Provident Bank of New Jersey

Complexities of disaster recovery planning brought to light by Attainium’s interactive session

One of the largest state-chartered savings banks in New Jersey, The Provident Bank is headquartered in Jersey City and has approximately 1,000 employees in branches in the Eastern and Central parts of the state. Although it has had a disaster recovery plan in place for years, the bank recently recognized the need to move from an IT-focused plan to an enterprise-wide, business-focused plan in order to better comply with FDIC and other regulatory requirements.

Bruce Fedak, the bank’s business continuity coordinator, decided that the Disaster Experience from Virginia-based Attainium Corp. would be an excellent way to give bank executives and department heads a vision of how a potential disaster could affect the bank and to kick off a business impact analysis to guide enterprise-wide disaster recovery planning. Fedak had previously attended a similar Attainium session sponsored by the New Jersey Bankers Association and brought it to the attention of Vice President Elaine Cullen, who agreed it would be an effective demonstration of decision making in a crisis situation.

“I’ve been to a number of seminars,” Fedak said, “but I’ve never really attended a session quite like Attainium’s. I thought it would be a perfect process to use as we began to expand our disaster recovery planning.”

“We had not done a similar program in the past,” said Cullen, who is in charge of disaster recovery for the bank’s branches, “to educate everyone on what recovery would look like in the future. One of the important things we took away from the session was knowledge about what it takes to make an intelligent decision between a real disaster and an everyday crisis… It’s important not to make assumptions, but to take the time to get as much information as possible or you could react too soon or inappropriately and cause a greater problem.

“The session fostered teamwork among the participants, who all had different backgrounds and experience, and brought to light the importance of communication among all the branches, particularly since telephones might not always be available,” Cullen said. “We also need to be aware of the bank’s rules and make plans that take into account our policies and procedures.”

“As the simulation unfolded, many of the participants became aware of how quickly things can happen and of the side issues within a disaster that have to be dealt with,” Fedak said. “When you begin to look beyond just IT and keeping applications running, you realize how complex disaster recovery can be and how critical it is to plan carefully.”

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