The Coronavirus Response: What is Next for Finance Leaders?

Right now, many finance functions are scrambling to cope. But the coronavirus outbreak and its human and economic repercussions will stay with us for some time, from weeks to months. So, finance executives must also be thinking ahead, into April and beyond. Practices, protocols and processes deployed now may last as the economy recovers and beyond as everyone is forced to become more virtual, more automated, more agile and more cost efficient.

Asking the Right Questions

Here are some questions CFOs should begin to ask now:

How is our staff coping with virtual work?

  1. Do they need additional guidance from HR?
  2. Do we need to develop different communication protocols?
  3. How do we ensure devices that were moved offsite are secure?

What did we learn from the March monthly or quarter-end close?

  • How long did it take to close the books?
  • Did we have to make new reserve calculations, and should those be updated and at what frequency?
  • What questions did we get from internal and external auditors?

Which processes proved essential and must be upgraded/virtualized to remain sustainable?

  • Do we need to transition to a more proactive collections process?
  • Do we need to put in place weekly tracking of receivables?
  • Do we need to develop new policies for cash- and control/risk-management?

How did the quarter-end earning release go?

  • If we didn’t offer guidance, how did the market respond?
  •  What kind of questions did we get from analysts and investors?
  • How effective were virtual meetings with investors and how to improve?

There are many other questions of course. For example, finance leaders must work with the C-Suite to evaluate the impact of the crisis on the company’s operating model going forward. The important thing is to recognize that the people and business ramifications will not disappear, even if we manage to slow down the spread of the virus. Even finance functions that already had a worst-case contingency plan must rerun their what-if analyses using that as a base for the new best- and worst-case scenarios.

Nilly Essaides

Senior Research Director at The Hackett Group

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