Resolutions for Resilience in 2021

Tips for Credit Unions to Improve Their Business Continuity Program

Happy New Year! There is no better time to set goals or resolutions for improving your business continuity program in the year ahead. Rather than completely hitting the reset button, let us set ourselves up for success by creating achievable goals. Some small tweaks to your current business continuity program can make a big difference.

Need help? Here are five tweaks that you can take to improve your Credit Union’s business continuity management program:

1. Automate: This is a great way to keep the data in your plans up to date. Automation can be achieved by getting data directly from the source. Data points to consider may include: employees, locations, vendors and applications. The idea of an API is great in theory; however, without the in-house knowledge and resources to create one, this may be a costly solution. Looking for a cost-effective alternative? Consider setting up an automated push of data on a reoccurring frequency. The frequency is best determined by the rate in which your data changes; daily, weekly, monthly, etc. The days of manual updates are behind us. Utilize technology in the new year to work smarter and save time.

2. Analyze Data: Review the data in your plans. What resources are you tracking? Two possible areas of improvement may be equipment and applications. If you are using an application such as BC in the Cloud for your planning efforts, the relational database can easily assist you in identifying orphan records, or records that are no longer attached as a dependency to a plan, location, employee, etc. If records are obsolete, DELETE! Focus on only including items that are specialized to your business and operations. Declutter your plans by only tracking the items that can NOT be easily procured via your favorite online store or a quick Google search. Don’t forget to consolidate. Merge records when appropriate, keep your nomenclature consistent and clean up the occurrences of two different records that mean the same thing. For example, rather than referencing MS Office, Microsoft Office, Excel, Word, Office or some other variation, call it Microsoft Office Suite. And remember, this could be irrelevant in your plans if it is a suite of programs that are included on your standard desktop image.

3. Exercise: Would any list of New Year’s tips be complete without exercising? Keep your plans healthy and make them stronger by scheduling exercises with key departments or business areas. Start small with a roundtable walkthrough of the department’s plans. Review existing processes and identify changes in processes or procedures. Discuss what would need to happen should an incident occur, like who’s involved, what the communication plan should look like, etc. Then, document and update your plans as needed.

4. Regulator Review: Review your program to ensure it is up to date with the latest regulations and best practices for planning. The FFIEC IT Handbook has all the information you need for this. Make sure you are signed up to receive regulatory alerts to assist with staying up to date as additional guidance is released. The use of a business continuity management application can assist you with a planning structure to ensure you follow NCUA/FFIEC guidelines. In addition, an application will allow you to take a best practices approach to planning and managing your business continuity program. 

5. Reflect: Take some time to reflect on the years past. What works well in your program? How can you improve? What incidents occurred during the past year? After all, we are in the midst of a global pandemic, so surely there were lessons learned and you are now more capable and prepared to work from home. Do you have new recovery strategies that you can document and rely on should another event arise? Set aside some time to tweak areas of your plans based on these lessons learned.

Business continuity management is a continuous process, no matter the maturity of your program. These are small achievable tweaks that can ensure your Credit Union is prepared to quickly recover no matter what 2021 throws at you!