The Busy Administrators Guide To Risk Management and Contingency Planning

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Having a hotsite agreement normally provides for some test time, but if you are new to the testing process, very likely it does not supply enough the first year.

Contingency Planning Should Be Operationalized

Dollars are well spent in designing test strategies and setting reasonable objectives , including recovery time frames. If there is no hotsite vendor, a computer service bureau should be considered to test critical batch applications. This approach provides less in the way of telecommunications solutions, however. On October 17 I happened to be on a business trip in Florida for my California-based company. After a hectic day, I sat down to relax and watch Game Three of the World Series when the earthquake struck. Although I was obviously unable to assist during the disaster, my company responded quickly and efficiently during the tense and horrifying hours immediately following the quake.

Fortunately, we suffered minor damage, and all branches and communications were up and running within a matter of hours. Although we evaded serious setbacks, we know that next time we may not be so lucky. Preparing for a worst-case scenario is a crucial aspect of a job, and everyone must always be ready for one. When an emergency occurs, be it small or large, your savings association has a responsibity to manage it competently.

Employees and customers will want to know how you are handling the problem and who is immediately available to provide assistance.

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The federal government, through Thrift Bulletin 30, now requires management and directors to develop a comprehensive contingency plan. The plan is no longer limited to potential computer problems.

A contingency planning tool can help to identify what should be done to

Just some of the other considerations to be included are preparedness for earthquake, flood, fire, explosion, power disruption failure, communications interference, riots, strikes, and the actions of disgruntled employees. The comprehensive blueprint for each institution must also include third party contingency planning. A backup data processing vendor, for example, must also have an emergency contingency plan.

With a newly restructured set of regulatory authorities overseeing the industry, savings and loan executives should expect regulators to scrutinize contingency planning issues just as closely as capital compliance. The issues involved are as varied as the many companies in our industry, but there are several central themes that must guide contingency, regardless of the magnitude of the emergency.

The most successful plans are those that promote a constant awareness among employees, who, in turn, influence senior management to put a plan in place. Commitment without money, however, is not a real commitment. Their foresight and investment were justified when a fire struck in the Los Angeles headquarters several years ago.

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Because they were prepared for the worst, they were able to recover quickly and successfully. A person in charge of the planning must assume complete responsibility for putting the plan in place.

Risk Assessment. Prioritize your assets and protect them accordingly. Ultimately, the most important consideration is the survival of your company and the attempt to minimize losses of the owners and shareholders.

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While it is obviously very important to protect both your people and your customers, do not forget about the shareholders who also rely on the prosperity of your company. Strategies involve deciding how to implement your plan, from where you are going to operate, who is going to be there, and the services and equipment that you will need.

To complete a contingency plan properly, you must have agreements in place with firms who can assist you in an emergency. Without these, the only companies to get goods and services will be the ones willing to pay the highest price. A good idea, for example, is to have several security guard firms under agreement or contract to protect your buildings until windows can be boarded and doors secured.

No plan will work if you have not practiced it. Although we are not quite finished with our plan, we are not waiting for an emergency to give it its first test. In an emergency, no one is going to pull out the plan and read it. We visit all operations and tell employees first-hand how they should react in various situations. Practice the plan. It will never be perfect no matter how many times you go through it. Testing and maintenance must be constantly reviewed with each drill.

This is the final step in your planning process, and it is a requirement of TB Hopefully, you will never encounter a disaster in your company, but you will be more than adequately rewarded for the time you take to prepare if the worst should occur. Written by Robert G. The terms disaster recovery, contingency planning, business resumption planning and contingency management have been defined, seminar-ed, white paper-ed and presentation-ed in every conceivable way and forum.

It is, however, an industry still in its adolescence, attempting to mature. As standards proliferate so do the numbers of new consulting firms, hotsite vendors and disaster recovery coordinators. They are also raising new issues and service concerns. So, even though technology has played a vital role in raising the high tech aspects of DR, there are a number of yet-to-be resolved basic questions: 1. How do you obtain executive approval for plan development? What are the criteria in developing a plan of action unique to an organization?

