One Credit Union's MATRIX For Avoiding Business Interruptions

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The Matrix is everywhere at Eastern Financial Florida Credit Union (EFFCU).

EFFCU's own business continuity spreadsheet, dubbed The Matrix, "assures the organization's ability to offer products and services following a serious business interruption," according to Syed Ali, manager of Technology Services, and Evan Laufer, business continuity planning administrator at EFFCU.

But which products and services, and when? "We believe there is a simple answer," said Ali. "Restore applications and services, which ensure continued service to our members."

A closer look at EFFCU's strategy reveals the decision-making framework- and staffing-that enables that simple answer.

The Matrix plots 26 mission-critical applications and services against restoration timeframes and member effect. "Our analysis not only took into account member service, but financial soundness of the organization as well," Laufer said.

Applications include teller and platform systems, the phone center, host systems, the ATM network and the online banking system. Services include retail, the telephone service center, loan servicing, marketing and information systems.

Completing The Matrix

"Completing the Matrix will allow an organization to see its member transactions, compliance and financial impacts on their operations," added Laufer.

The $1.8-billion CU's Disaster Recovery Task Force prioritizes applications and services across three restoration timeframes-24, 48 and 72 hours.

That first 24 hours is targeted for restoring systems such as the mainframe, Wide Area Network, ATM and online banking, Ali said.

But a nice, neat chart detailing "what" isn't enough-someone has to be ready to carry out the plan. In fact, Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Group recently pinpointed staffing as the weak link in most financial institutions' recovery plans.

After a business interruption, a number of EFFCU's IT staff of 36 is prepared to set out to the CU's alternate site. In addition, Laufer works closely with each business unit to develop and maintain a departmental recovery plan.

"We have designated disaster recovery personnel in each department who are charged with maintaining their departmental recovery plans, including participation in the recovery efforts," Laufer said.

"This Matrix is a living document and it is evaluated constantly as applications are added or enhanced," he continued.

The 184,000-member credit union will rely on vendors, as well. "We have made arrangements with various vendors to provide us with necessary supplies to restore core business operations," said Ali. Supplies include mortgage and consumer lending forms, membership applications, deposit and withdrawal slips and computers and peripherals.

An Annual Test

Mobile work centers round out EFFCU strategy. Each center is equipped with desktop PCs, printers and phone systems.

EFFCU's 10 year-old continuity plan has not yet had to prove itself against a serious outage, but the CU tests the plan every year. Representatives from each business unit assess core banking applications. "This process allows us to identify deficiencies in departmental recovery plans and take appropriate actions to mitigate problems," Laufer explained.

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