The coronavirus outbreak, our first global pandemic, is having a significant impact on every person and every business around the world. With mandatory quarantines in place, rapid unemployment spikes, non-essential businesses forced to close, bottom barrel gas prices, and an unstable stock market – governments are trying to sort out the economic turmoil. But one of the biggest impacts on everyone is the lack of definitive timelines of when it will all end and go back to normal.
Unfortunately, this is the new normal. The world as we know it has changed, and that means we all have to navigate this unknown territory together. These may be difficult times, but as history has shown us, recessions always end, and when they do, a period of economic recovery follows.
As your partner in back-office applications, and your partner business, we’re here to help you protect your livelihood and prepare you for the reality of a remote workload. If history has taught us anything, it’s that these are not the times to sit still and wait it out. Now is the time to take a hard look and assess your financial and operational systems and start making the changes necessary to manage your business and thrive post-pandemic.
The Impact of a Recession on Your Business
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, a recession occurs when there is a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months. Back in late 2007, we saw sizeable job losses, a slump in consumer spending, and a decrease in industrial production and manufacturing. While some businesses may only experience moderate losses in a recession, most of us – large and small – are forced to tighten our belts and find ways to minimize the damage.
Today, the world is facing a global health and economic crisis. We are all seeing a swift and substantial decline in economic activity across the board, regardless of size or industry. While the severity of a recession depends on how long it lasts, let’s take a look at some of the most common challenges a business can expect to face:
- Lower sales revenues and profits
- Hiring cutbacks and job layoffs
- Late payments
- Difficulty securing additional financing
- Stressed company shareholders
- Reduced marketing expenditures
- Excess inventory
As you know, these are not the only hurdles you might have to jump through right now. The rise of COVID-19 and mandatory social distancing measures has changed where and how we do business, and remote access is now a necessity. Managing a virtual workforce brings its’ own set of challenges during an already volatile period. Challenges like:
- Ability to access essential business systems and data
- Remote security vulnerabilities
- Reliable system performance
- Managing and monitoring employees
- Payment processing
These challenges are forcing all businesses to re-evaluate their existing processes. We’ve seen a massive shift to virtual workspaces and e-commerce during these past few weeks, and companies around the globe are continuing to evolve and find ways of making an uncertain situation work for them.
There’s no way to completely recession-proof your business because you can’t predict the economic impact and length of a crisis like this. But there are steps you can take to stabilize your operations and financial systems, prepare your employees, and boost your chances of survival during this pandemic and the inevitable recession.
Start Preparing and Protecting Your Business Right Now
In the face of uncertainty, it has never been more important to think about the stability and the future of your operations. That’s why all of us at Clients First are committed to helping you put employees first and continue to do business, uninterrupted, every single day.
So, how are we going to do that? By focusing on the essential components of your business: your employees, your ERP and financial management system, your data, and your customers. Here are four areas you can start concentrating on that will help you get through the turbulence of today:
- Assess Your ERP System and Financial Readiness. In an economic downturn, accurate financial management is essential to weathering the storm. Your ERP system tracks sales and inventory, forecasts financial performance, manages cash flow, and enables you to make data-driven decisions. Now is not the time to have issues in these areas.Ultimately, your finance and executive teams should be focused on optimizing your current operations, not sorting out data or system performance issues. You can get ahead of all this by engaging with your ERP partner to evaluate your system and make sure everything is working right with no foreseeable threats to usability or stability. This is also an excellent opportunity to assess your remote technology infrastructure and identify any weak points (i.e., security) that need to be updated.
- Equip Your Virtual Workforce. Working from home is a new reality, and with it comes a host of new problems to solve. Your IT department is probably working in overdrive to either provide the necessary equipment or set-up devices for your remote workforce. Your employees are trying to adjust to a new environment, learning new processes, and conducting virtual meetings at their kitchen table. Here’s the deal: if your business is not set-up in the cloud already, now is the time to consider it. Otherwise, you and your employees are going to struggle to access the accurate, timely data they need to continue to do their jobs effectively.Luckily, there are plenty of options out there to streamline this process. For example, our Remote Grab-and-Go solution puts your Dynamics NAV, Business Central, or SAP Business One on-premise system in the cloud in under a day. Hosted in the Microsoft Azure cloud, your employees get a secure login and instant access to your database in the cloud.
- Protect Your Critical Business Data. As you shift your business and employees to remote work, protecting from cyberattacks and data loss should be at the top of your priority list. According to the World Economic Forum in January, cybercrime is set to cost the global economy $2.9 million every minute in 2020 – and that was before the COVID-19 crisis arose! With human error (specifically password-related) taking over as one of the biggest areas of risk, it’s critical to equip your employees with the right cybersecurity tools and end-user security training moving forward.Depending on your ERP system, software vendors may have additional security patches for system vulnerabilities available during this time. Another option is to start researching cybersecurity measures focused on endpoint and email security, as well as advanced threat detection. At Clients First, we offer an “At Home” remote protection solution that includes valuable cybersecurity tools such as anti-spam/virus filtering, anti-phishing, URL defense, and attachment sandboxing applications that work with on-premise Exchange and Office 365.
- Find Ways to Make Doing Business with Your Customers Easier. Recessions are often a time of innovation – a time for something new or a chance to repurpose a product or service. In response to the outbreak restrictions on non-essential businesses, restaurants, for example, have turned to eCommerce and transformed their dine-in services to delivery. Reducing the impact of a recession and keeping commerce running is the key to us all pulling through this crazy time and being successful on the other side.During these times, businesses need to be able to accept electronic checks from customers as quickly as possible. We’re all looking for an option with little to no contact and faster payments. Working with one of our longstanding partners, Century Business Solutions, we have been able to provide many of our customers with eCheck processing and credit card processing at some of the lowest transaction charges. If you are interested, our eCheck and Credit Card Processing solution integrates with both Microsoft Dynamics and SAP Business One and is also available as a standalone solution.
Schedule a Free ERP Health Check with Clients First
There’s no way to shelter your business from an economic downturn completely, but there are plenty of ways to minimize the impact, adapt to changing conditions, and come out of this on top.
In response to the evolving threat caused by the outbreak of COVID-19, we are offering a free Health Check of your ERP system. Whether you run your business on Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Dynamics 365 Business Central, or SAP Business One, we’re here to help you make sure everything is working right at the time it needs to be.
Schedule your free ERP System Health Check today and we will take a half-day (at no cost to you) to examine and evaluate your entire ERP configuration and set-up, to help you:
- Identify what you need to equip your financial system for a virtual workforce
- Address any risks or gaps that will impact your business in an economic downturn
- Ensure you can optimize and lower costs in the new demand for remote technology infrastructure