Companies large and small are suffering from lockdown measures imposed as a result of COVID-19. As a result, organisations are finding they need to increase their business resilience to keep operations running and employees paid in times of fluctuation. One of the easiest ways for companies to achieve both is by enacting business spend control.
Before panic freezing operations, take time to acknowledge how the crisis has impacted the people in your organisation. From worrying about their loved one’s safety to wondering how to juggle full-time childcare with full-time work, your employees undoubtedly have a lot on their minds.
They are human, as are you. Showing empathy and understanding to your workers will demonstrate to them that you value them and will encourage them to keep doing their best, even if that best is different from what it used to be.
In parallel, as a leader of a resilient business, you must ensure that your focus remains on safeguarding the company’s finances and operations. Otherwise, no amount of empathy will keep your business from faltering. One of the best ways to protect your finances is through business spend control, which includes:
The steps above are all essential in making smart decisions which will help you protect your cash reserves while also preparing your business for the upturn.
Your company’s purpose should always be at the forefront of any decision-making, strategic or otherwise. Keeping your purpose front and centre ensures that you have loyal and engaged employees as well as customers, both of whom will stick with you through the tough times.
But it also helps you make better decisions, faster, and evolve in a more agile manner. Your purpose drives your priorities, helping you decide what should stay and what can go to stabilise the business and make the most of new opportunities.
Focusing on your purpose also means cutting or delegating tasks which either don’t serve your business or are not part of your added value. Expense management is something that many companies attempt to do in-house with Excel, only to have it suck up their time and cost them more money through errors and limited control.
Remember your purpose, take actions to allow yourself to focus on it while outsourcing the rest and ensure you have your spending in check.
In times of crisis, you are making multiple decisions and often based on incomplete information. While you always want to aim to collect as much data and have it be as accurate as possible, sometimes, the data is not enough, and you still have to decide.
With regards to business spending, analytics tools collate your spend data in real-time and allow you to view and analyse it when deciding where to negotiate or make cuts. While this may offer a uniquely detailed look into your operations, remember that time is of the essence.
In-depth analysis can take place once the crisis has passed. Use the tools you have to make expedient spend decisions now. You can always adjust your course along the way once better information comes to light.
Decide on your story, and communicate around it, but don’t be afraid to adapt the narrative as the situation evolves.
You may have more information about the state of your industry tomorrow, but why wait to communicate? Companies that communicate fewer details and more frequently seem to fare better in the public eye. Sparse communication only encourages people to fill in the blanks, which can end up seriously hurting you further down the line.
Be clear in communicating any changes to your spend policy: regarding both travel (Is it allowed? What are the limitations?) and expenses (What types of expenses are no longer allowed and why? What can employees claim due to home working?). Communicate openly and proactively, rather than letting people discover for themselves that air travel is no longer allowed when their expense is rejected. A resilient business is a business with transparent communication channels, including when it comes to spending.
Despite the turbulence created by unexpected events, business leaders and executives must maintain a long-term view, even while dealing with immediate incidents. Severely and immediately cutting costs may seem like the right move in a downturn, but now may be the time to invest in the company’s future.
Of course, it’s difficult to predict structural changes that may emerge within your industry, but what about the changes that could be accelerated by world events? Homeworking and virtual meetings were steadily increasing before the pandemic hit, and suddenly boomed.
Generally speaking, process digitisation is growing, and that includes accounting, an often paper-heavy and labour-intensive task. Bringing your accounting processes, including travel and expense management, into the digital age will ensure that your business is more resilient when the “next big thing” hits.
You may be thinking that implementing a T&E solution is an unnecessary cost right now, but it represents an investment in the future of your business. Your employees may not be travelling at the moment, but if travel is a part of your business model, it is bound to resume. By implementing a tool before you need it, you will give yourself the time to implement it as effectively as possible while also assuring it is future proof.
As you make your business more resilient, remember that it’s important to understand the role of business expenses and how they affect cash flow. Automated, integrated travel and expense management provides you both transparency and control on your expenditure, allowing you to make data-driven strategic decisions about the future of your business. Improving your business spend control with a travel and expense management solution is one of the easiest and most fool proof ways of improving your liquidity and, therefore, your business’ resilience.