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Protecting Your Business From Disaster

Protect your business from disaster GJMAs small and mid-size businesses around the country and the world work to stabilize in the wake of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the economic upheaval caused by the coronavirus crisis brings a wake-up call. Just how prepared was your business for such a devastating event and how would your company or organization fare should disaster strike your technology infrastructure?

Such a “disaster” can cause significant disruption in operational and/or technological process capabilities for a period of time for businesses, which in turn affects the ongoing operations of the company and can, in fact, threaten its very existence. That’s why all organizations should be considering disaster recovery, which involves a set of policies, tools/applications and procedures to help enable the recovery and continuation of critical technology and systems following a disaster.

Some examples of potential disasters:

  • Natural disasters like floods, tornadoes and hurricanes
  • Infrastructure break-down (i.e. utility disruption, pipeline bursts)
  • Human error or threats (i.e. cyber-attacks)

According to global IT services provider phoenixNAP, statistics show about 93% of businesses without a Disaster Recovery (DR) plan in place that suffer from a major data disaster are out of business within one year.

As consumers and business operators, we’ve seen an increase in attacks in which companies are locked out of their systems or data was held for ransom. Such attacks can be costly. On average, businesses lose over $100,000 per ransomware incident due to downtime and recovery costs. As these attacks increase, so should your focus on the importance of data back-up and recovery processes and controls. Without sufficient back-ups and defined processes for recovery, companies run an increased risk of delay or error in financial reporting. phoenixNAP says about 96% of companies with proper backups and Disaster Recovery plans in place were able to survive ransomware attacks.

Disaster recovery can be considered a subset of what is considered “business continuity”. Business continuity involves keeping essential aspects of your business functioning when significant disruptive events occur. Disaster recovery focuses on the IT or technology systems supporting your critical business functions.

What Is a Disaster Recovery Plan?

A Disaster Recovery plan is simply defining the strategy for recovering critical technology resources to ensure the continuation of critical/vital business processes in the event of a disaster. 

As most organizations are very reliant on information technology to conduct business, it’s critical to have a plan in place that can be easily implemented to minimize down-time. This plan defines the key processes for recovering critical technology platforms and telecommunications infrastructure within a specified timeframe. 

Tips for Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan

Identify Your Team

Establishing a Disaster Recovery Team (DRT) is a critical initial step in establishing a DR plan. The DRT should be a cross-functional team consisting of IT leadership and other individuals as needed who are responsible for carrying out the tasks outlined in this plan and providing expertise needed to recover from a disaster. It’s also important to involve key business stakeholders who would be involved in helping manage the downtime and recovery and ensure alignment with overall business continuity.

Create an IT Inventory

Ensuring that the organization has a real-time and up-to-date IT asset inventory listing is important in order to focus on the Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) for critical systems/applications. An IT asset inventory lists all key hardware and software (i.e. applications, servers, databases, etc.) and their relationships with one another. RTO is the goal for how quickly to restore technology services after a disruption, based on the acceptable amount of down-time for the specified technology. For example, a recovery time objective of 48 hours with local accessibility for payroll services means that the payroll application must be up and running within 48 hours as well as locally accessible. RPO is the goal for the point at which to restore data or information after a disruption, based on the acceptable amount of data or information loss. For example, an RPO of four hours for your financial reporting application means that the application data must be backed-up every four hours so that no more than four hours of data entered into the application is lost after a disruption.

Get Your Plan in Writing

Creating and documenting a plan involving these objectives is key to building out a realistic DR plan. Your organization will likely find during this process that there will be gaps between the current IT infrastructure and the determined recovery objectives. That said, it’s critical for your organization to work through these to ensure that the plan can be carried out as needed for the fluid continuity of the business.

What Else to Consider

Other important items to keep in mind when creating a DR Plan include:

  • Determining channels for communicating disasters and next steps to your employees
  • Obtaining stakeholder buy-in on the plan and its execution in order to ensure that the plan can be followed through on if necessary
  • Testing and practicing your plan to help you find and correct issues, as well as enable more accurate and efficient execution 

With these simple actions, you’re on your way to having a plan. COVID-19 reminded us all that catastrophic events do happen. The businesses with a Disaster Recovery plan in place are likely to be the ones to weather IT outages. Now’s the time to pull together your team and establish your plan so should disaster strike, you’ll be ready.

