Business triage involves allocating limited resources to achieving realistic outcomes

cash flow crisis planning sme Jul 07, 2020

Business triage refers to the process of prioritising work in a crisis when there is more work to do than resources available to do it. The aim of triage is to maximise the outcome and minimise the damage by being realistic about what can be achieved with limited resources.

It is more commonly understood in the medical context, usually in response to prioritising treatment of casualties following disasters or other emergencies.

According to Investopedia, in a business context, “Triage helps companies by enabling them to attend to emergencies quickly, but it also poses risks, as it tends to involve the elimination of certain time-consuming steps that are normally part of the workflow”.

While business triage is normally associated with decision-making and action a crisis, its principles can also be applied to all forms of transformational change.

In my last blog I advised directors that now is a good time to conduct a strategic review of businesses in order to prepare for...

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How will work patterns change once Coronavirus restrictions have eased?

When working life resumes properly once Coronavirus restrictions have eased people may find that their work patterns are substantially different from previously.

While, sadly, some SMEs will not have survived others may find that their agility and perhaps new innovations introduced during lockdown will have given their businesses a new lease of life for the future.

Those who have shown consideration for their employees, suppliers and customers will have built up a level of goodwill that will stand them in good stead for the future.

I shall examine in another blog those businesses, sectors and processes that may benefit from the changed landscape but in this blog I am focusing on the likely changes to business work patterns and the relationships between employers and their stakeholders.

Because, of course, employers are also people, they will have discovered that they and their families are no more immune to the health risks of the pandemic than any of their employees.

This may well...

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It is likely that there will be a permanent change in people’s behaviour post lockdown?

How people’s behaviour might change post lockdown is something that may be crucial for SMEs in planning ahead.

While it may be a long time yet before the Covid-19 lockdown is removed completely, following the Prime Minister’s briefing at the weekend, the process of relaxing the lockdown restrictions is now underway.

Despite the financial support that has been provided to businesses and workers it is becoming clear that we shall not return swiftly to a pre coronavirus level of business for some time and before we do many businesses will not survive, especially if the recovery takes a long time and the post lockdown landscape is substantially different.

Much depends on businesses’ ability to recover, on how long it will take them to recover and on how much people will change their behaviour as a result of the crisis.

A key to business survival is communication by leaders to deliver the information and direction everyone needs when a large scale crisis hits....

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Is it time to introduce more resilient business systems for post-lockdown?

Just in time (JIT) business systems of supply for everything from supermarket stocks to manufacturing components and raw materials have been the dominant model for some years.

While it offers huge benefits, including less storage space needed and less capital tied up in stocks, the disruption caused by measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic has revealed some major flaws in the model.

When such an integrated global supply chain breaks down as has happened recently the impact on business is considerable where shortages of stock have arisen due to road, sea and air freight grinding to a near-halt.

Indeed, JIT relies on many different components arriving on time often from myriad sources such that any one item can bring all production to a halt. The current situation has magnified the vulnerability since all the different supply chains will need to be fixed before production can resume..

Systems resilience describes a system’s ability to operate during a major disruption or...

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Has the Coronavirus lockdown exposed the weaknesses of many business models?

Robust business models should be based on a clear proposition with a plan for profitable activity.

Each model is essentially a road map of how money will flow from activity.

Business models are a financial expression of the company’s business plan in a way that summarises the strategy, funding, organisation and processes used to achieve objectives.

Given that unforeseen roadblocks and successes will occur, business models should be reviewed regularly and adapted depending on new circumstances and new information.

Tools for refining the model are also useful, such as a SWOT analysis to identify Strengths, and Opportunities to be exploited and Threats and Weaknesses to be avoided.

While arguably, few businesses and especially SMEs, will have had plans to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, it has affected most businesses in ways that were not foreseen. The lockdown has also exposed how little resilience they may have built into their business models to protect from such a...

