Prepare for Isolated Emergencies: 10 Steps

Involve staff in all aspects of emergency planning.

May 15, 2014

No matter where your credit union is located, you cannot escape weather-related events.

You have likely planned your disaster recovery strategy for this threat, but other business interruptions can be equally damaging and often come with no advance warning—such as power outages, a vehicle crashing into your building, a hacked computer system, fire, or a burst pipe.

Paul Sullivan
Paul Sullivan

Also, during such isolated events, your credit union may be the only organization affected—meaning little or no municipal or governmental support. As a result, members may be less understanding than they would be if the problem affected an entire region.

Therefore, it’s just as important to prepare for isolated events as it is to prepare for natural disasters.

Agility Recovery, a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider, suggests these 10 steps to preparedness:

1. Assess internal and external risks

Discuss, “What if this happened to us? How would it affect our business, and how would we need to react?”

2. Analyze your critical business functions

For each credit union function, discuss your recovery options for keeping it up and running during a disaster, or quickly and efficiently bringing it back online after a forced shutdown.

3. Prepare your supply chain

Query your vendors and partners about their emergency response plans, and how they plan to maintain their service to your organization should a crisis occur.

4. Prepare your employees

Your employees are your most important asset, and should be involved in all aspects of emergency planning.

Prepare them for likely events: practice your work-from-home strategy and cross-train.

5. Back up your data

Ensure your strategy takes into account the three highest priorities when backing up your data: access, redundancy, and security.

Backups should be available to you at all times no matter your location or means of access.

6. Create a crisis communication plan

Have two to three alternate communication methods in place, and regularly test and train employees on the use of these tools.

7. Assemble an emergency kit or ‘GO’ bag

Include items you would need to run your business if you had to vacate your office quickly or if your facility was without power, such as water, Internet access, and so on.

8. Review your insurance coverage

Review your insurance policy annually to make sure all of your employees, office locations, and physical assets are adequately covered.

9. Plan for an alternate location

Whether your plan calls for a fully stocked mobile facility or for a relocation to a nearby site, it’s imperative to discuss your strategy for how you would restore service to your members if your facility were to be compromised.

10. Test your plan

Conduct exercises on everything from getting backup servers up and running to how long it takes to evacuate your facility.

Through testing, you will be able to determine what works and may need adjusting.

For more detail on these ten steps, and other valuable planning resources, visit the free site co-developed by Agility Recovery and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

PAUL SULLIVAN is vice president/general manager for Agility Recovery, a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider.