Financial Lessons From The Pandemic

The pandemic has reshaped our understanding of the world around us, offering lessons aplenty to us all. But what insights can finance leaders glean from Covid’s invidious spread? Contract Finder Pro’s Sandy Boxall investigates.

I was looking back through some old work files the other day. I came across a glossy brochure from a former employer setting out some internal reforms designed to make the organisation fit for the future. “Vision 2020” was the less than original title, a reform programme that promised to deliver sweeping competitive advantage by the year 2020.

Funnily enough the words “pandemic”, “lockdown” and “remote working” didn’t feature in this breezy portrayal of a land flowing with milk and honey. Read with the benefit of hindsight, the document was a vivid reminder of the dangers of predicting the future. We can make our best guess, sure, and teams of analysts do just that, fuelled by human insight and the power of technology, but the future is always going to be something of an undiscovered country. 

This, surely, is one of the key takeaways from this whole experience. Rather than predicting what will happen, business leaders should instead expect the unexpected. Surely no one will now query investing in robust rapid response plans and flexible IT support systems – prerequisites for any organisation, large or small, public or private. But what else can leaders, particularly those in the financial sphere, garner from the past 18 months or so? There’s no shortage of lessons to draw. 

Ready, set…

We’re all going to have our individual memories of the pandemic. For me, it’s things like getting the first text about my vaccine. Another is that feeling of leaving the office in mid-March 2020 and wondering when I would next be back. But individual recollections aside, Covid’s impact has been ubiquitous. We really have all been experiencing it to greater or lesser extents and this means that getting the right culture in place is key. Empathy for those hit harder than others, as well as having a supportive and trusting attitude towards remote working, have been key. Compassion and kindness really do go a long way.

It’s not just people skills though. Infrastructure, too, is likely to change dramatically. We’ve learned that good work can be done in the office and at home but that’s no reason to cut investment in an organisation’s physical premises. On the contrary, making an office as pleasant as possible, with meeting rooms and social areas in abundance, will help persuade employees to brave their commute once again.  

Ongoing opportunities 

The good news is that the economy appears to be recovering strongly and contract opportunities across the public and private sectors have thankfully remained plentiful. For example, there have been over 100,000 open tenders and frameworks issued and public spending worth over £1000 billion by the UK Government alone within the last 12 months.

Of course, opportunities vary in size from the smallest to the largest, but competition is fierce – if anything fiercer than before Covid and likely to remain so as companies jostle for advantage as the economy recovers. While who you know is still important in any procurement, the process is becoming ever more digital, with more tenders moving online and industry open days and other one-to-one interactions becoming an ever more digital experience.

Industrial revolution

The sheer scale of this conversion to all things digital means that now, more than ever, organisations need to industrialise their business winning processes. This will enable them to reap digital dividends, such as using technology to streamline procedures and increase their own efficiency, and in the process save their precious time to do the things that cannot be streamlined – such as the human interaction that can often secure the golden nugget of information that secures the win.

An online treasure trove of information is now available, on both the market and on new opportunities that organisations would wish to bid for. Using data feeds, market trackers (like my very own Contract Finder Pro, for example) and integrating both outsourced (like bid writers and legal teams) and insourced components and services, the business winning process can become increasingly automated and slick. 

Since there is never quite enough time to write a bid, those organisations that can automate the process most effectively and take advantage of the digital opportunity at hand will be more competitive than those that don’t. Their reward will be larger market shares and the promise of even more competitive advantage still to come. 

About the author: Sandy Boxall is founder and Managing Director of Contract Finder Pro

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