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Business Continuity is the term used for the process of keeping critical functions operational during an emergency and/or restoring them quickly after an emergency to minimize disruption to teaching, research and serving the BC community. This process involves planning for, mitigating against, responding to and recovering from all types of hazards that could adversely affect the University, regardless of the nature of the hazard.

A major storm, earthquake, power failure, water main break, hazardous materials accident, structural failure or fire could damage buildings and/or campus for days, weeks or months which would interrupt activities of those in the affected departments. A disease outbreak could also impact employees and their ability to conduct business.

Boston College has a group of Department Business Continuity Planners responsible for the development, training, testing and maintenance of department’s business continuity plans.

Business Continuity is a continual process as emergencies can and do happen anytime and anywhere, hazards constantly change and personnel come and go over time. In order to maintain a successful Business Continuity Program, it is imperative to review, update and practice plans so they are fresh and ready to go at any time.

Departments with well-developed, up-to-date and practiced Business Continuity Plans strengthen the overall University’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan and emergency preparedness by contributing to the safety of employees and students and building resilience for the University in the event of an emergency.

To assist with the Business Continuity mission, Boston College has developed an online application to help Department Business Continuity Planners develop and update their plans. If you are a Business Continuity Planner for your department, you can access the application by visiting . If you have questions about the Business Continuity Program, need access to the system or need help developing or testing plans, please contact John Tommaney at .

BC Resources

  • BC Business Continuity Policy
  • Business Continuity Online Planning Application
  • Business Continuity Online Application User Guide
  • Business Continuity Orientation Presentation
  • Sample Business Continuity Plan
  • Roles and Responsibilities for Business Continuity Planners and Teams
  • Preparedness Considerations for BC Administrators, Department Heads and Supervisors
  • Preparedness and Business Continuity Considerations for BC Science and Research Areas

External Resources

  • Disaster Recovery Institute International (DRII)
  • Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety: Open for Business
  • FEMA Independent Study Courses:
  • Continuity of Operations Awareness
  • Introduction to Continuity of Operations

For other independent study courses on continuity planning and emergency preparedness in general, visit: the FEMA Emergency Management Institute website at

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Business Continuity Planning

Departmental business continuity plan template.

Departmental Business Continuity Plan Template (DOCX)


Plan structure and operation, crisis communication plan, critical operations, determining your critical operations, risk assessment of threats.

  • Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

Policy and Objectives

Review and maintenance.

The safety and security of students, faculty, staff and the entire Pace Community is a top priority of the University’s leadership, and is an integral part of our commitment to excellence. Recognizing the increased risks of the world today, Pace University has enhanced its preparedness to respond to emergencies of all hazards by upgrading and integrating the various emergency response and disaster recovery plans that have been in place for the University’s critical operations, and by developing a comprehensive pre- through post-emergency response plan covering all campuses and operations of the University.

A business continuity plan (BCP) is a collection of resources, actions, procedures, and information that is developed, tested, and held in readiness for use in the event of a disaster or major disruption of operations. The objective of the Business Continuity Plan is to establish policies, procedures, and coordinate recovery of critical University functions. This plan will increase the University’s ability to respond to and recover from emergencies that may threaten the health and safety of the Pace Community or inhibit the University’s ability to continue its operations.

A comprehensive business continuity plan will help you maintain your central business activities while limiting the economic impact and allowing you to return to normal operations as quickly as possible. Each division and/or department responsible for performing one or more critical functions will develop a departmental business continuity plan and establish a structure to administer, update, and implement the plan. The intent is to minimize the amount of disruption any future emergency may cause to the department’s critical functions. This is accomplished by:

  • Establishing an administrative structure within the department to deal with future emergencies.
  • Investigating and preplanning appropriate responses to various types of potential emergencies.
  • Identifying and implementing changes to current operating procedures that will reduce the department’s susceptibility to disruption from certain types of emergencies.
  • Coordinating the department’s Business Continuity Plan with the plans of other departments that either provide services to or require services from the department.
  • Formalizing the department’s Business Continuity Plan in written form.
  • Maintaining a high level of knowledge and preparedness within the department’s plans for continuing operations during emergencies.

