Following the recent issuance of government guides to UK businesses in preparation for a no deal Brexit, there is widespread concern that the UK will not reach an exit agreement with the EU on 29 March 2019.
Whilst Brexit currently dominates the headlines, it is one of the latest examples of uncertainty that businesses confront on a daily basis. It also reminds us that to be successful businesses must continually assess and evaluate how prepared they are for the fast-changing markets in which they operate.
Irrespective of the final outcome of Brexit, there can and will be positive outcomes for businesses that focus on the present; by implementing rigorous risk management strategies.
These strategies allow a structured approach to identifying, assessing and managing risk, appropriate to the size, responsibilities and capacity of the organisation. They lay the groundwork for a company’s success, Brexit and beyond.
Here are some key steps that businesses should consider.
A review and audit of the technology infrastructure
Look at every part of your technology infrastructure and systems. Scope what is required, review what is there, identify what is not and what it is advisable to implement in order to continue to serve the business in a safe, secure and efficient manner.
The best way to implement an audit is to use a qualified external consultant to understand the business needs, evaluate the current systems, test existing protocols, and produce a comprehensive report including recommendations to implement a robust, workable and cost-effective technology framework.
Upgrades to security and compliance
This is key for businesses in reducing risk. It is the most significant step to ensure business continuity and stability.
As IT systems continue to grow in scale and complexity, new cyber risks arise. Hackers are becoming ever more advanced. Verizon observed a rising trend of hackers using the email addresses to impersonate high-level business executives in emails to company staff.
Being secure and process compliant is paramount to reducing risk. An upgrade to the security and compliance systems can solve multiple challenges in one hit. C
Plan to be agile
As Andrew Gray, chair of PwC’s Brexit Steering Committee, points out: “Whilst there is inherent uncertainty in the political environment, businesses can prepare now to respond to new developments, as they occur.
“Forming a dedicated governance body accountable for understanding what different future scenarios will mean for your organisation, who are tracking external events and identifying the ‘triggers’ for action, will help you remain agile and quickly mitigate risks and impacts as they materialise, as well as taking advantage of the opportunities that arise too.”
Enhancing financial management and planning
Given that the financial implications of Brexit are, as yet, undetermined, the best approach is to ensure that the management team is equipped with the information and support to strengthen financial management of their projects and will enable your workforce for when business critical decisions are needed.
Enabling a global workforce
Make sure employees can operate wherever, whenever and however. This will allow businesses to utilise existing talent more flexibly and efficiently. It will also soften the effects of Brexit to overcome potential skills shortages. This can be achieved by controlling workforce mobility through the utilisation of technologies to allow IT administrators to control, secure and enforce policies on smartphones, tablets and other endpoints.
Deploy communications technology to capture field sales or service information in real time to increase team efficiency and productivity and embrace collaboration software to facilitate effective and flexible team co-operation and enhance problem-solving.
Focus on your customer
Recognise that customers are slower to make decisions and will employ a more cautious and conservative approach.
By focusing on customer service and strategic counsel (importantly – listening to their concerns) and by offering workable alternatives, and collaborating on solutions, your customers will be more confident in recognising the capabilities of your business.
By taking an integrated customer-centric approach and employing technologies that will improve the customer experience your business will remain solid and stable throughout the period of uncertainty.
There is no silver bullet to manage uncertainty, but businesses that adopt a proactive approach and implement changes now will be in a stronger position when the Brexit deadline hits and beyond.
Brett Morris is CFO at Olive Communications, a UK based managed cloud communications provider dedicated to advising mid-market and enterprise businesses on their transformative growth strategies.
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