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As the Indian economy reopen, what should CFOs do?

Jun 04, 2020

indian-economy

The COVID-19 crisis has left the global economy in shambles, and India has fared no better. With almost 3 months of a nationwide lockdown, business have been closed for a long time. The lockdown rules have recently been relaxed, and businesses are beginning to start operations gradually.

As businesses and the Indian economy reopens, all companies must take a strong and detailed look at their finances and prepare for the unprecedented and unpredicted times ahead. Here are a few things every CFO needs to consider to ensure that his company has a plan to survive the recession -

1. Evaluate Where You Stand

The first step is obvious - conduct a detailed and accurate study and account for your company's current financial status. This includes, but is not limited to -

Your Cash-flow

Take a good account of inbound and outbound cash flows to evaluate your company's overall liquid capital. Knowing how much cash you have to use, how much cash is coming in, and how much cash is going out is essential to plan for the future.

Your Inventory

Take stock of your existing inventory in detail. Make sure every item is accounted for, quality-checked, and ready for use as required once your business reopens. Inaccurate inventory data can cause major problems in your production if demand suddenly increases in the coming times. Efficient Inventory Management becomes very critical at this point.

Your Assets

Make sure you have an up-to-date idea of all of your assets including whether it is ready to use, possible maintenance or repair requirements, warranty status, current relevance and insurance status. Effective Asset Management including warranty management and insurance management becomes very critical at this point. Ensure the assets are properly insured and extended warranty is taken if required.

2. Forecast All Possibilities

As a CFO, one of your main roles is forecasting – difficult in normal times – it’s even tougher to forecast what the post COVID-19 landscape will look like. Therefore, it is prudent to consider all the conditions around us now, and forecast a wide range of possibilities. That way, whatever the outcome of the pandemic, your company will have plans in place to survive it.

Ensure Sourcing

As your business reopens, make sure your sourcing is taken care of. Existing vendors may face problems with supply, making it necessary for your company to ensure that alternative sources are identified, evaluated and categorized for immediate reference in case you need their services. Good vendor management will be key in maintaining company production.

Boost Liquidity

With the Government planning to release large amounts of liquidity into the markets, CFOs must ensure that their company’s cash and liquidity is up to the mark, and bolstered by the government’s plans. Financing should be re-visited; debt and credit should be scrutinized afresh. Receivables especially need to be managed urgently as customers will tend to delay payments to meet their own challenges. Tax planning in Covid situation is also critical, and conserving cash in short-term periods must be ensured. With the GOI announcing extension Of TDS returns due dates, GST returns and various other compliances, many opportunities have arisen to make such savings. For MSMEs, government has delayed the GST payment and is also evaluating the GST payment only upon collection form Customers. You must consider all possible opportunities of boosting company’s liquidity.

Optimize Assets

Optimizing your company’s assets is just as essential. Making sure that every single asset is relevant to your recovery must take precedence over other tasks. Evaluate your current assets to identify which of them will be relevant.

Ensure Social Distancing in Office

As the offices reopens and MHA announcing the unlock guidelines on almost every day basis, it is critical for companies to follow such guidelines. Maintaining Social distancing while having meeting and calling employee to work from office is critical to avoid any mishaps in the company.

Reduce Human Dependence

CFOs must prepare for the possibility of many critical employees (including themselves) falling ill and getting taken out of commission by COVID-19. This means that they need to plan accordingly, and make sure that a framework is in place to ensure through which all financial processes can function with remote supervisory inputs from top management. Cloud ERPs can be very handy in these situations.

Streamline Communication with Stakeholders

Amidst the uncertain economic landscape, CFOs must ensure clear and constant communication with key stakeholders. Communication should be automated, and there should be a smooth flow between stakeholders, banks, investors and employees when communicating with each other.

Investor communication is going to be of utmost importance to avoid uncertainty on their part. Investors will want to be updated with your company’s activities to handle the crisis, and stay ensured that their investments are secure.

3. Plan for the Recovery

It is never too early to plan for the recovery of the economy, even though we can’t say how soon that will take place. CFOs must consider all the different methods in which the market can return, despite social distancing and COVID-19 regulations. Once the market returns, there will be heavy competition amongst companies to recover their losses, and only those with plans already in place will come out in the lead.

4. Digitize the Process

Covid has proven that Cloud ERPs are the future. Many companies who didn’t implemented cloud ERP or e-procurement software has suffered more than companies which had these in some form or other. Demand for Cloud software has surged during the lockdown. CFOs must evaluate their existing business process and look out for affordable cloud ERP to digitize their business process.

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