Continuity of Operations Planning is an initiative to encourage departments to plan to address how critical operations will continue under a broad range of circumstances. COOP is a good business practice because it prioritizes the continuation of critical business operations in and after emergency situations.
A continuity of operations plan establishes policy and guidance ensuring that critical functions continue and that personnel and resources are relocated to an alternate facility in case of emergencies. The plan should develop procedures for:
- alerting, notifying, activating, and deploying employees
- identify critical business functions
- establish an alternate facility
- roster personnel with authority and knowledge of functions
Create a continuity of operations plan for your department
Creating a continuity of operations plan is a team effort that will draw on your understanding of department operations with Emergency Management’s expertise in preparing for contingencies. Please contact Emergency Management and we will provide training and materials to help you plan.
The COOP Planning Team
- Senior management
- The department COOP coordinator or point-of-contact
- The COOP planning team
Senior Management ensures that the agency is capable of carrying out each respective function related to COOP. They oversee:
- Planning for continuity of operations
- Activating a COOP plan
- Restarting regular operations
Agency leaders may delegate many of their responsibilities, but overall accountability remains within their leadership.
The COOP Coordinator/POC serves as the agency’s manager for all COOP activities. The Coordinator manages all activities to ensure the agency can perform its critical functions during an emergency.
An effective COOP Planning team requires a mix of organization professionals and includes members from all levels of management and staff. It also consists of members from various divisions of the organization, including those not directly related to the mission, such as human resources. Team members should act as COOP coordinators for their respective functions, elements, or divisions.
Emergency Management is not responsible for developing continuity of operations plans for individual schools, colleges, or departments, though it does coordinate COOP activities across the University and provide guidance to organizations. Emergency Management:
- drafts policies, procedures, and projects necessary to implement COOP plans
- provides contingency-planning expertise to colleges, schools, or departments as needed
- coordinates financial forecasting and reporting for COOP-related funding
- monitors and reports the current state of COOP capability across the University
- coordinates with external organizations
- integrates operation continuity with the overall emergency management program
Things to Consider
- How will plans be implemented, especially when there is no advanced warning?
- What is necessary to sustain and maintain operations for time periods of up to 30 days?
- What types of training, testing, and exercises are necessary for personnel, systems, processes, and procedures to ensure the department is ready?
Each Continuity of Operations Plan should include information about:
- The department’s mission statement
- Critical business functions, prioritized
- Recovery locations
- A department organization chart
- Continuity of authority
- Essential staff, including their contact information
- External resources
- Critical department records
- Computer inventory
- Necessary office supplies and furniture
- Software and IT needs
- Necessary communication tools
Develop the plan
Step One: Contact Emergency Management at email@example.com
Step Two: Select a department COOP coordinator/point of contact
Step Three: Assemble a department COOP planning team
Step Four: Begin a plan
This departmental continuity planning tool is specifically designed for Higher Education and is flexible enough for all types of departments.
An academic department, research unit, center, or institute would typically create a single Continuity Plan for the department. Departments that share administrative staff (sometimes called clustered departments) would typically create a single plan encompassing all departments in the cluster.
If your unit is large and complex, it may be better to create separate plans for your major subunits, rather than a single plan for the entire organization.
Step Five: Collect department information
- Student staff
- Evacuation Plans
Step Six: Identify action plans
Action items are the most important part of continuity planning. The process of thinking through the steps you need to take to prepare is critical to developing a culture of preparedness.
Step Seven: Add important department documents
Step Eight: Identify and manage critical functions
We are asking here for the functions you normally perform. (Instruction is covered in another section.) Here are some typical examples:
- non-elective surgery
- paying employees
- inpatient care
- facilities repair
- providing meals for residents of university housing
- pharmacy services
- grant accounting
Step Nine: Identify information technology needs
The information technology section should be completed by someone familiar with the IT applications and equipment used in your department.
Step Ten: Add Information for Academic Departments
Step Eleven: Add Key Resources
Key resources are the staff, equipment, supplies, facilities, and skills that you need to effectively continue your operations in a disaster.
Step Twelve: Maintain your plan
- Disseminate the plan to employees. A shared drive or a password-protected web page can be good ways to ensure employees have access to the plan regardless of where they are.
- Review the plan annually and update as needed.
- Keep the plan in an accessible location at work and offsite. (Keep in mind you may not have power or access to your office.)
For questions or assistance, contact Emergency Management at firstname.lastname@example.org.