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Higher Ed Continuity FAQ

Do you have continuity planning questions? Find answers and supporting resources in the higher ed continuity planning FAQs below. If you don’t find the answers you’re looking for, please email us your questions at and we will try to find answers.

What is Continuity Planning?

Continuity planning is not about stopping bad things from happening. Rather, it is the knowledge that your organization will face unexpected risks, and taking the correct steps to prepare for those risks. Continuity planning is the process of preparing to maintain or restore mission-critical functions when an adverse event occurs. Adverse events include natural disasters, man-made emergencies, global pandemics, etc. Business continuity planning also includes identifying vulnerabilities, priorities, dependencies, and measures for developing plans to facilitate operational continuity and recovery before, during, and after such an event. Learn more in A Guide to Continuity Planning Basics.

What is Higher Ed Continuity Planning?

Higher Ed Continuity Planning is similar in principle to business continuity planning, in Higher Ed Continuity Planning each department has its own continuity plan similar to individual businesses with elements of these department-level plans rolling up into a comprehensive institutional continuity of operations plan. The goal is to preserve academic and business functions no matter what adverse event occurs. Learn more about higher ed continuity planning in our ebook, How To: Business Continuity Planning Basics for Higher Ed.

How Do I Run a Business Continuity Plan Test?

Tests are run by walking through a disaster scenario with the recovery team and answering specific questions as to what the team would do if people were missing, the building burned down, the media was asking students for comments, etc. A set of exercise objectives—familiarizing participants of their role during and after an event, exercising communication practices, test viability of identified workarounds— should be identified and met. After the test, the plans should be updated to accommodate for findings after every exercise, and action items that are viable, actionable, and have measurable times to complete should be created for any discovered gaps. Learn more about testing and training in chapter five of A Thorough Guide to Continuity Planning in Higher Education.

Will Running Tabletop Exercises Test Plans?

Tabletop exercises (TTX) help familiarize participants with the continuity plan and their role during an event. Participants walk through every detail of their continuity plan, responding to how they would react to a specific situation, such as an unavailable work location or the absence of an essential staff member.This exercise helps to identify gaps in the plan and ensure it is realistic and attainable when it needs to be activated. Learn more about tabletop exercises and other plan exercise options in chapter five of A Thorough Guide to Continuity Planning in Higher Education.

What is a Critical Function?

Critical functions are the regular functions that contribute to the institution’s main service offerings. These functions must continue at a sufficient level at your institution without interruption or be restarted within given time frames after a disruption occurs to prevent damage to life, property, or assets. It’s important to remember, “all functions are necessary on your campus; however, only some of them are critical.” Learn more about critical functions and applications in chapter four of How To: Business Continuity Planning Basics for Higher Ed.

Why is Business Continuity Important for Higher Education?

Business continuity planning is the essential, preparatory discipline that protects an organization against unexpected adverse events. In higher ed, continuity planning has even more to consider including academic and research functions. Not only must a college or university continue the critical business functions like payroll and invoicing, but it must also continue teaching and researching. With robust continuity plans in place, an institution can avoid significant setbacks. Learn more details in our blog, Why business continuity actually matters (and how we can help).

How Do I Start an Academic Continuity Plan?

To start your academic continuity plan, you should consider the critical functions involved in delivering the academic functions of your department. Once you’ve identified the academic critical functions, planning focuses on recovering from the loss of an essential employee, normal work location, critical application, or unique resource. Document all necessary equipment, employees, and steps to resume activity for academic critical functions as quickly as possible. To learn more, read Continuity Program Methodology for Higher Ed.

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