Use the Downtime from the COVID-19/Coronavirus Pandemic for Business Improvement

When I talk to finance and business owners about business process improvement they always have a wish list, they know what they would like to fix and improve, but they do not have the time!

If the experts are correct, we will have a slow down for the next 60 to 180 days.  The American government is imposing a business slowdown and business owners and consumers are voluntarily complying.  This slowdown is not because of economics.  The fundamentals of the US economy are strong, the US was already doing better than most of the world’s economies and we will snap back the fastest.  I challenge you to use this time for business process improvement, so when consumers can spend the money that is building up in their pockets and the government is pumping into the economy, you are positioned to exchange it for your services! Do not lay off valuable people, you will wish you had in six months. Hiring good people has been the biggest restriction on growth for most of our clients. Now might even be the time to add some key people, displaced by others who panicked. Put employees to work on business process improvements that will challenge them, build loyalty that will benefit the business for years to come, allowing you to recover faster and make ground on your competitors that wasted this gift of time.

Do a business survey, ask your clients what added service they wish you offered, ask your clients what is the one thing they wished you did better? Ask your managers for their wish lists; ask key employees for two things we can do to make your job, task, or department more efficient. Prioritize this list on ROI and take action! You will be amazed at how many of these suggestions are obvious. Some will take no cash investment, it may just be changing the way you quote, process orders, or manage projects. Many will be small investments, which make a few employees or tasks better but also improve company morale and often improve client service. Delegate these tasks to the people who suggested the improvements, get their commitment to a timeline, budget, and give them the authority to make changes. You will be amazed at the energy this will release, and it will also cascade suggestions from other employees.

In finance, you will see integrations, reports, and added functionality. It might be an automated download of payroll to the GL, an automated download of checks for bank reconciliations, a download of credit card transactions to AP, finally e-mailing invoices to clients or setting up EFT for payments or positive pay for theft prevention.  Reports are always important; look for reports created outside the financial system. How long does it take to manually create that report each month or week? If the report takes two hours a month to create today, and the report can be produced in the financial system for eight hours of programming, the ROI is four months – no brainer! Finally, you will see added functionality requests:  add time and expense tracking; implement project costing; go paperless; add a CRM system, add a BI system to better analyze sales, cash flow, revise budgets and forecasts that will now need to be changed.

Here is a quote from Mark Cuban on using the virus-induced slow time to improve your business:

“Rather than focusing on how bad it is, focus on how you can use this time to connect with your future customers,” Cuban wrote in one example. “This is also a good time to clean up all the little messes every small business has. Everyone has things they wish they could re-do.”

Finally, let’s talk about moving your ERP systems to the cloud. Many of our clients use remote/home employees, have multiple branches, and in some cases are global. Those companies that have moved to the cloud are least impacted by work at home requirements. All their employees need is a browser to get to their work. I have talked to many businesses that are buying laptops for key employees to take home, adding VPN connections, and bumping up internet bandwidth to support those newly relocated employees. Our cloud clients did not need to change. They already could work from any device, from anywhere, with just a browser. They do not need fast internet, just internet. They do not need a powerful laptop; their home computer works fine, a $129 chrome workbook works fine, and many tasks are designed to be performed on a smartphone. Our clients who have moved to the cloud will weather this pandemic best and will recover the quickest. 

AccuNet is essentially a business process consulting company. The ideas for improvement listed above are a small fraction of what we can do for our clients. We can help with a BPA project, manage the interviews, brainstorm, prioritize projects, cost, and propose. A small investment of time, generally in the 40-hour range, will reap huge rewards. If you have a list of improvements, call us – now is the time! If you need help with your list, call us! We can get started ASAP, and it is all possible to do remotely.

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