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What is business continuity planning?

Business Continuity Planning (BCP) is an all-encompassing term that involves:

  • Understanding the connections between your critical functions and non-critical functions, and
  • Understanding how an emergency or disaster event will impact your organization. 

It is important for functional units to develop and maintain business continuity and resumption plans, in order to develop a strategy for anticipating and minimizing the impact and length of serious disruptions affecting operations. 

When a disaster or emergency occurs, you must be able to restore and maintain some or all of your organization’s functions after life-safety operations have stabilized. It is the ability of an organization to provide service and support for its community and to maintain its viability before, during, and after a disruptive event.  A disaster or emergency can make your office space, lab, school, or workspace inaccessible or unusable. This means your desk, computers, printers, networks, and/or lab equipment may be inaccessible, damaged, or destroyed.

You and your organization should know in advance:

  • Which functions must be restored immediately, which can be restored later, and which functions must always be active.
  • Which of the organization's functions are critical for the University given the specific date of the incident as compared to the University business calendar; what assets are critical to each of those functions, and from where those resources will be obtained if they must be replaced. 

What is the role of Northwestern's Business Continuity Program?

The Northwestern University Business Continuity Program can assist with:

  • Plan development
  • Annual updates of plan
  • Training and exercise (see our Events Calendar)
  • Upstream/downstream roundtables

At Northwestern, BCP is a shared responsibility within the community. We expect each academic, administrative, and research function develop its own plan using centrally provided templates.