Recession or No Recession? Or Are We Already in One? How to Better Prepare for Both

Recession or No Recession? Or Are We Already in One? How to Better Prepare for Both

In Business Innovation, Business Value, ConnectALL, Value Stream Management by Soumya Menon

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times…or in our case, what kind of times are we in?

I just had two completely different phone calls this morning. One was with a highly qualified prospect and the other was with a client up for renewal. Both companies are in the U.S., operate in the same vertical and size of $500M – $1B, and have the same pain points of siloed teams, disparate tools, and unknown bottlenecks. But when it came to their approach about how to handle the economic uncertainties we are all in, they had two completely different approaches and viewpoints. 

Our prospects, Erin and James, whom we had scheduled to close this quarter, were suddenly told by their boss to freeze all spending for the rest of the year. On the other hand, our client, Brian had received the green light to nearly double his Value Stream Management automation with us. 

Why the difference? 

The end of the 3rd quarter is usually the time most companies evaluate the year, make adjustments heading into the 4th quarter and begin their budgeting process for the coming year. Deals get done if the year has been mostly on-plan and the budget is available. This was the case with Brian. 

When it comes to annual budget planning, department heads submit their budget requests based on the current year’s results, forecasted growth numbers, future personnel needs, software and hardware needs, and a multitude of other factors. 

But it’s that second metric — forecasted growth -—that is the great wildcard. It’s the one, unknown variable that can waylay even the most thorough budget plan. And as Erin said this morning, in times of uncertainty like we’re in now, that wildcard feels more like The Joker, and she felt like she “just got served a pile of chaos”. 

So why the difference? 

After I got off the phone with Erin and James, I needed to get some perspective. I wanted to see if I had missed something and if there was anything I could do to resurrect the deal so I called up Brian to get his feedback.  He summed up the difference in one word — Data.

Like most companies this time of year, Brian was working on his 2023 budget forecast and request. But unlike most others, and even what Brian had experienced two years ago, he was not stressing at all about his budget request and knew he was in the best position to get the remaining 4th quarter budget which he used to expand his software integration and automation program with us. 

In fact, Brian felt so confident with his data that he built in a 15% YOY increase to his 2023 budget despite the fact he had just received additional 4th quarter monies and he’s very confident he is going to get it. Why? Because unlike in years past, this time he had the necessary data and metrics to support his request, something the other department heads did not have.

For example, during his weekly production review meetings throughout the year his peers would often cite bottlenecks as a reason for a delayed project. While that might be a valid reason, it did not offer any clear insight as to what was causing the bottlenecks, much less any solutions on how to solve the issues. Brian, on the other hand, came to the meetings with clear data and recommendations:

“We are experiencing delays because the client has been taking an average of three days longer than planned to review the weekly code release. We met with the client and walked her through the flow map to show her how each delayed review was affecting the entire value stream. She agreed to adjust her schedule to accommodate our delivery schedule so moving forward we can expect the bottleneck to clear up.”

Another example Brian provided involved his desire to add a new SE. Several of his peers were also asking for SEs so their director asked them to present a case for how they’d pay for it. His peers presented plans on how they would use the SE, none of them cited a true business case with any budget or project ramifications or benefits. Brian took a different approach:

“I took a look at my team’s current structure and found that we were spending 40 – 50 hours per week manually entering QC tickets into Jira. If I add another automation using our Value Stream Management Platform, I can free up my current team to handle the additional projects without the need to add an additional headcount.”

If you were managing Brian and his peers, who would you entrust with additional budget dollars and feel like it was a good investment? 

What does data have to do with a recession?

In times of uncertainty such as we are today, data is the one constant. Data can provide stability. Data can help you make decisions and give you the confidence to answer difficult questions, no matter how the results shake out because even if a decision doesn’t go the way you want it, by presenting data up front and getting buy-in on your decision, your summary report will come across as informative and not as an excuse. 

So are we in a recession or heading towards one?

Yes. No. Maybe. 

In upcoming posts I will go further into how you can use data to support your budget requests and counteract the uncertainty that is floating around.