Companies equipped with business continuity management systems help in understanding critical business processes and the impact of disruption.
Business continuity management has been the centre of attention for companies during the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdown. Having instant access to accurate data has been critical to making informed, timely decisions.
Unfortunately, many companies are doing a reality check as they find it tough to locate and report on key information about their critical vendors; that is, those who support key areas of technology, operations, and infrastructure.
The increase in business avenues requires companies to rethink the centralising of key data of vendors and contracts.
Information Is Wealth
While scrubbing the entire data can be tedious, companies can at least procure a few categories of information about vendors. The time is appropriate to organise and review vendor data to ensure it’s complete, accurate, and authentic.
Here are a few categories of information for companies to scan through their vendors:
Identifying where vendors operate has never been more critical for business continuity planning than during this pandemic.
Review and update the inventory of active vendors, and ensure at least basic profiles for all key vendors are documented. This includes name, website, addresses, EIN, parent company (if applicable), and primary locations servicing your company.
Many companies face challenges with finding the right contacts of their vendors which includes outdated information (i.e. the contact person has changed), or limited information (i.e. the right POC). Keep the updated information for all of your key contacts.
Service Categories And Descriptions
Vendors providing multiple services through multiple contracts must be traced in the vendor database to identify all the services offered by each vendor, preferably tagged by common ‘IT’, ‘Call Center’, ‘Telecommunications’. This will facilitate you to track vendors quickly, run reports and manage risks and operational issues on a category-by-category basis.
Contractual Documents And Profiles
It’s time to clean up vendor contracts that are scattered across different folders, databases, and file cabinets. The contractual documents need to be in one central system so they can be accessed instantly from anywhere. Further, maintaining profiles for each of your contracts can help to quickly run reports on data such as termination provisions, breach notifications and service level agreements. A closer look at contracts of vendors seeking alternative means for working capital requirements to run their businesses under tough times is crucial.
Quick identification of vendors who play an instrumental role in your business is prudent. These vendors should be tagged to the vendor management system to evaluate operational risks and business continuity. Monitoring these vendors continuously must be made mandatory in the entire exercise.
It is vital to have a contingency plan for critical vendors in place and ensuring that those plans are reviewed annually and stored in the system along with the vendor’s record.
Vendors With Access To Non-public Information
With millions of employees working remotely, they are susceptible to hackers who are taking advantage of the situation. Data security should be prioritised to ensure you know which vendors have access to your data. So, by doing it you can provide the appropriate due diligence and oversight to ensure it stays protected.
The pandemic has been an eye-opener, among many things, to call attention to the need for effective and constructive business continuity management. And critical vendors are fundamental to that function. The time is ideal to ensure review and update the vendor and contract management system to ensure you have accurate and complete information at your fingertips when you need it. These measures will help in keeping your records and data clean when your board, internal audit department or regulators come asking for it.