How to create an emergency preparation and recovery plan

My Post (10)The events that have the biggest impacts on your business are often the events you have no control over. An emergency preparation plan can help you minimize the financial effects of a disaster situation and help you restart business operations quickly. Use this guide to write and implement an emergency preparation and recovery plan for your business.

Risks for business owners after an emergency

Small businesses face various risks, some of which can impact their company’s financial performance in the future.

  • Physical assets: Disasters like storms or fires can damage or destroy buildings, warehouses, and inventory.
  • Relationships: Customers may start buying products and services from your competitors. Some of those clients may not return once your company is up and running again. Businesses may also lose relationships with suppliers and other vendors while they’re recovering from a disaster.
  • Income stream: Most importantly, an interruption in your business may prevent you from paying your staff and yourself. If you can’t restart your operations quickly, you may lose members of your staff.

You have a great deal at stake when a disaster strikes. So every business owner must implement an emergency preparation plan.

What you need for your emergency plan

Outline your emergency plan in your procedures manual, which documents every routine task your company performs. When a disaster happens, your staff can refer to the emergency plan and respond.

  • A way to access user IDs and passwords: It may sound simple, but everyone in your organization needs access to a single location for all user IDs and passwords. Your business may use dozens of systems that require this information, so your staff needs quick access in an emergency.
  • Cloud backup: You should back up your entire operation to offsite servers using the cloud. Cloud computing allows your staff to work more productively, and it can help you recover quickly after a disaster.
  • A plan for working remotely: Employees may be able to work remotely using the company information on the cloud. Think through your operation to determine which tasks can be performed remotely and which must be performed on-site.
  • Access to capital: Get access to a line of credit for your business, even if you only borrow a small amount to operate each month. In an emergency, you’ll need access to capital to reopen your doors. Don’t wait until you’re in a crisis to get access to cash.
  • Flood insurance and other coverage: Have a conversation with your insurance agent to determine your business needs. For example, floods are the most common natural disaster in the U.S. But the typical homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policy doesn’t include flood insurance. Make sure that you protect your physical assets with the right insurance. Even if you have coverage, you may incur costs to restart your business before your claim is paid.
  • Train your staff: All of these issues need to be addressed with your staff, and you should walk through your disaster recovery process once a quarter. Training your staff will help everyone take action if a disaster occurs.

When you prepare your annual budget for the next fiscal year, review your emergency plan, and make any necessary changes.

How the emergency plan works in action

Julie owns Marshall Sporting Goods, a business that sells sporting goods equipment online and at three retail locations. Half of Julie’s staff works online, and half operates the retail locations. Julie and three executives manage the business in an office attached to one of the retail shops.

Julie’s employees have access to a document with all of their needed user IDs and passwords, and the business operates on the cloud. Julie meets with her insurance agent each quarter to review her business’s insurance coverage.

If a disaster impacts a retail location, the operations manager refers to the emergency plan that instructs him to notify every worker by text and email. Each store location has an agreement with a nearby retailer where the staff can seek shelter in the event of a store fire. In the event of a tornado, the staff at each store location follows a procedure to move to a basement area with emergency supplies. Julie’s operations manager checks on their supplies—including weather radios, batteries, and freshwater—each month.

Julie’s staff works with the store manager to secure the building and assess any damage. Then Julie notifies customers about store closures via email, social media, and the company’s website.

Once Julie and her managers determine how long a store location will be closed, they attempt to staff store workers at other retail locations. The marketing team reaches out to existing retail customers by email and offers to fill orders online. Julie also contacts her insurance agent to file any needed claims. – Read more

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Can Accountants Work from Home?

My Post (9)Each passing day, more and more Americans are switching to working from home. In 2017, around eight million Americans worked from home. This figure increased by 5% compared to 2016. And since then, the trend has only seen upward growth.

But what about more specialized roles, such as an accountant? Can accountants follow suit and work from home? Let’s find out:

What are some common remote accounting jobs?

Here’s a list of some of the most common accounting-related jobs that can be carried out remotely:

a.      Accountant

An accountant is not the same as a bookkeeper. Bookkeepers are usually in charge of recording and maintaining financial accounts. They also record transactions and create annual reports.

