Are Tabletop Exercises Worth the Investment? Unveiling the Secret Formula to Proving Their Value to Stakeholders

Learn how to measure the ROI of tabletop exercises and showcase their worth to stakeholders with proven methodologies. Increase your strategic planning game.

First off, let's define what we mean by "tabletop exercises." These are essentially simulated scenarios where key players gather around a table (or virtually these days) to talk through how they would respond to a particular crisis or disruptive event. It could be anything from a data breach to a natural disaster to a PR nightmare. The goal is to poke holes in your current plans, identify gaps and weaknesses, and ultimately improve your resilience.

Now, onto the meat of it – how do you actually measure the value and ROI of running these exercises? At LGP, we recommend a multi-pronged approach:

  1. Establish clear metrics and KPIs upfront. Before you even run the tabletop, decide what success looks like. Is it reducing response times? Minimising financial losses? Protecting brand reputation? Having these measurable goals allows you to track progress and improvement over time as you iterate on your plans post-exercise.

  2. Assign dollar values where possible. This one takes some finesse, but try to estimate the potential cost of the scenario you're exercising for, should it occur in real life? This could include tangible costs like lost revenue, remediation expenses, fines, etc. But don't forget intangibles too, like hits to stock price or customer trust. Compare that to the cost of running the exercise. While not perfect, this starts putting the value into business terms execs can appreciate.

  3. Leverage data from real-world incidents. Chances are, your scenario (or a similar one) has played out for some unfortunate soul before. Do some research into how much those incidents cost the affected companies. Then argue how your exercise directly addressed the factors that led to those losses. Boom, exhibit A of why this stuff matters.

  1. Track improvements over time. The beauty of tabletops is you can run them regularly to continuously improve. Meticulously note the gaps identified in each session, and document how you're closing them. Measure how your response times, costs, and other key metrics improve with each iteration. Plot it out on a nice graph to really wow the boardroom.

  2. Factor in peripheral benefits. Don't underestimate the value of getting your team in the same room to collaborate. These exercises build muscle memory, strengthen relationships, and help get everyone on the same page. Those benefits may be hard to quantify directly, but they're absolutely critical to crisis performance.

  3. Survey participants after each exercise. Ask them to rate the value and efficacy of the session. Did they find it helpful? Informative? Did it change how they think about their role or the larger response? Capture those testimonials as proof of impact.

So there you have it – a crash course in proving the worth of your crisis simulations. As you can see, it's a blend of art and science. And it takes concerted effort to connect the dots between these hypotheticals and real business value. But trust us, it's so worth it.

We've worked with clients who were initially sceptical about setting aside time for tabletops. But once they saw the results – the smoother responses, the costs avoided, the improved confidence of their teams – they became total converts. In today's turbulent times, this really is must-have resilience 101.

One last tip – don't go it alone. There are professionals that specialise in designing and facilitating these exercises to maximise their impact (wink wink, like yours truly at LGP). Bringing in that outside expertise can really level up your program and help with the tricky business of measurement.

So go forth and tabletop with confidence! And remember, failing spectacularly in a simulation is infinitely better than doing so when the stakes are real. With the right approach to quantifying value, you'll have no trouble getting the powers that be on board.


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