Over the last few weeks, Coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted people and businesses in countries all over the world. As it begins to impact the United States, one of the foremost questions on many people's minds is "How will this affect my business?"
Whether you are individually impacted or not, the COVID-19 will dramatically change how you and your team are doing business over the next few weeks.
With month and quarter end quickly approaching, businesses are beginning to wonder how COVID-19 will impact accounting and their back-end business processes. Below are challenges that you and your team can expect, as well as tips on how to prepare for (and potentially avoid) them.
- Increased Accounting Processing Times
- Increased Costs
- Decreased Cash Flow
- Decreased Communication with Customers & Vendors
INCREASED ACCOUNTING PROCESSING TIMES
With businesses and entire cities shutting their doors to prevent the spread of COVID-19, continuing internal processes will be challenging. Chasing down people for invoice and check approvals, reviews and decisions will increase and become more difficult to manage. Because of this, you can expect your normal processing times to increase.
While email is a great step to getting work done when not in the office, it doesn’t do a great job at providing visibility, reminders, and automation to continue moving things forward. It will become a part of the Accounting’s team role to manage this and ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.
To prevent increasing processing times as much as possible, try implementing one of the below best practices and tools:
- Create an internal service-level agreement (SLA): Work with your team to put a process in place that outlines the expected return of documents/information/decisions. Try getting your team to commit to a 24-hour turnaround time on information needed.
- Implement an automation solution: Work to get a platform in place that helps drive work, reminder, and escalations automatically so that your team can focus on higher value activities, with confidence that things are still moving.
- Facilitate a daily or weekly SCRUM meeting: Get your team on the phone and review your top priorities, goals, and objectives. This helps keep team members accountable and committed to getting their work done.
There are many ways that costs can and will increase during this time. One of the main drivers of this will be the unpreparedness of organizations who are not already set-up for a remote workforce or have a disaster preparedness plan in place. Most businesses who are not able to keep their business operations moving will have to close their doors for good.
From the cost of new monitors and tools to deploy a remote workforce, to increase in overhead by trying to get normal day-to-day tasks completed, businesses can expect an increase in operating costs.
Follow these tips to help set reduce the costs associated with these challenges:
- Utilize a free remote connection tool: Deploying a remote workforce may be uncomfortable at first, but by using a tool that allows your team to stay in contact, collaborate, and continue to get work done from anywhere in the world, you will help reduce organization costs and the impact of COVID-19. Some tech companies are providing free remote working tools during this crisis.
- Leverage collaboration tools: Tasks can easily be assigned to team members, tracked, followed up on, and completed with full visibility to everyone. Work continues to drive forward with accountability and consistency.
- Enable document & file sharing: Whether your team is using a document management system or file sharing structure, it is important that you have what you need in order to get your work done. Enable a system that empowers your team to continue working from anywhere in the world, as long as they have access to the internet.
DECREASED CASH FLOW & COMMUNICATION
With many organizations moving to a remote environment, closing their doors temporarily, and areas quarantining, it will dramatically impact how companies are paying their invoices. Answers to questions that typically took minutes, will take longer and increase processing times for everyone involved. We can expect that many organizations will delay in paying their vendors and partners because of this.
To alleviate the burden of decreased cash flow:
- Implement an “Accounting” day: Set a weekly meeting with people that you need decisions, approvals, and discussions with in order to get your work done. That way, you can expect to knock out everything you need in an efficient way and plan to review priorities with the right people.
- Leverage an e-signature solution: Routing for reviews and approvals using an automated signature tool allows you to have full visibility into the process, send automated reminders, and enforces accountability and process.
- Set up a recurring call with the vendors you work with most: This will ensure that you both are on the same page and have clear expectations on when to expect payments, invoices, etc.
As COVID-19 continues to make its way through the world, impacting organizations small and large, it is up to each and every one of us to ensure that business operations continue to progress. Moving to an automated and remote workforce can seem daunting at first, but once adopted your team can be productive and efficient.
Still have questions or don’t know where to start? Reach out to us on the DocuPhase team! We are always happy to share best practices and walk through tips together for free. At the end of the day, we are all in this together and want to do what we can to help!