CFOs, what’s your COVID-19 exit strategy?

In the past few months, our lives and our businesses have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing us to completely change our ways of working and living. Governments are already relaxing the lockdown measures and restarting their national economies.

But what’s your exit strategy? Are you ready for “the new normal”?

The message from global CFOs is clear: most companies have moved beyond the short-term, reactive phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the first phase of the crisis, companies mobilised their response plans to address three immediate concerns: 

  1. flattening the curve of a potential cash shortage, 
  2. ensuring business continuity through digital and 
  3. implementing social distancing measures.        

Today, CFOs still need to do what it takes to ensure the survival of their business and the safety of their people. However, the focus is shifting away from immediate crisis management to business stabilisation in this “new normal”.

The focus should be on defining an exit strategy that can cope with the constant uncertainty. Digitalisation is key to enabling home working, which will become the new standard, and to drive higher efficiency. The next step is to focus on strategic capabilities and make strategic decisions to boost productivity, reduce operating costs and turn this crisis into opportunities.

Most companies have moved beyond the short-term, reactive phase of the COVID-19 pandemic

First response measures

Flatten the curve

Flatten the curve

  • Manage and control liquidity and optimise working capital
  • Develop scenarios and identify major areas of EBITDA risk
  • Use a rolling forecast to update scenarios
Social distancing

Keep physical distance

  • Implement safety measures
  • Make changes to work sites 
  • Adopt tools for contact tracing and geo-tracking
  • Consider smart working 

Exit strategy

Stay home, stay digital

Stay home, stay digital

Remote work is accelerating the adoption of digital within organisations. Among CFOs, 78% plan to continue with digital transformation investments to manage the new ways of working, accelerate automation and create a tech-enabled finance organisation.

  • Capitalise on the lessons learned during the crisis by identifying what went well and what did not
  • Prioritise digital opportunities by focusing on enabling short-term business needs, such as automating and digitalising EPM processes, to improve efficiency and speed of planning and forecasting

 

Focus on driving operational improvements and build a digital operating model.

  • Re-think processes, organisation, systems and data and drive improvements in a remote environment 
  • Further digitising and automating back-office functions to enable a sustainable “virtual close” with the intent to transition to a fully automated close
  • Further develop data analytics capabilities to enable coherent scenario modelling and improve forecasting 
Relaunch your business

Relaunch your business

Focus on prioritising activities that drive the business and improve profitability without losing focus on long-term objectives.

  • Review strategic goals and update KPIs to provide a realistic base to define new targets and measure performance in the “new normal”
  • Review product and customer portfolios and rationalise based on cost and contribution margin
  • Manage the impact on working capital in light of disrupted supply chains

 

Focus on optimising operating costs, but ensure alignment with core capabilities and long-term strategy.

  • Transform the cost structure by minimising the “bad costs”, while investing in “good costs” (differentiating capabilities)
  • Build in flexibility to allow gradual scale-up of operations when the economy recovers
  • Re-open budget and justify all costs (i.e. zero-based budgeting)

The uncertain progression of the pandemic means that businesses and economies are still transitioning towards a new equilibrium. CFOs will need to move beyond immediate COVID-19 crisis management and navigate through the uncertainty to build resilience and ensure success in the “new normal”.

What will keep companies ahead of the curve in these uncertain times? A coherent exit strategy that focuses on leveraging core organisational capabilities, developing a robust cost structure and accelerating the digital transformation agenda.

At PwC, we’re working closely with our clients to help them respond to COVID-19

How we can help

At PwC, we’re working closely with our clients to help them respond to COVID-19 and prepare for the “new normal”. Our Management Consulting Finance team has significant experience in helping a diverse range of clients in different industries with complex challenges in Finance and beyond.

Starting from your vision and the impact that COVID-19 has on your business, we can help you build your exit strategy to set you on the right track in turning this crisis into opportunity. 

Meet us in our Experience Centre, where we showcase our real-life examples, walk you through our automated solutions and work with you to create your tomorrow.

Contact us

François Jaucot

François Jaucot

Partner, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 473 65 89 84

Follow PwC Belgium