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A Comprehensive List of Tips, Tools, & Tricks to Help Organizations Navigate a Global Pandemic

By Elizabeth Bakker | March 13th, 2020

An Organization’s Survival Guide to the COVID-19 Global Pandemic Part 1

This year is getting off to a rough start. COVID-19 is spreading quickly and fears are growing. Organizations are being forced to evaluate their processes, spend, and strategic plans. Events are being cancelled, stocks are nosediving, and sales are collapsing. Teams of all sizes are going to have to make big changes, quickly. 

But, as history has proven, great things are born out of adversity! So while this is a difficult season for many, the folks at Functionly are turning this into an opportunity to build better systems and processes, and reevaluate 2020 plans. 

Using business functions as a lens, we have compiled some of the best advice and tools coming out of the SaaS community, as well as other industries, to evaluate organizational spend, maximize an existing workforce, create agile processes, and manage organizational crisis. 

Are you shifting to a remote team overnight? We have a separate resource which covers how to transition to a remote organization here best practices for remote teams here.

Reduce Organizational Spend & Improve Cash Flow

Given all the anxiety and uncertainty that a global pandemic can create, this might be a time to evaluate the risk appetite and organizational limitations that may arise with potential pressures on revenue – this could include client churn, delay in accounts receivable or capital becoming more challenging to raise. 

TIP: Evaluate Spending

Manage and evaluate your cash flows. Examine whether your capital spending plans are sensible in a more uncertain environment. It might be better to hold-off on expenses or delay for a quarter, until you are more certain of economic reactions. Moving fast and being agile is great, but your organization needs to make sure your strategy is not impacted unintentionally by overreacting or over-correcting. 

  • Approve All Future Expenses. Freeze auto-approval for non-essential spending. Review each purchase, hiring need or spend decision, and make sure every dollar counts. Put processes in place to grab hold of those costs.
  • Forecast & Reforecast. Build a scenario forecast that shows potential negative economic impact on the business, and have a plan in place if your customer comes under pressure (e.g. payment plan, delayed billing process, cancelling contracts, etc.). 
  • Review Spend. Create a “products and services to keep” list for your worst-case scenario forecast. Consider cancelling any non-critical product or service. 
  • Review Cash Collection. Review your organization’s cash collection process and make sure your approach to cash-collection is supporting healthy customer relationships. You want to make sure your approach encourages your organization to be on the top of their “products and services to keep” list. Your customers will be impacted by a change in business as well, so keep that in mind as you request payment. 
  • Assess Your Current Headcount & Growth Plans. If your forecast requires a change in headcount to remain sustainable, then this can be hard for the entire team. Below, we have tips on how to reduce headcount and optimize your current workforce, if you need to do a hiring freeze or reduction.

TOOLS:

Blissfully – Gives you automated visibility into your SaaS apps, usage, and spend, along with powerful workflows to manage change.

Fathom – Comprehensive financial intelligence, performance reporting, dashboards and consolidations.

Wise-Sync – Can help you capture many efficiencies across your business, giving you an up-to-date, real-time indication of your financial situation.

Xero – Accounting software that helps small businesses.

RESOURCES:

Coronavirus Implications for Business

Coronavirus: The Black Swan of 2020

What Coronavirus Could Mean for the Global Economy

Create Agile Processes & Optimize Your Workforce 

Given all of the above is likely to place stress on finances, this might be a time to critically evaluate whether you can do more with less. 

TIP: Evaluate your Operational Maturity 

In times of crisis, leadership focus will shift significantly from normal day-to-day operations. How you did something yesterday may not be relevant today, especially if you are forced to create a remote team overnight. In order to ensure processes are agile during a crisis, organizations will need to evaluate their operational, or functional maturity. The process of highlighting operational weak spots and cross-functional friction can surface opportunities for improvement that will ensure business is not negatively impacted.

When assessing functional maturity, focus on processes that your team owns or participates in heavily, as they will have the most impact. 

Good questions to ask include; 

  • Which processes will yield the greatest returns by undergoing a process improvement exercise? 
  • How much effort/resources/time would it take to get processes where they should be? 
  • Where might external resources be needed?
  • Where does your organization have too many resources, energy or effort?

TOOLS:

ProfitWell – Outcome-centered products that reduce churn, optimize pricing, and grow your subscription business end-to-end.