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Coronavirus Business Interruption survival will need agility not pride

Arguably, all successful businesses need to exercise agility in a fast-changing world, but never more so than now in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic.

While there is nothing wrong with having pride in your business, pride is also associated with sticking doggedly to a plan that is not working due to a change of circumstances. Just because you have always done things one way doesn’t mean that way is always right in normal circumstances, let alone in abnormal ones like the current situation. In a crisis everything you do should be challenged and often fundamental change is necessary if a business is to survive.

Business agility is therefore a key attribute for dealing with adverse circumstances, to be creative and adapt to the changing environment. This in particular applies to three main areas: staff, customers and processes.

Social distancing has meant that for some businesses their staff have had to work remotely while others are needed in the office to maintain systems....

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Get expert help with cash flow management in a crisis

In the current pandemic situation, many businesses deemed non-essential have been forced to temporarily close for a lockdown period and it is clear that many SMEs will have serious cash flow problems when they resume trading.

Unfortunately, the cash flow problem won’t go away even though for the moment it is easy to ignore it by holing up at home.

While it is true to say that all businesses should have plans for dealing with emergencies and reserves for cash flow problems, it is unprecedented to have to deal with a period of no income and it is becoming clear that many SMEs – and larger businesses – do not have sufficient cash reserves to survive a lengthy lockdown.

Many are telling me that they paid their staff wages for the first month in anticipation of furlough support arriving in time to fund a second month but they are concerned about the Government’s promised CJRS (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) arriving in time to pay April wages. As for paying...

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How to manage an efficient online conference

As we all adjust to the new realities of working remotely while we self-isolate during the Coronavirus pandemic, we still need to maintain contact with staff, clients, suppliers and others where online conference calls and video meetings are proving much better than the phone.

But how do you avoid an online conference descending into anarchy with people talking over each other?

There are some simple rules that are not so different from those we adopt during face-to-face meetings.

One of the meeting platforms that is becoming increasingly popular during the pandemic has been Zoom, but there are plenty of others such as Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business and even WhatsApp. Security is an issue and all are constantly improving their security measures following concerns about uninvited intruders, in particular for Zoom which seems to have become the most popular platform.

It is important that the chair should host (convene) and be familiar with the technology since each platform has...

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How will consumer spending change as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic?

economy retail sme Apr 09, 2020

Consumer spending has become much more restricted during the Covid-19 pandemic safety measures, but will it lead to a permanent change?

From March 21, all non-essential businesses in the UK were forced to close, from hospitality, restaurants and fashion retail to car dealerships and holiday travel companies.

At the same time, many businesses have had to furlough staff and a substantial number of people have sadly lost their jobs altogether.

Inevitably the reduction in income through furlough and loss of jobs and restrictions on going out due to most of us being confined at home are having a huge impact on consumer spending.

It is no surprise, therefore that in March, demand for new cars from private buyers fell by 40.4%, while fleet registrations dropped by 47.4%.

According to Essential Retail the food retailers have clearly benefited both in-store and online to the point where they have had to limit supplies of some products and sign-ups of new online shoppers, however the picture...

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Nurture your key relationships if you want to have a future after current crisis

It may seem premature to talk about what happens when the Coronavirus pandemic is over but SMEs need to think ahead and nurture those key relationships needed to ensure their business has a future.

Many of you have had to temporarily close your business and furlough staff due to Government restrictions introduced to try to slow the spread of the virus and many or you have seen your income plummet or cease altogether, with a devastating impact on your cash flow.

According to behavioural scientists it is natural to behave cautiously, even timidly, in the face of a threat, in direct proportion to its magnitude and to what is known about it. But amid the daily deluge of media updates, it is important to remember that we will tend to exaggerate the risk so the threat looms large in our minds.

So, it is perhaps natural to invoke a so-called “bunker” mentality in which self-protection overrides all else.

But as a business owner, no matter how dire the current situation, it is...

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