Prepare for business disruptions

Last updated: March 23, 2023
Audience: StudentsInstructorsStaffResearchersIT Staff / Technical

Business Continuity Toolkit

During disruptive events such as a pandemic or inclement weather, you may be able to use technology tools to help you sustain department operations from home or another remote location. Effective business continuity requires planning before a disruption happens, so it’s important to prepare now. This “Mini-Business Continuity” Toolkit can help teams across the UW prepare for when the unexpected happens.

Please keep in mind that during a major “disaster,” some of the tools referenced below may not be available until they are recovered.

Create a communications plan

  1. Choose a communication method. Plan now how your staff will receive and provide important departmental updates and information, as well as communicate with each other, during emergency events. You could plan to use one or more of the following methods:
    • Your department’s intranet. If your department has an intranet, you could use this website to post important communications. Be sure to have a staff member designated to update the intranet when needed.
    • Group email messages. You can set up an email distribution list using the UW Mailman listserv to send messages to a specific group of people.
    • Telephone hotline. Turn your departmental voicemail into a “telephone hotline.” Simply update the greeting with timely information. Contact UW Information Technology if you would like to create enhanced hotline functionality such as call menus (Dial 1 for x or Dial 2 to reach y).
    • Phone tree. Contact staff using a traditional phone call tree.
    • Remote meetings. Conduct ad hoc and scheduled remote meetings using conferencing services, Microsoft Teams, and/or UW Zoom.
    • Online chat. Microsoft Teams, UW Zoom all have chat functions that can be used from any device, without being connected to the UW network, and provide an effective way for teams to communicate from remote locations.
  2. Document your plan. Agree on what methods you will use in the event of a disaster, and then document that plan in a location that everyone who will be responsible for carrying out the communication plan can access.
  3. Assign people responsible and include contact information. Your plan should include clear instructions with names of people responsible for carrying out the plan. Include the person’s email and contact information, including a personal phone number, in case they don’t have access to an office phone.
  4. Test-run your communication plan. Make sure everyone is familiar with the plan and that the system you want to use works by running through it together. If a person responsible in the communications plan changes, then make sure to run the plan again with the new person.

Know how to work remotely

Online tools can help you continue business operations from home or another remote location. Some of these require preparation to set up, so make sure your department is planning ahead.

  1. First check with your departmental IT support staff. Your department may already have a system in place for accessing files from home.
  2. Check out and share this list of resources useful to working remotely.
  3. Share these resources with the rest of your department staff so they can get set up to work remotely too.
  4. Consider appropriate use laws and policies that govern the use of UW computing resources and services such as email, mailing lists, computer hardware and software.
  5. Also be sure to understand whether or not the technology you use is FERPA– and HIPAA-compliant.