Stripe – A software platform for running an internet business.

Custify – Reduce Customer churn and grow revenue.

1Password – Save your passwords and log in to sites with a single click.


RESOURCES:

7 Agile strategies for managing remote teams

Maximize Team Output &/or Reduce Headcount

TIP: New operating climates, such as those being experienced with the coronavirus pandemic, present an opportunity for organizations to review how their business functions and the effectiveness of their current operating model. This type of assessment allows you to identify near term opportunities to manage resources, while positioning yourself to be ready for future market shifts. Reducing your staff may be a decision you’ll need to make. However, organizations that have done reductions without understanding and reviewing how work is done, could find themselves in a worse situation than before. 

Here are some questions to ask in order to help you determine your options;

  • Duplicated Work. When work is siloed, it is oftentimes duplicative. Are there processes that are being duplicated by multiple teams/employees? Do you have embedded functions siloed within a team? Can business functions and processes benefit from simplification? Can you centralize those business functions? Can a shift in resource allocation or ownership improve effectiveness? 
  • Align to Strategy. Resources can be aligned to outdated strategy and should be redeployed on mission-critical work. What current business functions or processes do not align with your organization’s strategy? 
  • Focus on Core Activities. Identify what your critical “core” work is – the work that only your employees can and should do. What work is not “core” work? Are there partners, vendors, contractors that could do that work for you in a way that allows you to manage costs differently?
  • It’s Tough, Be Human. If there is a need to reduce your workforce, be as honest as possible ASAP. How can you stay connected to employees you would like to have return in the future? What are the risks of each role leaving and how do you best mitigate the risk? How can we treat people with respect and have them leave well?

TOOLS:

Functionly – A work design platform that provides the tools and visibility you need to lead transformational change. Analyse functional gaps, assign responsibilities, export real-time Job Descriptions and more.

Process Street – Simple Process and Workflow Management


RESOURCES:

Employment Downsizing and its Alternatives

Maximize Team Output

Culture-Focused Crisis Management

TIP: Your most important tool in your toolbox during a crisis is communication. Your priority should be to reduce anxiety in your staff. During times of stress, employees look to their leadership team to keep them informed, translate what the impact means to the organization and employees, and to create a plan for the way forward. But, what do you communicate and how do you frame the messages when there isn’t a “playbook” for the crisis you’re in? Consider some of the following approaches:

  • Communication. Create a regular channel to update employees – even if the update is “no new news”. Remember, your job is to reduce anxiety, not add to it. 
  • Transparency. Try to be as transparent as possible and take steps to limit inaccurate information, speculation and fear. If the way your organization works needs to change, keep employees informed and include the “why”. It’s important to give employees clarity on their work even when the work shifts quickly. 
  • Digital Channel. Create a channel for employees to send in concerns, questions, ideas.
  • Two-Way Communication. Encourage your employees to be transparent with their personal travel or health. 
  • Community. If remote working is new to your organization, how do you make in-person rituals virtual? (e.g. stand ups, coffee time, etc.) See our tips here. 

TOOLS:

Hey Taco – Lightweight Slack Plugin encouraging employee engagement and gratitude

OfficeVibe – A simple platform that helps managers to enhance performance, leaders to understand their people, and organizations to thrive.


RESOURCES:

Lead Your Business Through the Coronavirus Crisis

The Startup Foundations Builder Newsletter

Embracing Remote Culture Part 1: Understanding the Impact of Remote Work


Read next:

Part 2: An Organization’s Survival Guide to the COVID-19 Global Pandemic:

Steps to Transition Your Entire Traditional Office to Working From Home / Remote Overnight

Part 3: An Organization’s Survival Guide to the COVID-19 Global Pandemic:

Tips, Tricks & Tools for Any Remote Organization


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A Comprehensive List of Tips, Tools, & Tricks to Help Organizations Navigate a Global Pandemic
Elizabeth Bakker
Building dream companies in partnership with company leadership, Elizabeth is an experienced in-house leader and Head of People, Talent, and Culture at Functionly. A self described, “People geek” who sees the unseen, hidden talents in people.
"The problems are actually all the same: I don’t have the right alignment among my team and I don’t have the right executive team. And it’s always some variation of those things." Justin Kan, Atrium | Twitch | Serial Entrepreneur