August 14, 2014

Business Continuity: Preparing for the Unexpected

Business Continuity: Preparing for the Unexpected Advisory

For most, each day unfolds with its expected pattern and routine of predictability. We are creatures of habit accustomed to repetition and order; while even the smallest hiccups in the road can occur with cause for a grumble, rarely does it disrupt the day that it becomes completely off-kilter.

But, what happens when the interruption becomes a business disruption that is out of your control and as a result, your workplace has been affected by an unplanned calamitous event?

The firm recently experienced a “business continuity challenge” courtesy of Mother Nature in its Cleveland office that had the potential to business continuity plannot only stall, but also halt day-to-day operations with ripple effects that would affect our client service. How did the firm and the professionals responsible for various accounts rise above the challenge to ensure that client work in progress remained uninterrupted and seamless as we transitioned during this phase? Disaster Recovery Planning.

Disaster Recovery Planning is the process of proactively outlining steps and procedures needed to ensure unplanned threats to the business are mitigated through preparedness.

Several years ago, the firm created a Disaster Recovery Team comprised of one representative of each functional area: administration, IT, HR, communications, maintenance, and security.

Meeting on a periodic basis, the team created a flexible plan that would provide the “Plan B” to ensure the firm –and our clients – would experience little interruption as a result. The plan also included those entities external to the firm who may be called upon in the event of various situations, such as local emergency responders, and equipment and rental vendors.

In the case of the firm, because we had planned for this type of situation, we were able to quickly implement our plan, deploy clear and concise communications to our employees, identify which if any client deliverables would be affected and retain service personnel and vendors to assist where needed. As a result, our clients were not affected nor did they feel anything out-of-sorts to indicate we were operating within “Plan B” for about six business days.

Averting Disaster in the Face of Disaster

Had we not had a plan in place, the effects of the situation could have had a crippling effect on our business. Having a plan allowed us to follow specific steps carried out by identified employees, and as a result, our colleagues knew exactly what they needed to do within their scope of work to also maintain continuity.

What Can You Do Now to Begin First Steps

Disaster can strike at any time. Most businesses, no matter what size, can’t afford to shutter operations multiple days on end from a financial and reputation-managed perspective. Where to start? Ask yourself these questions:

Does your business continuity plan outline

  • Who from your organization will lead and implement action in the event of a disaster
  • How your clients and customers can maintain communication in the event of a disaster
  • How your employees will be notified with specific instructions to carry on their daily work
  • What steps need to be taken to relocate people and resources, even if only temporarily
  • Who will provide assurance of IT systems, including the functionality of hardware, software and connectivity/collaboration tools your employees or clients use on a daily basis
  • The steps needed to ensure the disaster is documented per insurance reporting requirements

How We Can Help

In addition to the fiscal threats a disaster may bring, we will work with you to:

  • Assess your existing business continuity plan and determine where there may be gaps
  • Assess your IT systems and test for weaknesses in internal controls and external penetration risk
  • Review your business insurance to determine whether you have adequate and relevant coverage in the event of disaster

Our professionals can help you structure your strategy and develop financial scenarios that will become the foundation of your Disaster Recovery Plan. Thorough preparation ahead of a disaster will help you clearly react and properly respond when facing a threat to your business operations.

For more information on business continuity, risk advisory, or financial planning, contact Jim Suttie, CPA, at 440-459-5700. Our professionals are ready to help you protect your business.

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