If you have questions creating or cleaning up your DR plan, Gilmore Jasion Mahler’s (GJM) Risk Consulting Team can help guide your business in building out that plan, determining the gaps and testing your DR plan. To start the conversation, reach out to Director Matt Hoverman at mhoverman@gjmltd.com, Manager Tim Schloz at tschloz@gjmltd.com, or Senior Associate Reid Mankowski at rmankowski@gjmltd.com.

Reid Mankowski GJM Disaster Recovery PlanGJM Senior Associate Reid Mankowski contributed this blog. Reid joined the GJM Risk Consulting Team in 2019. Reid has significant experience in testing and leading IT general control and business process SOX testing for large and medium size companies, primarily in the manufacturing industry.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting and provides comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. The Firm’s professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estatehealthcaremanufacturing & distribution and utilities.

GJM’s Bob Bobek Offers Tips on Applying for Paycheck Protection Progam

If your business hasn’t yet applied through the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program, you’ll likely be doing so soon. Here are 6 recommendations on the application process from GJM Partner Bob Bobek. Bob has helped many businesses apply for the program in recent days and recommends you keep these tips in mind:

  1. Sit down with a trusted advisor and make sure that the Paycheck Protection Program is right for you. There are other programs that may be a better fit for your business.
  2. Use a loan calculator. GJM has created a simple calculator for our clients to plug in their numbers and know for sure which program is best for them. Check with your advisor to see if they have a similar tool or reach out to GJM for assistance.
  3. Prepare. Make sure you have support for all items included in your loan application (Last year’s tax return, payroll data, etc.).
  4. Maximize your loan draw. Make sure you’re getting the most benefit possible for your business.
  5. Talk to your banker to make sure you understand exactly what they need and how they would like to see it. Keep in mind the banks are all trying to figure this out, too. Some banks may ask for items that other banks aren’t asking for. Each has its own application process. Most banks are processing more applications for these PPP loans than the total number of loans they process in a given year. 
  6. Follow through. Now that you have your application submitted, start a dialogue. Find out how the loan will be processed, what loan documents will you need to sign and when you can expect to receive funds. Remember, once you receive your funds, the 8-week forgiveness period will begin. Its critical to keep communication open with your bank and your advisors. 

You can access information on the Paycheck Protection Program and many other resources designed to help your business navigate the pandemic in the GJM COVID-19 Resource Center.

Bob Bobek is an assurance partner with over 35 years of public accounting experience who works with privately-owned companies across multiple industries, with a concentration in construction and manufacturing.

 

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting and provides comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. The Firm’s professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities.

GJM COVID-19 Update & Resources

GJM COVID-19 Update and ResourcesAs our country faces the COVID-19 crisis we want to take a moment to bring you up to date on some of the steps Gilmore Jasion Mahler is taking as a result. We would also like to share some information on some resources for businesses, should you need them.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has announced a loan program to provide economic assistance to companies due to the slowing down of business in Ohio. It may be available to help your business provide funding for payroll, past due accounts payable and other working capital needs. Typically, such a loan program will have a very low interest rate and up to 30 years repayment schedule. Also, in the unfortunate event that furloughs or layoffs are necessary during these challenging times, impacted employees should qualify for immediate unemployment compensation relief.

Here are some helpful links for businesses seeking information in both Ohio and Michigan.

http://jfs.ohio.gov/ouio/CoronavirusAndUI.stm

https://www.sba.gov/page/guidance-businesses-employers-plan-respond-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19

https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus/0,9753,7-406-98178_98179---,00.html

While there has been talk of the IRS possibly moving back the April 15 tax deadline, as of now there is no official word on if that may happen so GJM is currently working under the assumption there is no delay in the tax deadline. We expect to receive further guidance from the US Department of the Treasury this week and will promptly let everyone know.

As we are writing this, our offices remain open, though we have encouraged our staff to work from home if possible for the next three weeks. Should you need to drop off tax documents, GJM offices will be open during our normal business hours for you to do so.

We will continue to monitor COVID-19 developments here in Northwest Ohio and around the nation and share further information with our clients and partners as needed. Please feel free to reach out to your GJM team with any questions or concerns.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting services and provides comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory and healthcare management. The firm's professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities.

Understanding Lean Six Sigma

Six Sigma Lean GJMAny business owner will tell you that quality assurance is critical to success. Mistakes or defects in the design or production processes can be costly in terms of recalls or customer dissatisfaction and can also leave your business vulnerable to liability concerns. Small mistakes can mar reputations – and the internet is an elephant that never forgets. In this business age, quality assurance is more crucial than ever.

