ON 29 JULY MAIER+VIDORNO (M+V) PARNERTED WITH LEADERS ACROSS INDUSTRIES FOR AN INSIGHTFUL ONLINE ROUNDTABLE ON “BUSINESS BEYOND COVID-19”; ADDRESSING LIQUIDITY AND CASH FLOW CHALLENGES THAT ORGANIZATIONS ARE DEALING WITH, IN THE WAKE OF THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC.
Praveen Singhal, CFO M+V, Vipin Arora CHRO and Strategist, InvokHR and Deepmala Datta, Market Expansion Expert M+V led the discussion, to navigate the way forward in realizing true business potential and delivery, despite the unprecedented times that we are all faced with. The distinguished panel with cross-functional leaders with deep and varied experience, across industries, shared thoughts and practical solutions that can help business entities succeed in these daunting and extraordinary times.
COVID-19 has led to a steep decline in Demand, aggravated inefficiencies in Supply Chain and dried up Liquidity and Cashflow.
Praveen began the discussion with the need to recognize “The Changed Paradigm” a reality today; the fact that the financial year is reduced to 6-9 months, as against the original 12 months, adding a huge strain on the industry, as a whole.
The common challenges faced by industries include a significant increase in input costs, high capital exposure in different business segments, an extension of credit lines, delay in customs clearances, increased transit time, supply chain disruptions, reduction in disposable income, among others.
Given the enormity of the situation, he stressed on the need for all businesses to adapt quickly and adopt a 5-pronged Strategy, focussing on
- Accurate Sales Forecasting – the primary need of the hour being ‘Conservation of Cash’ and reaching out to all hands, contributing to the business cycle, including customers and their customers, manufacturers, distributors, vendors, suppliers etc.
- Treasury Management – create a 30-180 day rolling forecast is must along with a cash flow management plan
- Working Capital Management – a close watch on this important business strategy as an aid to effective decision making on Cash, Inventory, Accounts Payable and Receivables Management.
- Government Policies – leverage the guidance and the benefits to stabilize the economy
Praveen explored options for small to mid-sized Indian subsidiaries, of making imports in the Rupee as against the Euro, where forex fluctuation is currently volatile. In addition, he emphasised that leaders need to be innovative and flexible in creating integrated crisis management teams comprising of cross-functional leaders, Cash War Rooms led by the CFO, a Sales monitoring Group championed by the Sales Head and other core workgroups to ensure continuity and welfare.
Some critical insights were put forth by Vipin Arora, an expert on advising organizations on business strategies.
Vipin spoke about the need to operationalize strategies and build a “culture of cost-saving”, especially in the wake of the crisis. Some of the key points shared were:
- Aligning stakeholders – Critical at this stage to align appropriately, the need to address the situation as a collective responsibility rather than on an individual. The most practical and far-reaching ideas come from the shop floor; from the people who manage the product/service on a day to day basis. Involve frontline and management teams.
- Clarity on Cost-Saving vs. Cost Avoidance – The former brings in a reduction in run-rate which is critical for a business to survive given the enormous strain. Finding the balance between the long-term strategies accrued from Cost Saving and the immediate results from Cost Avoidance are opportunities that should be leveraged, to drive business efficiencies.
The other panellists noted that despite the magnitude of COVID-19, we have not witnessed significant disruption in Supply Chain, the decline in demand, however, has posed to be a big challenge. Transit times have increased 2-3 times, holding and blocking capital for organizations, further straining the system. While previously, businesses worked on a cycle time of 75-80 days, this has increased to ~ 150 days, further aggravating the cash flow crisis. Grim sales projections, difficulty in accurate forecasting due to the unpredictable environment and the fact that the crisis is far from over, are all valid and real issues.
To counter these challenging times, quick solutions were brought forth by the leaders, these included, deferred hiring, reduction in training, travel, rationalization of benefits and overtime, greater use of technology and digital media to improvise and bring in short term savings. It will also be crucial to monitor the “cash to cash cycles” closely and plan several months ahead of time. Leaders need to be cognizant and transparent with their customers on challenges and work together to sustain and flourish in the coming years. Renegotiating payment cycles, credit terms and pricing with customers, and overhauling the entire business strategy, given the unpredictability in the environment will be key.
The speakers stressed the importance of creating short term plans which include readjusting their sales and cash flow budgets to gain greater visibility and flexibility to manage cash flow. A quarter on quarter budgeting forecast and evaluation against projections to help mitigate the risks, are some of the tried and tested measures, business leads are taking.
Keeping the morale of the workforce high, extending support for their wellbeing and welfare, addressing challenges that people are facing, are critical for each business to support and focus on.
In conclusion, the group agreed that with every crisis, there is huge opportunity to improve, to relook at our business models, the operating systems, cash flow and inventory management, the functional interdependencies and the ever so important communication rhythms and routines in our organizations. The focus on delivering on business goals and imperatives, are challenging and yet achievable, with cohesive and collective thinking and efforts. The measures we take today will give us the greatest chance of reviving and sustaining in these difficult times.
We would like to thank our expert speakers for providing clarity, giving critical insights on how they are overcoming the challenges, in the present-day situation. The opportunity is here and now, with no time to waste, it is our time to act, motivate, support and stabilize. Needless to say, time is of the essence, so start now!
We will be facilitating follow-up sessions as a rejoinder to our Expert Roundtable, the schedule will be announced shortly.
If you were unable to join us for the roundtable, we invite you to watch excerpts by clicking on the links posted below: