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Business Continuity At Otago

What is Business Continuity Planning?

Business Continuity Planning (or simply Continuity Planning) is the process of developing alternative working arrangements that will enable the University to carry on its Essential Services during an emergency (or any period of significant disruption), typically with diminished resources available. The goal is to reduce the time that services are disrupted and the time needed to return to University operations to normal.

An Essential Service is an activity that is essential to the core mission of the University and one that must be continued through an emergency, or resumed soon after an emergency, to ensure either the viability of the University or its ability to serve students, staff, funding bodies and the broader community.

Responsibility for Continuity Planning at Otago

The University’s Business Continuity Policy establishes a framework for the development of Continuity Plans for Service Divisions that will allow the University to focus on maintaining and resuming its most essential services; whilst also working towards full restoration of daily operations.

To keep the administrative burden involved in Continuity Planning to a minimum, planning efforts at Otago are coordinated by the Emergency Management Planning Group, a broad cross functional group comprised of one to two senior representatives from each Service Division, a representative from the Academic Divisions and chaired by the Chief Operating Office.

Each Service Division is responsible for identifying the Essential Services it provides for the University and for developing a divisional Continuity Plan that covers these Essential Services.

Academic departments are responsible for the continuity of their teaching and research activities. Please refer to the Business Continuity Checklist for guidance on what actions your department may wish to take to safeguard its research and teaching.

Why Plan?

While it is impossible to plan for every eventuality, the University takes a broader ‘all hazards’ approach to Continuity Planning as this allows greater flexibility to respond to the range of emergency scenarios that could occur on campus.

All hazards (earthquake, fire, pandemic, human sabotage, etc.) will affect the University’s ability to function in similar ways: they will temporarily prevent it from using some of the resources on which it relies.

These resources include:

  • space (classrooms, labs and offices)
  • people (staff, contractors)
  • equipment (computers, networks, other equipment)
  • information (libraries, data, staff and student records)
  • funding (income stream).

Our planning therefore focuses on:

  • identifying the core people and services in each area that will be needed to help the University manage a severe disruption and recovery period
  • identifying all other resources that are critical to each division
  • safeguarding critical resources against loss (e.g. backup of systems and data, bracing of equipment, safe storage of research items)
  • actions that will lessen the impact of losses (e.g. pre-arrangements with other campuses for mutual aid, having contact information on hand to reach key staff, suppliers, contractors etc)
  • replacing resources quickly (e.g.contracts with vendors, back up supplies stored off site)
  • developing recovery strategies for Essential Services i.e. how to provide Essential Services without key resources (e.g. enable staff to work from home, train additional staff to perform key tasks, teach using distance learning technology)

Disaster Recovery

Disaster Recovery is the technical component of business continuity planning, it focuses on the technology systems that support core business functions and services. The recovery of information technology infrastructure is handled by the Information Technology Services Division (ITS). For more information please contact Steve Lucas, Infrastructure and Applications Manager Tel 3 479 8284 or email