Reshape strategy for business continuity
Most businesses are likely to experience significant disruption to their business-as-usual operations and will face business underperformance throughout the duration of the COVID-19 crisis..
To help address these challenges, companies should:
Evaluate short-term liquidity. Companies will want to instil short-term cash flow monitoring discipline that allows them to predict cash flow pressures and intervene in a timely manner. They’ll also want to maintain strict discipline on working capital, particularly around collecting receivables and managing inventory build-up. Additionally, it’s important to be creative and proactively intervene to lighten the working capital cycle. Throughout the crisis, companies will want to maintain regular contact with suppliers to identify any potential risks.
Assess financial and operational risks and respond quickly. Companies will need to monitor direct cost escalations and their impact on overall product margins, intervening and renegotiating, where necessary. Companies that are slow to react or unable to renegotiate new terms and conditions may be vulnerable to financial stress that could carry long-term implications.
Consider alternative supply chain options. Companies that source parts or materials from suppliers in areas significantly impacted by COVID-19 will want to look for alternatives. Companies that have arrangements with agile manufacturing facilities to make spot buying decisions, or have loose contractual arrangements with various service providers and logistics providers, should consider the initial disruption as well as post-crisis scenarios given the potential for demand spikes.
Maximize the use of government support policies
Companies should monitor nation-wide government and organizational opportunities for support and how they may best serve the individual circumstances of their situation. It is important to note that government support may differ based on jurisdiction and sector. Companies will need to identify and understand each offer of support and determine which ones are best for their organization.
Build resilience in preparation for the new normal
Once companies have solidified strategies based on stress tests and communicated any new directions with relevant stakeholders, they will need to execute based on revised plans while monitoring what continues to be a fluid situation. Senior management should report any material deviation from the plan in a timely manner so that their companies can take additional action to avoid further negative impact.
Once the COVID-19 outbreak is controlled, companies will want to review and renew business continuity plans. They’ll want to assess how existing are working. If there are deficiencies, companies will want to identify root causes, whether it’s timeliness of action, lack of infrastructure, labor shortages, or external environment issues. Companies will then want to consider putting new internal guidelines in place based on lessons learned, as well as solid contingency plans to build resilience and better respond to future crises.
Plan for recovery now, not later The COVID-19 crisis was impossible to predict with conventional wisdom and forecasting tools. However, there are many lessons companies can learn and carry forward once the crisis has passed and they’ve had a chance to analyze their response.
In the meantime, companies should be making decisions and taking actions during crisis with recovery in mind. When the crisis is over, it will be clear which companies have the resilience and agility to reshape their business strategy to thrive in the future.
Longer term, companies will need to consider how robust their business, management team and initiatives were in facing the crisis. It will also be important to consider and reset the business assumptions that underpin the supply chain and other concentrations that many businesses have been exposed to over time.