By Saul Midler

Why did the BCI dumb down the Exercising construct in the Good Practice Guide (GPG)? I prefer the 2010 version of the GPG because its easier for the novice BC person and Top Management to understand what Exercising is about.

7 Levels of complexity intrinsically linked to levels of frequency. It highlights that even a simple read/review of a procedure is a valuable Exercise Activity i.e. Level 1 Desk Check. At the other end of the scale, Level 7 describes a Full Rehearsal focusing on Full Site and all business functions relocating to the alternate site. The scale suggests the organisation would undertake many Level 1 activities (of low risk/complexity) while undertaking very few (if any) Level 7 activities (of high risk/complexity). It then becomes a decision by Top Management to decide to what level of Exercise the organisation will work toward.

As you expand your thoughts beyond the organisation itself, and think about community recovery, I can see the need to add a new Level to the scale – let’s call it Level 8. Community Recovery does require significant; planning, participation, coordination, communication, monitoring and reporting. How big an activity can this be? Consider the “General Disaster Prevention Drill 2007” undertaken by the Iwate Prefecture in Japan. The scenario was an Earthquake devastating the city of Tono. This Exercise involved 87 organisations and 8,745 people. Just take a moment to think about that.

Not dissuaded by the complexity and efforts of the 2007 Exercise, Iwate Prefecture collaborated with Miyagi Prefectures and in 2008 they implemented “Michinoku Alert 2008”. The scenario was an off-coast Earthquake creating a Tsunami (sound familiar?). This Exercise involved 18,000 people, 2,300 ground vehicles and 43 airborne vehicles. Now think about that!!

The learnings of both Exercises directly improved the Prefectures’ capabilities and processes to the response and recovery of the actual Earthquake and Tsunami that occurred 4 years and one week ago.

So how far down the BCI GPG2010 scale should your organisation go? The factors for deciding the target level include your organisation’s BC maturity, the risk of an Exercise actually resulting in operational disruption, how time critical the organisation’s products and services are, size and complexity of the organisation and size and diversity of the stakeholders (eg the public/community).

In other words, start at Level 1 and work down to a Level that Top Management are comfortable with – the only caveat I would place is that Top Management need to be part of the journey – as they should anyway.