Integrating your Third-party Providers into your Business Continuity Plan
Business owners often labor long and hard at year’s end to create a business plan for the coming year, but often forget to take an equally hard look at general business practices that may need to be reinforced or updated.
One of those areas that could use a little scrutiny is the business continuity and disaster recovery plan, an integral requirement of the American Land Title Association’s Best Practices that states:
“Establish, and periodically test, a written business continuity and disaster recovery plan outlining procedures to recover and maintain information, business functions, and business processes in the event of a disruption or compromise of systems or facilities.”
Purpose of a disaster recovery plan
The purpose of a disaster recovery plan is to identify the risks and minimize exposure in anticipation of a disaster, prepare and assign a list of immediate actions that must be taken in the wake of a disaster, and create a step-by-step plan for recovery that will shorten the time it takes to bring the business back into full operation following the disaster.
One of the things that is often overlooked in considering the elements of a disaster recovery plan is what happens with your third-party relationships. Real estate transactions happen in a web of relationships that involve real estate agents, lenders, title agents, escrow officers, as well as independent closers and other outsourced services. When creating a disaster recovery plan, it should include consideration for all of the companies you are dependent on and all of the software that connects you to those resources.
So, as you consider some of the key items below that you need to assess when creating your plan, keep in mind the full scope of the work your providers do for you, including what happens if provider systems are down and vice versa, how they may be a lifeline if you are impacted by a disaster.
Hardware and software
When we think of disaster recovery our minds go to major events, such as hurricanes, fires or floods. But much smaller events can be equally disruptive, such as the sudden outage of a server or the temporary loss of access to your major real estate closing and title software.
This is definitely one of the key areas a title company should review to:
· Make sure all hardware and software have appropriate data backup systems
· Clarify with your tech vendors what plans they have in place in case of disruptions
· Keep all vendor technical support information on hand
And finally, make a full inventory of all hardware and software with an accompanying recovery assessment.
An annual “fire drill” will go a long way towards helping your employees understand exactly what their role is in the face of a disaster. What you don’t want them to do is to stand around wondering who is in charge.
No matter what the challenge might be from a cyberattack to a hurricane, every employee should be drilled on immediate actions to take, who to go to for information, and what measures must be taken to protect NPI and get the business back on track.
Crisis communication strategies
Disaster recovery always includes a multi-layered need for communication, and should include:
· Creating alternative channels for communicating with employees
· Working with IT and tech providers to protect equipment and data
· Establishing protocols for reporting security breaches to the proper authorities
· Reaching out to third-party vendors to apprise them how it may impact operations
· Providing status updates to customers, underwriters, and regulators as needed
In addition to revising your disaster recovery plan each year, also plan to conduct regular training and practice drills to ensure your employees understand the priorities and are thoroughly prepared to leap into action.
At Positively Balanced, we know how critical your systems are in running your business, and we are prepared to collaborate with our clients to help in the face of unprecedented situations. Call us today to learn more.