In these times, businesses are making tough decisions on cost-cutting, furloughs, and layoffs. The balance between short-term decision-making and long-term growth has been irrevocably altered. Because there is so little information on the course of the pandemic and its long-term effect on the economy, determining which projects to invest resources is an incredibly difficult question to answer.
As small and large businesses alike head into an uncertain future, these questions will come up. When making key decisions on in-house or outsourced projects, it’s important to follow this four-step system to ensure success.
1. Leverage All Available Resources
When budgeting out resources during these times, it’s easy to lose track of what the overall goal is. Making sure that your own status quo stays intact is often the natural first step, but that may not be the best move in the long-term.
Examining all your options, including outsourced teams, contractors, and your own in-house resources, is the best way to approach the issue.
While defaulting to your pre-pandemic plan may seem like the logical move, those plans were often created under completely different circumstances. Your in-house staff may be overstretched or no longer in the same region due to health concerns.
On the other hand, your outsourced team may be dealing with their own problems and have less time to devote to your projects.
Whichever situation you’re in, be sure to leverage what resources you have in an efficient way. The biggest mistake you can make is wasting funds and time during this difficult time.
2. Examine New Realities
Before you started working on a project, you likely embarked on an extensive research phase. Why should stopping a project be any different?
Since the response to the pandemic has come in a patchwork of different regulations, laws, and restrictions, it’s more important than ever to be aware of what’s going on. In addition to reading the news, make sure to be aware of all the new realities.
A recent survey by WalletHub found that 87% of small business owners have been affected by COVID-19. These types of disruptions, whether in staffing or revenue, are now commonplace in 2020. Changes to social life and corporate life are going to be the new normal for an indefinite period of time. This could play a huge factor in your situation.
For example, let’s say you’ve been working on an online appointment booking platform. With social distancing now in effect, an online booking system is now tremendously important to your business.
Perhaps another project, a new marketing campaign, was being planned and centered around summer vacation. Those plans must be reworked quickly as states make decisions on public areas.
Keeping track of all the new government programs and stimulus measures can be complicated, but they can be critical to your survival. From financial assistance programs like the Paycheck Protection Program to the vast changes in everyday life that are affecting your customers, reading up on the latest information is going to be key for your decision-making process.
3. Talk to Your Team
Wherever you work, your colleagues are going to want to have input on how to proceed. Maintaining an open line of communication is important in making the right choices and keeping your team cohesive.
While there’s always the pitfall of having too many cooks in the kitchen, it’s much worse to run over other departments and just make unilateral budget decisions. Having each section of your company give a detailed report of what projects they wish to continue is a must.
Once you’ve made your decision, be sure to clearly and effectively communicate your budgeting plan to your staff, whether that’s one other person or 100. The last thing people want during these times is an unclear or haphazard cost-adjustment plan that causes unnecessary panic.
4. Establish a Triage System
During good times, it’s a good idea to have multiple projects operating at once to stay ahead of the competition. But keeping everything from new software development to new marketing initiatives running during a time of crisis is another matter entirely.
Your first priority should be to develop a “triage” system to determine which projects are useful for cashflow and stability and which can wait. How you set up this hierarchy is up to you, but don’t default to prioritizing what is easy to cancel or just cut entire segments without pausing to think of the impact on team morale and development strategy. Budgeting during a time of crisis is far more complex.
To use another medical analogy, the best approach is to use a scalpel to address concerns. If a project doesn’t have short-term benefits, that doesn’t mean you can afford to just put off the improvement if it’s necessary. Each cost-benefit analysis is different, but if you simply make blanket cuts, your business will suffer accordingly.
Make sure to come up with a detailed and structured list of priorities before making any hasty decisions. Once you determine what is salvageable and what is not, then you will be far better equipped for the future.
The Best Way to Move Forward
With all this in mind, there is no easy roadmap to navigating these unprecedented times. Once you’ve put together a plan, start to adjust your quarterly budget and annual goals to meet expectations.
Be sure to remain as flexible and adaptable as possible when considering these difficult options. There’s no advantage to being “strong and wrong” during a crisis. If a strategy needs to be reworked on the fly, there’s no shame in it.
As long as you keep calm and implement the steps we’ve outlined above, your business can survive and even thrive during these unfortunate circumstances.