The Protect IU Blog
Q&A: Countdown to Continuity
Loss prevention is all about planning. Of course, you can’t stop a tornado from destroying a building or a pandemic from hitting campus. But you can mitigate risk for your department or office by having a continuity plan that prioritizes critical functions, activities or services that should resume as soon as possible in order to serve the university’s mission. A well thought out plan can map the way from disruption to resuming critical function as soon as possible, to eventually returning to normal operations.
Continuity plans for schools, departments and offices on the IU Bloomington campus are due at the end of July. Some plans have been completed, but a good number are somewhere between the start and finish lines.
To gently nudge you along your way to continuity, Mary Lou East-Emmons, Business Continuity Program Manager, and Eileen Robichaud, Business Continuity Specialist, both from IU Emergency Management and Continuity, have agreed to share the answers to commonly asked questions.
Q. I’m totally overwhelmed! Where do I start?
A good place to start is the http://protect.iu.edu/emergency/bcp website. Review the Training Session documents. When you have finished with the concepts, click on the “IU READY TOOL” in the left-side menu, then choose the appropriate campus, log-in using your IU username and passphrase. Click on “Begin,” then “Begin or Edit Your Plan” and then “Create your plan” buttons, respectively, and name your plan based on the overall IU organizational chart. The BCP team is here to help every step of the way, contact us at bcp @indiana.edu .
Q. Do I need to actually list all equipment and supplies we use? Or what objects are in each office, like desks and computers?
Yes, this is an important step toward recovery. It is important to provide an inventory of office equipment and supplies, as well as all the other “things” you use to perform the functions important to your division. It doesn’t matter if those functions are for instruction, research, administrative task or any other.
Q. Who should be involved with creating this continuity plan? Faculty? Staff?
Yes to both – if applicable! Because everyone has a role in the success of the division, department or unit, it is best that all parties assist in providing the knowledge and expertise about the functions and operations for the plan.
Q. You suggest that documents supporting critical functions be loaded into the system. Can you give me examples of what kind of documents you have in mind?
Documents can be anything and everything that are resources or used to support particular functions – procedures, policies, syllabi, pamphlets, templates, reports, spreadsheets, and format of .doc, .xls, .pdf, .pptx…and more. Max size for an uploaded file is 20MB.
Q. If I load documents into the system and the system fails, what then?
Loading documents into the IU READY tool is a redundancy that ensures there is another source from which to retrieve the document you need in order to recover and perform important functions with greater ease. It’s better to have a secure feeling that there are several ways to get to important information.
Q. In fact, I’m uncomfortable putting some of this information out there at all. How do I know it’s secure? Who has access to my information?
Only the persons granted access to a particular plan and the IU READY administration staff have access to individual plans.
Q. How can I determine if our unit needs a single plan or multiple plans?
That decision is up to individual divisions, departments or units. The Maurer School of Law is creating 27 plans while the Kelley School of Business is creating one. What is important is making sure all the daily, weekly, monthly and annual functions are covered in one or multiple plans.
Q. Are there advantages and disadvantages to multiple and/or single plans?
It’s all in the organization of the functions performed within the office. There are tips and tricks that the BCP team knows that can help you with whichever way you choose to create your recovery plans.
Q. Can you explain “functions” and “categories”?
Sure. Administrative services is a category. Payroll, travel and human resources are all functions within that category. Just ask yourself this question: what do I get paid to do?
Q. I’m supposed to categorize “functions” into “tiers.” What do you mean by “tiers”?
When the university president says it is time to get back to work, what are the very first things that should come back up for the department or unit? These are Tier 1 functions. Tier 2 functions should be continued if at all possible. Tier 3 functions may pause temporarily, but must be up and running within 30 days. Tier 4 functions can wait until relative normalcy returns.
Q. Can you give me examples of what kind of function would be considered Tier 1 and what kind might be Tier 2?
Making sure students in residence halls are safely sheltered and fed is Tier 1. Getting classes for those students back up and running might be Tier 2. If you are on the IUPUI campus, taking care of patients confined to a hospital has to be Tier 1. But, proceeding with elective surgeries is Tier 2.
Q. You want details listed for the functions I’ve organized into tiers. How much detail do I need to provide and why?
The more detail, the better the plan. Each function, whether it is Tier 1 or Tier 4, has an importance at some time during the year. Personally, entering the details for all functions is best.
Q. Obviously, a lot of functions at a university are seasonal. How do the tiers accommodate something that happens only once a semester or year?
We know that the university runs off the annual calendar. This is why the IU READY tool in “Step 2. B – Peak Periods” ask for heightened activity by individual functions. For example, budgets are created from January to April. The BCP team assisting with recovery during the budgeting period would know that an event that occurs in November, even if it is a Tier 1 function, isn’t a factor at this time. This is why it is important to provide information regarding when a function jumps to the critical state.
Q. I don’t really understand how to do “staffing requirements.” Can you give me an idea of how to approach this?
It is important to complete all your functions first, and then deal with “staffing requirements” at a later date. This can be a confusing step. Remember, the BCP team is available to assist you.
Q. What is the hard deadline I’m counting down to?
The end of July is the absolute, drop dead, you’re-in-a-lot-of-trouble-if-you-don’t deadline.