Is YOUR Institution Prepared for an Emergency?!

Karen Nearing

By: Karen Nearing, AAP, APRP, CAMS, CRCM, NCP, Director, Regulatory Compliance Education

After a personal weeklong battle with the flu and the news media reporting scarlet fever and coronavirus, I felt it was the ideal time to revisit business continuity planning should a worldwide pandemic impact the United States. Initial reports of the coronavirus seemed to be confined to China, but on February 27, 2020, the New York Times reported it has spread to at least 48 countries.

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is a plan to ensure that business processes continue during a time of emergency or disaster. Normally when we think of a disaster or emergency, we think weather-related. But, as fears rise regarding the very possible spread of various illnesses, it is time to look at your BCP to ensure it is up to date and you are prepared in the event of an emergency.

Your institution’s BCP should:

  1. Identify the scope of the plan
  2. Identify key business areas
  3. Identify critical functions
  4. Identify dependencies between the various business areas and functions
  5. Determine acceptable downtime for each critical function
  6. Create a plan to maintain operations

After the plan has been created, there should be testing of the plan to include:

  1. Table-top exercise
  2. Structured walk-through
  3. Disaster simulation testing

A review of your plan should be held periodically to help improve the plan, as well as raise awareness of what the plan states. Everyone in the organization should be included and aware of the BCP so that they can assist in the event key personnel are not able to complete the plan’s assigned duties or takes.

One of the best ways to ensure your BCP will work appropriately is to look at your processing procedures. Think about how systems are and can be automated to ensure your organization can continue to support your clients and employees if the normal daily processes are interrupted due to lack of staff or natural disaster. To some extent, you can test your institution’s BCP during events such as natural disasters, but the loss of key personnel could be greater in a pandemic and inhibit the expected knowledge base available to maintain the plan. The ability to work remotely or through a flexible work environment should be a consideration should personnel be confined to their homes due to quarantine.

Having updated policies and procedures that are easy to understand and follow for anyone to follow even if the duties and tasks fall outside their normal scope of work is vital for your institution.

Now is the time to prepare so you have a plan in the event of an emergency.

Now is the time to prepare so you have a plan in the event of an emergency. Want to learn even more about your financial institution’s responsibilities as a payments participant and how to minimize the impact of a disaster for your organization and your clients? Check out our Payments, Pandemics and Planning recording today.