It’s essential to have ingrained processes regarding quality assurance and measurement in order to avoid error. One of the most effective and data-driven of these measurement processes is Lean Six Sigma, a tool that can be used across industries and companies. In fact, our own firm has embraced Six Sigma as we constantly look to improve and streamline our processes at Gilmore Jasion Mahler (GJM).

In the first of a three-part series on Lean Six Sigma, we’ll explore a definition of the methodology as well as its main tenets. You’ll also come away with a good handle on what Six Sigma is all about and how it may fit in with your business.

What Is Lean Six Sigma?

At its core, Lean Six Sigma is a management practice that allows companies to leverage data to virtually eliminate defects within business processes. To be Six Sigma qualified, a company’s defect rate must be less than 3.4 per million produced.

Six Sigma has the potential for application in virtually any capacity and in any business, from honing a business strategy and creating benchmarks to goal setting and statistical measurement.

A Quick History

The Six Sigma certification was developed by Mikel Harry and Bill Smith of Motorola, a company that was among the first to receive the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige Award. As the concept has evolved, it has become a multi-dimensional approach that helps drive businesses to:

  • Improve processes
  • Decrease defects
  • Reduce variability within processes
  • Lower costs
  • Increase customer satisfaction
  • Increase profits

The Stages of Six Sigma

The phases of Six Sigma can be explained in the acronym DMAIC: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. This acronym is applicable to both operational and organizational issues, and businesses of all types and sizes.

  • First, a business defines a problem that needs to be resolved, as well as how it has affected the organization.
  • Second, a business uses various processes to measure the problem through mapping, data gathering, and the validation of the data measures.
  • Next, an analysis of the data is considered the heart of the Six Sigma philosophy, as it helps determine the root cause of the problem, which will guide the steps ahead.
  • After a complete analysis, a business takes steps to improve their processes, using several suggested strategies.
  • Finally, control focuses on continuous quality improvement through monitoring and reporting.

The Lean Six Sigma methodology has helped businesses of all types, including GJM, to identify and eliminate errors in business processes. Next in the series, we will learn more about its benefits and applications. We’ll also share some specifics on how GJM has applied Six Sigma principles and seen results.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting and provides comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. The Firm’s professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities.

Is it Time to Outsource Your Business Accounting?

Running a business isn’t for sissies. You bring in good people to manage the office, handle human resources and oversee the financials for you, but in the end, you know you’re ultimately responsible.

Did you double check that last invoice that went out to your best customer? What’s the balance on your business loan? How much cash is available right now? 

What if you could stop fretting over questions like that and know someone’s got your back around the clock? That’s the basic concept behind Gilmore Jasion Mahler’s Outsourced Accounting Services. We’ll call it the best of both worlds: a team of specialists is on the job, and you get to see the numbers anytime you want right on your cell phone.

Your team is there to answer questions, advise you on business decisions, if desired, and yes, to handle the books.

Advances in technology are changing the way many businesses handle the business manager role at the office. That includes many healthcare entities, including physician and dental practices. Many are embracing the technology, letting a specialized team handle the work, and turning their attention to growth strategy and other priorities. Outsourced accounting can also be an excellent fit for nonprofit organizations struggling to fill positions with knowledgeable, capable individuals.

Picture this: real time financial key performance indicators you can see any time of the day or night on your cell phone or other device. More importantly, a team of professionals working with you who not only look at today’s numbers, but help you plan and strategize for the future.

Some key benefits to outsourced accounting with Gilmore Jasion Mahler:

  1. Stop struggling to fill that internal business manager role (seems like there’s always an opening, doesn’t it?).
  2. Real time data at your fingertips around the clock whether you’re in the office or the sidelines of your daughter’s soccer game.
  3. A team consisting of accounting specialists, including a GJM partner, to handle the business finances and also guide and advise on other important financial decisions as needed.
  4. Dashboard view of your financials via leading edge accounting software platform Sage/Intacct.

Interested in learning more about Gilmore Jasion Mahler’s Outsourced Accounting Services? Read up on our team's capabilities. You can also contact our Accounting Specialist Team to start the conversation.

Gilmore Jasion Mahler’s Judy Anderson, CPA contributed this blog. Judy leads the GJM Outsourced Accounting Specialist Team. With over 20 years of experience in public accounting and private industry, Judy works with clients across a number of industries, including healthcare, nonprofit, and professional services.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. The Firm’s professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities.