The OGO Blog

The Art of Credit Union Disaster Recovery Tabletop Exercises

dr for credit unions, disaster recovery tabletop exercises

I won’t pretend to know much about theater. It’s just not my specialty. And yet, here I am, trying to explain credit union disaster recovery tabletop exercises by making a theater analogy.

Here goes.

Long Before the Show: Rehearsal

In theater, your goal is to be ready for something: opening night. But you can’t just walk onto the stage in front of a packed house and magically deliver your lines. You don’t know where to stand or when to come in. No, there’s a lot of groundwork to put in first.

For this analogy, let’s just say most of the right ingredients are in place:

You already have your cast, your crew, a venue… basically, in the theater, you have all the pieces you need, just like in your credit union.

But you just got your roles and your scripts. You have all the pieces, but you don’t know how they all fit together yet. Sure, you’ve got the instructions, but you’re going to have to study those instructions before you debut.

The same holds true for credit union disaster recovery—you may have a plan, but that doesn’t mean you know how to execute it!

You have to review your plan! That’s how you learn your role. That’s how you know who goes where, does what, and when.

Getting Prepared: Dress Rehearsal

Once you’ve reviewed your script enough, you probably know a few things. You roughly know your role, what to say, what to do, who to talk to, where to go, and so on.

Are you ready for the big time yet?


Now it’s time to practice what you’ve learned. It’s time to get good at it. At this stage, you’ve graduated from looking at a script to reciting it. But still, you might flub a few things, get something out of order, or forget to show up when (and where) you’re supposed to.

Those sorts of mistakes can throw everyone else off their act, too. All of a sudden, everyone starts stumbling over their things. A little mistake can create a whole mess of problems.

It’s an art, smoothly orchestrating such intricate plans.

The same holds true for disaster recovery. Except here, instead of dress rehearsals, we have tabletop exercises (TTX). Tabletop exercises are designed to simulate emergency situations. They help you roleplay disaster recovery scenarios.

Credit Union Disaster Recovery Tabletop Exercises

The cast of your disaster recovery production is your crisis management team and assorted IT and managerial crew. These are your key players in any disaster recovery scenario.

When your team runs your dress rehearsal tabletop exercises, you all get to practice together, finally. This is the stage where you go beyond learning your role but also understanding it. It means that in a live scenario, you’ll feel comfortable acting and responding appropriately…

Even when other things aren’t going according to plan!

You may not be ready to go live when you first start at this stage, but enough tabletop exercises will get you there. A few tabletop exercises we recommend running through:

  1. Fire: Selecting an event like a fire that impacts the whole Credit Union is a great place to start. A fire will impact your headquarters, your data center, and will involve your whole staff.
  2. Pandemic: A more mature exercise.
  3. Cyber attack or hack: As a more mature exercise
  4. Hurricane: If you are in an area that can be impacted by Hurricanes, this is a great test to run. Hurricanes can cause damage in different ways and it is imperative to be prepared.

You may not get to run a tabletop exercise for every disaster recovery scenario. That’s okay. So long as you know the main threats, you’re in good shape.

Plus, with enough practice and experience, you can get pretty good at improvising!

The Big Show

If you’ve made it to the big show, then you’ll thank yourself for all the time you put in to rehearse. You won’t have to worry about forgetting what to do, where to go, or when to do it. You’ll know your lines, and you won’t hold things up or set others back.

However, here’s where the analogy ends:

We hope you never have to perform real-life disaster recovery. We’re saying we hope you practice in vain.