Continuity Planning

Continuity planning suggests actions to take before, during and after unexpected events and situations. It is designed to help people identify, prevent or reduce risks where possible and prepare for risks that are out of ones control. Severe weather, a utility outage, an unusually bad flu season: these are just some of the incidents that could significantly impact the university's ability to continue its mission of teaching, research, and patient care. It's important to consider how to continue our most important work in order to minimize disruption and resume operations.

University Continuity of Operations Plan

The Tufts University Continuity of Operations Plan is the university’s plan for the continuation and/or resumption of the university’s mission and supporting activities. 

Learn More About the Tufts University Continuity of Operations Plan

Develop a Continuity Plan

Departments often know how they would get along during an incident that affects their work, but may have procedures that are difficult to keep updated, maintain strategies that aren't documented, or simply not know where to begin. Developing a department continuity plan helps departments to:

  • Prepare for incidents with the potential to disrupt operations.
  • Carry on critical functions under conditions of diminished resources: loss of space, loss of equipment, loss of IT infrastructure, and high absenteeism.
  • Rapidly resume these functions if they've been interrupted.

Planning Process

1. Assign a Continuity Planning Lead

To begin continuity planning for your department, assign a Continuity Planning Lead to manage the planning process.  This is a periodic, part-time assignment to guide your department through the planning process and then annually review the department’s plan using Tufts Continuity Planner (web-based software). An effective lead is usually a staff member who has access to the department’s senior management. The role is part project manager, part group facilitator. Any Tufts departments interested in additional information or need access to the Tufts Continuity Planner software may contact the Office of Emergency Management.

Tufts Continuity Planner is a web-based planning tool that guides departments through each step of the planning process. Designed specifically for higher education, it is intuitive, easy-to-use, and requires no training – think TurboTax®, but for continuity planning. It typically takes just 1-2 months of minimal, part-time effort to complete a continuity plan, because the tool stimulates thoughtful consideration of issues instead of requiring detailed research or legwork. 

2. Select the best approach for your department and develop the plan

Team (recommended): Key staff periodically meet as a group to develop your continuity plan, with Tufts Continuity Planner projected in a conference or meeting room. Typically, the group will meet 1-2 hours/week while the Continuity Planning Lead completes some homework between meetings. The shared learning significantly improves the resulting plan, and the very discussions about issues of continuity make your department better prepared.

Delegated: Staff with discrete areas of responsibility log in to Tufts Continuity Planner on their own time and complete the section of the plan for which they are primarily responsible.

Individual: The continuity planning lead develops the continuity plan on their own using Tufts Continuity Planner, soliciting information from other staff members as needed.

3. Have your plan reviewed and participate in a tabletop exercise

The Office of Emergency Management will review your plan and provide feedback. Your department will then participate in a low-stress, discussion-based exercise to validate the plan and socialize it among your team. Finally, the senior leader of your school or division (executive dean or VP) will review and approve your completed plan.

4. Pursue the completion of action items, and annually review/update your plan

As you develop your plan, you’ll have several opportunities to identify actions items for improving continuity. Most of the planning process involves documenting your department’s current level of preparedness, but the action items are specific tasks for improving your department’s level of preparedness.

Continuity Planning Frequently Asked Questions

Review Our Continuity Planning FAQs