How do you obtain budgetary approval? What is the first step? What are the next 10 steps? Is it more cost effective to seek an outside source or develop the plan and recovery capacity from within? How do you educate management on the significance and implications of this industry? Perhaps the key underlying question, however, is: Why is it so difficult for management to accept this industry and allocate the funds necessary to implement a DR plan?

With disaster recovery, we now ask these same decision makers to throw out their accepted, proven standards and readily accept something that has a starting point but no end, and does not enhance profitability. Furthermore, budget approval must be a mainstay year after year, not just when profits and stocks are up. But what about the systematic plan of action to do as much as humanly possible to prevent that event from happening in the first place? The public and media outrage over the spill was widespread and the estimate for its clean-up is increasing to hundreds of millions of dollars.

The point, whether it relates to Exxon, the Hinsdale fire or any other natural or man-induced disaster, is that these are business issues vital to the continued successful operation of that organization, both short- and long-term. The dilemma? With the amount of national and international investment available, how and why should a CEO approve a disaster recovery budget when that same CEO is responsible for increasing stock value, reducing overhead and operating cost, and ultimately increasing net profit!

At the same time, who is responsible for gathering information and justifying this expenditure? Mid-management - a highly mobile and promotion-oriented position. These individuals are faced with the tremendous responsibility of affecting the consciousness and pocketbook of the corporate world.

Furthermore, this industry not only challenges the status quo but also enters into taboo areas of business. Contingency planning not only gathers this type of information but addresses critical business functions , vital to the survivability of that organization. That, in itself, spells trouble. It is the only industry of its kind that touches all departments and personnel where the organizational structure is flattened.

Audits of various sizes and shapes certainly review some of these issues but not at the level DR does, whereby answers and solutions must be the norm, not the exception. Industry-wide agreement with all of some of these points is not, however, the issue. DR, as an industry, is still seeking to legitimize itself within the business community. Upon examining the financial industry where laws have mandated the need to develop and test, we begin to look at the future. A future where DR will develop into one of the most significant, vital and recognized industries in 30 years.

What is the catalyst? Why will it develop as an integral part of the corporate world? Instead, it is now the world business community. As the United States has moved from production and manufacturing to a service-oriented nation, the financial and cultural influences of foreign investments here are playing a more significant role in how business is conducted. In , however, we look at a U. In , free trade in financial services in Europe will become a reality.

This will open the doors for U.

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The larger the corporation, the greater the risks, and ultimately, the more at risk a corporation is to loss and liability. Furthermore, the European Business Community, strengthened by the devaluation of the dollar, is planning to increase their exports to the U.

Security 101: Contingency Planning

In addition, Japan buys such a significant amount of U. Treasury Bills every year which are tied into the Home Mortgage Rate that, theoretically, it could some day influence the future amount of money available for mortgages. What does this have to do with DR? It is the only industry that has the basis and potential to examine an organization not only from the outside in but also from the inside out.

With the increasing liabilities on Boards of Directors and executives by stockholders over potential losses, DR will become a key business issue, not simply a data processing and security issue or end-user concern.

Managing Contractual Risk Issues

It will develop into a critical, functioning process, for instance, when a company like KKR is looking at a new potential takeover candidate. Obviously, the role of the large accounting firm will increase whereby the value of that company is reviewed based on net profit, debt and market value. However, DR will take on an equal and, perhaps, a more vital role which is the detailed accounting of how that corporation got to where it is, and what steps it has taken to protect both its assets and operations.

The future will be shaped by the growth of not only the American economy but by foreign investments. Stockholders are playing a more active role in the operations of companies, and governmental agencies are under more pressure and scrutiny to increase efficiency and modernization. Again, financial institutions are currently regulated in their DR responsibilities.

Why not manufacturing? The auto industry? The airlines? All one has to do is look at the significant effect any major industry has on the U. It is logical, and entirely possible, that other industries will be compelled, by federal and other regulations, to develop DR plans. Is there any one element that will shape DR in the future? These may be when a nationally recognized CEO is held personally liable for lack of preventive action following a multi-million dollar loss, or when DR coordinators are promoted and recognized at a senior management level, not only in name only, but as true decision makers in board rooms.