Rationale for exercising
Organisations sometimes think their job is done once the business continuity plan has been written and approved. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.
Firstly some semantics. Some business continuity practitioners interchangeably use the terms testing, validating, rehearsing and exercising. Continuity Matters believes that exercising is the most appropriate term because what needs to be done is akin to going for a run, a swim or any other type of exercise. Physical exercise strengthens muscles, increases stamina and is good for you – in the same way exercising your plan is good for your organisation. Exercising is not a test. Continuity Matters believes that completing an exercise is more important than passing or failing a “test”.
Fortunately, we seldom are confronted with the challenge to manage a crisis – so most of us are inexperienced in this area. In a crisis, people often either shutdown or panic. Neither reaction is helpful to effectively manage a crisis. A steady head, carefully considered and time effective decisions are what is required!
By regularly running crisis exercises for your staff, you give them the opportunity to handle the stress and the emotions of a difficult situation. As the skill level of your staff increases, you should make the exercises more challenging and involve more roles.
The most memorable and valuable exercises are the ones that were difficult and elicited an emotional reaction from participants.