Just about everyone wants to put the past year behind them and return to business as usual. While some companies have been far busier than normal, others have struggled with economic uncertainty, changing regulations, and decreased demand.
The extreme circumstances of the last year forced businesses to take a hard look at all aspects of their organizations, from discretionary expenses and resourcing to supply chains and revenue—not just once, but month after month as the pandemic surged, waned, and surged again. Through all of this, finance teams worked tirelessly to keep organization leaders informed with reports, forecasts, and what-if scenarios. They learned critical lessons about agility, resiliency, and perseverance in the process.
Today, we have every reason to hope that we’re emerging from the worst of the crisis. But there’s a good argument that organizations should resist going back to business as usual when it comes to financial decisions and operations. That’s because the economic crisis revealed underlying inefficiencies, operational challenges, and wasted resources that were more easily ignored in better times.
Here are five fundamental learnings that finance teams and business leaders must remember as the economy moves into recovery.
1. EVERY BUSINESS EXPENSE MATTERS.
It seems obvious, but it’s easy to forget, especially when your organization is fortunate enough to experience predictable or even growing revenue. How many times have you or your team built a budget based on “what we spent last year plus 10%”?
The crisis forced organizations to take action, examining every line item to decide where to invest and where to cut back. Most companies learned how to do more with less—decreasing discretionary expenses, halting travel, reducing real estate footprints, and shifting budget from low-priority projects to more strategic activities. Lastly, they made the tough decisions about staffing that everyone dreads making.
Exiting the pandemic, businesses should maintain a disciplined approach to spending and continue looking for ways to make every dollar count and help build or rebuild cash reserves for future emergencies. Use software with real-time dashboards to track all discretionary expenses, ensure that spending aligns to key priorities, and monitor results regularly.
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