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Administration: Risk Management - Emergency Management - Business Continuity

Business Continuity

The core “business” of any Institution of Higher Education (IHE) is to educate students and conduct research. The many different departments/divisions of an IHE all either perform this core business or work to support it. Emergency conditions that cause interruptions of resources (personnel, power, utilities, facilities, workspace telecommunications, connectivity, etc.) can lead to permanent losses of resources and impact the business of the IHE.

IHEs are particularly sensitive to interruptions. Students must continue in their studies in order to graduate, research must continue as requirement of continued grant funding, facilities must be maintained and regulatory requirements must be fulfilled. Different departments/ functions are more sensitive to interruptions than others.

Business Continuity planning (also called Continuity of Operations planning) is a concept that evolves out of Risk Management as a type of Risk Mitigation Control. Like Emergency Management, Business Continuity planning is a large enough task to be considered as a separate set of processes, policies and procedures. In 2013, this separate-but- interdependent nature was reflected in the merger of the CUNY Risk Management and Business Continuity (RMBC) Council.

Although Risk Management involves multiple departments within a division and across divisions - Business Continuity planning is best accomplished on the departmental level. (Once activated, however, the tasks of a Business Continuity Plan will be carried out by personnel from multiple departments.) Emergencies will most likely have different impacts on different departments. Only the largest and most all-encompassing emergencies will affect the entire campus, and even then the effects are likely to be unequal. Departments must be prepared to resume normal operations as soon as an emergency has been stabilized. Business Continuity planning describes how individual departments will accomplish their individual missions during times of interruptions of resources.

Devastating past events (9/11, Tropical Storm Irene, Superstorm Sandy) with long-term impacts have further reinforced the need for formal Business Continuity planning. Like Risk Management, Business Continuity lends itself well to a systematic planning process. CUNY has issued draft guidelines for Business Continuity Planning in 2013. Planning includes answering the following questions:

  • What are the important functions of the department for which interruptions can result in negative impacts? Who has responsibility for these functions?
  • What is necessary to accomplish these functions during interruptions of resources? Will department leadership be prepared to perform during emergencies?
  • How will critical functions be accomplished with diminished resources during periods of emergency?
  • How will Business Continuity information be developed and disseminated to department members and “customers”?

Criteria for the first iteration of campus Business Continuity plans are being finalized by CUNY for 2015. A CUNY IT Disaster Recovery Plan was developed in 2013-2014.

Business Continuity Links