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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Most businesses unprepared

Access to data is vital to continue operations in the wake of a disaster. Back up your data through multiple channels and locations—redundancy is important.

However, don’t assume data storage will guarantee immediate resumption of operations. Agility Recovery Solutions recently conducted a survey illustrating that data back-up provides a false sense of security among small and midsized businesses.

According to Agility’s 2009 Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity Survey, 90% of small and midsized businesses are woefully unprepared for an interruption. Most companies have a formal data back-up plan, but only:

  • 28% have access to alternate office space;
  • 41% have access to mobile office space;
  • 54% could acquire replacement office equipment; and
  • 57% have access to power generators.

Ensuring your credit union can survive a disaster often requires most, if not all, of these elements of recovery.

Communicating with your employees, members, and the community in which you operate is crucial leading up to, during, and following a disaster. Outline the tools you’ll use to communicate with employees and their families, such as an alert notification system, texts, and website messages.

During Hurricane Andrew, 200 firefighters under my supervision lost their homes and it sometimes took three days before they knew if their families were alive or dead because we didn’t have a communications plan in place.

I knew I would lose those people should another hurricane hit the area because no one would put their families through that again. Working with the firefighters union, we created an internal communication system and place their families could go to find shelter.

As an employer, you have to do that. Employees must know you care about them and their families.

One of the big failures of businesses I’ve seen is scenarios where employees fail to come to work after a disaster, opting to stay home and care for their families. Business owners and leaders must devise a plan and incentives for employees to come to work—one that helps them understand the company needs them to survive.

Next: Other advice

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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