Friday, September 14, 2018

Disaster Preparedness Month: Building a Plan for Your Credit Union

Disasters can and often do occur with little to no warning. Weather-related acts of nature can give hours or days of notice, but this is not enough time to create a disaster plan for your credit union. Man-made threats, infrastructure issues and other crises can and do occur instantly, forcing a race against the clock to protect your employees, members and credit union overall.

To protect against all types of potential disasters, every credit union needs its own preparedness plan. Plans will vary depending on location, size and needs, but creating them can follow the same process. Once your credit union’s disaster preparedness plan is complete, everyone will be better prepared for and protected against potential disasters.

Evaluate restoration elements and issues.
The first step to creating a disaster preparedness plan for your credit union is to take a step back and go over its critical functions and processes. Really investigate essential daily operations that always need to be available to members. These are the processes that must remain active in the event of an emergency. Next, you will need to determine any processes for restoring them if they get interrupted. That way, you know what is essential, and how to get them working properly again after an emergency.

Create a response team.
After identifying the essential functions of your credit union, you will need to put together a disaster preparedness team. This team will usually include high-level decision makers, management and possibly other department representatives. It is important to make sure every employee has a line into this team, so they are updated on any changing plans.

Develop a communications plan -- for more than one type of disaster.
Next is communication. In addition to informing all employees of the plan overall, every credit union also needs a crisis communication plan. This will include how you will communicate with employees, members and management after a disaster strikes. Be sure to include contingencies for losing phone service, internet access and electricity.

Finally, be sure to include all types of disasters in your plan. Most credit union leaders will think of natural disasters, infrastructure emergencies and robberies. What if a computer virus were introduced into your system? Or a hacking attack targeted your members? Be sure to look outside the box to make sure you are prepared for any possible issue.

Ideally, your credit union will never experience a disaster, and your plan will go unused. But, the work of building it could alert you to any issues before something happens. While no credit union can be 100% ready for every disaster, those with extensive plans are the best prepared. Plans will need to be updated on a regular basis as your credit union changes and new threats are identified.

For more detailed tips and discussion on disaster preparedness for your credit union, see our Credit Union Protection webinar on this topic. It's available on-demand at no charge for our customers.

For more information on disaster recovery, CLICK HERE.