Crisis Management and Recovery Tips for Professional Services Firms

Three professional services executives in the Asia-Pacific region share their strategies for remote workforce deployment, risk and scenario planning, and staying agile in the face of ambiguity.

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As global organizations begin to settle into their “next normal,” they’re adopting new tools and processes to better prepare for future disruption. Professional services firms also have an opportunity to uncover innovative ways to support new ways of working. We checked in with a few of our professional services customers in the Asia-Pacific region to find out what lessons they’ve learned from managing through the COVID-19 crisis. We uncovered three important strategies.

Lesson 1: Times of Crisis Yield Unique Opportunities

“When the COVID-19 virus had officially turned into a pandemic, we had to step up and ensure that we had the capability to provide all of our services in a home-based model, regardless of location. Within two weeks, we were able to scale up tremendously: We shifted from 10% to 90% of our global workforce being in a work-from-home environment, all while helping our clients manage the increase in customer support calls by delivering premium customer experiences. 

Being a technology-enabled CX [customer experience] company, we are looking to further increase our work-from-home capacity over the long term, and work with partners who share our people-first values, as we are most likely not returning to life as we knew it. We are steadfast in our belief that the optimal outsourcing strategy of the future is one that is globally distributed and blended between work-at-home and brick-and-mortar operations.”

Sudhir Agarwal, founder and chief executive officer, Everise

Lesson 2: Plan Continuously 

“Companies should always work on identifying both known and unknown risks and build business continuity plans based on scenarios ranging from probable to improbable. Challenge yourself to come up with radical scenarios and stress-test the infrastructure, processes, and behaviors of your business. By continually updating your business continuity plan to fit the evolution of any crisis, your organization can respond nimbly to the dynamic operating environment.

Cash and liquidity preservation is also a key factor in the planning process. Businesses must look ahead to understand external factors like market volatility and strengthen internal governance processes to protect cash. This includes maintaining strong billing cycles, engaging in proactive debtor management, and leveraging corporate banking facilities. It is essential to stay close to your lenders and keep them up to date on the company and financial health status. CFOs must ensure the company is ready to proactively respond to any downside scenarios and activate the options needed to keep liquidity.”

Francoise Merit, chief financial officer, Aurecon

Lesson 3: Agility Is Essential

“The key to redirecting resources during challenging times is agility and the ability to deal with ambiguity. An executive or leadership team that is not only agile but also diverse will be able to design new processes quickly. Each voice matters, as does the ability to collaborate.

For example, we had a contact center department that had never previously worked from home. When COVID-19 first became a reality, we quickly tested our process to ensure that working from home was viable, allowing our people to take their hardware and ergonomic equipment home.

We responded quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic by launching a zero-contact virtual property valuation solution, which does not require an in-person inspection by a valuer, but still provides lenders with the same confidence. This timely innovation provides a much-needed solution to our people and customers, and will support them moving forward during these uncertain times.”

Diana Nadebaum, chief people officer, Opteon

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