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How ready is your “Plan B”? (Really)

Don’t wait for a disaster to find out

Obvious and mediocre won’t be found here—but “Why didn’t I think of that?” will! Challenging the banking status quo is Dan Fisher’s personal mission. Obvious and mediocre won’t be found here—but “Why didn’t I think of that?” will! Challenging the banking status quo is Dan Fisher’s personal mission.

So, you think you have a Plan B?

If asked that question, when it relates to technology, I am certain that most individuals would say, “Yes ,we do have a Plan B.”

But do you really?

Disasters can bring the best or the worst out in us. When we think we are prepared to face a disaster only to discover that we are grossly underprepared, it typically brings out the worst.

So, do you have a Plan B when Plan A fails?

What’s in your plan B?

Here’s the list of just a few functions that your bank needs a Plan B for.

What if you lose…

• Power?

• Data?

• Your passwords?

• Your laptop?

• Your desktop?

• Your smart phone?

• Access to the internet?

• Service provider?

• Your email system?

• Phone system?

• Virus and malware protection?

• Your data and your back-up files? (Or you find that the system has not been replicating automatically?)

• Battery back-up?

• Printer or the ability to print?

All of the above represent legitimate Plan B priorities that you need to have, but how many of you consider all of these as being linked to the same plan?

Dependence on a single point of failure

Beyond such lists, have you taken a hard look at what your plan assumptions are, and how they may rely on a single point of failure? And that if that single point goes, everything goes?

Do you have all of your Plan B responses located in the same place (building) or at the same vendor?

If you do, and that place or the vendor is taken out, your entire plan is toast.

The questions just keep on coming and they extend way beyond the context of the annual Disaster Recovery Planning test (DRP) or Business Continuity Planning test (BCP).

For example, do you have a back-up environment—but no way to restore your data to a live server?

Did you know that being down for greater than a business day is no longer acceptable to your customers?

In the midst of a challenging situation, there is a song lyric that keeps on playing in my head:

“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.”*

Being prepared is more than focusing on a single solution or process. It is thinking about all of them, while identifying single points of failure or concentrations of risk.

Now is the time to revise your business continuity plan by stress testing. This is no different than stress testing your loan portfolio. Apply catastrophic events to your conventional plan.

Once complete, determine what you need to move and how to spread the risk. Create a plan that is predicated on losing everything, and when the smoke clears, your organization can be confident that it is all still there.

That is a real Plan B.

It you don’t make this effort in advance, you’re done!

If you do, it’s a well done!

Which “done” will you be?

The Wombat!

* “Big Yellow Taxi,” Joni Mitchell

Dan Fisher

Dan Fisher is president and CEO of The Copper River Group, a consulting firm headquartered in Fargo, N. D., that focuses on technology and payment systems research and consulting for community financial institutions. For nearly 30 years, Fisher has worked in the financial industry using technology to improve the bottom line. He was CIO of Community First Bankshares (now part of Bank of the West), has served as a director of the Federal Reserve Board of Minneapolis, the chairman of the American Bankers Association Payment Systems Committee, and was a member of the Independent Community Bankers of America Payments Committee. Fisher has written numerous articles on banking technology and the payments system. He has authored or co-authored six books and recently published a book titled, "Capturing Your Customer! The New Technology of Remote Deposit." You can contact Fisher at [email protected] or at 701-293-6222.
P.S. To understand Dan's nickname, check out "About the Wombat" on his website.       

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