What happens to a business that is heavily reliant on its finance operations located in a foreign country, and it discovers that a government response to a global pandemic has sent the members of that team to shelter at home, cutting it off from access to the office with little or no warning?
Clearly, that’s not a theoretical question today. It is what happened in the past weeks to dozens of companies with offshored finance operations. Whether the teams were in India, Asia, Latin America, or some other location where work-from-home capabilities are less developed, those indispensable resources became suddenly unavailable, causing the finance operations of the company – processing invoices, paying bills, reviewing claims and even meeting payroll – to come to a sudden halt or to be transferred in a hurry to other teams that can work remotely, whether or not they are equipped to handle the work.
And that’s not the only challenge finance organizations faced when the global COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to transition to a remote work force on an urgent basis. Many CFOs and their teams are juggling multiple responsibilities on any given day – from ensuring the daily cash flow to driving finance transformation initiatives, cloud migrations and other projects. Naturally, the first impulse in a crisis is to circle the wagons – focus on cash collections and disbursements and defer whatever long-term finance project was in progress before the crisis. Though the impulse is natural, the results could be detrimental. A loss of momentum may prove fatal to a hard-won project, with its support and funding withdrawn and the effort invested into it wasted.
For seasoned CFOs, a high urgency situation is nothing new, and many have been through at least several in their tenure. Though the disruption caused by the current pandemic is unprecedented in many ways, most CFOs are accustomed to challenges that severely strain their resources or require new or specialized competencies to be onboarded quickly. Mergers and acquisitions, new system implementations and new regulatory requirements and deadlines are some examples of “extra-curricular” situations that call for extra help, fast.
These CFOs often turn to a managed business services partner to help their company get over the rough patch. A partner like this combines readily available, highly trained and technologically savvy resources with consulting expertise to quickly close gaps – such as those left by a quarantined team in another location.
Here are some reasons why a managed services arrangement is tailor-made for crises like the current one:
- Ability to provide the exact expertise that is needed – whether it’s processing a backlog of invoices or filling roles that are disrupted
- Ability to work remotely, using secure technology
- Ability to scale the number of resources up or down quickly, aligning to evolving circumstances
- Access to consulting expertise to address unusual or one-off situations where the regular staff may lack experience
In response to situations we’ve encountered recently with our clients, Protiviti published a paper that outlines how a managed business services arrangement can help companies navigate a crisis situation. For example, a number of our clients found themselves asking, “What can we do? We can’t send our employees home with their desktop computers and even if we did, we can’t ensure the security of our finance data in their home environment.” A trusted partner is the ideal interim solution in this situation as security and remote capabilities are built into the resources and equipment provided. Those resources will not only step in as temporary replacement for core finance processes but can continue to move forward other projects that may otherwise be put on ice, and even generate ideas for how to adjust or improve processes in the new reality after the crisis subsides.
Crisis management, business continuity and resilience are very much the topic on business leaders’ minds these days. Partnering with a trusted managed services provider is one of the levers available to CFOs to ensure they are doing their parts to steady the business in these troubled times.