UPitt Ready is the University of Pittsburgh's business continuity planning system. And what exactly is business continuity planning?

The goal of Business Continuity Planning is to enable the University of Pittsburgh to maintain operations and services in the face of a disruptive or catastrophic event.  The longer an institution takes to recover, the greater damage it sustains to its reputation.

At Pitt, we call this plan UPitt Ready, which is a web-based continuity planning tool to create useful, thoughtful plans to ensure each unit's ability to continue its critical functions if an incident occurs.

The software facilitates dialogues between key department figures in an interview-style questionnaire to help capture institutional knowledge and protocol. By joining, you will gain an understanding of the critical functions of the department and the resources required to support those functions that will be documented in a centralized location.

We will have a report that will contain a quick access to critical contacts, key department servers, essential workstations.

Why it's so important

  • UPitt Ready will help you plan for major disasters -- such as the total loss of a building -- but it puts planning in perspective and makes it more likely that crisis response will run smoothly in the case of an unforeseen scenario. It can be used as a tool for onboarding new staff during a period of major personnel changes.
  • The tool helps you list out critical department functions contacts and online programs used that could be a useful tool for those new to the department.
  • It helps focus the department on its mission goals. It can be used as a refresher of the organization’s priorities by facilitating small groups that think through the scenarios that affect your department, keeping in mind the goals you have set internally. Who determines what type of plan I am working on?
  • Departments can decide internally what suits the organization best. With each department having different needs, we will work to have a plan that suits you best. Who should participate?
  • The planning group is typically drawn from upper and middle managers and supervisors: assistant deans, assistant directors, managers, or department coordinators, etc. These are people who have access to management and understand how the unit operates and what its priorities are. How much do I need to be involved? o Initially, meetings will be held to discuss the needs of your department.
  • Once the plan is finished, it will need minimal updating. For instance, if new software is added or there is a major personnel change.

What kind of support you can expect

UPitt Ready has a Business Continuity Coordinator who will be available to help with: ▪ Structuring your department’s plan using Kuali ▪ Troubleshooting the software ▪ Providing resources to help build a plan ▪ Training Where do I start? o Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management Charlyn J. Loera, Business Continuity Coordinator Email: cjl124@pitt.edu Phone: 412-648-4961

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Here are some FAQs about UPitt Ready

Question: How do I access the UPitt Ready Continuity Planning tool?

Answer: Log in with UPitt credentials using the link provided in the welcome email. If you are unable to access UPitt Ready, please send an email to Charlyn Loera at cjl124@pitt.edu with your name and contact information. Once you have been assigned a task, you will be able to log in to the Kuali continuity planning software under MyPitt by searching Business Continuity Planning.

Question: What information do I need to start a plan?

A: The number of personnel that your plan will encompass along with their work and emergency contact information. Who depends on the functions your department performs? What is your mission? What are some key partners with your department internally and externally?

Question: Should we appoint a lead?

A: Yes. It is a temporary, part-time assignment for the duration of the planning project, but the lead often continues informally as the department's expert and contact person for continuity issues and exercises. An effective planner is usually a staff member who has access to the unit’s senior management. The role is twofold: project manager and group facilitator. In the UPitt Ready system, the lead is commonly referred to as a Plan Manager. Plan Managers in UPitt Ready control the access to the unit plan and can add or delete users as needed. Every unit should have at least one Plan Manager.

Question: At what level of the organization should we create a plan?

A: This is a crucial decision. Smaller research, instructional, or administrative departments would typically use the online planning tool to create a single continuity plan. Schools, divisions, very large departments, and large support units may find it easier to develop plans for their subunits rather than for the whole. Email cjl124@pitt.edu for guidance in making this decision.

Question: Who should be in the planning group?

A: The planning group is typically a staff group, with membership drawn from upper and middle managers and supervisors: assistant deans, assistant directors, managers, or department coordinators, etc. These are people who have access to management and who understand how the unit operates and what its priorities are. Keep the group size manageable. In very small units, the continuity plan is often done by the head staff member, without a planning group. If your unit is an instructional department or research unit, faculty input is an important part of the planning process. If faculty members are not available to be direct participants in the process, try to solicit their input through other means such as interviews or informal conversations on key issues.

Question: How long does it take to create a continuity plan?

A: Think of this as a one- to three-month project ― longer time frames do not produce better plans. Often the Plan Manager will have to wait for meetings to happen and people to come to agreements on priorities and action items. The number of actual staff hours required is surprisingly small because the UPitt Ready Continuity Planning tool uses a “fill in the blanks” process. Virtually no time is spent learning how to do a continuity plan ― simply fill in the blanks and your plan is done.

Question: How can we craft a plan to handle unknown circumstances?

A: The methodology that we employ for continuity planning avoids discussion of particular causal events that could interrupt our mission. All such causal events (hurricane, fire, flood, pandemic, etc.) will affect our functioning in similar ways; they will temporarily prevent us from using some of the resources to which we have become accustomed, such as physical spaces, staff and faculty, equipment, data, and funds. Our planning should focus on:

• Identifying critical functions

• Identifying the resources that enable these functions

• Safeguarding critical resources against loss (e.g., backup of systems and data, safe storage of research items)

• Taking actions that will lessen the impact of losses (e.g., pre-arrangements for mutual aid)

• Replacing resources quickly (e.g., contracts with vendors)

• Performing critical functions without some of our resources (e.g., teaching via distance learning technology)

• Providing people with the information they will need, post-disaster, to support the campus in returning to critical operations

Question: How often should we update these plans?

A: Plans should be updated whenever there is a major change in your unit (e.g., a new application or position is used to support a critical function). In the absence of any major changes, you should review and update your plan annually.

Question: What will my department gain from developing a continuity plan?

A: Your department will gain two important things from going through this process:

• The critical functions of the department and the resources required to support those functions will be documented.

• Your department will have a list of action items to work on over the next year until you update your plan again. These action items will be a list of things that can be done to improve your ability to continue operating in the event of a disaster

Question: How do I report a problem with the UPitt Ready Continuity Planning tool? 

A: Please send an email to Charlyn Loera at cjl124@pitt.edu with details regarding the problem and how you can be contacted for further information.