Case Study

Project Execution Risk Tabletop Exercise



Bulge Bracket Investment Bank


ERM & Operational Risk

Project Overview

The Client had recently stood up a new function within Operational Risk and was actively looking for new techniques to manage risk. Reference Point was engaged to train the team on how to conduct a tabletop exercise and led the first tabletop exercise to help the organization plan for how to mitigate risk in various situations. Reference Point created 10 different scenarios that the team was likely to encounter. The scenarios covered each phase of a sample process and allowed each team member to review their role and predict how they would react in the situation. The exercise led the client to adding new controls to mitigate risk in the sample assessment process as well as plan tabletop exercises on a quarterly basis moving forward.


  • Reference Point deployed a team led by a former Risk & Compliance Director at Barclays to devise different common risk scenarios likely to occur while the PMRO team conducted assessments of the bank’s procedures, standards, and policies. Example scenarios included Policy Owner refusing to supply information to PMRO team, Policy Owner disputing the result of the assessment, and the PMRO team’s process being audited.
  • Reference Point introduced each scenario and facilitated discussion amongst participants. The team ensured that the exercise included key members of the PMRO team that would eventually carry out the new process, along with their direct supervisor(s), and any key collaborators. RP employees acted as various stakeholders such as Internal Audit, Policy Owners, and Regulators to ensure simulations were comprehensive in terms of stakeholder involvement.
  • After cycling through all 10 scenarios, the RP and meeting participants reflected on the scenarios and all lessons learned and made a list of potential follow-on action items, including adding several new controls to the process.


  • The Client concluded the tabletop exercise with over 30 lessons learned and several follow-on action items. Several insights from the exercise were not previously considered and led to filling gaps in the new process.
  • The tabletop led directly to the creation of several communication templates, additions of responsibilities to the team’s procedure, and the tracking of new statistics to demonstrate the team’s effectiveness to regulators in the future.
  • After the exercise, the PMRO team committed to quarterly tabletop exercises to maintain proper risk practices.

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