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The Importance of Business Continuity Planning in Higher-Ed

December 22, 2021

Continuity planning is crucial in determining the survival of a business. Whether it is a wide scale natural disaster or a smaller challenge like an hour-long power outage, unexpected events are bound to happen — and no matter the scale, they will have at least some form of impact on a business. Continuity planning is not about preventing these events, rather preparing for them so that, when they happen, business operations are still able to continue.

The importance of business continuity planning is just as present in higher education; in fact, this kind of continuity planning comes with its own challenges that are completely unique to institutions of this nature. An institution of higher education must operate as a business, a school, and a research facility all at once, so disruption to any of these branches could be at best inconvenient, and at worst disastrous. This alone could be explanation enough as to why a business continuity plan is important, but in this article we will delve deeper into the specific and extended benefits of business continuity planning in higher education.

What are the core objectives of business continuity planning?

As mentioned earlier, you cannot prevent adverse events from happening; however, you can identify the risks associated with certain types of events and map out paths to recovery, along with potential costs. Thus, the core objective of business continuity planning is to build resilience. Why is a business continuity plan important? Because it is a proactive way to mitigate risks, rather than waiting for disaster to strike and scrambling for reactive recovery solutions. Business continuity plans are not concerned with trying to prevent or even predict the future, but they provide you with a way to recover and overcome, whatever happens.

5 Benefits of a business continuity plan in higher education

With that core objective in mind, there are a lot of other benefits of a business continuity plan that naturally follow.

  1. Protecting your finances

When operating any business or similar organization, the bottom line is something that can never be ignored. There are a number of costs associated with most adverse events, for example:

  • If there is a water leak in one of your buildings, expensive equipment may be permanently damaged
  • In the case of a power outage or cyber event, important data may be lost
  • Most events covered in a continuity plan disrupt operations, and thus can be costly depending on the length of that disruption

When you compare the costs of certain risks with the cost of putting together campus-wide continuity plans, you will see that the latter is much lower.

  1. Having peace of mind

Even without the financial benefits, the immeasurable benefit of having peace of mind should be evidence enough of the importance of business continuity plans. As an institution of higher education, nothing should be more important than the safety and security of your students, staff, and faculty. When all essential personnel are aware that plans are in place to protect them as individuals as well as the institution as a whole, they will have greater confidence in leadership and pride in the institution.

  1. Ensuring compliance

There are already a number of laws in place in higher education that are related to various aspects of a continuity plan. These include laws concerning student safety and data protection, for example. Comprehensive continuity plans will help your institution to remain compliant with a number of different laws and regulations. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is reasonable to assume that there may be even more stringent continuity regulations in the future, particularly in higher education.

  1. Minimizing disruption

As discussed previously, there are financial advantages to minimizing disruption of operations in higher education, but there are also other non-financial benefits. For instance, less disruption minimizes valuable time away from research and instruction. For example, an important research project may be set back weeks or months, and if important data is lost, it may even need to be necessary to start again. In fact, prolonged disruption can negatively impact a wide number of efforts towards accomplishing the mission of the institution as a whole.

  1. Protecting the institution’s image

While safety and security always come first, a side benefit of continuity planning is the effect it can have on the brand or overall image of the institution. As an institution of higher education, people should be able to look to you as a leader in various communities. When you have continuity plans in place, you are much better positioned to live up to those expectations.

Business continuity management for higher education

Regardless of the status of continuity plans in your institution, we know that the process of collecting and consolidating continuity plans can be exhausting and overwhelming. And we want to help you with that. What are the benefits of a business continuity management system like Kuali Ready? Our software is both easy-to-use and adaptable to the specific needs of your institution. Through simple, question-based forms and ongoing status reports you are able to get all of the answers you need without taking too much time away from other essential parts of your job. Read more about Kuali Ready or request a free trial today.

Additional Resources

Business continuity planning basics for higher ed
How to write a business continuity plan
Building organizational resilience in higher ed
Become a partner, not just a customer.
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