5 Types of Exercises

Phil Lambert

A powerful exercise creates an effective learning environment and establishes buy-in, ownership, and participation.

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A Validation exercise focuses on the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the information contained in a business continuity plan. The business unit has the responsibility to validate the information as being accurate. The exercise also notes the maintenance & exercise due date for compliance to Assurance Program and takes action if the due date is within 60 days.  

A Table-Top exercise has two distinct processes: A Walk-Through and Simulation   One of the enormous advantages of a tabletop exercise is that it creates an environment where people can test a hypothetical situation without causing disruption within the business. It is also a powerful learning tool that creates an environment to self-discover problems and solutions.   

A Walk-through exercise, sometimes referred to as a tabletop exercise, is a page by page, step by step, rehearsal of the sequence of responding to an event to ensure that the documented plan has all necessary information. Walk-throughs are usually more instructional in nature rather than experiential.  

A Simulation exercise, commonly known as a tabletop exercise, is the simulation of a disastrous event in which a round-table discussion takes place as to how a business unit would respond, control and manage the interruption by using their Business Continuity Plan (BCP). Participants note problems, deficiencies, weaknesses and omissions in the process and make the necessary changes to their plans. Simulation is an experiential training.  

An Operational exercise is a complex exercise which involves recovering the business unit at an alternate recovery site. An operational exercise will involve technical systems restoration and/or connectivity to the alternate recovery location. Participants note problems, deficiencies, weaknesses and omissions in the process and make the necessary changes to their plans.  

A Mock exercise is an unannounced exercise using one of the three types listed above or an actual business interruption in which we take the opportunity to debrief, validate and update the business unit plan affected by the outage.    


All exercises except for the Validation exercise should be immediately followed up by a structured Debrief involving all exercise participants. This debriefing is not designed to fix problems but to identify and document; successes, problem areas, record and assign action items, and to point out lessons learned.