Keep calm and have a business continuity plan

Posted by rmt22 at Sep 26, 2017 02:00 PM |
As you may know, over the summer we had some major incidents which disrupted the functioning of the University. We go behind the scenes to find out just what happened.

In the face of major disruption it’s important to act quickly, and that’s just what we did when we faced two incidents which caused major issues for the University.

On 26 June there was a fire in a storeroom at our College Court conference centre. Quick identification and evacuation meant that no-one was hurt, but there was smoke damage to the main building which led to the closure of the centre. Then, the day after the fire, a flood in the Charles Wilson building led to the closure of that building and relocating of key services.

In both these cases we needed to put the University’s major incident and business continuity plans into action, to ensure that key services could be maintained and to relocate colleagues who had been evacuated.

Assembling a response team

So what happened when the calls came in? A number of people on a ‘silver response team’ led by Kirsty Woodward, our Director of Campus Services, were called together with key staff in the buildings to assess the incidents and provide solutions.

Responses to major incidents are usually supported by a range of teams. For both the fire and the flood, our response involved colleagues within maintenance, security, portering and cleaning; catering, safety services and insurance; our Here for U team; timetabling; planning; and external relations to manage the messages. For both incidents, staff around the University also need to be told and kept up to date, so regular and up-to-date communication via the staff pages was key.

Turning planning into action

Advance planning carried out by teams in the cold light of day, well beforehand, meant that we were able to respond more effectively and act more quickly. With College Court, alternative meeting rooms were needed in the immediate aftermath, along with the relocating of booked events to other venues on and off campus, good relationships with the local pub meant bed and breakfast guests were able to get a hot served breakfast each morning, all managed by the College Court food and beverage team.

Numerous conference bookings were immediately relocated to the Charles Wilson building (you can see what’s coming here!). Then when the Charles Wilson flood happened, many of those already relocated events had to be moved again, with the College Court Sales Team, Leicester Conferences Events team, timetabling and estates colleagues at the heart of this.

There's no substitute for hard work

Our cleaners, porters, security and maintenance teams were vital in the aftermath of both events as the buildings needed securing, cleaning and making safe. The quality of their work and the implementation of the plans meant that the Charles Wilson Building was open again by the end of the week.

College Court, which needed a lot more work to restore the areas after the fire, was partly operational within two weeks and fully operational within four weeks and continues to provide its award-winning conferencing service.

Steve Crawford, Centre Director at College Court says “My enduring memories of the fire were firstly that nobody was hurt and secondly the shock of how smoke is incredibly invasive and caused most of our damage. In addition to the safety of our staff and guests is the incredible way the team pulled together and that we were able to provide an excellent service to our customers much faster than I had feared.”

So, what’s the moral of this story? Be prepared. Make sure that your business continuity plans are up to date and that everyone knows what part they need to play in response and recovery. The work you do in building or updating these plans is your mental rehearsal for some of the decisions and actions you might have to take for real one day.

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