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Business continuity planning for higher education

An effective business continuity plan must be based on both a sound knowledge of your institution’s culture and structure, as well as on well-defined policies and procedures that make the plan a part of your daily operations, rather than something that is referred to only in case of emergency.
University Business, June 2013

Your business continuity plan should include policies regarding:

  • Emergency response procedures, such as reporting and tracking.
  • An executive communication plan, with information on communicating with institutional leaders and other stakeholders, if applicable, as well as what your response will be if key leaders are incapacitated or unavailable.
  • A public relations plan, determining who will speak with the media.
  • Damage assessment and insurance claims processing information.
  • A communication plan. How will you communicate with faculty, staff and students if mobile phone, landline and other communications networks are destroyed? How will you locate faculty and staff to share crucial information with them? Also, your institution should have a plan in place to manage critical personnel data, such as emergency contact information, user IDs and network passwords, in case systems are down or destroyed.
  • Banking, especially regarding payroll and emergency cash access. This is an area that is particularly essential and challenging during a crisis, but is probably most overlooked when planning for a disaster. If you can’t access funds during a crisis, disaster relief funding may not be instantly available.
  • Human resources systems that may not be immediately mission-critical, but will become important in the weeks or months until operations are back to normal. Consider back-ups of salary information, payroll information, and personnel and tax information, as well.
  • A plan to handle phone calls, website updates, email, and physical mail delivery. What if your administrative building is destroyed and there is no office to deliver mail to? How will you update your website if your network is disabled?