I like to refer to a tabletop exercise as the practice for the big game. As everyone who understands sports knows, teams do not just show up for the game and expect to play and execute each position’s role and responsibilities flawlessly, let alone win. Proper preparation is essential. And, as part of the preparation for the big game, every team needs the proper game plan developed, studied and practiced. The same is true for a pandemic tabletop exercise for a credit union.
Depending on the size of the credit union, there are different teams and/or layers of reporting. Much like a sports team, a credit union’s pandemic plan should include, at a minimum, the below roles.
- Head Coach / Crisis Management Team – Who will lead the entire team and who will oversee the plan’s execution
- Assistant Coach(es) / Department Heads – Responsible for the position players, or in our case, the department heads
- Position players / Staff – Responsible for carrying out the plans
All the people that will be involved in the pandemic plan for the credit union will be provided a game plan. Position meetings should be held to discuss specifics for each position. Then, finally, the team will come together on the field to practice as one cohesive unit. In this example, that would be the tabletop exercise.
A successful tabletop exercise will take some coordination but will pay dividends in the end.
Below are several simple steps for your credit union to use so that you can facilitate a successful tabletop exercise.
- Determine a scenario – What is the team/disease you are going to face?
- Provide the playbook to everyone on the team – Share the credit union’s pandemic plan with everyone prior to the exercise
- Schedule the date – Schedule a time when the entire team is available. Tabletop exercises are not effective if all the key participants are not available to run through the exercise.
- Take the field – Gather all players into the room
- Facilitate the practice - Start by walking through your scenario and have observers take notes
- Update the game plan – Using the observer notes, update your plan to fill in the gaps identified during the tabletop exercise
Veteran Tip: Begin with the starters or first string team members when practicing your plan. However, do not forget that the second and third string players need to know the plan also. This helps to ensure continuity should a starter not be available.
Rookie Mistake: Do not make the pandemic tabletop exercise overly complicated. Think of the pandemic tabletop exercise as a group discussion about what the credit union’s teams and departments will do when faced with a pandemic situation which could cause staff resource or vendor resource issues.
Exercising your credit union’s pandemic plan through the use of tabletop exercises will ensure that your team will be prepared for the big game. Even if we hope that pandemic will never come.
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