UW Emergency Management

September 26, 2018

Build your plan in a year: Month 9

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

At UW, Administrative Policy Statement 13.2 sets the requirements for department continuity planning. There are four required elements: Prioritized critical functions, staff preparedness, an alternative staffing plan and the identification of an alternate facility.

We have tackled the staffing and critical functions. This month we will take on the second part of employee preparedness–communication. And we will answer the question of alternate facility. Big takeaway: You are getting SUPER close!

Build Your Plan in a Year: Recovery and Continuity (4 Hours)

Employee Communication Plan

The Husky Ready system will ask you a few simple questions about your emergency communications. Namely, do you have a plan and who updates it. These are details you already addressed in month one. So, why are we returning to the topic? Because we know so much more about our organization! Now that you have been through the process of defining your critical functions, developing your teams and identifying your work-arounds for resource loss, it’s time to return to your staff and help ensure that those you need to help you know how to communicate, and those that do not need to report immediately know where to get information.

TIP: The University will send out emergency notifications through the UW Alert system. This will help you and your employees get overall campus situational awareness. It is an opt-in system so sign up today at https://www.washington.edu/safety/alert/

Developing an employee communication plan (2 Hours)

– Define your staff. For some departments, this is nothing new: Essential and non-essential staff have already been defined.

○ If you they have, look back on your critical functions and compare them to your list: Are all the people needed to restore your critical 1 and critical 2 functions accounted for on this list?

○ If you do not, consider reviewing your staff list and making definitions.

○ For all teams, consider how long a staff member can stay away without having major impacts to your operations. A non-essential staff member might be non-essential for a snow day, but if you’re talking a disruption of 2 weeks to a month, are they still non-essential or should they be reporting to work by day seven (for example)? We separate the two because it makes no sense to bring people to campus who will not have work to do, or whose work can be delayed if it means the potential they could be harmed travelling into work; but continuity of operations requires looking forward for a longer period of time then a simple day or two of disruption.

– Plan for information out and information in.

○ Information out refers to what you send to your employees to inform them of situations and provide them with next steps. They will want to know the status of their jobs, whether it is safe to return to work, and when they are expected back in. This can be a wide-range of processes: A group email, a group text, a conference call line and set time team members dial in, individual calls or texts. The trick: setting it ahead of time, testing it, and ensuring everyone on staff knows that this is how information will be communicated. If your teams, for example, are unlikely or unable to check their work email from home, then a mass email is a bad way to send them urgent information about the status of campus and your operations.

○ Information in refers to employees letting you know their status. Whether they do this via email, text, hotline or in-person gathering is dependent on your operations. However, you’ll want some key information from staff, especially after a large regional event like an earthquake For example:

– Are you okay?
– Is your family okay?
– Are you able to report to work? If not, when?

○ Develop depth in your communication plan. For example, if you rely on email but your network is down, you want to have already defined the next step (if no email, we’ll send texts for example), then communications will not be slowed regardless of your situation.

– Share the communication plan with your staff! A plan that no one is a aware of is a plan no one will follow.

Identifying an Alternate Space (1 Hour)

For some teams, the “where” of work is simple–for example: I can work anywhere I can plug in a laptop and get online. For others, it is complicated requiring specialized equipment, security or other specific needs. For both kinds of teams, we must identify an alternate facility. This is both to meet the APS, but also because if people know where to go to get back to work, they return to their cuties faster and with less disruption. At UW we look at alternate facility planning in two ways: Pre-event planning where we identify the specific location a team will relocate to, and post-event preparedness where we identify the specific space needs for a department so that, in the event their pre-identified space is unavailable, new space can be found quickly. It is okay to rely on work from home as a primary alternate facility, but in that case we’ll want your planning to be three deep: 1) Work from home, 2) alternate facility and 3) facility requirements.

– For this process you will use the university’s alternate facility form: Continuity of Operations (COOP) Alternative Facility Request Form

– Identify your alternate space in Husky Ready under “Facilities & Transportation” in “Key Resources” and add to the “Facilities” box

– Upload your alternate facility form to Husky Ready under “Documents” in “Key Resources.”

Leadership Succession (1 hour)

Implementing the plan might be a challenge if you don’t know who is in charge. We do chain of succession planning to ensure that after the director there are three people who can fulfill their role should they be unavailable. We track this in Husky Ready, and also create and save a formal delegation of authority.

– Firstly, who is in your chain of succession? Have your director decide who the number one, two, and three successors will be. Enter this into Husky Ready by navigating to “Key Resources” and then “Key People.”

– Click “Edit page” and then “Add Key Person”

– Enter the information for each successor and select by clicking the labeled boxes where they are in the chain of succession

– Now we can create the formal delegations of authority. Create your own, or use our template: Template – UW Dept Delegation of Authority. This is the place for the director to sign off on what duties their successors can take on, and which they will not have.

– Upload your completed delegation of authority into “Documents” under “Key Resources.”