The OGO Blog

5 Ways to Engage Staff in your Disaster Recovery Program

special teams Credit Union technology team

Let’s be honest, many of your employees probably think BCP is for the geek squad in IT.

Power goes out – call IT. Storm approaching? Call IT. And while IT serves a critical role in virtually every Credit Union recovery effort, those Credit Unions with the highest rate of success during critical events have expanded their programs from Disaster Recovery (DR – aka Systems/Technology recovery) efforts to a distributed program embracing people, processes and technologies throughout the organization. So how did these CU leaders engage their staff to not only develop BCP plans but to also be actively pursuing ways to increase the effectiveness of these plans on a continuous basis?

BCP StaffEducate

Before you can expect eager BCP participants, you have ensure they know what the plan is. Does your staff know that you have a BCP? Have you communicated the difference between DR (IT) and BCP (organizational)? Do they know you have a Pandemic plan? What about those last two incidents you successfully recovered from? Communicating at every opportunity creates a highly visible BCP program to which your staff will naturally gravitate towards. Education creates knowledge, knowledge creates intelligence, and Intelligence generates understanding and a desire to know more. See the cycle?

Hit em’ in the “grass” roots

As Credit Unionists, your staff understands commitment to the membership and the communities they serve. They go the extra mile every day to provide convenient and reliable service. When you relate preparedness efforts (plan writing, procedure uploads, BIA workshops, tabletops, etc.) directly to your staff’s role as a critical infrastructure key resource (CIKR) – they dig deeper, stay later and test longer because that is what it means to be a Credit Unionist. The CIKR designation originated out of the Department of Homeland Security as a way to prioritize resources during a disaster. Financial institutions, including Credit Unions are considered to be an essential part of the “fabric of society” and restoration of these services helps to reduce panic and fear during times of crisis. Share this with your team and watch everyone sit a little taller.

lovecloudPut their “head in the clouds”

It’s no fun to look at a plan that includes 5 pages of strategy and 400 pages of appendices while chaos unfolds around you. Not only is it impossible to safely carry around 6 monstrous binders of confidential data but the event is likely to be over by the time you find the information needed! Todays’ recoveries must occur in minutes/hours and require leadership to assess, declare and manage the incident under extreme duress and probably in less than optimum conditions. Recovery information must be easily available and quickly accessible. If you want your staff to engage in BCP planning, find a BCP software solution that is easy to use and most importantly, available when and where you need it. Hosted (cloud based) BCP solutions provide the convenience of “always there” access while maintaining the security expected for your Credit Union plans. Using hot spots or other Internet access points, staff can activate and manage their department from virtually anywhere.

Break a sweat

One of the fastest ways to engage staff in your BCP program is to include them in a tabletop exercise. The scenario based tabletop engages staff members in a simulation of a crisis and tests various components of the Credit Unions plans. During these high energy events, role playing is used to poke holes in plans that might otherwise go unnoticed until a “live” event. Having the executive team participate along with the department leaders brings a new bi-directional level of understanding and appreciation of actions taken during a crisis. A skilled facilitator will draw each staff member into the scenario, encourage communications between departments and yes, even exaggerate the disaster to push the participants to think outside the box. The staff member is further engaged at the end of the exercise by the sharing of at least one “takeaway” for plan improvement.

hEmpower department leaders

All of the suggestions above will engage your staff in your BCP program. At least temporarily. Huh? Come again you say? It’s true, nothing will fizzle out faster than a plan that is written and never meant to be executed. Holding on too tightly will dilute your efforts to engage your team in BCP. As a Credit Union leader, once you have reviewed and approved the departmental level BCP strategies, authority to executive them (whether thru declaration of a disaster or departmental level authority) is imperative. These are tactical plans, not strategic. You’ve entrusted them with the operational authority on a day-to-day basis so extending this into the recovery effort makes sense. Empowerment yields accountability and ownership – Exactly what you’re striving to accomplish with your BCP efforts.

Do you know the difference between disaster recovery and business continuity? Are you unsure about how to build a disaster recovery program vs. a disaster recovery plan? If you would like additional information – simply fill out the form below: