DALLAS (BP)–Whether a fire, a natural disaster or a terrorist attack, a disaster recovery plan is in place at the Annuity Board to allow the board to recover quickly and operate effectively through a disruption.
“It’s important to make sure that we can effectively run our business during and after a disaster,” said Ken Helfers, Annuity Board disaster recovery coordinator, who led the Southern Baptist entity’s staff in a recent walk-through of the plan, which he deemed successful. “The plan allows us to re-start our processes and service our customers as quickly as possible.”
Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, national attention has been given to recovery after a catastrophic event to ensure financial services firms can get back up and running quickly and to minimize risks.
“Our participants place a great deal of trust in us,” said Annuity Board Chief Operating Officer John Jones. “Our goal is to remain operating during a disaster and to be prepared for substantial -– perhaps record -– volumes of calls.”
The Annuity Board’s disaster recovery plan is reviewed and updated each quarter. Three times a year, a systems recovery is performed to test information systems. Every other year, a full disaster recovery exercise is conducted.
In the walk-through, employees from each business unit who are designated as disaster recovery team members participate in the exercise along with a consultant from SunGard, the Annuity Board’s disaster recovery vendor.
During the exercise, the disaster recovery coordinator describes the situation to the team and assigns tasks to each member. The team then walks through the entire process, completes their assigned tasks and reports back to the coordinator. The team later evaluates, documents and works through any issues arising during the exercise, and changes are made to the plan as necessary.
SunGard has been helping companies like the Annuity Board plan for and recover from business interruptions of all kinds for more than 20 years. SunGard has responded to more than 1,500 actual disasters and claims a 100 percent success rate. The company offers sites locally and across the country where the Annuity Board can set up remote connections and conduct business within hours of a disaster if the current Annuity Board site ever becomes unavailable.
“No organization can make itself immune to disaster,” Jones said, “but it is good business practice to reduce or eliminate operational risks with planning and preparation.”
Of the board’s staff, Jones said, “[We] must continually ask ourselves, ‘What do we need to do to keep running in the worst-case scenario?’ We believe we are well prepared to serve our customers — no matter what.”
Wendy Ashley is a project team leader in the communications department for the Annuity Board.