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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