FAQs

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Who can answer questions about the StanReady tool?

2. What is a Continuity Plan?

3. What is a Critical Function?

4. The instruction says to indentify our critical functions, not processes.  What's the difference?

5. Should we appoint a departmental continuity coordinator?

6. Who should do continuity planning?

7. How does the departmental planning group operate?

8. How long does it take to create a continuity plan?

9. How detailed and complete does our plan need to be?

10. Should we do a plan for an entire college or school, or plan for each unit within it?

11. How can we craft a plan to handle unknown circumstances?

1. Who can answer questions about the StanReady tool?

Laura Rodriguez-Mascorro is the Campus Continuity Coordinator.  She may be reached at (209) 667-3022 or by email at lmascorro1@csustan.edu.

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2. What is a Continuity Plan?

Simply put, it is a plan that enables you to continue to do your job -- atleast the critical fucntions -- when an incident has occured that may impair your job duties such as not having access to your office or workstation.  By planning for what you need, and making sure you can get to the resources you need even when you can not get to your office, you will not find yourself nervously pacing outside the building, wondering when you can get back in because "that is where my stuff is."

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Is a Continuity Plan implemented in an emergency?

No. The Emergency Operations Plan is initiated in an emergency.  The Continuity Plan kicks in afterward, once the emergency has cleared, but before we can return to business as usual.

How big of an emergency will it take to implement the Continuity Plan?

It could be something catastrophic (i.e. an earthquake, an act of violence on campus) or something that in the Big Scheme of Things seems pretty small (i.e. a leaking pipe, electrical outage affecting just your office).  The plan kicks in whenever you are unable to continue doing your job and the functions you have deemed critical for an extended period of time.

What is an extended period?

That is determined by senior leaderhips, but in general, it is more than a lunch break.  It is what would constitute a definite break from normal -- perhaps as little as a few hours or as much as weeks; even months.

How can I be expected to do all my work when I can not get to my office?

You will not be expected to do all your work in the wake of an emergency, but you will be expected to carry out the critical functions of your job.

3. What is a Critical Function?

In the context of business continuity planning, a critical function may be defined as a collection of activites normally performed by your unit that must resume during the first 30 days, or sooner, following a disruption in a service.

A critical function:

  • enables the university to provide vital services, maintain the safety and well-being of the campus community, ensure continuity of adminsitration, and/or protect the University's assets
  • enables teaching or research to continue

A Critical Function is Not a Process

Processes are the steps needed to accomplish a function.  For example, the critical function "provide meals for residents of university housing" is accomplished through the processes of "food buying, food storage, cooking, serving, and cleanup."  We focus on major functions because processes are too specific and detailed for our level of planning.  Identify the function, not the process.

A Critical Function is Not the Name of an Entire Department

A department is the organization of resources needed to accomplish a function.  For example, the function "provide hazardous materials clean up and disposal" is performed by the Environmental Health and Safety Department.  This is only one function of the department, and this function has been identified as critical.  Because the focus is on continuing a specific function of the department, "Environmental Health and Safety" cannot be listed as the critical function.

A Critical Function is not an Object

Functions are the activities performed by a department or unit.  For example, "protective equipment" is not an activity; it is an object.  When listing critical functions, identify the action (verb) associated iwth the object.  In this example, the action is "provide" and the critical function is "providing protective equipment.

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4. The instruction says to identify our critical funcitons, not processes.  What's the difference?

Processes are the steps needed to accomplish a function.  For example, the function to provide meals for residents of university housing is accomplished through the processes of: food buying, food storage, cooking, serving, and clean up.  We focus on major functions because processes are too specific and detailed for our level of planning.

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5. Should we appoint a departmental continuity coordinator?

Yes: typically a staff member who has access to your senior management.  The role is part project manager, part group facilitator.  It is a part-time assignment for the duration of the planning project, but the coordinator often continues informally as the departmental expert and contact person for continuity issues.

The current department coordinators, as of 04/26/2016, are listed as follows:

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6. Who should do continuity planning?

All colleges, schools, departments, research units, and other units that conduct teaching, research, or public service should have a continuity plan.  Other units that provide essential support or infrastructure to these units should also do continuity planning.  These two definitions encompass virtually every unit of the campus.

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7. How does the departmental planning group operate?

The group will typically meet and discuss, with little-or-no homework.  The department coordinator may choose to display the StanReady tool at the meetings using a projector.  Alternatively, the departnent coordinator can provide the group with the printed plan (which includes all entries-to-date) for discussion.  On occasion, the coordinator or someone else may interview a key manager (interview forms are provided in the StanReady tool) or do a bit of research.  The department coordinator's role should not require a heavy time commitment.  CSU Stanislaus' approach to continuity planning asks for your thoughtful consideration of issues, not for detailed research or leg-work.

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8. How long does it take to create a continuity plan?

Think of this as a two-to-four month project.  Our experience is that longer time frames do not produce better plans.  Most of the time will be "white space" waiting for meetings to happen and people to come to agreements on priorities and action items.  The number of actual staff hours required is surprisingly small, becuase StanReady uses a "fill in the blanks" process. Virtually little to no time is spent learning how to do a continuity plan -- simply fill in the blanks and your plan is done.

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9. How detailed and complete does our plan need to be?

Your continuity plan can never be complete because you can't know what diaster you're planning for.  The StanReady tool will prompt you for the appropriate level of detail, and most of those details will be things that your group easily knows or can figure out.  BE BRIEF: most questions are best answered with one-to-several sentences or bullets.

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10. Should we do a plan for an entire college or school, or plan for each unit within it?

Since this a crucial decision, the Campus Continuity Coordinator will help with the process of planning.  You may contact Laura Rodriguez-Mascorro, Campus Continuity Coordinator, at 209.667.3022, or lmascorro1@csustan.edu.  You may also contact the department coordinator that has been elected for your unit.  The department coordinators, as of 09/16/13, are listed as follows:

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11. How can we craft a plan to handle unknown circumstances?

The methodology that we employ for continuity planning mostly avoids discussion of particular casual events that could interrupt our mission.  All such casual events (earthquake, fire, pandemic, human sabotage, etc.) will affect our functioning in similar ways: they will temporarily prevent us from using some of the resources to which we have become accustomed.

These resources include:

  • space (our classrooms, labs and offices)
  • people (our faculty and staff)
  • equipment (computers, networks, other equipment)
  • information (libraries, data)
  • funds (our income stream)

Our planning focuses on:

  • identifiying the resources that are critical
  • safeguarding critical resouces against loss (e.g., backup of systems & data, bracing of equipment, safe storage of research items)
  • actions that will lessen the impact of losses (e.g., pre-arrangements with sister campuses for mutual aid)
  • replacing resources quickly (e.g., contracts with vendors)
  • performing critical functions without some of those resources (e.g., teaching via distance learning technology)
  • providing our people with the information they will need, post-disaster, to get the campus back in action.

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