Blog | 2 May 2017

Is Brexit bad for business? How proactive strategic planning can help businesses achieve prosperity

Brexit Effect And Consequences Concept

Simon Read, Managing Director at Talentia Software UK, discusses why both a proactive and strategic approach to decision making are pivotal in times of uncertainty

In the aftermath of the political turmoil caused by Brexit, it comes as no surprise that many businesses have resorted to ‘get-by’ mode to survive, seeking only to weather uncertainty by making no ongoing attempt to adapt business strategy and processes. This, however, is a flawed logic. Shortly after the Brexit vote, UK Prime Minister Theresa May promised to make a success of the country’s departure from the EU[1] stating “we should be seizing the opportunity of Brexit to confirm the UK’s place as one of the great trading nations in the world”. With Article 50 triggered and an election looming it is more important than ever for decisive action to be taken by companies to make the best of an increasingly uncertain business environment.

The road to success will likely be rocky, however, replicating Theresa May’s positivity could help the UK achieve prosperity. The longer-term consequences of uncertainty are of course impossible to predict, leading to an inevitable period of destabilisation for firms throughout the UK and further afield. However, from a business perspective, a period of destabilisation can be dealt with in two distinct ways. The first of these is to operate in ‘get-by’ mode. The second is a strategic approach that will help those businesses willing to seize the opportunities on the horizon deal with emerging threats and capitalise on new market opportunities.

Securing growth through proactive means

Research from the Institute of Directors highlights that 64 per cent of firms believe Brexit will be bad for business[2], with 29 per cent raising recruitment as a concern, including freezes and redundancies in the pipeline. Yet, a third of businesses confirmed that recruitment would continue at the same pace as before the result. In an unstable market, companies across the globe are facing a similar dilemma: should they look to just ‘get-by’, or are there growth opportunities ahead? Amidst uncertainty, an approach that relies on proactive strategy, rather than battening down the hatches, will be essential. Although uncertainty can often shroud business communications and delay decision-making, a structured approach with the correct tools and processes in place can lead to market opportunities that are more straightforward to visualise. Both collaboration and efficiency can be increased by conducting an in-depth assessment of financial and people processes, as well as enhancing organisation-wide communication around the current state of a business and its objectives. The resulting benefits are an improved ability to plan, budget and forecast based on real-time, consolidated data, facilitating an agile response to threats and opportunities.

Beyond HR and Finance – strategic planning post-Brexit

This in-depth assessment is vital to provide companies a starting point to understanding the influences of the macro-environment they operate in. There are certain elements that must be considered, such as the economic landscape, which involves taking a concerted look at growth, inflation rates, exchange rates and customer confidence in the marketplace. Having a tight grasp on a firm’s own financial footing is also crucial to identify potential growth opportunities. In addition, having up-to-date insights regarding the people within a business will help inform hiring or redundancy decisions. This may require an analysis of performance metrics, productivity, or potential skills shortages in other areas of a business.

True strategic planning, however, must go into much greater detail than people and financial metrics. This includes, but is not limited to, developing an understanding of outside influences such as the current political, legal and environmental challenges faced. To monitor these effectively alongside people and financial analysis, it is important firms assess their technological maturity. Technology evolves at such a rapid pace that assessing the market can be challenging. It is imperative to understand what technology is available and how it can positively impact a business.

By streamlining and automating company processes through the use of technology, from reporting to forecasting, businesses will be in a much stronger position to ready themselves for the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Finance and HR together have a vital role to play in ensuring leaders and the workforce at large are energised and working in close collaboration to support a growth strategy derived from consolidated and up-to-date organisational data. When opportunities arise, the businesses that have implemented a truly agile approach to their operations, breaking the mould of ‘getting-by’, will be those well placed to capitalise on market change.

Simon Read, Managing Director at Talentia Software UK