Workday Partner Tips: Top Focus Areas for CFOs During COVID-19

We’re sharing advice from our strategic partner Deloitte on what CFOs should be focused on now. Those areas include virtualizing the finance organization, bolstering liquidity, and managing risk.

Welcome to the Workday Partner Tips series. In this series, we’re sharing content from our partners that provides actionable guidance on managing your business and taking care of your workforce both during and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In this article, we look at Deloitte’s "Managing through COVID-19: Six imperatives for CFOs," and hone in on three of the areas that can help CFOs protect their company and workforce.

Align with HR and IT

The number one imperative on the Deloitte list for CFOs is to understand the impact of this (and other) crises on their organization’s employees and their families, and to make plans to virtualize the business. Of course many companies have been forced to do this already, but others may still be in the early stages of virtualization,  depending on factors such as where their operations are located. What’s more, workplace experts predict one of the legacies of COVID-19 is that remote work will continue on in some form to a much greater degree than it has in the past after the pandemic is over. 

This means CFOs shouldn’t necessarily consider remote work as a short-term situation.  And if they haven’t already, they need to focus on the virtualization of finance and other functions, which requires close alignment with human resources and information technology. “CFOs need to support this change and lead by example,” notes the article’s authors. “Working with HR and IT, CFOs should determine ways to help their staff connect online and to elevate employee engagement overall. Virtualization of work can potentially undermine traditional sources of work satisfaction.” 

Bolster Liquidity

The Deloitte CFO Insights article also mentions that now more than ever, CFOs must ensure the business has enough cash and liquidity for their day-to-day business operations. Deloitte offers a number of steps for CFOs to secure and control liquidity, as well as managing their financing and credit rating relationships.

The first area is modeling cash flow, which can help CFOs identify how many weeks of liquidity the company has under stressed business scenarios. This is particularly important during times of economic uncertainty, when a business can be stretched to its limits financially.

As governments intervene in an attempt to prop up struggling economies, finance leaders will be looking to revisit financing and liquidity to ensure they have the right credit facilities in place. The Deloitte article states that “CFOs and treasurers are refreshing their understanding of current debt arrangements and considering whether there might be potential breaches of financial covenants. Be proactive with financiers to seek waivers and get ahead of potential issues.” 

Today, the CFO’s role in managing risk and all that encompasses is more important than ever.

Manage Risk

The current crisis has emphasised finance’s role as more than just the strategic guardian of the books. Today, the CFO’s role in managing risk and all that encompasses is more important than ever. 

Insider security threats are a challenge for most organizations at the best of times, and  during this particularly tumultuous time, the risk  could be higher. Deloitte suggests that the CFO step up internal controls to prevent fraud and raise vigilance to such risks. Similarly, threats from outside the business, including cyberattacks, may be increasingly common.

“As companies virtualize their workforce and create more external access points to their systems, they potentially become more vulnerable to cyber risks, including data theft, ransomware, and other attacks. Vigilance and investment in cybersecurity will continue to increase in importance,” the authors of the CFO Insights article state. 

In challenging times businesses may fold, and that can impact the supply chain. Finance should get a handle on supply chain diversification and “monitoring customer payments can help mitigate these risks. Third-party risk management remains critical.” 

The authors close with the following thought: “CFOs in companies with a strong balance sheet and cash reserves are likely positioned to seize opportunities to innovate, outdistance their competitors, and grow more quickly in the ensuing recovery.” 

Interested in learning more about leading during the COVID-19 pandemic? Read more articles in our Workday Partner Tips series here and here. You’ll find additional content and resources for managing business disruption from Deloitte at its  ”Combating COVID-19 with Resilience” resource page.

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