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The mission and priorities of the University are protection of life, stabilization of the event, protection of the University environment, protection of University property, and restoration of critical services, including education and research programs.

The mission of every department is different. In order to accomplish their mission, each department must ensure operations can be performed with minimal disruptions during an emergency incident. The Business Continuity Plan ensures that the department has the capabilities to execute the mission’s essential functions as well as implement emergency support functions.

The overall goal is to ensure that all departments and business units of the University are prepared to rapidly restore critical functions in the aftermath of any emergency or disaster. Critical functions are those required to enable, support, and implement the safekeeping of our students, staff, and visitors and facilitate the resumption of academic, research, and administrative programs at Pace after an incident.

Departmental BCP Goals:

  • Prepare the department for recovery
  • Determine your critical functions
  • Facilitate communications at all levels
  • Identify your resource and personnel needs for normal operations
  • Reduce vulnerabilities

Each department's Business Continuity Plan has three main components, each of which deals with separate but inter-related aspects of any emergency situation. These components are:

  • Business Continuity Policy and Procedure | Activities, including substantial pre-planning and recovery efforts, aimed primarily at assuring that all critical functions and operations continue to be performed during and after any emergency situation.
  • Risk Assessment and Business Impact Analysis | Assessments based on worst-case scenarios to determine impacts of critical functions caused by disaster situations.
  • Testing and Review | Instructing all personnel on plan basics (communication, meeting place, priorities, etc), and evaluating competencies through tabletop exercises, drills, and simulations as part of campus testing initiatives.

The following objective of this plan are to:

  • Undertake risk management assessment
  • Identify and prioritize critical business functions
  • Detail immediate response to critical incident
  • Detail strategies and actions to be taken to ensure the continuance of operations

The Department of Emergency Management works with other University departments to ensure that the right people are notified at the right time in times of emergencies, disasters, and crises. The internal crisis communication plan should provide procedures for the coordination of communications within the department and among other University partners, while the external crisis communications plan should provide procedures for the coordination of communications with media and other outside organizations (including vendors) in the event of an emergency or other critical event

Internal Communication Plan

Describe how your department’s faculty, staff, student workers, and other workers will communicate with one another in the event of a disaster. Methods used include a ‘phone tree’ (include information or link to file with details); email; instant messaging; web pages; telephones; among others. All faculty and staff should update their personal information (address, phone numbers, etc.) on Pace Directory .

External Communication Plan

Describe how your department’s faculty and staff will communicate with external stakeholders (students, customers, parents, state officials, contractors, etc.) in the event of a disaster. Methods used include; email; instant messaging; web pages; telephones; among others. Please remember that all contact with the media will be coordinated by the Public Affairs office within University Relations.

Critical operations of each department can be severely impacted during emergency incidences. In order to become resilient, the risk management planning section outlines threats that may affect the overall operations of the department. The identification and analysis of the risks that may have an adverse effect on departmental functions are important to reduce or eliminate potential hazards.

The Business Continuity Plan outlines what the department believes are critical functions, how impaired functions can impact the department and in what ways, and lists preventive and contingency plans for each.

A major part of business continuity planning is identifying functions that define your operations. These are called critical operations . Critical operations are those services, programs, or activities that are necessary to on-going business of your department and would directly affect the success of your department if they were to stop for an extended period of time. The success of your department and the support you provide to the University rely on these functions. Stopping them for an extended period of time would cause an unacceptable disruption to your operations and possibly other departments or units as well.

Your essential operations will serve as your guide for how to restart your operations following a disaster or major disruption. They help answer the question “What is the minimum level of service or activity my department must offer to still be in business?” By identifying and prioritizing your essential functions, you can determine which personnel, facilities, equipment, and materials are absolutely necessary to keep your department functioning following a disaster or major disruption. One way to determine your essential operations is to look at your department table of organization. This should help your identify the general functions that you preform.

Asking each staff member to make a list of their essential duties and responsibilities is another way to determine your essential operations. In general you should be able to organize your functions into four to six essential operations, more if you are a highly complex department or unit. If your list of functions is long, consider grouping similar activities into a single function. Example: General Office Management can include all administrative tasks. Manage ITS can include all IT tasks such as updating your website and troubleshooting computer issues.

