11 Ways to Start Business Continuity Planning at Your Credit Union

business continuity planning

The following is an article written by Trellance’s Director of Business Continuity Planning, Tim Daugherty. It originally appeared on CUInsight.com.

Implementing Business Continuity Planning (BCP) is crucial for credit unions to ensure uninterrupted services and safeguard the interests of their members in the face of various disruptions. Below are 11 ways to start Business Continuity Planning at your credit union.

1. Understanding Your Credit Union

Begin by comprehensively understanding your credit union’s operations. Identify key financial services, member interactions and critical processes that need to function seamlessly. This understanding forms the basis of your continuity planning.

2. Compliance and Regulatory Requirements

Familiarize yourself with the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) and National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) regulatory requirements specific to credit unions. Ensure your BCP aligns with these regulations.

3. Risk Assessment

Conduct a thorough risk assessment. Identify potential risks such as natural disasters, cyber threats, power outages or pandemics. Evaluate the impact and likelihood of these risks on your credit union’s operations and prioritize them based on severity and likelihood.

4. Dedicated BCP Team

Form a BCP team comprised of individuals from the Senior Management Team and various departments within your credit union. Assign specific roles and responsibilities to team members. Clear delineation of tasks ensures a coordinated and efficient response during a crisis.

5. Critical Function Identification

Identify critical functions and processes that are essential for your credit union’s survival. This could include ACH processing, ATM services, online banking, liquidity, loan processing and member communication. Devise strategies to ensure these functions continue without interruptions.

6. Data Protection and Backup

Implement robust data protection measures. Regularly back up sensitive member data and financial records. Store backups securely off-site. Test data recovery processes to ensure the swift restoration of member information in case of data loss. A BCP provider can help with this step by automatically backing up your credit union’s data and frequently testing the data recovery process.

7. Member Communication Plan

Develop a comprehensive communication plan. Establish multiple communication channels to keep staff, members and stakeholders informed during disruptions. Notify them about the status of services, alternative methods of access and any necessary instructions.

8. Collaboration with Service Providers

Collaborate with third party service providers, including technology vendors and payment processors. Ensure they have their BCPs in place and can seamlessly support your credit union’s operations during emergencies. Remember: test these connections in advance; don’t wait until you’re facing a continuity event to ensure proper continuation of services.

9. Training and Drills

Educate your staff about BCP protocols through training sessions. Conduct regular exercises and simulations to evaluate the effectiveness of your plan and team. These exercises help identify gaps and areas for improvement.

10. Review and Continuous Improvement

Regularly review and update your BCP based on lessons learned from drills or real incidents. Stay abreast of emerging threats and technologies. Continuously improve your plan to enhance your credit union’s resilience. Your team should have a thorough debriefing session immediately after every drill and real event to evaluate what went well and what can be improved.

11. Documentation and Reporting

Maintain detailed documentation of your BCP, including procedures, contact lists and recovery plans. Regularly update this documentation and ensure that all staff members have access to the latest version. Report BCP progress and activities to senior management and board members regularly.

In summary, Business Continuity Planning involves understanding your credit union, complying with regulations, conducting risk assessments, forming a dedicated team, identifying critical functions, protecting data, establishing member communication channels, collaborating with third party service providers, providing staff training, continuous plan improvement and maintaining comprehensive documentation. By following these steps, your credit union can build a robust business continuity plan that ensures member satisfaction and operational stability even during challenging times.

Tim Daugherty is the Director of Business Continuity Planning at Trellance. 

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