Executives Have Nowhere to Hide without

“We are in great shape,” were the closing comments on Thursday afternoon before wrapping up his weekly finance department meeting. Who would know the very next day these words haunt the CFO of a mid-size public company?

As a conservative company until recently executives discouraged working from home. But everything changed in a span of 24 hours. Accounting staff were not trained for remote work. February books is yet to be closed. Technology support team is thin. Investments in technology were kept to the minimum.

Sitting in the boardroom, executives prided over company’s growth. Their optimism is usually protected by the diversity of customers and revenue inflow. In normal circumstance businesses are prepared for gradual changes, cyclical adjustments and not economy-wide crisis. Even in the 2007-8 housing debacle, technology industry was left untouched. 

Understandably employees are nervous. When the stocks rise steadily with no sign of downfall that’s the time to prepare for disaster. Accidently happen when everything is going well. Disaster strikes without warning. In the past three years, there is a steady increase in operating cost, increase in bank borrowing rates and underlying economic uncertainty nervously shaky.

The main problem now is planning for the changes necessary to adjust to short-term economic shift while maintaining longer-term objective. In the current uncertainty any plan beyond few weeks is impossible to assess.

One ray in the horizon is the reading of customers financial report in the coming weeks. With more disclosure requirements and accelerated filing, executives can read more customer information to get a perspective of the prospects. That’s not the full story though.

To get smart with the customer business sentiments, executives opted to deploy RPA to scan the customer events and catalog. Kudos to the RPA team for quickly developing a bot.