What is Business Continuity?
"You can't prepare for everything, but you can prepare for anything" (Paul Youngjohns)
Business Continuity is the term used to describe the process of ensuring that organisations can continue to provide services in the event of suffering a major incident which has the potential to cause a severe disruption (e.g. fire, flood, IT failure, power loss, adverse weather etc.).
Business Continuity ensures that the University is able to respond to any kind of major incident in a co-ordinated, organised and planned manner, which will help the University to sustain or recover critical activities and return to business as usual as quickly as possible. At its most basic, Business Continuity is about having a "Plan B", but one which is documented, that people are aware of and is reviewed and tested regularly.
Why is Business Continuity so important?
In order to meet our corporate governance requirements it is essential that the University has adequate business continuity arrangements in place. Business continuity plans will instil confidence in our corporate governance arrangements as well as with key stakeholders including insurers, internal and external audit and will ultimately protect the reputation of the University.
Additionally, staff, students, University Court and our business partners will be assured that should the University suffer a major incident that it will be able to recover in a timely and methodical manner.
The University has a dedicated and comprehensive Business Continuity Policy which details the aims and objectives of BCM within the University in addition to specifying the responsibilities of key stakeholders within the University.
What is the difference between Crisis Management and Business Continuity?
A crisis can be defined as a decisive moment or turning point event that by fact or perception has the potential to seriously disrupt the University and its reputation for a prolonged period of time. Examples of this would include events which would compromise
the safety, security and wellbeing of the University's students, staff, visitors and partners;
the University's core processes and operations;
the University's reputation;
property owned by the University;
the security, information and data of the University
These kind of events fall outwith the scope of normal decision making. The University's Crisis Response Plan is the framework for command, control, co-ordination and communication in response to an incident which has the potential to affect students, staff and other key stakeholders. The Crisis Response Team (CRT) is responsible for managing the response to an incident or crisis.
Once control of the situation has been recovered, Business Continuity Management would seek to restore any business functions which have been disrupted as a result of the incident occurring so that teaching, research and other key student services can be resumed and restored as quickly as possible.
What is a Business Continuity Plan?
"We don't have a plan, so nothing can go wrong" Spike Milligan
A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is a document which sets out how an organisation will continue to operate following an incident and how it expects to return to "business as usual" as soon as possible afterwards. It will generally include processes to enable disruption for students and staff to be kept at a minimum and will ensure that when the time comes, the University is able to manage the fallout of a crisis effectively and efficiently.
What do I need to know about Business Continuity?
Each School and Professional Service area will very shortly be starting to re-visit their existing business continuity plans and to make amendments to these. This will be done with the assistance and guidance of the Governance Officer (Risk & Governance). The plans look at the critical functions of each School and department and specify the priority areas which should be recovered first in the event of a disruption to service.
The plans also detail critical IT systems and resource requirements, in addition to specifying the location and type of vital records stored.
Each School and Service area has a nominated BCM Lead who will act as a single point of contact within each area for BC issues; this will be a designated senior person. The BC Leads work alongside the Governance Officer (Risk & Governance) to ensure that their plans remain current and fit for purpose.
Once plans are complete it will be necessary to undertake a desktop rehearsal of the plan and this will be carried out in conjunction with the business recovery team for the particular campus and may include key members of the University's Crisis Response Team. Plans will be amended as necessary following this exercise. A detailed timetable for testing and rehearsing plans has been developed and is available in the Business Continuity Policy. Exercises will planned and undertaken in collaboration with the relevant BC Lead and the Governance Office (Risk & Governance).
This page will be updated periodically to advise where and when plans have been updated and rehearsed and when BC Leads have been identified.
In the meantime, should you have any questions with regards to Business Continuity, please contact Maureen Masson, Governance Officer (Risk & Governance), in the first instance.