University of Minnesota  Procedure

Developing and Managing a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP)


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Please use the contact section in the governing policy.

Each Critical Operating Unit (COU) must develop a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) and Disaster Recovery (DR) plan (where required) to document the continuity and recovery strategy that enables the COU to continue to perform essential functions and/or provide services within a pre-defined time frame. The type and level of service to be provided within this time frame and the method of recovery must be defined.

Develop or Update COOP

COUs must designate a COOP Coordinator (Coordinator) to lead the development and update process. Download the Continuity (COOP) Template (DOCX). The Department of Emergency Management (DEM) is available to assist with COOP development and updates.

  • The COOP and associated documents are subject to review by the Office of Internal Audit and/or DEM, upon request.
  • A COOP should include the procedures for notifying Essential Employees in the event of an interruption, emergency or disaster.

Develop or Update DR Plan

Complete the Disaster Recovery Plan Summary. Additional information is available on the Disaster Recovery site.

The DR Plan and associated documents are subject to review by the Office of Internal Audit, DEM, and the OIT-DR Team upon request.

Notify Employees with Essential Functions

Coordinators will:

  • notify, in writing, employees who have been designated as vital with continuity responsibilities as “Essential Employees” at start of employment or when this role is assigned.
  • identify alternate employees for each Essential Employee (three deep).

Train Employees

Coordinators must ensure that training (on the use of the plan) is provided at least annually to all employees of the unit in order to ensure that all employees are adequately trained to fulfill their responsibilities in support of the recovery process. DEM is available to assist with training.

Training will include familiarity with and a working knowledge of the unit's COOP.

Exercise Plan

Coordinators are recommended to exercise Departmental COOPs at least once per year. DEM is available to help plan for this exercise. A successful exercise will include the following:

  • identifying exercise objectives
  • conducting exercises using the COOP
  • evaluating exercise results and, if needed, making appropriate changes to the plan and re-exercising to ensure that objectives are met
  • documenting of exercise results and the steps proposed to correct any problems
  • completing an After Actions Report (gap analysis, lessons learned).

Review Plan

DEM will provide a reminder to Coordinators to conduct the recommended annual COOP review. The review should verify that:

  • essential functions have been identified
  • essential employees have been notified of their designation in writing
  • continuity and recovery strategies are in place
  • documentation for the plan is current
  • minimum levels of required operation and recovery time frames have been set
  • exercise of the plan has been completed during the last 12 months.