Having a continuity of operations plan (COOP) to ensure the continued performance of essential functions in an emergency or disruption is one thing; ensuring its chance of succeeding, or its viability, is another.
All COOPs, as explained by FEMA, have certain elements in common. Among them are delegations of authority, succession planning, alternate facilities, interoperable communications, vital records and databases, human capital, plans for devolution and reconstitution, and a test, training, and exercise program, or TTE.
A TTE program allows organizations to validate plans, policies, procedures, and capabilities for continuity and identify resource requirements, capability strengths/gaps, and areas for improvement. Following is an explanation of all three TTE components:
TTE Program, Test
A test evaluates a capability against an established and measurable standard. The key word in this definition, per FEMA, is capability. Tests are conducted to assess capabilities, not personnel. From a COOP perspective, tests are an excellent way to evaluate functions such as connectivity for communications, procedures for alerts and notifications, methods for deployment, etc.
TTE Program, Training
Training related to COOP planning encompasses a range of activities, each intended to provide information and refine skills. It typically involves instruction in core competencies and is the principal means by which individuals achieve proficiency. Commonly offered by training are the tools needed to accomplish a goal, meet a program requirement, or acquire a specific capability.
TTE Program, Exercise
FEMA describes exercises as events that allow participants to apply their skills and knowledge to improve operational readiness and planners to evaluate the effectiveness of previously conducted test and training activities. The goal of exercises is to strengthen an agency’s mission capability.
There are several types of COOP-related exercises, as exp