In times of crisis, treasury and finance departments need to take action—often in ways they never have before. The threat of the coronavirus is uncharted territory for many companies, but those that have a strong, cohesive business continuity plan can ensure that operations can continue even in highly alarming circumstances.
REVISITING YOUR BCP
Late last week, AFP took the extraordinary steps of canceling our FinNext 2020 conference and closing our office for at least two weeks. However, we want you to know that we will continue to provide you with the insights you need to help you in this difficult time. We would implore you to revisit AFP’s Treasury in Practice Guide on Business Continuity Planning, which provides insights from treasury departments on how they keep operations running when disaster strikes. We will be updating the guide soon with details on how companies can specifically address pandemics.
Here are six quick tips from the guide:
- Determine your critical assets. List all of your organization’s critical assets and the risks to them.
- Use a template or standard. Use a generic BCP template or a national standard for guidance when drafting your plan.
- Don’t forget the basics. Make sure you have contact information for everyone on your staff, your banks, and your vendors.
- Beware the weakest link. Make sure you can count on every link in the chain, but be ready in case one of them isn’t up to par.
- Test it out. Test your plan, and test it regularly, so there aren’t any surprises when it’s time to use it.
- Don’t sacrifice security. Either equip your employees with company-issued devices to perform critical functions remotely, or implement a secure BYOD policy.
We've also been reaching out to our members to see how they are addressing the crisis, so that we can pass on any helpful tips to you. Merchants have been among those hit the hardest so far, so we've spoken to retail treasury and finance professionals about how they are weathering the storm. One big box retail treasurer who wished to remain anonymous said that the coronavirus pandemic has his company reevaluating its BCP and exploring ways to stay profitable at a time when many stores may be forced to temporarily close. “We see this as a test of our continuity plan(s), but it does have us considering aspects we had not before,” he said.
Penny Hestad, treasury manager from gasoline and convenience store operator Holiday Stationstores, told us that her company is making sure all of its stores have a mandate to clean/disinfect any frequently touched equipment more frequently. Holiday's parent company, Alimentation Couche-Tard, has also put together a plan for its corporate employees working remotely. These tips can apply to any organization. Employees should test their ability to connect to their organization’s virtual private network (VPN) with their company-provided computers, or any home computers that they use for work. They should also make sure that they can access all applications while on the VPN, and use the VPN to ensure that they have the most current technical updates.
DON’T GO IT ALONE
The most important thing to remember right now is that you don’t have to face this crisis alone. AFP and its network of treasury and finance professionals is an excellent resource in times like these when you might not know what to do next. Feel free to reach out to us and your peers if you’re struggling, and we’ll all get through this together.
For more insights, download the AFP Guide to Business Continuity Planning: Why Treasury Needs a Plan B, underwritten by Kyriba.
Check out your member benefits for resources, tools and ways to connect with your treasury and finance community at: https://dynamic.afponline.org/benefitsonboarding