Operations

Prepare Now, Rest Later: Ready Your CU for Disaster

Assess critical business functions, be informed, and test your disaster plan.

May 19, 2011
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Today more than ever, natural disasters have the potential for causing a widespread impact on a business due to an immediate loss of physical assets and technological infrastructure.

Our dependency on technology, used primarily to make our jobs easier, can instantly cripple operations and leave credit unions vulnerable to loss and potentially catastrophic results.

With so many dangers and threats, how can a leader take the necessary steps to protect company assets? Preparation.

That involves:

• Asking yourself what can happen inside and outside your credit union to cause you to shut down?

• Assessing your critical business functions. What does it take for you to remain open and server your members?

• Being informed. Local emergency managers can help you identify these critical functions and expose the risks to your organization.

Are you reliant upon any single provider in your supply chain? If so, cultivate a relationship with a back-up supplier should your primary vendor be unreachable following a disaster.

An emergency management plan is the key to your credit union’s survival—and required by law. But it’s not something you can do in a silo.

Involve all staff and employees in the planning process and delineate responsibilities each will undertake should a disaster occur.

Do you have extended contracts in place? Do you have people who can come in and connect generators and have back ups for not only your data but your communications and hardware (computers, printers, servers, phones, etc.)? Include all of this information in the plan.

• Testing your plan. It doesn’t do a bit of good if your plan rests dusty on the shelf unless you practice, practice, practice.

It's a common misconception that your continuity plan can actually fail a test exercise, when in reality the only failed test is the one you don’t perform. A test exercise is a great way to validate the strengths and expose the weaknesses of your plan while providing valuable practice for employees to prepare for a real recovery.

Remind your leadership early and often that a test exercise is meant to find failures now so they become successes during a recovery.

Next: Most businesses unprepared

VP-Business Continuity

Ken Schroeder
May 19, 2011 9:48 am
Great Points. I go a little bolder, however. Even if you don't go the formal route and conduct a BIA (which you should), you need to ask yourself "What the most important thing to do in an emergency?". Once you take out all the parochial emotion for your department, the answer should come back to "Provide cash to our members in a crisis", yet that seems to be the last thing cu plans focus on.

So how do you do that? Ensure a supply of cash. Ensure a copy of latest trial balance. Ensure security. Ensure your tellers know how to operate off-line. Ensure recovery procedures work when IT and other services are restored.

It all boils down to People (you've got to have them to work), Places (you've got to have a place to work), and Processes (you've got to have backups to your normal processing mode).


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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 (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) 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.

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