(1) Is Kuali Ready an Emergency Response Tool?
Kuali Ready does not produce an emergency response plan, often called an Emergency Operations Plan. These are campus-level plans, already in place at many institutions, that focus on preserving life, health, and property. Continuity planning aims to keep the institution operating (“doing what we normally do”) by focusing on the mission.
(2) Does Kuali Ready Produce Step-by-Step Recovery Plans?
Kuali Ready is designed on the premise that post-disaster conditions are so variable that step-by-step “recovery” plans are seldom useful. Experience shows that, when faced with crisis, leaders (1) analyze then (2) act. Only in certain situations do they “read the plan” before acting. Kuali Ready stores information that might aid a leader’s decision-process (such as a prioritized list of critical functions), or aid implementation (such as contact information to reach vendors). But the tool’s primary thrust is to identify and track action items that, if completed in advance of disaster, will position the department and the campus to more easily keep operating.
For example, an HR department might create an action item to “maintain a stock of paper forms to conduct personnel actions during periods of system failure”. If it follows through and completes that action item, it will be positioned to continue doing hiring, layoff, pay actions, etc. during times of crisis, using workaround processes despite the loss of its IT system. HR leaders probably don’t need help deciding WHEN to invoke these processes or WHICH processes to invoke – that will depend on the circumstances – but they MUST have the paper forms available to make the alternate processes possible.
There certainly are some departments and situations where step-by-step instructions, decision trees, and other aids are essential or at least useful, and Kuali Ready offers the capability to upload these as attached documents – but the Kuali Ready questionnaire does not walk the user through their creation.
(3) Does Kuali Ready Do Risk Assessment?
Risk assessment is typically done at the institution level, and Kuali Ready is a departmentally-focused tool. Many institutions have done a comprehensive assessment of risk, and the results of the assessment will be very useful to the Kuali Ready user. (The more one knows of the relative risks, the more effectively one can focus and prioritize.) However, the absence of an institutional risk assessment is not a show-stopper. Kuali Ready is an all-hazards tool, designed to prepare the institution to face any type of risk.
(4) Does Kuali Ready Do a Business Impact Analysis?
A formal Business Impact Analysis (BIA) is not essential for campus continuity planning. While BIAs do produce useful information that can inform a continuity plan, the time and resources needed to do a formal BIA are vastly out of proportion to its benefit.
The assumption underlying the Kuali Ready tool is that all campus units (with a few exceptions) are essential to the effective functioning of the institution and should engage in continuity planning. Relationships between departments, and impacts of various types of disruption, are reasonably well understood, and more quantified understanding (the BIA) is not needed to achieve preparedness for disaster. The most effective use of the BIA in the campus context may be to provide evidence to justify allocation of resources; but the BIA can be done, if desired, as an adjunct to the continuity planning process rather than as part of it.
That said, some of the core considerations of Business Impact Analysis are included in the Kuali Ready questionnaire; but the elaborate and quantified structure of the typical BIA is not.
(5) How Does This Relate to DR Planning?
Disaster recovery planning, commonly called DR, is a specialized subset of continuity planning. Its aim is to position the IT organization to rapidly recover from disruptions to its applications, infrastructure, and other services (or better, to continue without disruption).
The campus IT Division can benefit from using the Kuali Ready tool in the same fashion as other campus departments; but the tool does not walk the IT Division through the steps needed to create the various elements of the “DR plan” (prioritized lists of applications & servers, detailed information about data center operations, detailed startup/recovery procedures that can require hundreds of pages). Other tools are available for DR planning. Many institutions attach their formal DR plans to the Ready plans for each IT unit.