Be a Master of Disaster Planning

Business continuity requires a broader definition of 'disaster.'

December 13, 2010
/ PRINT / ShareShare / Text Size +

“Business continuity” is one of those euphemisms designed to keep people’s minds from leaping immediately to dire visions.

“Basically, it’s disaster avoidance,” says Julie Esser, director of new alliances for CUNA Strategic Services. “Many credit unions have a ‘it’s never going to happen to us’ view, partly because they see a disaster as something huge, like Hurricane Katrina or a wildfire. Part of what we do is broaden the scope of what they see as a disaster.”

Esser cites several examples:

  • A fire that destroys a branch or vital equipment;
  • A backhoe that accidentally severs a major phone line; or
  • A broken water pipe or water main.

“Maybe the tenant upstairs has a broken pipe that leaks overnight and creates extensive damage that isn’t discovered until the next morning,” she says. “Even after repairs, there’s the problem of mold and trying to dry out. Supposedly simple water damage turns into a long, drawn-out recovery process.”

Esser says many credit unions think business recovery is primarily an information technology (IT) problem. “But it’s not. There are a host of other concerns. How do employees get to work if there’s icing or flooding? Can they work from home?”

For credit unions that already have business continuity plans in place, Esser recommends updating and testing them at least annually. “Many credit unions won’t test their plans because of time constraints, cost, or fear of disrupting operations. One way around that is to test parts of the plan at night or on a Saturday if the credit union is closed on weekends.”

Credit unions won’t know if their plans will work until they test them, says Debbie Bergenske, CUNA Strategic Services alliance manager. “Also, you learn as you go along. One credit union tested its plan by taking two or three crucial people out of the loop and keeping them uninvolved just to see the effect: What will happen if there’s no backup? Who will step up to fill those gaps?”

CUNA Strategic Services has linked with Switch Communications Group to provide cloud computing services. “Instead of maintaining server racks and desktops, users can access software and apps on the Internet on a pay-as-you-go basis,” Esser explains.

Next: Plan components

Post a comment to this story


What's Popular

Popular Stories

Recent Discussion

Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Your Say: Who should be Credit Union Magazine's 2014 CU Hero of the Year?

View Results Poll Archive