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Business continuity

The University of Otago has a robust approach to business continuity, underpinned by the Business Continuity Management Policy and Business Continuity Management Framework.

Emergency and Business Continuity Co‑ordinator

Championing business continuity at the University is Emergency and Business Continuity Co‑ordinator, Paul McNamara.

”All parts of the University perform important functions that protect people, property, assets, and reputation. Business continuity planning is a process by which the important functions within the University are identified and by appreciating potential risks, planning can occur to minimise the impact of disruptive events, to increase resilience of the University.

”By doing this preplanning, when a disruptive event occurs the impact on the University and your area is reduced”.

Read more about Paul’s mahi

Business continuity planning

A key mechanism for business continuity management are business continuity plans (BCPs). BCPs increase an organisation’s resilience by ensuring that should an adverse event occur, the organisation’s critical functions are able to continue with as little downtime as possible.

An adverse event could be anything that might cause a disruption, e.g. earthquakes, pandemics, cyber-attacks… the list is long, and life is unpredictable, which is why it is so important to have a comprehensive BCP in place.

Planning tool – Kuali Ready

As part of our ongoing commitment to future-proofing critical functions, Te Kōhanga Hōmiromiro is rolling out a new business continuity planning tool, Kuali Ready. This tool facilitates the creation of comprehensive business continuity plans (BCPs).

Our end goal is for each department/area to have their own BCP in Kuali, written by key staff who work there as they are the experts on what they do and what they need to keep doing it. If we think of each department as a puzzle piece and each department has an up-to-date BCP, we can quickly start building a clear picture of the University’s essential functions and the impact on them that a disruption might have.

Why Kuali?

The ‘fill in the blanks’ survey nature of the tool makes writing a BCP simple, even for those with no prior experience. This reduces time commitment while increasing quality and cohesiveness in plans across the University.

What about the BCPs we already have?

The BCPs we currently have are a fantastic starting point. Having a tool such as Kuali is the natural next step in increasing organisational resilience. In their current state, BCPs are not readily accessible and vary in terms of content and quality of information.

Kuali will ensure that BCPs are easy to view, update, print and report on. This reporting function is particularly useful as in the event of a disruption key decision-makers will be able to quickly identify the most critical functions and assign resources accordingly.

Business continuity management glossary

Below are some common terms you will come across when engaging in business continuity planning.

Business Continuity Plan (BCP)
A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) identifies the most important functions an area completes, the resources required to undertake them, and the maximum tolerable period of those functions being halted. This planning helps to ensure that should an adverse event occur; the organisation’s critical functions are able to continue with minimal downtime. An adverse event could be anything that might cause a disruption, such as earthquakes, pandemics, cyber-attacks, or anything else that may get in the way of important business activities.
Function
Functions are the activities and processes that your area completes. For example: purchasing, housing students, tutoring. Functions can be measured and ranked in terms of criticality, i.e. how essential it is that the function continues. Consider whether pausing the function would impact human life, health, security etc.
Adverse event
An adverse event could be anything that might cause a disruption, such as earthquakes, pandemics, cyber-attacks, or anything else that may get in the way of important business activities.
Recovery Time Objective (RTO)
Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is the period following an event in which a function would need to be recovered.
Upstream dependencies
Upstream dependencies are departments, processes, suppliers etc whose reduced functioning would seriously impair your own area's ability to perform a critical function.
Downstream dependencies
Downstream dependencies are departments, processes etc that would be seriously impacted if your area could not perform a critical function.
Emergency Response Plan (ERP)
An Emergency Response Plan (ERP) details the steps your area would undertake following an emergency. Writing a comprehensive Business Continuity Plan feeds into the creation of an effective ERP.
Organisational resilience
Organisational resilience is the ability of organisation to prepare for, respond and adapt to change and disruptions.

Business Continuity Planning vs Emergency Response Planning

The terms ‘business continuity plan’ and ‘emergency response plan’ are often used interchangeably. This can create confusion as in reality they are very different plans with different uses.

A business continuity plan (BCP) outlines critical functions, details how loss of business may be avoided, and the requirements for continuity of operations. An emergency response plan (ERP) is deployed following an emergency and details the steps that must be taken to protect life, safety, assets, and the environment. Hazard and threat-specific procedures are developed. In short, a BCP asks ‘what does the business do now, and what does it need to keep doing it?’ whereas an ERP asks, ‘now that an event has occurred what are the steps that need to be taken?’

The way that BCPs and ERPs work in synergy is that creating a robust BCP assists in defining the business requirements for an emergency response plan (ERP).
In planning it may be helpful to look at your business continuity as step one, with development of an emergency response plan as step two.

There are a wide range of hazards that should be considered when developing an ERP. These include:

Category Examples
Natural hazards Earthquake, flooding, tsunami
Biological hazards Pandemic, infectious disease
Human-caused events Fire, hazardous spill, robbery, terrorism, industrial action
Technology interruption/failure Telecommunications, electricity, water, sewerage

Scenarios that these hazards may give rise could include damaged buildings, serious injury, inability to take usual transport, and inability to enter a building.

Both BCPs and ERPs should be regularly updated to ensure they are still relevant and cover all necessary details. At minimum, an annual review of each should take place. However, departments should ideally update their plans whenever key changes occur such as change of staff, procurement of a significant asset or identification of a new potential hazard.

For more information about emergency response planning please contact:
Paul McNamara
Email paul.mcnamara@otago.ac.nz

Contact us

We welcome the opportunity to connect with you.

If you have any pātai, comments, feedback or just want to kōrero about business continuity, please contact us:

Email businesscontinuity@otago.ac.nz