Major events such as earthquakes, floods or fires demonstrate the importance of credit unions having a disaster recovery (DR) plan in place so they can successfully respond and recover from a disaster.
Disaster planning is critical and should be given attention year round, not just following a major event.
If you don’t have a plan, you need one and not just because NCUA and your state regulator wants it, but because your credit union members expect it.
Your disaster recovery plan needs to take into account different levels of disaster or crisis. Fortunately most events are more like crises rather than disasters, such as power loss or telecommunications outages that affect your ATMs or data center mainframe systems. Your DR plan needs to be flexible to cover major events as well as not so major crisis situations. Your plan should have top management sponsorship and commitment.
You might consider engaging DR/business continuity (BC) consultants to assess, design and implement best practices in operational and technological infrastructure.
The plan should establish business unit accountability for managing the DR/BC plans and have a year round training awareness curriculum making all stakeholders aware of their roles and responsibilities.
The most important part of your plan is the testing phase. At CO-OP Financial Services, following the culmination of nearly a year long planning effort, we conducted a DR/BC drill last November 2009 with 30 employees representing all departments at a local hotel. Our DR portal successfully accessed the DR servers in Southfield, Mich. and all applications were tested. Our phone system was successfully tested in December of 2009.
You need to create and test actual down time scenarios. It’s too late to test when the event happens.
Don’t let the plan sit on a shelf gathering dust. On an ongoing basis you need to train your staff, and conduct operational and infrastructure testing to identify, remediate and enhance any identified critical and non-critical items in support of your DR/BC program.
Credit unions exist to serve their members, but without being prepared with a DR plan you can’t guarantee your members access to their money or other needed services. Preparedness is the key to managing through emergency situations and minimizing service interruptions that will give your members confidence in their credit union.