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11 Tips for Reviewing Vendor Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans

3 min read
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When major storms are a brewing, we can’t help but wonder about all the people that stand to be affected. We don’t mean the grocery stores and their empty shelves, or the gas stations with empty pumps. We think about organizations and their vendors.

Storms of the Past

Anyone remember Hurricane Sandy in 2012? We bet the folks at Jack Henry & Associates do. The hurricane damaged a processing center in New Jersey, and even though Jack Henry spent time and effort to get it back up and running, it wasn't fast enough for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The OCC took action against Jack Henry for failure to have adequate disaster recovery and business continuity plans.

And, it wasn’t just this vendor who received disciplinary action. A couple banks had enforcement actions against them as well due to issues with their disaster recovery plans. Storms like Hurricane Sandy can really test if you have good enough disaster recovery and business continuity processes and remind you of the importance of them. It's a worse test than any examiner can give you. 

You probably never want to hear customers and regulators identifying your organization as having unsafe and unsound practices relating to disaster recovery and business continuity planning and processes. Don’t be late to the game. It’s our hope that everyone is as prepared as possible for a natural disaster.   

How to Ensure Your Vendors are Prepared

In 2016, during Winter Storm Jonas, the OCC put out a release “authorizing banks affected by the storm to close and encouraging them to work with their customers,” but what if their vendors weren’t prepared in their disaster recovery efforts and it prevented the banks the ability to do that? Who was putting them on notice that their business must run as-usual no matter how many feet of snow they must dig out of, and whether or not the power goes out?

11 Questions to Ask When Reviewing Vendors’ Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Processes

When reviewing critical vendors’ processes, you need to ensure you're asking the right questions so that you have well-rounded information. Here are some questions to get you started:

  1. Who from the organization will communicate with the vendor?
  1. Do we know who the vendor contacts are (when we have an emergency and when they have an emergency)?
  1. What are their business continuity and disaster recovery processes, and do they seem sufficient?
  1. What do they do if they lose their computer systems?
  1. What do they do if they can't get into the workplace?
  1. What are the employees instructed to do?
  1. Are their employees trained on the processes? Do they hold training exercises?
  1. When was the last time we looked at the vendor's disaster recovery test results regarding their processes?
  1. When was their last test? And, what kind of test was it (complete or mock)?
  1. What were the findings and items that needed to be corrected for those processes?
  1. At what point do they intend to notify you of updates and status?

With all that said, you may now want to ask yourself, “When was the last time we reviewed our critical vendors’ business continuity and disaster recovery plans?" Don’t wait for the storm of the year to find out you and/or your vendors can’t weather it. 

Understand how to review your vendor's pandemic plan in-depth. Download the infographic.

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