MADISON, Wis. (3/27/08)--Disaster protection is important to credit unions because nobody’s immune from crises--there is always a potential threat that can impact your business. That was the key message from a “Disaster Preparedness--Prepare for the Unexpected” webinar broadcast Wednesday by CUNA Mutual Group. Glenn Engel, CUNA Mutual certified business continuity planner, and Mike Retelle, CUNA Mutual disaster team leader and credit union protection claims manager, presented an overview of disaster preparedness for credit unions during the hour-long webinar. “The impact of a disaster on your business depends on how well prepared you are,” Engle said. “The threats to businesses include acts of nature, man-made acts and infrastructure or technology.” There are more potential risks today for businesses, such as disasters, terrorism, acts of war, human error and outsourced service providers, he added. Over the years, the evolution of the industry has gone from disaster recovery planning to business continuity management--otherwise known as continuity of operations, Engel explained. Business continuity is made up of three components: prevention plans (before the crisis), emergency response plans (during the crisis) and business resumption plans (following the crisis). “The more recovery time, the more the recovery costs become,” Engel said. “The optimum solution for credit unions involves weighing the costs to be prepared versus the recovery costs.” The business continuity program drivers are risk analysis--determining and quantifying risk--and business impact analysis, which involves prioritizing business functions and determining the impact of a loss of a business function. “It is crucial to make sure that disaster recovery plans are easy to understand, specific, and have step-by step procedures,” Engel explained. “The plans must also be available. Can anyone recover and use them? You need to have them available off-site so they don’t get lost in a disaster.” It also is important for credit unions to develop a “how to recover” script, Engle said. This involves breaking processes into procedural steps, deciding what will be done differently during the recovery process, and then documenting it. To make sure the plan works, response team members need to maintain off-site inventory, perform periodic plan review and maintenance, conduct ongoing training, and have regular exercises or tests of the plan, Engle added. “A successful business continuity management program involves a strategy, an up-to-date plan, trained personnel, and testing,” he concluded. An untested plan is no plan at all, Retelle told participants. “Disaster planning for credit unions is similar to what you do for your home. You have to have a plan and then practice the plan. Credit unions need to involve management staff and regular staff. The recovery plan needs buy-in from all the people involved.” Credit unions must determine what is important, such as: lending, dealing with the membership, getting ATMs up and running, and so forth, Retelle said. The key information that CUNA Mutual needs from a credit union when a disaster strikes is:
* The nature of the loss/event; * Any special immediate credit union needs; * The identity of the main credit union contact person; and * The best way to reach the credit union’s main contact person.
CUNA Mutual Group’s Disaster Team can be reached 24/7/365 at 800-637-2676.