Part 3: Best Practices to Improve Incident Management Exercises – Conduct & Review

In the final installment of our three-part incident management series, we’re sharing tips about how you can get the most out of your exercises and prepare your team for stronger real incident response.

In part one, “Best Practices to Improve Incident Management Exercises,” we outlined three key preliminary steps: planning, defining scope, and setting objectives.

In part two, Tips for Better Incident Management Exercises,” we looked at four more recommendations: designing your exercise, defining roles and responsibilities, creating a timeline, and developing a communication strategy.

With these recommendations under your belt, it’s time to get your exercise underway, but before you do, here are a few things to help your team get the most out of your exercises:


Meet Before the Exercise

Before your exercise begins, meet with exercise participants to review the exercise’s scope, objectives, timelines, roles and responsibilities.

Set the stage with clear information about your exercise scenario and address as many tactical questions as you can.

Conduct the Exercise

When conducting your exercise, be sure your exercise facilitator keeps your team on task and notes goals, progress, and roadblocks as they occur.

This is the time to look for gaps in your existing response plans and note them.

  • For example, are there holes in your processes?
  • If yes, how did your team address them?
  • Do you have documentation issues?
  • How can you resolve them?

A point of caution for exercise day: Sometimes, exercise plans can go awry and create chaos or fear that what you’re doing is an actual event.

Initial Debrief

After you complete your exercise, make time to immediately review what transpired and take notes.

Create an environment that encourages honest and open feedback from your team about the process.

  • What are the key lessons learned?
  • What parts of your plan didn’t work?
  • Which roadblocks did you encounter?
  • How did you overcome those roadblocks?
  • Did you anticipate those roadblocks?
  • Did your team complete the exercise in the allotted timeframe? Why or why not?
  • What could your team do better during an actual event?
  • What worked as planned?
  • Did anything unexpected happen?

Create a Final Report

After your initial debriefing, follow up with your exercise participants again—after they’ve had time to digest what happened.

Use this feedback, as well as information from your initial debriefing, to create your final report.

Here are some core elements to consider:

  • Outline the exercise scenario and who participated
  • Outline the tools, resources, and equipment used
  • Explain the time it took to complete each goal, as well as your complete exercise
  • Highlight key lessons learned and gaps you uncovered
  • Document needed changes for plans, processes, documentation and roles
  • Outline which steps your team should take before the next exercise

With all of these recommendations, you should be well on your way to creating more effective, results-oriented incident management exercises.

Not sure where to begin?

AssuranceCM’s incident management and testing solutions can give you timely insight into critical incident management data. You can:

  • Activate plans or identify impacts
  • Visualize a full incident, including an overhead view of all impacts
  • Seamlessly manage plan tasks and procedures
  • Access rich visualizations so you can see roadblocks that may arise during an event
  • Manage tests, exercises or real incidents within one integrated solution

AssuranceCM can also help you see status updates in real-time, coordinate your response, minimize incident impact, and manage your brand’s integrity and reputation.

Ready for some hands-on help? Let’s discuss how to best achieve your business continuity goals.