Continuity Plan: Analysis

[Note: although many of these steps are applicable to anyone wanting to protect their own research and equipment, for this article and the rest of the series, I will be discussing continuity planning as it pertains to genealogical/historical societies.  At the end of the series, I will discuss how to alter a continuity plan to suit the individual researcher.]


The analysis portion is usually the first step for most genealogical societies developing a continuity plan.  And since the plan is best represented as a “life cycle,” it is normal to perform periodic analysis in order to ensure that the plan is up to date.  In my experience, analysis is the most time-consuming and detailed portion of a plan.

Take Inventory of Functions

The first step is to take inventory of all the functions of your society.  And don’t be surprised if you need to take several passes – this is why a continuity plan is set up in a life-cycle format.

Here is a partial list of items, both tangible and non-tangible:


  • Furniture (desks, chairs, bookshelves, tables, lighting)
  • Office space or meeting space (rented or owned)


  • Fax
  • Telephone
  • Internet Connectivity (modem, DSL, T1, T3, broadband wireless)


  • Computers
  • Copiers
  • Projectors
  • Readers (microfilm microfiche)
  • Scanners
  • Television


  • Books
  • Digital media
  • Original source material
  • Maps
  • Periodicals


  • Mailing lists
  • Membership data
  • Name recognition
  • Web presence
  • Website/Blog data


  • Administration data
  • Board of Directors documents (resolutions, minutes)
  • Contacts (other societies, vendors, etc.)
  • Email (server, mailboxes, archives)
  • History (archives of former board members, minutes, etc.)
  • Non-profit status information (state and federal tax status, etc.)
  • Office supplies


  • Banking information
  • Membership dues
  • Revenue stream

Critical vs. Non-Critical Functions

Once the functions have initially been identified, the next step is to designate them as being critical to the continued operation and survival of the society or non-critical.  Some factors to consider when making this determination:

  • Are certain functions mandated by law or practice? E.g., annual board meetings, non-profit/tax status, certification, etc.  Realize that a society can forfeit its status with certain organizations if minimum requirements are not met.
  • The lack of which functions would damage the society and in what way? Could these function impact how the society is perceived by members, donors, etc.,?
  • If an interruption of one of these functions were acceptable, at what point would the interruption become unacceptable?  Is it a matter of length of time? Is it a matter of cost and/or maintenance?

Recovery Requirements

Once the functions are identified and classified as critical or non-critical, the next step is to determine what is needed to recover or restore these functions.  For each function, you should list:

  • the time frame for restoration of the function
  • the business requirements for restoration of the function
  • the technical requirements (if applicable) for restoration of the function

Interruption Scenarios

While you can’t cover all scenarios, you can cover those that are likely to happen.  A society located in Florida would probably focus on a hurricane while a California society would focus on an earthquake.  Both societies could include flooding since such a scenario may occur due to a water main break, sprinkler system malfunction, etc.

Some common scenarios include:

  • bomb
  • cyber attack
  • data loss
  • earthquake
  • fire
  • flood
  • power outage
  • theft
  • vandalism

Only list scenarios which require unique solutions for restoration of a function.  Example:  a power outage (either planned, caused by a natural disaster or due to provider malfunction) would not affect functions such as finances (directly – indirectly it would prevent use of computers to update data).  A power outage caused by a simple interruption of service (blackout, etc.) would affect a society minimally (short period of outage) whereas an earthquake or hurricane where surround areas are affected and there is possible infrastructure damage would affect a society quite a bit.

So How Do I Track All This? 

A perfectly valid question.  In reviewing the components of the analysis phase above, most societies will need some tracking mechanism which lists functions, whether they are critical or non-critical, recovery requirements, and which scenario(s) would impact them.

To get a jump start on the process, use this spreadsheet on Google Docs.  While it may not cover all of the items, you are invited to make a copy and customize it for your own use.

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About Thomas MacEntee

When he’s not busy writing blog posts, organizing the 3000+ members of GeneaBloggers (, teaching online genealogy webinars and more, Thomas MacEntee is busy in his role as “genealogy ninja.” Stealth is not easy, but he manages to get the inside track on emerging technologies and vendors as they relate to the genealogy industry. After being laid off from a 25-year career in the tech industry in 2008, Thomas has been able to “repurpose” his skill set for the genealogy community and loves to see other genealogists succeed, whether it is with their own research or building their own careers in the field. You can reach Thomas at or visit his site at High-Definition Genealogy –

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