Tips for Re-Evaluating Disaster Recovery Post-COVID


Disaster recovery planning is an essential part of every business. But what happens when a disaster strikes that is not only bigger than anything you ever needed to feasibly plan for? And what happens when the disaster is felt on a global scale? Let’s discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we think about business continuity.

Here are some tips for re-evaluating credit union disaster recovery post-COVID.

Evaluate for Gaps in Your Plan

CUInsight shared some great lessons learned from the pandemic, like identifying gaps in your disaster recovery plans. As your business continuity plan ages, it’s vital to evaluate and identify gaps that have formed in your plans. The example they use includes the idea that remote work was likely a small facet of your BCP before the pandemic, but that caveat comes with a lot of gaps.

These gaps include making sure you have a supported and tested VPN that can do the heavy lifting you need when your workforce has to perform their duties remotely. That also means making sure all employees have their own laptops and other required technology in their home or remote workspace.

Another gap you may need to fill in the future is the idea that, while many businesses can operate fully remotely, your credit union may need to identify and understand which employees need to work part-time or full-time in-house. You could create hard and fast rules, or just outline general expectations from different departments or work areas.

Prioritize Communication

Communication was a unique challenge during the pandemic, but having to shift or restore communication channels is not a new idea in the world of disaster recovery. Your employees need to know where insights and directives will come from if primary communication lines are disrupted.

Likewise, your members, vendors, and other outside collaborators will also need to be able to easily find updates on the state of your business, whether that is a messaging system in online banking portals, additional website landing pages dedicated to sharing updates, or even social media channels. You want to make sure your credit union has a clear and consistent plan for sharing changes with the people you are normally interacting with.

Increase Cybersecurity Disaster Recovery

The word “disaster” often calls to mind a natural disaster – hurricane, tornado, things like that. But cybersecurity is becoming increasingly critical, as more and more business and personal transactions are taking place online.

Cybercriminals never stop evolving, and your business continuity plan for dealing with a cyber threat shouldn’t either. Another layer of protection you might want to consider for your credit union disaster recovery is cyber insurance – but be careful, not all insurance policies are created equal so you’ll want to do some good research before settling on any solutions.

Prep for Future Pandemics

As COVID cases recede in the United States, it’s easy to imagine that this pandemic was one-and-done. Unfortunately, new strains are being discovered, and other countries around the globe are facing a myriad of increasing and decreasing case counts as areas reopen and then close again. Consider evaluating or amending sick leave policies and protocols for any future outbreaks, COVID or otherwise.

Similarly, consider retaining and updating any communication channels you have in place for spreading legal and other regulatory changes. The last thing you want is for your credit union to be non-compliant with current laws, regulations, and ordinances pertaining to the pandemic.

And lastly, remember this: flexibility in policy doesn’t mean the policy is no good. Anticipate that there will be exceptions to the rules and plans you set forth, and come up with strategies to handle them fairly and as transparently as possible.

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Credit Unions Step up in Crisis


Like so many others, I start my day with a bowl of cereal and the morning news. It seems that most of the stories focus on tragedies throughout our country and throughout the world. I always look forward to the occasional positive story. Stories where people step up and go out of their way to help others.

This morning there was a story about a man that rolled his SUV off of the side of the road and down a slope. The police were able to pull him from the burning vehicle but the slope was too steep to pull him up. Several citizens pulled over, got out of their vehicle and along with the police, formed a human chain in order to save this man. As he was pulled to the top, his vehicle exploded in flames.

Next up, was a story on Hurricane Mathew and the devastating flooding. A lady was interviewed and talked about how everything was going to be alright because they are all pulling together as a community. This got me thinking about many other disasters in the past, including Sandy, Ike, and Katrina.  There were wild fires in California, Tornado’s in Alabama, blizzards in the northeast and just a few months ago, floods in Louisiana.

Having worked in the credit union space for over 25 years, I am consistently impressed how credit unions step up in crisis to help others.

For most of us that are not directly impacted by these regional disasters, it’s hard to imagine the challenges that survivors and communities face. For many, it often takes months and even years to recover. It is estimated that over 146,000 homes were damaged in the Louisiana floods which was characterized as the worst US natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy.

According to an estimate from Goldman Sachs, Hurricane Mathew may have inflicted as much as $10 billion in damage. Current figures would make Mathew the 22nd-worst storm since World War II.

These disasters are affecting communities throughout our country and in many cases, insurance is only covering a portion of the damage which leaves families and businesses to fend for themselves.

During these tragic times, credit unions are usually the first to show their community spirit. Credit unions throughout the country, whose communities have not been affected, frequently organize fundraising efforts and provide donations in order to help out others. Credit unions in the communities affected by these disasters freely donate money, time and labor to help rebuild their communities. Some credit unions will even offer much needed low interest loans for individuals affected by disasters.

Having worked both for and with credit unions, I can’t imagine being associated with a better group of people. As the southeast continues to recover from this most recent event, I have no doubt, credit unions will play a key role in the rebuilding of their communities.