After recent events related to disasters, scandals and attacks consumed the news cycles, I asked myself why more organizations don’t take corporate preparedness more seriously. We all strive to improve internal processes, employee morale and the almighty bottom line. But after seeing the effect of a thousand year flood in South Carolina, the far-reaching emissions scandal at Volkswagen, and the horrible terrorist attacks in Paris, I saw evidence of systemic ineptitude on the part of organizations that simply weren’t prepared to quickly recover or reestablish operations. There’s a simple way to build resilience and increase overall preparedness top to bottom in your credit union: Exercise Your Plan.
It sounds simple, and Credit Unions ARE required to test their plans. But how far does your test really go, and are you involving the entire organization in exercises, or simply relegating them to the IT team?
Each year, Agility Recovery conducts over 350 disaster recovery tests with members, on top of a week-long internal exercise involving primary vendors, all departments and every employee. I know what you’re thinking: Agility obviously does this because disaster preparedness is their JOB! And you would be absolutely right. But wouldn’t you agree that credit unions are every bit as important to the communities they serve as Agility is to our own members?
Following the 2012 tornadoes in Alabama, DCH Credit Union was there for its members despite no power, no internet connectivity and spotty phone service. They were able to provide short term cash loans to members, managed transactions using a paper process, and restored their ATM functionality within 24 hours using temporary generator power and satellite connectivity. They were a lifeline for members in their area, helping the community recover in the hours and days following the costliest single tornado in United States history at that time. There are several fundamental reasons they were able to recover so quickly, not the least of which was pure dedication on the part of DCH Staff. In addition to that, they conducted exercises ahead of time, involving employees in those tests, and securing a vendor to provide post disaster resources on their behalf. In doing so, DCH staff could spend precious time serving their members instead of tracking down generators, fuel, electricians and network engineers to restore critical services.
You may believe you’ve taken the necessary steps towards ensuring the viability of your plan and the ability to execute it should the worst occur. But there’s no finish line when it comes to preparing for disasters. It is for this reason Agility constantly challenge our members, and non-members as well, to take testing processes to the next level. Develop scenarios designed to push your plan to the breaking point, then review gaps, weaknesses and areas of improvement, revise the plan and start all over.
We’re nearing the end of 2015, another year of record storms, disasters and incidents. Now is the time to make 2016 a year in which you build the strength of your organization, and remain a dependable resource to your community in their time of need. Resources abound for doing this, including: www.Ready.gov , www.PrepareMyBusiness.org, and Agility’s freely available resources available on CUNA Strategic Services’ here.
Regardless of how you approach improving your testing process, when it comes to the real-world resilience of your organization, this is truly where the rubber meets the road.