University of North Dakota

Problem

The University of North Dakota had business continuity plans. But they were homegrown Word documents lacking many of the essential details needed to keep critical functions running in the event of an emergency. There were more than 300 of these documents, and many people weren’t filling them out properly, and instead were just cutting and pasting without understanding what business continuity is. These documents were too incomplete to help build a resilient university culture on campus.

Solution

A year and a half ago, UND adopted Kuali Ready to develop comprehensive business continuity plans in the case of an emergency or disaster.

Results

After implementing Ready, UND cut down those 300+ incomplete plans to 37 complete and detailed documents.

Eric Plummer, the university’s Associate Vice President for Public Safety and Chief of Police, said that Ready has helped create a more resilient culture on campus. “I think it just started to help the campus gain more familiarity with the processes and procedures—in areas that they typically don’t have to worry about—in a prolonged disaster, and how we’re going to weather these types of storms. It’s given them the knowledge, understanding, and more confidence that if something bad does happen, we have plans and procedures in place.”

When people started completing their business continuity plans, they got a little overwhelmed. That’s why Plummer and his staff are available for two hours every Friday for training and assistance. They also will spend time with individual departments when they need help.

Ready helps people understand the importance of business continuity, Plummer said. “(They say) ‘wow, I did not realize the stuff we just take for granted and assume someone is doing it, but really it’s our responsibility.’ They better understand the department and its function in the university.”

Recently, the university used one of the business continuity plans developed through Ready during a gas leak, Plummer said. A city crew broke a gas line on campus, and the university had to evacuate a building. It followed the plan to move the services to a secondary location on campus and moved some of the staff to work from home with laptops and VPN access to the university’s systems. The school didn’t have to fully implement the business continuity plan because the incident lasted less than 12 hours. But it used parts of the plan to keep necessary services running without interruption. Having the business continuity plans built through Ready gave the affected staff the knowledge they needed to continue their jobs confidently.

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