Plan for disruption: create a continuity go-bag
The recent Level 3 lockdown in Auckland is a timely reminder to businesses around the regions of the need to be prepared for any potential short-notice disruption to operations. MYOB is encouraging business owners to have a business continuity ‘go-bag’ at the ready, to quickly and easily identify key items or processes to have in place, […]
The recent Level 3 lockdown in Auckland is a timely reminder to businesses around the regions of the need to be prepared for any potential short-notice disruption to operations.
MYOB is encouraging business owners to have a business continuity ‘go-bag’ at the ready, to quickly and easily identify key items or processes to have in place, should the business face sudden changes to ‘business as usual’ operations.
MYOB NZ country manager, Ingrid Cronin-Knight (pictured) explains: “Over the past 12 months, businesses have not only had to adapt to ongoing uncertainty – they’ve also had to rapidly transform how they operate, and as we saw in the run up to the crucial holiday trading period, contingency planning is becoming more and more integrated into ongoing business checks and preparations.
“Having a business continuity go-bag is one example of such planning in action, and while businesses deemed essential will have different needs to businesses that are able to work from home, knowing the relevant documents, items and assets to have at the ready, will help ensure a smooth transition when businesses need it most.”
MYOB’s top tips on what to consider for your business continuity go-bag:
- Continuity of service
Meeting customer needs is the aim of the game when planning for successful business continuity. For hospitality businesses, steps could include checking if click-and-collect procedures are ready-to-go and manageable if there’s a surge in demand – both in terms of physical and online outputs. For retailers, it might be assessing what sales channels are being under-utilised and how simple it is for the customer to make and receive a purchase.
Ensuring a business can run smoothly with all operations offsite, means making sure all digital platforms that are heavily relied upon – for example, security software, workplace software platforms (e.g. Microsoft Office), the company website, and staff mobiles – feature the latest updates.
It also pays for business owners and managers to check in with staff now on how their equipment is operating. If any equipment is faulty, slow or struggling to update, it’s best to resolve this as soon as possible so any knock-on effects to outputs and productivity are minimal.
Lastly, consider what key communication tools will be needed: will meetings with staff and customers be held in Microsoft Teams or Zoom, or does the team need to look into new technology for smoother communication? Do customer services staff have access to the business social media accounts and customer helpdesk emails? Can the team take a large volume of customer calls if needed?
- Contact and communication plans
As many businesses learned from previous lockdowns, the experience for business owners and staff can be both tough and isolating if communication isn’t given appropriate focus.
While there’s a balance between keeping-in-touch and not overloading working hours with meetings, consider how communication could be improved internally and externally.
Is there an opportunity to schedule regular catch-ups with team members and employees to see how they’re coping, or if there’s anything needed to improve their remote working conditions?
And how can customer communication be improved? Is extra resource needed here to ensure requests don’t slip through the cracks? Is there the right cadence of outbound communication using the strongest channels?
Having strong contact and communication practices will also see businesses through in times of crisis.
In the case of an issue or an emergency, is everyone clear on who needs to be alerted and what the escalation processes are? Has a spreadsheet with updated key contacts been circulated so communication can get underway quickly if any staff member notices an issue?
- Health & Safety plan
A health and safety plan is an extremely important go-bag item – particularly for essential businesses.
As we continue to manage and navigate our way around COVID-19 risks, consider the following: Is there an updated safety plan for the business? A good stock of PPE for staff? Have updated safety measures been actively communicated to staff, and are they clear to customers if they are entering your business under Level 2? If there are new staff on board, informing them of frontline needs is a priority.
Thinking even further ahead, consider what processes and procedures will ensure a safe return to the workplace for staff. Restarting operations and adapting back to life on site can be when health and safety issues can arise so business owners and site managers should aim to plan ahead to mitigate this risk.
It’s important to remember that if the correct safety measures aren’t taken, businesses could be at risk to both health and legal threats.
- Technology backups
While using the right technology is key to running a successful and profitable business, as some may have experienced in 2020 lockdowns, it can sometimes fail us when we need it most.
Access to backup equipment such as spare computers, hard drives, or phones, is just one contingency that can be factored into continuity planning for businesses. If no spare equipment is immediately available, then there is always the option to investigate leasing what’s needed to tide things over.
When it comes to document back-ups, double check that work files are backed up to a hard drive (and on multiple copies for staff), or saved to the cloud, in case original copies get lost.
To avoid breakdowns of technology or security risks, be sure to install two-factor authentication, update passwords and have an IT professional or contractor to call on, to assist with any remote-working needs.
- Business and financial records
Keep key business records in a secure place where they can be accessed easily while working remotely – from company records such as contact and contract details of customers, staff and suppliers, to copies of work files.
With the end of the Financial Year (EOFY) fast approaching, also ensure copies of financial records are kept handy.
For those using a cloud-based platform to store financial records, it may pay to double check at the end of each week that everything is uploaded, up-to-date and that the appropriate team members and business advisors have access.
Emma Murphy, Associate Tax & Business Advisor (ATBA) at Kiwitax, explains: “Uploading the relevant documents to a secure platform throughout the year, means businesses will be prepared to meet their EOFY requirements, regardless of where they are working at the time.
“I’d also advise businesses to check in with their accountant or bookkeeper to ensure they have the capability to continue to support their needs and communicate remotely, too.”
For businesses relying on more manual processes, it’s worthwhile checking access to GST records, bank statements, Profit & Loss and balance sheet, and income tax and PAYE records can continue.