Every organization needs to have a plan in place for protection from serious incidents that can hinder normal business activities. A comprehensive recovery plan ensures continuity of business operations during an unexpected or chaotic situation. Although it may seem like a daunting task, taking a series of straightforward steps in planning for any potential disaster is simply ensuring a permanence of operations should anything unforeseen occur.
To create an effective Disaster Recovery Plan, it is necessary to determine the recovery point objective and recovery time objective for each aspect of your credit union, including assessing the potential risk for disaster. Once you have this information, you can easily create a protection plan that meets your credit union’s needs and ensures security of your resources for the future. There are five basic steps to consider in the planning process:
- Conduct an operational analysis. Reviewing the physical security, critical services, passwords and user accounts and backups and data storage processes will provide a clear map of where it currently stands and how it operates. This knowledge is important and plays a key role in determining what type of plan needs to be in place in the event of a disaster.
- Perform a risk analysis. It is imperative to identify all threats and assess those factors that may jeopardize workflow in the event of a disaster. Running a risk analysis on all functional areas of your business helps to identify points of vulnerability and failure. Understanding your vulnerability to a threat and identifying alternatives to successfully deal with these issues when they occur is crucial. This analysis technique does just that and enables you to avert possible negative effects a disaster can have on your business.
- Identify tolerances for downtime and recovery priority. Understanding the ability of your credit union to tolerate downtime in an effective manner is the next step in preparing your plan. What simply registers as an interruption and what length of time offline requires a full recovery effort? Assess exactly which business needs have to be up and running within minutes or hours of a disaster, and which ones can be down for 24 hours, for a week, or for two.
- Develop and mandate recovery teams. The selection of your disaster recovery team is very important. Individuals selected must have the ability to step in with technical and management skills to make the on-the-spot decisions required during a disaster. Once chosen, meet with team to define roles and responsibilities. Have each member build a customer and employee contact list identifying those individuals they will be responsible for should a disaster occur and the plan be initiated.
- Publish, promote, and maintain the plan. Take the information you have gathered, developed, and tested in your Disaster Recovery Plan preparation and publish a comprehensive document to key staff members, clients, and vendors. Develop a Disaster Recovery Plan communication chart, making sure to keep this document as current as your most current organizational chart. Most importantly, perform ongoing maintenance on your Disaster Recovery Plan. Remember to constantly ask yourself, “Will yesterday’s plan fit today’s reality?” The needs of every organization change at an alarming rate and with continued technological advances it is critical to revisit your plan on a regular basis, ensuring it continues to meet your business’ needs. As new applications, hardware, and software are added to your infrastructure they must be brought into the plan.
Having a Disaster Recovery Plan established provides protection and stability for your business and all of its components. An updated and tested plan also provides assurance that systems will perform effectively in the event of a disaster occurring. While it is near impossible to be 100 percent prepared for an unforeseen disaster, having a solid plan in place now will keep your business safe should one happen in the future— and give you peace of mind today.