Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How to prepare for the ending of the recesssion

The rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon, but only to hold a man's foot long enough to enable him to put the other somewhat higher.
~Thomas Henry Huxley, Life and Letters of Thomas Huxley

While the economy has not been doing great, there is no question in my mind that signs are pointing towards positive economic growth. The Consumer Confidence Index and the stock market are beginning to show some positive signs. Additionally, the Fed is talking about raising interest rates and other country’s economies are turning around. All of these factors indicate that we are starting to bottom out of this nasty recession.
Like most things, the spoils go to the person or business that prepares for these changes, and we need to start preparing for the uptick in business that is right around the corner. Jim Moran’s (founder of the Jim Moran Institute) favorite quote was, “The future belongs to those who prepare for it!”
One of the things that each business needs to do is revisit its strategic plan. I do a lot of strategic planning for companies, and I have yet to see a business preparing for recovery with a viable plan. These business owners have been occupied coping with this recession for the last 18 months; however now, each and every business should be planning for the turn-around. Bottom line, every business needs have a recovery plan incorporated into their strategic plan.
A recovery plan is the necessary preparation for the increase in demand and revenue that will accompany an economic turn-around. As part of this plan, there are two critical tasks that I think you need to start doing now: investing in technology and acquiring staff.
You have to be able to service your clients very efficiently as we progress, and you must have the IT infrastructure in place before the economic activity really takes off. Now is the time to verify that you have a plan to acquire the technology needed to deal with this increased demand? While you may not be able to afford all of this now, you can put a plan in place to add these necessities as quickly as possible once the funds start rolling in.
From a technology perspective, you should ensure that your server is capable of handling the additional demand, that you have software for customer relationship management (CRM), and that you have enough computers to accommodate a much larger staff. To weather the recession, I have seen many businesses reduce their IT expenditures by cutting back on adequate backups and current versions of new software. Now is the time to think about the areas that you have cut back and figure out how you are going to bring them up to speed, if not right away, sometime in the near future.
The second critical part of your recovery plan is the addition of staff, be it now or in the near future. Currently, potential employees are readily available and are willing to work at very reasonable rates. If you wait to hire staff until you need them – a recipe for disaster – your customer service is going to suffer. Hiring later will also mean paying a much higher price for new staff members, not to mention that the quality is not going to be as good as it is now.
With any staffing increase, training is a necessity. During the recession, you may have slowed training activities, but as you hire on new employees, you will need to ensure that these programs are put back in action.
Now go out and make sure you have a recovery plan in place that incorporates additions to both technology and human resources.
You can do this!


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