This article has been produced in collaboration with Telegraph Spark. The original article as well as a collection of helpful guidance, business stories and interactive quizzes produced by SAP Concur and Telegraph Spark can be found on this Building Business Resilience hub.
By planning ahead now, your business will be in a much better position to return quickly to full performance
The Covid-19 outbreak is likely to have a long-standing impact on global economics. However, by being agile and open to change, companies can get back to business more quickly. In this article, we offer some advice for getting your business ready for the months ahead.
1. Focus on cash flow
Businesses live or die by their cash flow. Even profitable businesses can go under if faced with an unexpected bill or a sharp downturn in demand. For many, the Covid-19 pandemic will have left a huge hole in their income that isn’t going to be filled immediately.
To improve cash flow, it’s important to focus relentlessly on getting money into the company by invoicing as soon as possible, chasing late payments and putting processes in place to ensure duplicate or fraudulent invoices are not accidentally paid. Keep outgoings to a minimum (such as by leasing, rather than buying, equipment), offer discounts for early payment and optimise stock levels to avoid any unnecessary expenses. Finally, if you need help, there are various government programmes you can turn to for loans, tax relief and grants. See gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder.
Be conscious of the cash: balancing the books remains a priority CREDIT: GETTY
2. Learn lessons from the pandemic
One thing that the pandemic has taught us is that many of the tasks that once had to take place in the office can be done just as effectively at home. For example, it is possible to have productive meetings using video-conferencing tools and to collaborate with one another using cloud-based software.
Do you really need to keep paying for office space or can your business make do with a much smaller area with staff working remotely from home for part of the week? Whereas once a large boardroom for meetings would have been viewed as essential by company bosses, many are now finding they can manage without one. That includes office space for documentation such as invoices, expense receipts and other paperwork. For example, With the SAP Concur mobile app, employees can easily take a picture of their receipts and upload them into an expense claim.
Going digital provides a secure and instantly accessible database for all your essential documents so you can scrap the filing cabinets.
Technological advances: keeping up to date has never been more important CREDIT: GETTY
3. Addressing inefficiencies
It’s tempting after a massive downturn in business to focus just on the “big-ticket items”, such as cutting back on staff or reducing the cost of suppliers. But this can be a high-risk strategy and damaging to business continuity. How do you know that fewer staff will be able to manage the workload as things pick up again, and can you really guarantee that a new supplier will provide the quality items you need for your business? As the expression goes, look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves. For example, you could aim to cut back on the stationery budget by going paperless and examine employee spend on expenses and invoices. You could also determine where to cut discretionary spend, putting in place spend thresholds and updating audit rules. SAP Concur solutions help businesses control costs, improve cash flow and support a remote workforce so that they can manage business continuity.
4. Develop new business models
What happens in the eventuality of a second lockdown, or if we’re faced with another crisis that completely changes the way we work? Inevitably those businesses that have succeeded during Covid-19 are the ones that have been the most adaptive and open to business opportunities – in other words, those that have found new business models to keep going. Examples are the restaurants that have turned into takeaways and the bricks-and-mortar stores that have focused their resources on their online offerings. Some will even find that their new business models have proven so successful they will keep them going forward. Brainstorm ideas of what to do if disaster strikes again and put a contingency plan in place. Now is the time for creativity, speed and innovation.
5. Look after your talent
Your staff members are your most valuable assets and how you treat them in the next few months will prove vital to your long-term success. Those who have been furloughed for the past few months may well be worried about their future in the company while others ponder the dangers of travelling into work and spending time in an office full of people after working remotely for so long. Make sure you address these concerns by putting in the necessary social distancing and hygiene measures, offering flexible working options and activating consultative communication plans so their concerns are heard.
These are inevitably challenging times for everyone, but by planning now you can get your business back to normal much more quickly. Importantly, businesses need to put operations in place to become more effective, reducing inefficient processes when many employees are working remotely and identifying areas where you may be leaking money to improve cash flow.