Emergency Preparedness

Business Continuity

Business, academic & research continuity

The University of Washington has elements of business, academic operations and funded research that must be protected from disruption. Unplanned interruptions of business operations account for $588 billion in lost revenue each year. In addition to protecting life-safety, property and the environment, we have revenue and a reputation in academic and research excellence to protect as well. In an effort to better prepare the University, Business Continuity Management planning was mandated in April 2007 by the Office of the President through UW Administrative Policy Statement (APS) 13.2. This APS is intended to support academic and research continuity efforts as well, to produce a holistic emergency preparedness effort that will benefit the University community.

The BARC program uses Husky Ready as the primary enterprise-level business online continuity package for all University of Washington locations, both foreign and domestic. There is NO COST to departments for the use of HuskyReady.  UWEM staff provides technical support to all users of this online planning tool.

To contact the University’s business, academic and research continuity manager, Megan Levy, please call 206-897-8000 or e-mail us at levym2@uw.edu.

What is business continuity?

The National Fire Prevention Association defines business continuity as an ongoing process supported by senior management and funded to ensure that the necessary steps are taken to identify the impact of potential losses, maintain viable recovery strategies and recovery plans, and continuity of services.

What is academic continuity?

Academic continuity is the process of planning to ensure that instruction continues after a disruptive incident. Academic continuity is intended to reduce disruptions in the faculty’s ability to provide instruction and the student’s ability to receive instruction. Academic continuity promotes principles that provide graduate students with assurances that their work will be safe and available to them in the event of a campus disruption. Academic continuity planning benefits faculty by reducing the recovery time from disruptions and by reducing the risk of the disruption itself. Academic continuity planning benefits students by assuring that a disruptive incident will not cause a delay in academic progress.

What is research continuity?

Research continuity is the process of ensuring that research projects will endure after a disruption in services. This is done by planning and mitigation steps that protect the researcher, data, research subjects, equipment, records and critical supplies that may be impacted by a disruption. A disruption in services may include events such as a power failure, communication disruptions or an inability to access your workplace due to safety or transportation issues.

Helpful links

These links provide additional information and resources available to UW faculty, staff, research departments and historical collections. Also, don’t forget: UW Emergency Management is always available 24/7.

How does BARC benefit me?

BARC as a marketplace advantage

Business continuity planning and similar preparedness efforts are often seen as either unrelated to the business plan or, at best, a necessary evil. Businesses that do have a plan seldom review it for consistency with the current state of the business. A plan written three years ago is likely incompatible with the existing business.

The reality is that business continuity is a strategic investment that helps a business stay competitive, even in the face of temporary disruption. Some quick facts provided by the Houston Advanced Research Center:

  • 35 – 40% of businesses disrupted by a disaster without a continuity plan never reopen.
  • Five-year average of U.S. disaster losses is 2.5 billion (pre-Hurricane Katrina).
  • Every dollar spent on disaster mitigation saves $7 in recovering disaster-related economic losses.
  • The rate of occurrence of natural disasters has increased by 40% in the last 15 years.

Every business will face some form of disaster at some time. Those businesses that have prepared will be in a much better position to prevent a serious disruption of their operations. Additionally, prepared businesses will be able to recover in a more cost-efficient, timely manner because much of the initial recovery requirements and resources have already been identified. This means that businesses that can recover faster will attract more customers and draw business away from a competitor who has not resumed operations. This can have far-reaching consequences for an unprepared business, beyond just the loss of real dollars. Potential future sales lost and even a negative perception by customers can all lead to loss of market share. Often market share loss can be many times greater in value than the actual real dollars. Conversely, a well-prepared company with a business continuity plan may have some additional benefits:

  • Increased investor confidence
  • Favorable public opinion
  • Better insurance rates
  • Better loan rates
  • Higher customer loyalty (you were there when your customers needed you)
  • More efficient recovery means lower cost due to fewer wasted dollars
  • Better employee loyalty (you cared enough to help them prepare)
  • Reduced financial and legal liabilities

A business with a healthy business continuity plan and program to support it will have a decisive advantage over an unprepared rival in the competitive marketplace. Disasters create opportunity for those who are prepared.

Disasters create opportunity

Some folks look at business continuity as a necessary burden. You need to have it because your investors or insurance company requires it. The reality is that a well thought-out business continuity plan can actually be a decisive marketplace advantage.

Remember the movie “Forrest Gump?” The Bubba-Gump Shrimp Co. was struggling to get its business off the ground. A large storm hit the area, leaving the local shrimp boats devastated, except for the Bubba-Gump Shrimp boat. That storm created opportunity for the Bubba-Gump Shrimp Co. which was in a good position to take advantage of it. Was the Bubba-Gump Shrimp company lucky?

Seneca, a mid-1st century AD Roman philosopher once said:

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”.

This 2,000-year-old piece of wisdom is still true today. Companies that have developed a vibrant business continuity program and a preparedness mindset will be in a position to take advantage of the opportunities that may arise from a disaster. They will be faster and more efficient in recovery than any competitors that have not developed a business continuity program. When the customers come knocking, it will be on the doors of those that are open for business.