Recovery Plan for Business Continuity is essential to maintaining a healthy business and a good reputation in your industry. If you undergo a massive disaster and lose your data, and, even worse, valued staff members, your business reputation will undoubtedly suffer. With documented proof that you took the initiative to perform tabletop exercises, you can easily show diligence and commitment to the protection of human life, data and other resources.

3. Tabletop exercises help you coordinate the right people and organizations to assist in an emergency, within and outside your own organization

During an emergency, you are likely to require the services of outside resources, such law enforcement, firefighters, EMS workers and the media. In your tabletop exercise, it is a good opportunity to identify each entity to your team. It is also helpful if these outside entities can participate in your tabletop exercises to give your team the chance to realistically and effectively interact with these professionals.

4. Tabletop tests yield high-impact results with little expense to your business

Besides the time spent performing the exercise, the resources needed to perform a tabletop test are minimal, especially when compared to the potential risks of going into a disaster scenario without such intensive preparation.

5. Tabletop tests may be a requirement

In some industries, continuity, disaster recovery and incident response plans are required by regulations. In other industries, particularly where downstream firms provide critical services or supplies, customer contracts may require active plans that include testing requirements.  For some firms, there are obligations from both the regulator and the customer.

Next Action

Conducting tabletop testing can help you and your team shore up a solid plan, providing you with knowledge and tools to feel confident in the face of any events that may come your way.

GBQ IT Services is one team of builders, breakers, operators and auditors with access to a consortium of 50 experienced IT, cyber and assurance professionals delivering IT risk, cyber security and productivity solutions. We build value through IT strategy, protect value with information risk and cyber security services, measure value and improve productivity with data analytics and process automation and assure value through IT audit services.

We provide tabletop exercises of business continuity, disaster recovery and incident response plans for firms of all sizes. To assess your firm’s resiliency to unwelcomed events, please contact Rob Pyles, Doug Davidson, or your partner contact.

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