3 MORE tabletop exercises for business continuity
Practice makes perfect - so put your BC/DR plans to the test
By David Geer
October 22, 2012 — CSO —
This set of 3 tabletop exercises has proven popular over the intervening years, so here's another troika for testing your processes for resilience or recovery.
You know the drill: Appoint a moderator, gather a team representing multiple departments within the organization (and ideally some outside business partners as well) and work through a scenario, one stage at a time. Allow interaction and discussion after each segment's information is released.
Does each department have the necessary processes in place to handle the given sequence of events? How will the necessary communication take place? What unforeseen employee needs might arise? Are business partners adequately prepared?
Modify these exercises to best fit your particular organization's profile.
Segment One: Rail cars carrying a highly flammable chemical compound explode near the data center, taking out a section of track and a stretch of two-lane road at an adjacent crossing, spewing toxins into the air. Data center employees hear the blast and begin frantically contacting family, colleagues and emergency services. Emergency services deploy and call for a general evacuation, including the data center and its attached offices.
Segment Two: Due to the toxins, the fire department insists that the data center evacuate immediately. Data center technicians can't fire up the diesel engines because they may spark, igniting the toxins, so the data center must go completely dark.
Fearful employees, including some of the people needed to switch the data center over to the disaster recovery (DR) or backup site, leave to pick up children and elderly family members.
All this leaves the data center without the time or expertise to declare a disaster, cut over to the remote DR site, and power down and close the facility properly. The data center loses untold quantities of data in the process.
Segment Three: Management attempts to notify team leaders to interact with each other to escalate communications and response as everyone is leaving. But in the panic, and with smartphones tied up contacting loved ones, the chain of communications breaks down.
The fire department informs management that their designated meeting place is inside the danger zone and they must pick a new meeting place and inform all employees to go directly there. Management does not have a second location in place further out and chooses a parking lot near a busy highway intersection, during rush hour and the evacuation of the larger area.
Segment Four: Not everyone receives updates about the new meeting place, so while some go to a safe meeting spot, others go to the original meeting area, and still others don't show up at all. The wind picks up, moving the toxic air toward the first meeting area. Reporters, who are asking lots of questions, meet the people who make it to the furthest meeting place. These employees are not the marketing-savvy media relations executives, so they are not able to give appropriate status updates and instead say things to the media that are inappropriate, inaccurate and misleading, causing further confusion and panic.
-With suggestions from Bob DiLossi, director of crisis management at Sungard Availability Services