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During Economic Downturns, These Are The 3 Aspects Of Your Business You Absolutely Cannot Deprioritize


Businesses today are faced with a unique challenge.

During economic downturns, it’s important not to pull back too much in any business. Harvard Business Review refers to this as maintaining a “size advantage,” where companies take a measured approach in order to maintain growth without over-exposing themselves in the current climate. In the case of 2020, this means finding a balance between furloughing or laying off employees and cutting projects, and remaining aggressive enough to spot new, emerging opportunities in the market. 

After all, you have to spend money to make money.

After spending two decades in the tech industry, as well as witnessing the dot-com boom in the late 90s, the mortgage crisis in the late 2000s, and now the coronavirus in 2020, I can tell you there are three things you always want to keep a close eye on during tumultuous times: your company’s productivity, budgets, and IP. 

These are the three big things that, when left unchecked, will end up costing your company the most amount of money.

1. Protecting your productivity.

If there’s ever a time to know your company’s processes and efficiencies, downturns are it.

One of the unintended benefits of uncertain markets is they tend to encourage leadership teams to spend more time thinking about the business at a higher, more strategic level. This means deeply questioning which aspects of the company are truly moving the business forward—as well as which products, processes, and procedures are eating up the most time.

Right now is the best time to know your team’s productivity. How many different tools are used to accomplish customer-facing tasks? Is the process defined or does it seem the exceptions rule?

  • Where can processes be improved and/or automated?
  • If an employee is requesting information (like a document from a content management system), is that request being received and executed on in a timely fashion?
  • Are there opportunities to automate any internal requests (such as troubleshooting tickets or reports)?
  • How long does it typically take for team members to begin work on a new task once the request has been received?
  • What are the bottlenecks that keep team members from being able to make progress on their work? Whose approval do they end up waiting on, and why?

These are the types of questions you should be asking on a daily basis within any business, but sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Well, right now, as we’re all mostly working virtual, it is a great opportunity to step back and ask and answer these questions—and make changes within the business accordingly.

2. Protecting your budget.

Companies, especially the bigger they get, tend to waste more and more money.

This is something we have to regularly educate our clients on here at Reveille. “37% of enterprise software licenses sit unused, totaling $30 billion in the US alone,” according to a new study by CIO Magazine. IT teams need to prioritize auditing and managing internal ECM (enterprise content management) licenses and other software tools to avoid draining valuable resources that could otherwise be deployed elsewhere. This might not seem like that big of a deal for software tools that cost $12 per month, but for many enterprise software solutions, these monthly or yearly costs can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Some questions you should be asking are:

  • How many licenses are in use?
  • How many user/server/capture licenses do you really need?
  • Can unused license capacity be repurposed?

3. Protecting your IP.

And finally, you’ll want to take protective measures to ensure your company’s information is safe and secure—externally, but also internally.

It’s estimated that 34% of data breaches involve internal actors, meaning the breach happened within the company and not from an outside source. An example here would be someone leaving an organization on bad terms, and before they officially depart from the company, they download confidential client or product information to a personal device (which can then be used at another organization to suggest new product capabilities, target product efficiencies, or help advance a product release). 

Given the current professional climate right now, and the reality that millions of people are being let go from their jobs, this is an unfortunate reality that companies need to plan for. 

The two ways of mitigating your risk here are:

  • Monitor the access employees have to certain types of content, and track who is accessing what information, when.
  • Set alerts to avoid any data exfiltration, where unauthorized data is copied, transferred, or retrieved. This is a crucial aspect of setting up content management systems today—and the bulk of the work we do with big companies who use IBM, Microsoft, and OpenText content management solutions and also others. Typically there are at least 3+ different content management systems at play. You need to know when and where the data is moving.

In today’s highly competitive business world, we are many times interrupt-driven regarding the operating issue of the day, week or month. Prioritization is always key, but balancing the planning and disciplined execution of broader initiatives will keep you prepared for unforeseen events. I encourage you to take the time now to protect your company for the future. These might seem like outlier scenarios, they happen far more often than you might think—and when they do, businesses suffer greatly as a result.

Experienced Chief Technology Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the software industry across numerous industry segments. Skilled in Requirements Analysis, Enterprise Software, Enterprise Architecture, Content Services Platforms, Hybrid solution delivery, and Go-to-market Strategy. Strong product management professional with Marketing and Organizational Behavior MBA concentration.

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