June 10, 2021

What Finance Teams Need to do to Create a Post-COVID Business Continuity Plan

Register here for Teampay’s upcoming CPE webinar: 4 Ways to Ensure Business Continuity after COVID-19.

As most companies expect to return to the office by September 2021, finance leaders have to help their organizations adapt to changes that continue to upend the workplace. The post-pandemic workplace must account for hybrid workforces, changing processes, and ongoing uncertainty.

While organizations still face uncertainty ahead, it is crucial for finance to create business continuity plans that keep companies running smoothly. Teampay’s latest webinar will look into how finance teams can respond to this challenge.

Account for future disruptions beyond the pandemic

The ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) surveyed 4,500 accountants and finance professionals about their business continuity plans. In response to the survey, the ACCA developed a COVID-19 recovery roadmap that urged companies to implement strategies that accounted for “future uncertainties and disruptions” beyond the pandemic.

While the ACCA’s report suggested the long-term impact of COVID-19 “could be profound,” it encouraged finance leaders to apply the lessons learned during the pandemic to their risk management strategies.

“Planning for the future isn’t about what businesses need to do as a result of the changes that have already happened; it’s about what businesses will need to do in the future as a result of unknown shifts that are yet to come.”

Peter Nesbitt, Teampay’s vice president of finance, said that to effectively prepare for the future, business continuity plans shouldn’t solely focus on the business impact of COVID-19.

“Planning for the future isn’t about what businesses need to do as a result of the changes that have already happened; it’s about what businesses will need to do in the future as a result of the shifts that are yet to come,” Peter said.

“As finance teams consider the potential for more unexpected market shifts in the future, they need to not only plan for different scenarios but also assess their ability to quickly respond to change, whatever it may be,” he added. “That means making sure they can quickly adjust budgets, ramp spending up or down, or reallocate capital at the drop of a hat.”

Peter said the webinar would walk finance teams through the development of sustainable business continuity plans. The webinar, which takes place June 17, is based on Teampay’s own experiences and discussions with hundreds of finance teams over the past year.

Evaluate new processes and tech

Finance teams were forced to switch to tech-based processes “on the fly” over the past year. Jim DeLoach, managing director of the Protiviti consulting firm, told Forbes that finance teams should conduct a “post-mortem” of the workarounds they implemented.

“It doesn’t make sense,” Jim said, “to return to broken processes when there is a better way forward that is now in place in the current dispersed environment. For example, there may be instances where finance organizations turned to third-party cloud service providers to facilitate remote access.”

“What else should we do to prepare for the unknown?”

Peter said the upcoming webinar would identify the platforms and processes that will deliver value to the organization.

“Most finance teams tell us they’ve implemented new technologies and workflows,” Peter said. “As they head back to the office, people want to figure out the technology investments they need to make to support new ways of working. And most finance teams are still doing serious thinking about the types of processes they should refine or automate. Aside from these discussions, the bigger question is: What else should we do to prepare for the unknown?”

Prepare for a hybrid workforce

During the COVID-19 crisis, 54% of U.S. CFOs said they would consider making remote a permanent option, according to PwC’s CFO survey. Remote and hybrid working arrangements affect how the finance team engages with employees. That’s because, just as the workforce is distributed, spend is too. In an on-premises office, finance can manage employee purchases more directly—they can discuss spend and its rules, they can collect receipts and give people access to the shared corporate card - and they can do it all face to face.

But with remote work, the finance team has to find a way to manage employee spend without face-to-face interaction.

“Finance teams need the ability to give access to funds quickly while still maintaining control.”

- Peter Nesbitt

According to the LaSalle Network’s Office Re-Entry Index, finance leaders, CEOs, and HR teams will need to consider the financial impact of this hybrid workforce. Remote teams, for example, may be eligible for different benefits compared to their in-office counterparts. Finance will have to decide how to efficiently manage spend, without relying on employee reimbursements.

“Many companies know they can no longer expect employees to front their cash for business purchases,” Peter said. “So, if a remote worker is making a purchase for their home office, how can we make it easy for them to pay for it? Finance teams need the ability to give access to funds quickly while still maintaining control.”

The webinar will discuss the processes finance can implement to empower and support distributed teams.

Get the business ready for the post-COVID workplace—and beyond

More than a year after COVID-19 pushed people out of the office, companies will need a solid business continuity plan to navigate the post-pandemic world.

Over the next few months, finance professionals will need to set policies and establish processes that add a layer of clarity—and confidence—to this strategy. Doing so will support the organization in adapting to the evolving world of work and preparing it to respond to unexpected changes.

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