Finance News & Insights

Disaster strikes anytime, anywhere: Is your Finance department ready?

Storms, power outages, natural disasters, IT glitches. They all mean the same thing for Finance: money and time down the drain.

Every hour your systems are down equates to another hour of financial and data loss.

The antidote to loss: an alert team and a solid plan. You need the fastest way to get systems back and up and running, the best way to salvage vital business relationships, the most efficient way to return to “normal” operations.

Right now

Amid hurricane season, chances are your staffers have seen federal and state agencies pumping information about disaster preparedness and relief left and right.

And you’ve either heard or seen firsthand the massive disruption Hurricane Florence created for businesses along the east coast.

Fortunately, IRS is providing some leeway for businesses impacted by the hurricane. You now have until Jan. 31, 2019 to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due in the period starting Sept. 7, 2018. That includes quarterly estimated income tax payments, quarterly payroll and excise tax returns. If your business already had an extension, you’ll get more time, too.

Whether or not you were impacted by Florence, the toll it took on businesses in its wake is a sobering reminder for all companies of how important it is to be prepared.

In the future

With staffers’ ears currently attuned to the word “disaster,” now’s the time to check in on their efforts.

Pull up that inventory list of all your department’s files and equipment and have each department (e.g., A/P, A/R, Payroll, possibly Risk Management) see that your list has been updated to account for newer items, like your most recent tax returns, software add-ons, IT upgrades, etc.

Consider the older stuff, too. Chances are, your company has a few legacy systems or old records with very long retention periods. Make sure staffers accounted for and backed up those older items with your most recent storage system.

It’s also a good idea to meet with other leaders involved in risk management and draft a disaster contact list (i.e., who you need contact first if a disaster occurs). That may include top vendors, third-party firms and security/software providers. Get names, phone numbers and email addresses ready to go.

Checked all those boxes? Going forward, technology expert Richard Dolewski says it’s vital to regularly evaluate your plan (perhaps once or twice a year) to see that it’s:

  • complete (it addresses all crucial systems and players)
  • up to date (it protects operations as they currently stand)
  • delivered (everyone has received the plan and been trained on it)
  • tested (you’ve run scenarios and seen that it’s effective), and
  • coordinated (it’s integrated with your business as a whole).
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