Disaster recovery/business continuity planning (DR/BCP) in colleges and universities has long been an exercise led by technologists. IT specialists are still very much involved, but leadership for these efforts is shifting toward the business side.
While technology developments — including cloud computing — facilitate delivery of DR/BCP solutions, focus is shifting toward nontechnology factors related to delivery of academic and administrative services. These business-driven and -led DR/BCP efforts can better engage the entire community and ensure that institutional needs are met.
Employ techniques that have been successful in recent business-driven DR/BCP initiatives:
- Establish a cross-functional steering committee, with the committee’s leaders, as well as the bulk of its participants, coming from administrative functions and academic departments. That said, make sure IT still has a seat at the table.
- Identify a point person from each area to serve as the subject matter expert and responsible party.
- Conduct a business impact analysis (BIA) to help focus on functional requirements and to ensure there is adequate buy-in from the entire community.
- Socialize and achieve consensus on the BIA before considering technical requirements, capabilities and limitations.
- Arrange for administrative and departmental personnel to write their own business continuity plans (BCPs) to make certain they consider the institution-level and departmental functions and processes that would be critical in the face of a disaster, as well as how they would be conducted during an emergency and recovered subsequently.
- Perform walkthroughs to test institution-level and departmental BCPs for all critical administrative functions and academic departments. If modifications are required, work with functional experts from the relevant areas to update plans.
- Schedule periodic refreshers to make sure the DR/BCP stays relevant in the face of changing business circumstances, to train personnel in order to maintain readiness and to keep a DR/BCP mindset.
- Establish a non-IT owner to make sure the BIA and BCPs are kept up-to-date going forward.
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