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COVID-19 and Business Continuity: 6 Questions to Ask Your Vendors

Michael Reddy

 

In uncertain times like the present, for your business to continue to succeed, the systems you rely on must remain not only available but performant and secure. If vendors are not prepared, it can lead to downtime, breaches, and potential losses for you. To see if your vendors are up to the task, we’ve outlined the most important questions to ask to ensure you will not experience service disruption as a result of COVID-19. Specifically, we are taking into consideration business continuity & disaster recovery plans as they relate to your technology platform and support.

Question 1: Do they have a current BCP (Business Continuity Plan)?

You may have heard the quotation often attributed to Abraham Lincoln, “give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” He was right. In trying times, proper preparation is the key to success. However, all too often, businesses dismiss preparing for a seemingly far off hypothetical as not a good use of their time. That is, of course, only until the unexpected happens. Ask your vendors what their BCP and crisis response plan is. In addition to understanding the plan they have in place; it is important to ensure that it has been updated and tested recently.

Question 2: Do they have remote capabilities?

Today more than ever before, technology allows us to do things that wouldn’t have been possible only 10 years ago. This includes the ability for organizations to function nearly, if not completely, remotely with little impact on critical functions. Make sure your vendors have this capability and that they have tested it recently. This means not only ensuring that each employee has access to the data and applications that allow them to work from home, but also that the network they operate on has enough bandwidth to support the entire company remotely if need be.

Question 3: What precautions have they taken/are they taking to mitigate the spread of COVID-19?

You want to know that your vendors are being proactive and using an abundance of caution when it comes to preventing the spread of disease. Not only will this help curtail the spread of the virus and maintain the health of our communities, but it will also ensure that the systems and services you rely on will remain up and running.

Ask your vendors which of the following they have enacted:

  • Social distancing
  • Working remotely
  • Cleaning efforts
  • Restricted or suspended travel

Question 4: What concerns do they have in relation to business continuity?

Part of being a good vendor is being transparent. As a client, you deserve to know what potential disruptions in service you may experience. Ask your vendors what concerns they have, what impact these issues might have on your business, and what steps you can take proactively to prevent or mitigate the impact of these disruptions.

Question 5: Is their business continuity reliant on third parties, and have they validated third-party preparedness?

Even if your vendor is in good shape in terms of business continuity and crisis preparedness, if they are reliant on third parties, lack of preparedness by these groups could still mean trouble for you. Check to make sure your vendor has reviewed third party preparedness to the same extent that you are reviewing theirs. Ask what they have done to ensure third parties deliver on contractual obligations and what actions have been taken to address any potential down-time.

Question 6: How will they communicate moving forward?

Now, more than ever, it is important to maintain open lines of communication and check in regularly. Review your contract or service agreement for notification specifics or ask your vendor how you should expect to receive communication from them moving forward. Many organizations, like SS&C Eze, are maintaining webpages that are regularly updated with the latest on the steps being taken to combat the spread of the virus and maintain business continuity.

It is also important to consider your vendors’ approach to client service. What is the breadth and accessibility of their client service personnel? Have you been assigned personalized account management representatives that understand your business and workflows and can assist you if any additional questions arise? If not, ask your vendor to put you in contact with someone who can.

Hopefully, your vendors will be able to answer all of the questions above in a way that is timely and satisfactory to you. To see what SS&C Eze is doing to combat the spread of the virus and maintain business continuity, read our recent post from SS&C Eze’s Senior Vice President, General Manager, Michael Hutner: Preparedness and Resiliency in Uncertain Times. And for the most up to date information, visit our webpage here.