Testing your credit union’s business continuity plan

You may already have a written business continuity plan, but how can you make sure that it actually works? At Ongoing Operations, we’ve developed a couple of methods to ensure that plans remain foolproof in practice as well as in theory.

If you’ve ever watched The A-Team, either the original or the reboot, you may remember Hannibal, the leader of the group. While everyone plays their role, Hannibal made plans to keep everybody out of trouble, even when things got dangerous. Normally, we don’t condone taking business advice from old blockbuster movies, but why not take wisdom where you can? During a helicopter chase in the reboot, Hannibal explains to his team that incomplete planning is one of the largest oversights one can make: “one step ahead of the game isn’t a plan,” he warns, “two to three steps ahead, beating an enemy’s move before it’s even made, that’s a plan.”

Hannibal is right. In our years of experience, we’ve seen a lot of faulty or short-sighted plans. Often, we see plans that cover only one scenario, such as a pandemic, or a loss of power or connectivity. It’s great to plan for such setbacks, but they cover only a small set of problems that might arise. For example, in the event that the bank must work in offline mode, you’ll want to see that you can still perform offline processing or accept applications. Or, in the event of a pandemic, you’ll take a look at your employees and how they can minimize contact with each other while maintaining effective practices. A plan that addresses only systemic problems such as connectivity, or a plan that addresses only personnel problems such as a pandemic, would be incomplete because they don’t address broader resultant consequences. In essence, a continuity plan needs to address more than one root cause of business failure. Such plans may be “one step ahead of the game,” but they’re not really plans. Not yet. We advise establishing plans that cover a broad array of setbacks or disasters.


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