Right now, many finance functions are scrambling to cope. But the coronavirus outbreak and its human and economic repercussions will stay with us for some time, from weeks to months. So, finance executives must also be thinking ahead, into April and beyond. Practices, protocols and processes deployed now may last as the economy recovers and beyond as everyone is forced to become more virtual, more automated, more agile and more cost efficient.
Here are some questions CFOs should be asking:
- What did we learn from the March monthly or quarter-end close?
- How long did it take to close the books?
- Did we have to make new reserve calculations, and should those be updated and at what frequency?
- What questions did we get from internal audit and external auditors?
- Which processes proved essential and must be upgraded to remain sustainable?
- Do we need to transition to a more proactive collections process?
- Do we need to put in place weekly tracking of receivables?
- Do we need to develop new policies for cash- and control/risk-management?
- How is our staff coping with virtual work?
- Do they need additional guidance from HR?
- Do we need to develop different communication protocols?
- How do we ensure devices that were moved offsite are secure?
- How did the quarter-end earning release go?
- If we didn’t offer guidance, how did the market respond?
- What kind of questions did we get?
- What was the reception/effectiveness of virtual meetings with key investors?
There are many other questions of course. The important thing is to recognize that the people and business ramifications will not disappear, even if we manage to slow down the spread of the virus. Even finance functions that already had a worst-case contingency plan must rerun their what-if analyses using that as a base for the new best- and worst-case scenarios.