Two months into this global pandemic, we wanted to continue exploring critical gaps in continuity plans and understand what some companies are doing to solve for them.
So, we gathered a panel of industry insiders to share some insights from the frontlines of business and finance operations in this new reality, including:
- Jess Scheer, executive editor at the Institute of Finance and Management (IOFM)
- Marijke Van Stichel, property accountant at SCM Realty Services
- Angelic Gibson, chief information officer (CIO) at AvidXchange
“Organizations are struggling with business continuity plans that don’t cover our current situation or provide them with the resilience they need to get through this,” says Angelic Gibson, AvidXchange CIO.
“Plans aren’t accommodating for our new reality: Being truly mobile with every part of our operations affected.”
Here’s a closer look at the gaps businesses are seeing, how they are filling them, and how you can, too:
The Technology Gap
According to recent AvidXchange research, only a third of organizations had the tech needed to enable their entire company to work from home when the pandemic began. And one in five said none of their employees had the right tech to work remotely.
The panelists shared that companies can start to close the tech gaps by asking themselves:
- Does every teammate have reliable Internet access? Many don’t.
- Does each team member have a computer at home? Some may work from desktops and not have access to a laptop or computer at home.
- Do they have the equipment they need, like headsets, to make professional phone calls from home? It’s especially important for call centers and customer service reps.
- Do they have tools to collaborate and communicate with other team members? Webcams aren’t a given.
The take-away: Do a quick inventory to mobilize your entire workforce. Account for hot spots to provide Internet access for those without it, laptops, headsets, collaboration tools, webcams and any other tech that teams leverage in their office environment.
Communication and Collaboration Gaps
When every member of a team is working in a separate location, staying connected can be challenging, even for those who built strong communication channels into their continuity plans. The onslaught of traffic on collaboration platforms like Webex and Zoom have caused problems that were inconceivable prior to the crisis.
If your organization has been affected, the panelists recommend pivoting to another provider for stable voice communication and systems. Other best practices companies have been leveraging to keep teams connected and engaged include:
- Daily small team check-ins
- Weekly larger team meetings to address challenges, share solutions and strengthen day-to-day continuity
- Livestreaming all-hands huddles to drive engagement (provide updates and news and celebrate wins)
- Virtual town halls
- Virtual happy hours
While it’s tough to replicate water cooler banter or beat popping into a coworker’s office for a quick update, reliable communications and collaboration tactics—and a shared commitment to leveraging them—are effective tools for staying connected.
The Bill Pay Gap
Continuing to pay the bills during a crisis has proven to be one of the most pressing challenges facing business today.
Twenty-nine percent of companies had business continuity plans that wouldn’t allow them to make all their payments if employees couldn’t go to the office. Twelve percent couldn’t make any payments in a work-from-home situation.
Panelists said cloud applications have saved the day, enabling them to maintain critical services, like bill pay, by going paperless and mobile.
In particular, AP automation helps sustain a business by removing manual processes and providing multiple ways to process and pay without relying on people and resources that may not be available.
“AP automation has become instrumental to our business,” said Marijke Van Stichel, property accountant at SCM Realty Services.
“During this crisis, we’ve been able to reach out to vendors and remind them that we have processes in place to continue paying them. We can reassure them that they will receive payments without a trip to the post office so that they can continue to pay their vendors, too.”
If you’re interested in learning more about how to boost your business continuity and how AP automation can help, check out the full webinar here.