Priority Rating: Critical Importance: Operation directly impacts the life, health, safety, or security of the Pace community and stopping would have significant consequences. Max. Allowed Recovery Time: < 4 hours

Priority Rating: High Importance: Operation must continue at normal or increased level. Pausing for more than 24 hours may cause significant consequences or serious harm to business operations, upstream and downstream dependent organizations or units, revenue and finances, reputation, or other core mission services Max. Allowed Recovery Time: < 24 hours

Priority Rating: Medium Importance: Operation must be continued if at all possible, perhaps in reduced mode. Stopping for more than one week may cause major disruption to business operations, upstream and downstream dependent organizations or units, revenue and finances, or other core mission services. Max. Allowed Recovery Time: < 1 week

Priority Rating: Low Importance: Operation could be suspended for up to one month without causing significant disruption to business operations, upstream and downstream dependent organizations or units, revenue and finances, or other core mission services Max. Allowed Recovery Time: < 1 month

Priority Rating: Deferable Importance: Operation may pause and resume when conditions permit. Deferring this function for more than one month may cause slight disruption to business operations, upstream and downstream dependent organizations or units, revenue and finances, or other core mission services Max. Allowed Recovery Time: > 1 month

Critical Operations General Examples:

  • Academic Records/Transcripts
  • Registration
  • Athletic Game Operations
  • Course Instruction
  • Dining Operations
  • Housekeeping and Utilities
  • Critical Research

Business Impact Analysis

Business impact analysis (BIA) assist management in identifying critical functions that are essential to the survival of the department. BIA evaluates how quickly a department can return to full operation following a disaster situation. BIA also looks at the type of resources required to resume business.

BIA assumes the worst-case scenario such as infrastructure damage, destruction of records and equipment, absenteeism of essential employees, the inaccessibility of the site for weeks or months. The objective of the BIA is to help departments estimate financial impacts, intangible operational impact, and estimates the recovery time frame.

Risk assessment of threats involves evaluating hazards relating to man-made and natural disasters and recognizing their potential effects. This can assist the department in taking measures necessary to ensure the continuity of business.

Four overall risks to address:

  • Loss of infrastructure including power and communications
  • Loss of a building
  • Loss of personnel
  • Loss of location – you can’t access a portion of, or the entire campus

The purpose of the each department's policy and procedure is to formalize a plan that establishes policies, procedures, and an organizational structure for response to emergencies. The plan identifies clear strategies and roles and responsibilities of various staff members during the initial response and throughout the emergency. Nothing in this plan shall be construed in a manner that limits the use of good judgment and common sense in matters not foreseen or covered by the elements of the plan. The plan and organization shall be subordinate to State and Federal plans during a disaster declaration by those authorities.

Maintenance is always required to ensure plans work. It is suggested that you do the following tasks to make sure your department's BCP is always current:

  • Update communication lists quarterly
  • Update overall plan annually
  • Update BCP after a test (drill, tabletop, etc.) or emergency
  • Update BCP when external or internal factors change

Departments should train all personnel on plan basics, such as communication plans, meeting places, priorities, etc. Different ways to train employees include meetings, tabletops, drills, seminars, workshops, and simulations. These trainings should all be recorded in the department's BCP.

Seminar A seminar is an informal discussion, designed to orient participants to new or updated plans, policies, or procedures (e.g., a seminar to review a new emergency communication procedure).

Workshop A workshop resembles a seminar, but is employed to build specific products, such as a draft plan or policy (e.g., a Training and Exercise Plan Workshop is used to develop a Multi-year Training and Exercise Plan).

Tabletop A tabletop exercise involves key personnel discussing simulated scenarios in an informal setting. TTXs can be used to assess plans, policies, and procedures.

Drill A drill is a coordinated, supervised activity usually employed to test a single, specific operation or function within a single entity (e.g., a fire department conducts a decontamination drill).

Simulation A simulation is a practice activity that places participants in a simulated situation requiring them to function in the capacity expected of them in a real event

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Best Practices in Business Continuity Planning for Higher Education

  • by Tanecia Jackson on October 01, 2020
  • last update on May 24, 2023
  • Reading Time: 4 minutes

Business Continuity for Higher Education

Higher education has taken the brunt of COVID-19 . As classes transitioned to the online medium and campuses emptied, universities were left to find new ways to improve current and future operations. Inevitably, business continuity for higher education institutions is now a much-discussed topic among university boards.

