Disasters get the spotlight during the summer because of the prevalence of hurricanes, tornadoes and floods that occur during the warmer seasons. Disasters, however, can occur at any time of the year and it is difficult to predict the extent of their damage. As you make a business disaster recovery plan, include steps that will safeguard your business’ financial documents so they facilitate continuity after an incident, rather than hinder it.
Disaster Recovery Plan Tips: Keeping Financial Records Safe
One of best ways to safeguard your financial documents is to create electronic backups. There are several ways to do this:
- Scan the business’ paper documents and save the files onto a DVD, CD, USB drive or an external hard drive. You or office staff can scan the documents in-house. To save time, many companies hire a secure scanning service to scan and organize the documents for them. After scanning all the documents, keep the electronic backups up to date by scanning new documents as they come into the office. It is a good idea to keep the device on which you backed-up the documents in a safe location off-site, such as a safe deposit box.
- Scan the business’ paper documents and save the electronic copies online using a secure cloud storage service. Because the documents are online, you can access them from almost any device that connects to the Internet. Some business owners back up their financial documents onto an external drive and the cloud.
- Download financial records. It is simpler than ever to download copies of bills, receipts, financial statements and other records directly from the institutions and companies issuing them. You may acquire them by asking a company to send you e-statements or e-bills in an email. Many companies also allow you to download statements directly from your online account. Some business owners only use e-statements, while others receive statements in the mail and download a copy of a statement to the cloud or an external drive.
- Use cloud-based bookkeeping software. If you do your bookkeeping in-house, use accounting software that allows you to backup your data online. This allows you to access your records instantly from most Internet-connected devices, even if the original computer is destroyed in the disaster. Some types of bookkeeping programs strictly operate online and allow you to export records to your device, so you never need to install special software on a computer to access your data.
Know Your Accountant’s Disaster Recovery Plans
If you use an accounting service to handle your business’ bookkeeping, learn about the disaster recovery plans it has to ensure they align with your business’ needs. The last thing you want is to prolong the time it takes to recover from a disaster because your accountant also suffered losses and cannot access your financial documents. If your accountant’s business disaster recovery plan does not align with yours, it may be wise to seek a bookkeeping service that does.
As you learn more about your accounting service and payroll service, ask if it has fiduciary bonds in place. These bonds may protect you if the payroll service defaults in the wake of a disaster.
Take pictures of your business’ assets and their serial numbers, such as electronics, furniture, merchandise, fleet vehicles and machinery. Save copies of the receipts, warranties, pictures and other relevant documents in an external drive or a cloud storage solution. You will need these documents if you need to file a claim with your insurance provider after a disaster.
Know How to Get Copies of Tax Documents and Other Important Documents
Sometimes disasters occur before you have a chance to secure or make backups of your financial records. If this is the case, you may obtain some financial records online. The Internal Revenue Service, for example, allows you request copies of tax returns and all attachments using Form 4506. If you only need certain information from a return, you may request a transcript using Form 4506-T.
If you experience a disaster that affects your business’ documents, call Polygon right away. Our specialists will promptly arrive on the scene to assess the damage and offer recommendations regarding the best courses of action to restore your documents securely with minimal interruptions using the latest techniques. We’re also happy to assist with the creation of your disaster recovery plan before there’s a need for document restoration services. Contact Polygon to learn more.