Phase 1: Pre-Planning
Planning for a Tabletop exercise is very important, and the more planning you do ahead of time the better your tabletop exercise will be. Below you will find a list of things you should do that will help in the preparation of your tabletop.
1. Review your Plan
Review and become familiar with the plan you'd like exercised at the tabletop exercise. Share the plan with potential exercise stakeholders.
2. Establish an Exercise Planning Team
The Exercise Planning Team oversees and is ultimately responsible for exercise foundation, design, development, conduct, and evaluation. The team determines exercise objectives, tailors the scenario to meet the exercising entity’s needs, and develops documentation used in evaluation, control, and simulation. Planning team members also help with developing and distributing pre-exercise materials and conducting exercise planning conferences, briefings, and training sessions. Because planning team members are highly involved in the exercise, they are ideal selections for the exercise facilitator, controller, and/or evaluator positions.The Exercise Planning Team should be of manageable size yet represent the full range of participating entities, as well as other relevant stakeholder organizations. Planning team members should represent each participating key agency, department, and stakeholder organization within that jurisdiction. An Exercise Planning Team Leader manages the planning team.
3. Create an Exercise Timeline with Milestones
Exercise planning timelines establish target timeframes for attaining significant, exercise-related milestones such as planning conferences, training, exercise conduct, after-action reporting, and improvement planning.
Timelines will vary based on exercise scope and complexity. Timelines also may vary based on the entity’s experience in conducting exercises, available resources, and Exercise Planning Team size.
4. Schedule Planning Meetings
Develop a draft calendar of planning meeting dates. Vet with the Exercise Planning Team and send out to all relevant staff.
5. Create a Budget
Some tabletops do not require budgets because all of the personnel, assets, and consumables are already on site. If you want to produce documents, hire experts, purchase supplies and equipment (audiovisual, etc.), create signage, serve food, develop name badges and/or table tents, you may need a budget. If you need a budget, create it and go over it with finance personnel. This will help to scale back the exercise as needed, or if money allows, scale it up.