Playing the role of microcities, universities embrace a wide array of functions that are often deeply ingrained into local communities, the economy, and the healthcare system. Bearing that in mind, universities need to develop comprehensive business continuity plans to ensure their own short-and long-term welfare and the stakeholders’ .

Here are the best practices in business continuity planning for higher education institutions.

Prepare a Special Task Force

Establishing a special task force is critical to respond to any crisis effectively—the task force steps in when a disaster situation requires a swift and decisive response.

The task force should consist of multidisciplinary professionals. Distributed across specialist work teams, these professionals use their expertise to define the scope of a disaster and design a mitigating plan, both short- and long-term .

The work teams in a task force are led by an integration team, which manages and coordinates the work of those teams.

Example of work teams that could be included in a special task force:

  • Finance and legal
  • Faculty and staff
  • Teaching and research
  • External communications
  • Internal communications
  • Campus operations

Note : The exact combination of work teams depends on the size of the institution and the range of its operations.

Develop a Comprehensive Communication Plan

With multiple stakeholders involved in the operation of every university, a communication plan will help address the uncertainties that are bound to amount during a crisis.

It’s important to have regular communication with all stakeholders. A communication plan should have directions and steps for various scenarios (even those unlikely ones). The goal of every communication plan is to:

  • Provide reassurance
  • Give accurate information regarding the crisis
  • Describe mitigating actions that the stakeholders should take

Note : Use secure and collaborative communication tools to help key decision-makers act swiftly. Consider video conferencing for a more engaging experience.

Account for Financial Issues

A plan of action regarding the financial situation of a higher education institution is one of the key elements of a business continuity plan.

You should develop both short- and long-term plans with potential financial consequences and solutions across different scenarios.

Specifically, you should prepare for:

  • A COVID-19 outbreak on campus and the funds necessary to continue operations
  • Stockpiling supplies (incl. services and equipment)
  • IT cybersecurity needs to support social distancing while delivering online classes
  • Potential staff reduction and the necessity to support critical staff

Collaborate and Partner with Other Institutions

The COVID-19 crisis has affected higher education institutions across the whole globe. This opens up a wide range of collaboration opportunities between institutions .

These collaboration efforts could include:

  • Exchange of information to facilitate crisis response and risk management
  • Creation of strategic partnerships to support initiatives (e.g., online learning)
  • Repurposing campus space to aid the government in the fight with the crisis

Safeguard the Health and Well-Being of the Vulnerable

Some students might lack the resources to participate in online learning. The transition to online coursework could also result in a greater discrepancy between students who struggle academically and those performing well.

There can also be students for whom a return home is difficult (e.g., international students). Furthermore, some students may have on-campus employment, which can be disrupted if the campus shuts down.

Prepare a comprehensive assessment and response plan that addresses the well-being of the vulnerable. Also, consider the concerns of graduating seniors, faculty, and critical staff since they, too, are affected by the crisis.

Act Quickly but with a Future-Proof Mindset

While it’s critical to control the immediate effects, university leaders should also keep in mind that the short-term decisions will greatly impact long-term responses.

The key is to plan the resumption of in-person classes under different scenarios. For example, use work teams to prepare appropriate action decisions. These decisions should support the overarching strategy for future-proofing the university’s operations .

Analyze and reconsider how to deliver student experiences and approach admissions, testing, and graduation in the new reality.

Guard Values and Principles

During a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, where the disease originated in China, it’s important to have the capacity to deal with potential xenophobic responses on campus.

University leaders should actively dispel misinformation . The goal is to strengthen a university’s values and principles, for example, respect, tolerance, and understanding toward fellow students.

Be active in speaking out against stereotypes and discrimination and supporting affected groups.

