Skip to Main Content

COVID-19: Navigating the impact to your business. See our top strategies.

Empowering Remote Finance Teams

COVID-19: Empowering Remote Finance Teams

How the CFO can help navigate a path toward long-term success.

Three steps for finance teams:

  • Financial health: Ensuring strong financial health with rigorous cash management to survive the pandemic
  • Business continuity: Maintaining business operations is key to capturing revenue
  • Get positioned for the new normal: Have the ability to make bold moves post-recovery

Amid the health and economic uncertainty all industries are facing from COVID-19, CFOs will play a pivotal role in helping companies navigate the crisis while searching for what the new normal will be. The crisis has caused demand to drop, leading to an exponential drop in revenue. In this new normal, cash is not only king but is necessary for the overall financial health of companies.

Empowering Remote Finance Teams

Watch a recent conversation where we discuss effective remote working challenges for finance teams and offer practical advice about virtual collaboration tools.

With this uncertainty, businesses have been forced to take measures that ensure employee safety, business continuity for their customers and end consumers, and protections for their financial health. CFOs will play a strong role in helping companies navigate the crisis in the near term by addressing these priorities:

-	Partnering with the CEO and the board of directors on educating them about the financial actions that need to be taken in the wake of the pandemic  -	Helping alleviate the fear and uncertainty in the board room  -	Ensuring transparent communications with the investors on the steps being taken towards financial viability and their implications
financial health, business continuity, new normal

Steps for entire finance team

To successfully execute on the above priorities, finance functions like planning and analysis, accounting, treasury, credit, tax, settlements, and others will need to take the following steps:

 

Assess the cash situation of the company

The finance team will need to quickly assess the cash at hand and the overall liquidity of the company. This will include determining additional lines of credit that the company can potentially obtain in the short to midterm. Cash flow will need to be re-evaluated to inform the spending curbs that will need to be implemented across the organization.

Develop multiple future scenarios

The financial strategy, planning, and analysis function will need to work on multiple scenarios considering time for recovery, extent of demand revival, regional and geographic recovery cycles, and supply/demand imbalances. These scenarios will help understand the stress points in the business and articulate events and triggers for certain financial actions to be taken.

Assist in positioning for the new normal

Work with the executive taskforce to ensure the company can make bold moves, emerge stronger, and competitively position itself for the new normal. These include but are not limited to assessing new products and offerings, redeploying resources to areas of higher performance, assets sales, potential merger and acquisitions, new market entry or geographic expansion, demand generation, and new ways of customer engagement.

Unlock remote work colloboration

All this will need to be done while the entire finance team works remotely. Empowering the teams will require adopting new remote collaborations tools, accelerating digitization of finance processes and workflows, and leveraging digital technologies to assist with automation of manual or new analysis work.

Steps for finance managers on remote work

The CFO and the broader finance team will be under tremendous stress to cater to the additional needs and new requirements from the executive teams and different parts of the business. CFOs will need to ensure the entire finance team is enabled to collaborate efficiently and communicate effectively while working remotely for successful execution of business priorities. Finance managers and team leads can take simple steps and measures to enable their remote teams:

Bolster overall team productivity

The finance team is comprised of several sub-teams that mostly work in silos with handoffs and only necessary exchanges of information amongst themselves. With a large part of the workforce working remotely, ensuring survival requires rethinking team priorities, redeploying team members to cater to new business demands, reimagining the ways of working, and promoting cross-functional collaboration.

Embrace remote colloboration tools

Equip the finance teams with tools and technology to collaborate and work efficiently in the remote setup. Leveraging video conferencing tools like Microsoft Teams or Zoom can promote team interactions and have been found to increase team productivity by over 20 percent. Other collaboration tools, like Mural, enable teams to whiteboard and brainstorm virtually.

Adopt workflow and process digitilzation

While most organizations have been focusing on digitization of the finance workflows for some time now, several key processes and controls continue to be manual or human driven. It is important to assess controls, risk measures, and critical processes like audits in order to digitize the associated workflows and business processes, where possible. This will not only improve overall team productivity but will also reduce the associated risk of human error or being non-compliant.

Leverage digital technologies for automation

Most employees will be stressed with balancing personal lives, kids being at home, and remote work. It is imperative to focus on automation of manual, repetitive, or low value activities. Automating these activities is the low hanging fruit that can reduce the operational toil associated with performing these tasks for the employees.

Deep dive into the month close and financial-reporting process

Month end close and financial reporting is one of the most critical functions that the finance organization is accountable for. While the key activities and milestones in the month-end or quarter-end close process pictured here remains largely the same, a remote workforce, incremental reporting requirements due to economic crisis, and revised regulatory guidelines have increased risk to financial reporting and the close process.

a deep dive into the financial reporting process

The following graphic highlights actions companies can take to ensure a timely and an accurate monthly close and financial reporting process:

 

actions companies can take to ensure a timely and an accurate monthly close and financial reporting process
CFOs will need to play a prominent role during these uncertain times by partnering with the CEO and the board of directors to ensure that the business can not only survive the current crisis but is also well positioned to thrive in the “new normal.”
Sid Bahl, Vice President Strategy & Consulting

Path Forward

In the words of Sun-Tzu, “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.”

CFOs need to adopt a transformation mindset during the current crisis. In the short term the focus needs to be on ensuring financial viability for the company. The CFO needs to shift from incremental thinking to exponential thinking that will help them position the company to thrive in the new normal. This will be achieved by accelerating the overall digital transformation agenda for the finance team. The actions and steps we share here are what’s needed for NOW with a focus on short-term gains. CFOs can build upon them for a leaner and more agile finance organization that is powered by data and digital technologies better suited for the new normal.

Sid Bahl
Sid Bahl
Vice President Strategy & Consulting