Forward-looking CFOs know it’s important to be prepared for a disaster or business disruption to strike anytime, anywhere.
One reason it’s especially important right now: The Atlantic hurricane season, from June 1 to Nov. 30, 2021, is anticipated to be another doozy. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a 60% chance of an above-normal season, with an estimated 13 to 20 named storms.
For companies that may be impacted by these storms, it’s a timely sign to make sure all your ducks are in a row. And for others across the nation, it’s a good reminder that the unexpected is always looming. Just take the pandemic, for example.
To ensure everyone’s prepared in the event of (more) business disruption, execute these four strategies in Finance:
1. Assess your risk
First, your team needs to know where its vulnerabilities lie. Instead of starting with a blank slate, it may help for staffers to break down risk into general categories. According to Generation Equity, that could include:
- strategic risk (long-term, big-picture considerations like unreliable trading partners or changing regulations)
- operational risk (short-term events like storms or other natural disasters), and
- digital risk (ever-present possibilities like tech downtime, email fraud or data breaches).
To see where you need to bolster your business disruption preparedness, staffers could make a list: Put risks in Column 1 and their response tactic in Column 2. If there are gaps in the second column, they’ll know they need to address those vulnerabilities.
2. Be generous with backups
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, warns Tech Republic. You don’t want to be out of luck if one all-encompassing backup process fails.
Instead, try to spread the wealth. Ensure your team backs up data on a regular basis, and if possible, stores things in the cloud and at off-site locations. (Two backups are better than one.)
Also, your staff shouldn’t wait until a disaster or business disruption occurs to check in! Ask them to stay in close communication with IT and periodically verify backups are viable and accessible.
3. Evolve your plans
Most companies can say they have a disaster recovery and/or a continuity plan. But many would likely admit it’s sitting untouched in a desk drawer or buried somewhere in the depths of their company’s intranet.
Even if Finance hasn’t encountered many disasters or business disruptions, it’s important that your plans are updated as processes and personnel change. They should also be communicated with staffers regularly. (Perhaps summer storm season is a good time to hold a training session each year.)
That way, if the worst does happen, your team knows exactly what to do. Instead of panicking, they can jump into action.
4. Ensure everyone’s in sync
It’s one thing for Finance to be well prepared for business disruptions. But to effectively react to and recover from an incident, your plans have to include not just your data, but your whole workforce, your networks and your trading partners. They all play a large role in Finance’s process continuity.
In fact, according to Tech Republic, many companies are now insisting that their vendors prove the viability of their own business continuity plans as a requirement of doing business together.
This requirement could help protect both sides of the partnership in the long run, so consider whether this is something your company should add to its vendor contracts.