Planning Business Continuity for Universities

When developing a business continuity plan for a university, keep in mind that the plan should contain guidance and information describing how to restore critical operations. However, the overarching goal of a business continuity plan is to fortify the university for the future. Long-term resilience can be achieved through a regular assessment of the plan and the introduction of necessary updates . Set aside time slots during board meetings for discussions on business continuity planning. Communicate with stakeholders using convenient and beneficial communication tools to increase collaboration.

Read: Your Guide to Creating Business Continuity Plans

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Learn how Convene supports business continuity for higher education institutions.

Tanecia Jackson

Tanecia is a current Chief Governance Officer at Convene with former experience working as a Cybersecurity Manager. She is a renowned advisor when it comes to corporate governance, board oversight, resource allocation, and risk management plans for organizations. In her work, she also helps shed light on strategies that can be done to ensure effective governance, while minimizing overall regulatory risk in the company’s cybersecurity projects.

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Emergency Management

Business continuity planning.

Yale University’s mission is to create, preserve and disseminate knowledge. Each college, division, and major administrative unit within the University exists in support of this mission. Each area performs functions that are essential to the ongoing success of the University.

Business Continuity Planning is the process of developing prior arrangements and procedures that enable Yale to respond to a disaster or major disruption of operations in such a manner that critical and essential business functions can continue with minimum disruption or down time.

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is a collection of resources, actions, procedures, and information that is developed, tested, and held in readiness for use in the event of a disaster or major disruption of operations. A BCP helps prepare Yale departments and organizations to maintain essential functions after a disaster or disruption. Having a business continuity plan will minimize the impact of a disaster and help you return to normal operations as quickly as possible.

Developing a Business Continuity Plan

The following video, along with the Quick Start Guide, explains the basic concepts of a business continuity plan and the steps to take to develop a plan for your department or unit.

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Administration: Risk Management - Emergency Management - Business Continuity

  • Risk Management

Business Continuity


  • University Budget office
  • CUNY Central Environmental, Health, Safety and Risk Management (CUNY EHSRM)
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IHEs are particularly sensitive to interruptions. Students must continue in their studies in order to graduate, research must continue as requirement of continued grant funding, facilities must be maintained and regulatory requirements must be fulfilled. Different departments/ functions are more sensitive to interruptions than others.

Business Continuity planning (also called Continuity of Operations planning) is a concept that evolves out of Risk Management as a type of Risk Mitigation Control. Like Emergency Management, Business Continuity planning is a large enough task to be considered as a separate set of processes, policies and procedures. In 2013, this separate-but- interdependent nature was reflected in the merger of the  CUNY Risk Management and Business Continuity (RMBC) Council .

Although Risk Management involves multiple departments within a division and across divisions - Business Continuity  planning  is best accomplished on the departmental level. (Once  activated , however, the tasks of a Business Continuity Plan will be carried out by personnel from multiple departments.) Emergencies will most likely have different impacts on different departments. Only the largest and most all-encompassing emergencies will affect the entire campus, and even then the effects are likely to be unequal. Departments must be prepared to resume normal operations as soon as an emergency has been stabilized. Business Continuity planning describes how individual departments will accomplish their individual missions during times of interruptions of resources.

Devastating past events (9/11, Tropical Storm Irene, Superstorm Sandy) with long-term impacts have further reinforced the need for formal Business Continuity planning. Like Risk Management, Business Continuity lends itself well to a systematic planning process. CUNY has issued  draft guidelines for Business Continuity Planning  in 2013. Planning includes answering the following questions:

  • What are the important functions of the department for which interruptions can result in negative impacts? Who has responsibility for these functions?
  • What is necessary to accomplish these functions during interruptions of resources? Will department leadership be prepared to perform during emergencies?
  • How will critical functions be accomplished with diminished resources during periods of emergency?
  • How will Business Continuity information be developed and disseminated to department members and “customers”?

Criteria for the first iteration of campus Business Continuity plans are being finalized by CUNY for 2015. A CUNY IT Disaster Recovery Plan was developed in 2013-2014.

Business Continuity Links

  • Lehman Connect Risk Management and Emergency Management  (includes Business Continuity documents)
  • CUNY Alert:  If you have not already done so, register for  CUNY Alert
  • College of Staten Island Superstorm Sandy Forum
  • Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans Universities, Report of an AAUP Special Committee, 2007 PDF )-->

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