Build a Plan in a Year: Month 2

Defining Your Resources

Last month we focused on gathering basic information about your department. We also identified your key people and the crucial skills they bring to their work. Now it is time to dip our toes into the IT section of your plan. We’ll start by gathering details on any department owned servers and computer backup practices that are in place. We will also identify specialty equipment, vendors and other resources you rely on as you work. Feel free to use this form to gather this month’s data.

Have your department’s IT manager or tech support person fill out this first section on Servers and Workstations.

IT Physical Resources: Tracking the physical IT assets you use will help you build your plan in a couple of ways. First, working through these steps will get you thinking about the networks, programs, and systems you need your equipment to access. We will get into this more in later months, but it’s a good idea to start taking notes now.

Second, identifying what you have and use will help you identify what you absolutely have to have in order to do your work. You may have equipment you use daily that can be taken offline and managed with workarounds indefinitely. On the other hand, you may have equipment that is essential to your work.

  • Do you keep any of your own servers or data center assets? If yes, have your department’s IT manager or tech support enter this information in Servers under Information Technology. 
  • For the Workstations section under Information Technology, have your IT manager or tech support person describe the current backup method for workstations for your department.
  • The intent here is to get your opinion on the adequacy of backup at the workstation level. Your backup methods affects the data you will have available after a disruption.
  • Finally, add any information about who provides your workstation support.

In the Equipment and Supplies section under Key Resources, we will capture what you have and use as well as what you absolutely must have to do your work.

  • For Office Equipment, enter the minimum required to perform your critical functions.  While you may note that you need 3 workstations, use the comment area to mention that home workstations can be used if staff cannot access their work computers.
  • Use the Other Equipment section to list any specialty equipment that would be hard or difficult to replace.
  • Use the Supplies section to note what consumables your unit must absolutely have in order to function.
  • For both Other Equipment and Supplies sections, consider the following questions:
      • Where is this equipment or consumable stored?
      • What’s the process to inventory those items? How much should you have on hand?
      • Do you run out of something completely before re-stocking/does equipment break before you replace it?
      • What do you do with old equipment – keep it as back up or surplus it?
      • In a severe pandemic, deliveries may slow or cease for a couple of months due to employee absences at every level of the supply chain. Might your unit face a supply crisis? Do you need to adjust your inventory practices, or to stockpile specific items?
        • If you prefer, use this template to gather information on Supplies (consumables) and upload it on the Documents Screen 

Vendor/Donor/Client Information: In the Stakeholders section under Key Resources, list vendors, clients, project partners, donors, or sponsors outside of the university that your staff may need to contact after a disruptive event.

  • For vendors, list those your department makes individual purchases from (as opposed to those vendors that sell in bulk to the central purchasing department) or contracts with to provide services, web applications and the like.
    • Add contact information, products/services they provide, key contract information, budget information, and identify alternate vendors.
    • If the vendor is local, consider sourcing an alternative outside of the area.
  • The list of stakeholders collects information you may need in case crucial staff are not reachable, offices are closed, computer networks are down, or staff having to handle issues outside their normal spheres.

After two months of planning, you have summarized key details about your department, the people, skills, and equipment that makes it possible for you to deliver on your department’s mission.

In the next three months, we will begin the process of identifying and prioritizing your critical functions, the work you do every day. We will consider how quickly you must resume those functions before your department or the university suffer major financial or reputational impacts. Then plan alternatives and workarounds in order to keep those critical functions functioning, even if you do not have access to your building or the services of half your staff.