Business Continuity Tabletop Template

Statistics show that approximately 25% of businesses affected by disasters never reopen their doors. Small business owners and individuals who are self-employed are especially vulnerable to the loss of income that business interruptions can cause. To protect yourself from losses in the event of a forced shutdown, you must purchase adequate business interruption insurance and create a thorough business continuity plan.

Implementation of your business continuity plan means more than simply exercising the plan during an emergency. It means integrating the plan into your company operations, training employees and evaluating the plan.

What is a Tabletop Exercise?
Tabletop exercises provide a means of practicing your company’s business continuity plan and evaluating the result – without waiting until an actual emergency occurs. A tabletop exercise asks the emergency management group (EMG) to address a simulated problem – focusing on the efficiency and effectiveness of the business continuity plan. Following a tabletop exercise, many companies find there are weak points in their business continuity plans that need to be addressed.

What Does it Look Like?
During a tabletop exercise, the EMG is asked to consider:

  • What is expected of the EMG and all other employees in the event of an emergency
  • What specific risks the company carries in light of the particular business interruption
  • Resources available to combat the business interruption
  • Communication options available to the EMG and all other employees
  • How customers will be affected and what to do in that situation
  • Security of company data and the assets
  • The order in which to respond to certain situations

After the EMG has discussed the issues presented in the exercise, the group has the opportunity to determine what was missing from the company’s business continuity plan and to revise the plan accordingly.

Conducting a tabletop exercise with your EMG is essential for the success of your business continuity plan. These exercises should be conducted regularly to provide practice for your EMG and to allow timely evaluation of your business continuity plan.

For more information about creating and implementing a business continuity plan, contact your Horst Insurance representative.

Sample Tabletop Exercise: Power Outage

Conducted by: _______________
Exercise date: _______________
Next exercise date: ___________

  1. It’s 9 a.m. on a Wednesday. You’re sitting at your desk on the fourth floor of the building when suddenly your computer shuts off and the lights go out.

    1. Take ten minutes to discuss what you would do in this situation.
  2. Two hours later, the power is still not on. You have not been contacted by the electric company and have no way of knowing how much longer the power is going to be out.

    1. Discuss what action you will take now.
    2. What risks are associated with this power outage concerning:

      1. Surges
      2. Phone systems
      3. Technology room
  3. Another three hours pass and there is still no update on the outage.

    1. Discuss whether it is appropriate to send employees home.
    2. Do you activate your business continuity plan?
    3. How are you going to handle customers and vendors?

    It is important in these situations to know as much information as possible. Discuss what plan of action you will employ given this situation by agreeing on:

    1. A meeting place
    2. How communication will be handled for employees, customers, vendors, media, etc.
    3. A convenient way to retrieve your business continuity plan, should you need it.
    4. What actions to take in regards to your employees’ safety.
    5. How to ensure data is not lost or damaged.
  4. Discuss what you will do in the event that the power is still out three days later.

    Now that the situation has been discussed, consider:

    1. What is missing from the plan?
    2. Were there any new ideas that have not been previously noted but should be implemented?
    3. What realistic solutions would work for this situation?
    4. What did not seem to work well?
    5. How can you, overall, improve this plan?

Everyone participating in this exercise should now write down any questions, concerns or comments about what was discussed for future reference.