Operations

Disaster Planning: Seven Steps for Smoother Sailing

Disaster recovery plans should be living, breathing documents.

March 28, 2012
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A disaster recovery plan shouldn’t “sit on a shelf and gather dust,” says Paul Sullivan, vice president and general manager of Agility Recovery, a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider.

Instead, such plans should be living documents. Sullivan and other experts advise credit unions to incorporate these seven steps into their disaster recovery plans:

1. Designate a place to go to restore operations, whether that’s another location or a mobile office brought to your site.

“If you don’t have that,” Sullivan says, “your plan is worth no more than the paper it’s written on.”

2. Plan how to communicate with staff. “Your people are your most important asset,” Sullivan says. “Set up a notification system. Reroute telephone calls or establish a special number staff can call for updates.”

3. Focus on more than the core system.

Subscribe to Credit Union Magazine“The core is about a third of your information technology infrastructure,” says Gary Yeager, vice president of sales for Ongoing Operations, a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider. “What about the other two-thirds? If you lose connections to third-party vendors, you’re in as much trouble as if you lose your core.”

4. Prioritize applications. Figure out your business-critical applications.

The core will come first, “but from there, opinions differ on the next critical application, and the next,” says Steve Comer, credit union industry manager for Hyland Software. “Prioritizing your applications is key to how quickly your credit union will get back in business.”

5. Consider geography. Locating a disaster recovery site 10 miles away may seem convenient.

But in a natural disaster, “a 10-mile spread won’t help you,” Comer says. “Being in a different state or region of the country is worth thinking about.”

6. Validate backup data. Is the data on your backup tapes any good?

“We’ve had clients send us tapes that contain no valid data,” Comer reports. “Too often credit unions overlook the validation step.”

7. Test your plan. Testing also often lands on the back burner, Sullivan says, but it’s the only way to ensure your recovery plan will work. He notes that some credit unions test by using disaster simulations.

A more basic method is a tabletop exercise in which you “bring in key staff and ask questions,” Sullivan says. “It’s day one, what are you going to do first? What are you going to do next? What will you do on day two? Run those scenarios to see if people are prepared.”

Think Resiliance

Ken Schroeder, BPCP, VP-Business Continuity
March 29, 2012 11:07 am
Great Article. It forms a great start. I like to think of it in terms of two lists of three: List 1--Risk Assessment 1. Examine threats.(There's lots of them.) 2. Determine risks the threat might impose. (There are a lot of lurking surprises) 3. Evaluate possible & existing mitigations (There's a lot of low hanging fruit out there) List 2: Prepare backups for three things: 1. People-Cross training, emergency sources. (Without people you don't operate.) 2. Places-Well stated in the article. (People have to sit down--think butts & chairs) 3. Processes-The article mentioned core, but don't forget a lot of business functions can operate using backup manual processes until the automation can be brought back on line. Analyzing your risks, validating backups, and wrapping the management systems around them through exercises, BIA review, education, involvement, continuous improvement all come together to make your credit union much more resilient than being content to wait for a disaster in then implement a "recovery".


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Great ideas

Bill Merrick
March 29, 2012 11:47 am
Thanks, Ken. Excellent suggestions.


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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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