How snow days can improve your credit union disaster recovery plan?

by. Robin Remines

After 9 snow days this season I have to admit that I have a pretty effective pre-storm routine. About 24 hours pre-event, I receive a text alert from our county emergency services director giving approximate timeframes, estimated snowfall and recommended action steps.  And while the first snowfall of the season occasionally catches me off guard – number 9 (or is this 10 I’m waiting on) results in little more than a cursory glance over a few things and possibly restocking a few perishable items. Why? Because practice creates muscle memory. And the same is true for all those credit unions that are now facing Storm #10.  You have probably discussed and implemented a list of storm preparations/decisions that can be used to improve your credit union disaster recovery plan. After 9 snow days, here is list of what credit unions are committing to muscle memory!

#1 – “The Open/Close/Delay” Decision

As a credit union you should have a list of criteria that you can quickly “check off” to determine your “open/close/delay” decision. No power/alarms? Or how about this – declaration of a state emergency – do you close/open? Depending on your state’s requirements you may not have a choice but through deliberate discussions and practice scenarios you can instill your corporate culture into the decision making process to the point where little time is wasted making this call.  (Just a side note: Almost without fail, I’ve seen credit unions challenged with the “schools are closed – why aren’t we”. Make sure your staff are clear on whether or not you follow school closings for your decisions.)

#2 – The Power Outage Practice

We’ve been told for this particular storm to expect ice followed by heavy snow which almost inevitably means limbs snapping and power outages. After 9 storms however, most credit unions have established a known “what’s up/what’s down” inventory given a power outage situation.  With practice (tabletops, real events, etc.), your credit union leadership team should have a clear picture of what services are disrupted during a power outage. Other snippets of information that should quickly roll off the tip of the tongue are your generator specifications and fuel resources (if applicable).  I often stage tabletops with power outages and hear “but we have a generator” to which I will ask – will it sustain you 3 days? 5 days? A month?  Walking through these scenario’s will ensure everyone is on the same page and the appropriate resources are lined up to ensure continued operations.

#3 – Having a source of authority for your information

Weather events are often all over the map and so are the forecasts that accompany them. After 9 events this season, you have probably selected the most reliable “source of information” from which to obtain your data. Communicating this out to your staff and members helps create community and provides an established baseline from which to make decisions.

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