As a Charleston based company, we are affected by hurricanes. In the past three years, we have had to make arrangements surrounding a few; Matthew, Irma, and most recently, Dorian. But guess what? It wasn’t a huge deal for us at the end of the day because we were able to support our clients (many also affected by hurricanes) with minimal stress and delays. Why is this? Because our business continuity is in check and we have great systems in place.
How is it in check? We are paperless, we outsource manual tasks to online programs and we have backups to our internet. Whether or not we are in the office, we can still function. The ability to maintain normal operations throughout a disaster and easily recover is the definition of business continuity. Dorian is a recent reminder that business continuity is something all businesses should be aware of and embrace to be proactive. It is also a concept that should be incorporated into the regular day to day functions. Nothing sells confidence better to business stakeholders than having your essential functions accessible from anywhere and proactively disaster-proofed.
Get A Plan and Communicate It
For the average business owner, it typically takes a big interruption in normal functioning to realize where the weaknesses are in maintaining operations. These interruptions can really do damage to a business; from losing clients over mismanaged service interruption, to loss of critical files and information. This is why businesses of all sizes need to consider a plan to maintain business continuity under various unpredictable events. This includes things like natural disasters, fires, disease outbreaks, cyberattacks and other external threats. Sounds a bit scary, but it needs to be thought through in order to formulate a plan and avoid future heartbreak.
The second part to being proactive when it comes to planning for business interruption, is communication surrounding the plan. Proactive communication is key for both clients and staff. When it comes to staff, when will you start the process of working remotely or switching over to the alternative processes? Who will take care of the mission critical tasks? Who is considered non-essential, or essential and do they know what to do to “hunker down”? Employees will need to make arrangements for their own lives and shouldn’t be expected to be at work up until the last minute. The safety of your people needs to be the number one priority.
Just as important, is to inform clients expecting regularly scheduled goods or services regarding delays in providing these items. Even if your plan never goes into action, it can go a long way to share what you will do in these events to minimize surprises and manage expectations as soon as you’ve developed one. Share this plan with your people and your clients before it has to go live. Your clients and employees will appreciate knowing you have their back and stay calm when they know what to expect.
Outsource the Manual — Especially Payroll
Accountfully prides itself on its ability to support from afar. We use programs that minimize dependence on human intervention and therefore, error. For paying bills, we use Bill.com, payroll is handled by Gusto, tIme keeping is managed by Harvest and Quickbooks online is the go-to for financials … just to name a few. The more programs that can handle and store business essential functionality away from a filing cabinet, the better. As one of our clients, we facilitate linking your business with these great systems, so you can reap the business continuity benefits of them — and us.
A great example of a disaster-prep pain point is payroll. Easy access to money is one of the biggest things you need when a disaster arrives. Cash is needed to make decisions on the fly and purchase supplies, fuel, hotel rooms, and incidentals. Employees need to be paid, so that they can have access to their money in a time of need too. Unfortunately, payroll is one of the more commonly “manual-ized” processes businesses latch on to. Time sheets, checks and ledgers have no place when it comes to supporting functionality through a hurricane. Prepping for business continuity is one reason to find new options to pay your people, but there are more reasons to de-manualize this process. For tips to modernize payroll, you can read more here.
It’s Not Just For Disasters
Business continuity is not just for doom and gloom scenarios. It is a proactive preparation to incorporate into your daily ins and outs of your business functions. We have clients across the nation that travel a lot and aren’t chained to a desk. Having systems on the cloud, means we (and they) can have immediate access to their financials and make changes and decisions from anywhere. To ease the burden on your operations, it makes sense to incorporate these safety nets like automation and delegation into regular business.
For example, it helps to backup your internet, which fuels all of this cloud based business, so we did, and you should too. If we experience a change in our regular internet service, it will automatically swap over to a hot spot type system that uses high quality cell phone service to support our office and operations. When you need Accountfully to make payroll and/or pay bills sooner or later than normal, a quick login, email or phone call can get important tasks handled. Because we have our ducks in a row, we can still support this on the fly through a major event or during normal business hours. This can be done from your hotel suite while you travel to meet that prospective vendor or attend that big industry trade show too — not just in disaster mode.
After Dorian, it’s a great time to review your business and its plan to stay on track when things go awry. By including outsourced and automated functionality into your business, you take the burden off of your people and business when major interruptions strike and when travel is an essential part of functioning.
Let’s talk more and see how incorporating Accountfully can help get things on track for your business to stay in the game when the unknown strikes.