UW Emergency Management

April 30, 2018

Build your Husky Ready plan in a year: Month 4

This post is part of a 2018 series breaking the process of business continuity planning for University of Washington departments into monthly tasks to help build a plan in a year

Now that you’ve identified your critical functions, it is time to consider how to keep the work going even with limited resources. Haven’t made a list of critical functions yet? That was last month’s post. This month we will tackle the thing that makes a continuity plan a continuity plan: identifying the ways that work can resume or continue even if you lose the resources you typically have in place.

When thinking through the “how to cope” part of your planning, it is helpful to consider not specific hazards, but level of disruption. By this we mean instead of thinking “in the event of an earthquake,” you think “in the event of a [minor/medium/major] disruption.” Why do we do this? Because you can never guess every type of potential hazard. When you make a level of disruption plan vs a hazard specific plan, it can be more easily applied and scaled no matter the “why.”

As you consider event severity, you can choose work around options that address small, medium and large disruptions. The decision making you will have to do is much different in a small, localized fire for example versus a large regional earthquake. Starting with the small and working your way up, however, makes it easier to know where to start in tackling the large as the decisions will build on each other.

TIP: Don’t stress if you’re still doing the work from last month, or if you cannot devote the time to address all the “how to cope” pieces this month. Next month will be an opportunity to review, expand upon, and confirm your assumptions.

As you address each section, think about the resources you use to complete them. If there are IT functions you didn’t list before, note them. If you require specialty equipment, note it. Next month we will check in with this list to ensure they are captured in the sections we addressed in previous months.

Build your Husky Ready Plan in a Year: Month 4 (6 Hours)

Step 1 – Outlining your dependencies (1.5 hours)

  • We will think through dependencies in two directions–up and down. The upstream dependencies are those departments, units, and organizations you depend on to get this critical function completed.  The downstream are the departments, units, and organizations that rely on you completing this critical function. Examples include units that would have a work stoppage without your work, as well as your end customers who expect you to complete your work.
  • Capture these dependencies in the section “Dependencies” under each critical function
    • TIP: Dependencies may be the same for different critical functions. At the top of the dependencies section you can use the “quick entry” line to populate the dependencies from another, completed critical function.
  • Looking at these dependencies, are there any individuals in these departments, units, or organizations that are key to you doing your work? Often you will only have a single point of contact that knows you and your business. Capture this information in the “Teams” section under “Key Resources” (not in critical functions).

Step 2 – Addressing how to cope (4 hours)

  • The how to cope piece of your continuity plan is probably going to be the most time intensive, and the most important piece of your plan. Remember as it gets to be overwhelming that next month provides some wiggle room to continue this work.
  • Answer the questions in the “How to Cope” section of each critical function. Considerations might include:
    • Identifying alternate facilities or outlining the facility requirements for this function
    • How to cross train or prepare staff for offsite or limited workforce
    • Digital functions that could be done on paper if needed
    • Overall University policy questions you have (that’s where we can help!)
  • Upload into the “documents” section any and all documentation that can support you in completing this critical function without your usual resources. This might include paper forms that replace digital functions, software keys in case you have to buy new computers, or training documents that could help get a staff member up to speed on a function they do not usually support.

Step 3 – Action Items (30 minutes)

  • In this step you will create action items to address any gaps or uncertainties you had as you worked through the previous steps. Some possible questions/actions you might pursue:
    • Are there any teams or individuals you should develop relationships or agreements with to ensure you know who to call after a disaster, and know how they will support you?
    • Do you need any agreements with vendors or others in place to smooth the transition from normal operations to “coping.”
    • Are there any cross-training opportunities to ensure staff can support these critical functions?
    • If digital processes can be moved to paper, do the appropriate forms or documents exist?

Before next month, we recommend you send the plan in its current state to anyone who works on any of these critical functions everyday. They will be able to provide a greater depth of detail to your plan. Next month we will be reanalyzing each of these critical functions, which will be the perfect time to integrate any comments you get back.