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Mobilize Women Week: Scenarios for Business Continuity

Mobilize Women Week: Scenarios for Business Continuity

If you've been in the world of business for a few years, it is likely that you came across a few scenario exercises, contingency plans, and crisis trainings. Perhaps one of the most effective way to put your team's agility and crisis management skills to test is through a well-planned rehearsal with a scenario like fire, civil unrest, or even a global pandemic (who would've thought!). 

A rehearsal is not about the scenario. Yet we all worry about finding the ‘perfect’ scenario to challenge our plans and our teams in a robust manner. We often feel we’re only as good as our last business continuity exercise, since these are often our ‘public face’ to our organizations.

However a well trained change manager and continuity planner will tell you clearly that the scenario always comes last. Before you know what your scenario might be, you need to know:

  • Which plan(s) is being tested?
  • What are the weak points of the plan?
  • What risks are highlighted for the plan(s) in question?
  • When was the last time this plan was rehearsed?
  • When was the last time these people were rehearsed?
  • How exposed do you want the team to feel?
  • How are you going to capture learning?
  • How will you ensure your team is open to learning and taking responsibility for actions identified during the rehearsal?
  • What facilities will you have during the exercise?
  • How long can you reasonably book your team for?
  • How many times do you need to rehearse this plan per year?

Before you start planning, ask yourself these questions in order to define the aims of the rehearsal. Only when you know your aims can you decide what you want to cover in the rehearsal; and only when you know that can you decide on a scenario.

Say, for example, you have 20 team members who are relatively new to the company rehearing a well established plan that covers a call center that’s on a flood plain. When you know that information, you might decide that covering the basics of the plan during a flood situation might be more useful to everyone than coming up with a new and elaborate plot. On the other hand, if you have a team who’ve rehearsed together many times with a plan they know well but haven't been robustly challenged for a year or two, you may decide you need to come up with something novel to get them thinking about the flexibility of the arrangements that they may have started taking for granted.

Here’s a little list of scenarios you might like to use if you’re rehearsing plans for lack of access to a building, lack of people or lack of infrastructure, or if you’re rehearsing your crisis management team.

Rehearsing Lack of Access

  • Power failure
  • Road closure
  • Fire
  • Flood
  • Bomb
  • Water outage
  • Gas leak
  • Bomb alert
  • Structural damage
  • Area evacuation

Rehearsing Lack of People

  • Contagious illness
  • Strike
  • Transport outage
  • Building closure (see ‘lack of access’ column)
  • Using recovery location

Rehearsing Lack of Infrastructure

  • Power outage
  • Gas outage
  • Water outage
  • IT network outage
  • Loss of IT files
  • Technology connection outage
  • Loss of data
  • System application outage
  • Telecoms outage
  • Flood

Rehearsing Internal & External Crisis Management Response

  • Anything in any other list!
  • Threats – e.g. bomb, cyber attack, blackmail, data theft or loss

For an example of what a crisis management tabletop exercise would look like, check out this deck. 

For more detailed information on how to facilitate a rehearsal with your team, use this resource. 

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