The COVID-19 crisis is challenging businesses to refocus and opening up opportunities for them to reimagine their processes in order to work smarter and more efficiently.
According to one of CNBC’s original “Fast Money Five” and heavy-hitting Wall Street veteran, Guy Adami, we’re still in the early innings of this crisis and a complete transformation of business as we know it. The time is ripe with opportunity.
“If you feel like you’re behind the eight-ball, rest assured that it’s not too late to catch up,” he says. “Think of it like this: The greatest time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today.”
It’s time to take action, so we talked with Adami and our own Cameron White, AvidXchange’s VP of Financial Planning and Analysis, to better understand how organizations can get back on track and bolster business, provide better visibility and create efficiencies that set them up for a more profitable future.
Here’s what we learned about how you can do more with less, and do it faster than ever before:
Step back and assess the financial impacts on your business
We don’t need to tell you how tough it is to make accurate financial forecasts in the midst of an evolving crisis. It’s nearly impossible to create scenarios around a pandemic and macroeconomic factors that are out of your control.
What’s a finance team to do to help its organization? Focus on getting a grasp of what has been impacted within your organization and what is impeding your abilities. Are common capability gaps like inefficient processes, lack of transparency, capacity constraints and limited analytics getting in the way?
Look, too, at businesses that are weathering the storm well, such as those with a strong digital presence. While the pandemic has accelerated the struggle of those who have been hesitant to embrace digital, like malls and movie theaters, companies that have flipped the switch on technology are having a much easier time recovering.
Which bucket does your business exist today?
Create new processes
Adami says that prior to the pandemic many businesses were lax, taking comfort in what was working rather than examining where they could improve.
And, then, bam! The crisis hit and set in motion a whirlwind of unexpected challenges that demand sudden change.
“The best coaches are the ones who highlight weaknesses after a win,” says Adami. “If you want your team to do advance and grow, instead of celebrating your wins, look at where they can do better.”
You can help your business improve by creating new processes and efficiencies to replace the ones that no longer work.
Take, for example, those forecasting processes. White says businesses have an opportunity to create more accurate forecasts by finding more data sources and looking to them more often, daily rather than monthly.
“Changing your forecasting processes by finding more and better data will enable you to have richer conversations with management, allowing them to make quicker, smarter decisions about the business,” she says.
How else can forecasting processes improve? Try these:
- Make it a collaborative effort
- Minimize assumptions
- Forecast multiple scenarios
- Reforecast often
- Automate manual processes
Invest where there’s long-term impact
According to Adami, this may be the most important time in the past few decades to invest in technology that allows your business to sustain operations and to enable its future.
Cloud-based services, automation, and cybersecurity do just that.
Take AP automation: Investing in it will enable your business to eliminate paper and in turn multiple steps in transferring money between suppliers and buyers. There’s big pay-offs, including:
- Greater visibility into cash flow
- Reduced processing costs
- Enhanced security
- Stronger supplier relations
Relying on technology frees up finance teams so they can focus on core competencies, rather than on time-wasting processes. By adjusting their focus, they can help their businesses weather crisis and transform into more efficient, more agile leaders.
If you’d like more advice on how to help your business bounce back from the pandemic and position itself for a brighter future by leveraging AP automation, check out the full webinar – “Financial Planning: How to Get Your Business Back On-Track During COVID-19.”