[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)
- Internet Connectivity (modem, DSL, T1, T3, broadband wireless)
- Readers (microfilm microfiche)
- Digital media
- Original source material
- 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?
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
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:
- cyber attack
- data loss
- power outage
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.