On the other hand, an accountant analyzes these reports, after which they make recommendations that will ensure the company’s financial health. They also review the financial statements of a company to make sure they’re accurate and complete.

It’s a lot easier for accountants to work from home because their immediate job is to stay connected with clients and internal leadership, while having access to all the financial information.

There’s also little paperwork involved. If the company has adopted digitalized accounting processes, accountants can continue working as long as they can access the accounting software and easily download the required information on their home computer.

Communication with clients can take place via phone calls, emails, and video conferencing.

b.       Auditor

An auditor’s job is to make sure that all financial statements comply with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). They gather financial information about the company’s processes, quality controls, financial statements, tax returns, and other financial activities. They also scrutinize the data and look for any discrepancies, non-compliance, and inaccuracies.

One of the biggest aspects of an auditor’s work is communication with different departments. As long as the auditor is either meeting clients occasionally or holding online meetings, they can work from home easily. This is why there are plenty of independent auditors who work on a freelance basis.

c.      Payroll accountant

Payroll is a highly specialized function, and therefore, many businesses outsource it. They also outsource it because many businesses don’t have a payroll module in their accounting software, since it’s an add-on in most cases. If you have a version of an accounting software with a payroll module, you can carry out most payroll-related tasks from home.

Common payroll duties that can be carried out from home include timely payroll generation, calculating employee paychecks, keeping track of their leaves and absences, and accounting for tax operations.

What has made work from home easy for accountants?

Accountants used to be caricaturized as figures who would always be surrounded by piles of documents and endless files. Thanks to cloud computing, however, this notion no longer holds true. Cloud computing has been one of the biggest breakthroughs in the field of accountancy, and has largely enabled work from home.

One of the biggest benefits of cloud technology is flexibility. As an accountant, you now have access to the same information and company resources that you have at work. – Read more

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Between Two Alerts: Phishing Emails — Don’t Get Reeled In!

My Post (2)Potential attackers are really good at what they do. Security analysts see this firsthand with the amount of phishing emails their organizations see daily. A newly released State of the Phish report reveals that nearly 90% of organizations dealt with business email compromise (BEC) attacks in 2019. End users reported 9.2 million suspicious phishing emails globally for the year.

A BEC attack starts with a hacker spoofing emails to impersonate an organization’s internal email alias or a vendor email alias. Security analysts can spot these phishing emails fairly easily, but many employees can not. Hence, they fall for the trap and click on links within the email that they think are trustworthy. Once this happens, cybercriminals request personal or company information through what looks like a legitimate business transaction. Because it looks legitimate, the employees comply and the security analysts are left to clean up the mess.

What This Means

A successful BEC attack can result in the loss of sensitive information such as passwords, credit card numbers, account data and customer information. In a previous post, we highlighted that working from home has led to an increase in BEC and phishing threats. If organizations aren’t actively monitoring for threats — or are simply training their employees to report suspicious-looking emails to the cybersecurity team — attacks can and will fall through the cracks.

When employees report emails to the security team, this creates a manual workload for the Security Operations Center (SOC). This could result in 10-15 email investigations per day for a small organization, and up to 1,000 per day at a large financial institution. Each analyst could spend anywhere between 10 and 40 minutes to complete each investigation. That represents an overwhelming time commitment for even a large security team. It’s almost impossible for security teams to keep up, especially if they are forced to manually investigate these threats.

Consider an average SOC with around 10 full time employees who have to follow a manual process of investigating suspicious emails. The work is soul-crushingly tedious. These security analysts generally have to look through each email, pull out the attachments and/or web links, and then paste those artifacts into other security tools to find out if they are “known bad” or exhibit unwanted behaviors. Security tools like web reputation services, threat intelligence services, endpoint security, and sandboxes are all used simultaneously, or in a sequence, to investigate and resolve a phishing threat.

Analysts need to assemble all of this information, evaluate it, and then act to prevent further harm to the organization. It’s time-consuming and tedious.

How can security analysts accelerate their investigations and reduce their manual workload? – Read more

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