Build a Plan in a Year: Month 3

Identifying Critical Functions

In month 3, you will begin the process of identifying your Critical Functions. We have split this up into three months because it is probably one of the hardest areas to tackle. To do it well requires time and possibly feedback from coworkers and teammates. Below, you’ll find a brief overview of the steps to cover this month.

But first, what is a Critical Function? Essentially, a Critical Function is the work you do every day that’s vital to the mission of your department, the work you will want to return to as soon as you can after a disruption. Critical Functions ensure the viability of your department or its ability to serve its customers. Is everything you do a Critical Function? Most likely not. For non-critical functions, include them in the plan but list them as deferrable.

We’ve created a form that can help you organize the information you gather as you work through identifying Critical Functions. Use one copy of this form for EACH of your department’s Critical Functions. Don’t agonize over these questions. Be brief, give the best answer, and move on.

Start by making a list of everything your unit does. What are your key responsibilities? What do you have to do to meet your mission? What things do you do daily, weekly, monthly, annually?

Enter Critical Functions in Kuali Ready: Once you have a list of critical functions, it’s time to assign them a level of criticality. In Kuali Ready, navigate to your plan. Under Critical Functions click on Manage Critical Functions. Make sure you are in Edit Mode, and then in the top right hand corner, select Add Critical Function. Name it something short and sweet and assign it a level of criticality.

  • Critical 1: must be continued at normal or increased service load. Cannot pause. Necessary to life, health, security. (Examples: inpatient care, police services)
  • Critical 2: must be continued if at all possible, perhaps in reduced mode. Pausing completely will have grave consequences. (Examples: provision of care to at-risk outpatients, functioning of data networks, at-risk research)
  • Critical 3: may pause if forced to do so, but must resume in 30 days or sooner. (Examples: classroom instruction, research, payroll, student advising)
  • Deferrable: may pause; resume when conditions permit. (Examples: elective surgery, routine building maintenance, training, marketing)

Do this for all items on your list you want to include in your plan.

All of the critical functions are now listed in the left navigation bar. When you click on any of the functions, you will see additional options. This month, add information in the Description, Peak Periods, and Consequences areas. We will come back to the other areas later.

Description: When describing a Critical Function, make sure that it is descriptive enough that someone who does not perform this function regularly or at all can understand the purpose and process it.

Identify the people responsible for this function. Give names unless this is a generic group.

Peak Periods: Are there months when you expect there to be especially high activity involved in accomplishing this function. Or are there months where a delay in the function might cause greater harm than if it happened during a slow period. Include an explanation of peak periods as you may not be the one who implements the plan.

Consequences: Suppose the function you are working on is not restarted quickly enough following a disruption, which of the listed harmful consequences might occur. These questions show why this function is critical. Where you can, provide details on the potential reputation, financial, safety or other risks.
Proceed through the steps again from the top for each of your critical functions.

In this step, we will capture any items to address any gaps or uncertainties you had as you worked through the previous steps. Some questions or actions you might note:

  • Are there potential opportunities to cross-train. If a function is critical, but only one person knows how to do it, this is a significant risk.
  • Do you work with other teams to complete functions? We will go into more detail on dependencies later, but start thinking about whether or not another department could perform these critical functions temporarily in the event that only your unit experiences a disruption, but not the entire university.
  • Are there forms or documents you need to perform this function? Upload them under “Documents” now or create an action item to compile or create needed documents.

You are moving right along and have completed the first steps of creating your continuity plan! In the next few months, we will explore risks and dependencies, but for now, sit back, relax, and give yourself a pat on the back!

Stuck? Confused? Need help? We’re here to assist you through all planning steps via email, phone (970-491-6169) or in person!