Business interruptions and disasters have the potential for causing a widespread impact on credit unions of any size due to an immediate loss of physical assets and technological infrastructure.
Disasters, large and small, will happen. In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, many credit unions throughout the Northeast were adversely affected due to flooding, power loss, communications disruption, and the overall lack of preparedness of their operations and their employees. But while events like Sandy claim the headlines for weeks, the reality is that everyday events can have crippling effects on a business. Examples may include a broken water pipe, a building fire, a power surge, or a power outage – not necessarily the natural disasters and regional events dominating the headlines.
For this reason, business continuity and disaster recovery planning is a fundamental requirement of good business practice, particularly for small to mid-size credit unions lacking the resources of their larger peers. But with so many dangers and threats to these institutions, how can management take the necessary steps to protect company assets and do so with limited time and resources? And during widespread regional events, can traditional recovery strategies like shared branching hold up?
Understanding the risks and developing a solution to mitigate the losses associated with such risks — as well as potential failures of traditional strategies — is the key to protecting an institution from disasters of all types.
Beyond risk assessment, preparing for a disaster also entails having access to key assets to get your credit union up and running quickly and efficiently. Ensure access to things like power generators, office equipment, IT infrastructure, and the satellite bandwidth to guarantee communications. This can be a fairly large undertaking for small and midsized organizations, so many choose to seek out a reputable business continuity solution provider to handle these needs.
Financial institutions aligning themselves with reputable business continuity companies can mitigate the risks associated with these interruptions both internally and for their members. Business continuity providers typically supply their clients with the four basic elements needed to facilitate normal day-to-day operations during times of interruption or disaster – power, technology, space, and connectivity. How a credit union utilizes these resources is dependent upon its specific interruption or disaster.
Credit unions with a deep understanding of the importance of business continuity planning beyond simple data recovery plan will be able to provide peace of mind to their members and the greater community in times of disaster, help to mitigate their risk, and ensure their businesses’ long-term vitality. A business continuity solution can help these institutions re-prioritize and rapidly shift their efforts internally to sustain essential and critical functions and ensure disruptions are contained without resulting in business failure.
Bob Boyd is the president and CEO of Agility Recovery – a former division of General Electric with over 24 years of disaster recovery and business continuity experience. Bob Boyd joined Agility in 2004 after the company was sold by General Electric, and began a revolutionary transformation of the company, essentially turning the business continuity/disaster recovery industry upside down.
Agility provides comprehensive, packaged recovery solutions to financial firms across the United States and Canada. Over the last two years, Agility has responded to over 4,000 isolated events and recovered over 300 organizations from disaster. For detailed and applicable information gleaned from real life disasters from 2012, register for Agility’s free webinar “2012 Year In Review: Valuable Lessons and Best Practices.”