Business Continuity and Planning During The Current Health Emergency
Business Continuity – CEO COVID-19 Forum outcome
Things are flying around about COVID-19. Not all if supported by experience. I think I have a certain level of experience over and above the norm having created the five year plan for one of the police forces in the UK while serving in the Emergencies Planning Department. More than that I managed the operational capability to respond to the petrol strike in 2000 ensuring the strike did not close the country down. I managed this due to extensive experience in command and control in major operations concerning organised crime. There is no hidden agenda in this communication , simply a desire to provide additional material for businesses threatened by this unprecedented threat. I do have an affiliation to a sales strategy business and have great respect for the CEO Fraser Morrison. As a result of the emergency he created a group for CEO as a means of looking at practical advice between peers.
I think the forum is a good idea and is producing some worthwhile output. I am aware that many of my contacts are at this point in time creating plans to weather the crisis and so while I cannot invite anyone other than CEO to the forum I hope that sharing the conversation can deliver a value and air some areas to consider when planning.
The following document summarises the key material shared within the Forum and the main points of discussion.
Priorities of Attendees (Menti) Large spread of things ranging from cash flow, trust, engaging with the market and next steps.
Keywords raised: capital, over-reaction, regulation, growth, cashflow, paralysis.
Preliminary Survey Summary Staying positive. Establishing stability, growth, and trust while sharing and collaborating ideas.
Some of the goals of this session included: 1. Peer to peer learning, a forum for ideas 2. Being able to make more informed decisions 3. Learn how to measure productivity in a ‘distributed’ world; work from home /managing a more flexible working environment. 4. Collaborating with different industries 5. Keeping current on the information
Four Critical Areas to Facilitate this: 1. Revenue (Protection and Growth) 2. Technology (Requirements and Expectations) 3. People (Managing a Distributed Workforce) 4. Cashflow (Managing Expenses and Maintaining Liquidity)
Forum Outcomes Initial Comments: Change is coming and there’s no choice but to follow. Necessary to continue dialogue and collaboration. Not enough happening to get ahead of the curve
Challenges: ● Downstream/upstream interactions are difficult to model. ● Want transparency but partners/clients aren’t in a position to have conversations about the future today. ● We’re in unknown business territory, feeling like ‘a fish swimming against the current’. ● No plan for remote work, but need to get prepared for it. ● What do we do for the long term? People want answers but there are none. ● Lack of responsibility from businesses ● Canceled events and face to face meetings. ● Negativity from clients, causing a struggle of motivation. ● Unsure how to stand out and find an edge for the company when everyone else is moving towards the same platform ● Concerned we are doing the right thing or just jumping on the fear train rather than bringing value to clients.
Positives: ● Enforced changes often result in unexpected benefits in terms of efficiency, productivity and reduced costs. ● Growth opportunities will emerge, though employee mindset may be a barrier. Must keep open and flexible. ● Transform technology usage; full cloud max flexibility. ● More demand for low priced products. ● Preparing for the worst, hope for the best Most Important: ● Growth/Survival within the next 12 months ● Addressing cashflow & funding, liquidity etc.. ● Focusing on creatively and proactively finding ways to maintain/aim for growth ● Establishing stability and trust; letting people know you’re still in control. ● Continuously analyzing the market, customers, and drives of business ● Remembering this isn’t temporary and will likely result in fundamental change. ● Learning to move to the new normal quickly. ● Looking at opportunities for acquisitions. ● Stabilizing your culture and leadership so your company will thrive
Working from Home Metrics: ● Tools – a good Cloud CRM should track the number of sales calls; booked revenue; measure utilization; can see what productivity is coming from different people. Key is to understand the activity pipeline of staff.
What Will You Stick With? ● Less travel time ● Less face-to-face meeting time ● A more flexible work environment ● Modelling companies who work with globally ● Working more efficiently
To conclude, here are a few points from a business which successfully weathered the 2008 financial crisis and actually emerged to become more dominant in their market:
Cash runway. Do you have enough cash? Could you withstand a few poor quarters if the economy sputters? Have you made contingency plans for liquidity?
Fundraising. Private financings could soften significantly, as happened in 2001 and 2009. What would you do if fundraising on attractive terms proves difficult in 2020 and 2021?
Sales forecasts. Even if you don’t see any direct or immediate exposure for your company, anticipate that your customers may revise their spending habits. Deals that seemed certain may not close. The key is to not be caught flat-footed.
Marketing. With softening sales, you might find that your customer lifetime values have declined, in turn suggesting the need to rein in customer acquisition spending to maintain consistent returns on marketing spending.
Headcount. Given all of the above stress points on your finances, this might be a time to evaluate critically whether you can do more with less and raise productivity.
Capital spending. Until you have charted a course to financial independence, examine whether your capital spending plans are sensible in a more uncertain environment. Perhaps there is no reason to change plans and, for all you know, changing circumstances may even present opportunities to accelerate.
Please don’t hesitate to be in touch if you need a sounding board for ideas or a more detailed feedback on your own plans.