Performance management in times of crisis

Interview with Lionel Gouget, Former CFO at 5àSec who has just joined Valtus as Associate Director. He shares with us his experience of setting up a performance management system in times of crisis.

 

At 5àSec, how did you get through this year 2020 - on which main aspects did you have to focus your attention?

"Concerning 5àSec, the group's situation is particular. The coronavirus crisis forced us to close all our shops during the containment, which led to a sharp drop in turnover. We were able to strengthen our equity capital thanks to our shareholders. This post-crisis period will enable the Group to continue or even accelerate its transformation and the deployment of new offers (B2B, sneakers, home services, etc.)."

 

What have you put in place to manage the crisis and the post-crisis period?

"We have put in place various operational and financial measures to manage the post-crisis situation, but also to manage the current situation that 5aSec is experiencing.
First of all, we have adapted our cost base and called on various state aids."

Implementation of a Cash management system

« On the financial side, we have focused on closer management of cash, with even closer monitoring and strengthening of our cash position. From an accounting point of view, we have opted for invoice dematerialisation for simplified and faster processing, which also enables us to work from home during this period of confinement.
Also, we have implemented new procedures in order to better monitor the management of our expenses. We are also communicating even more with our partners. »

Agility forced by the crisis

"Concerning the management of our shops, we have implemented BI tools and we monitor operational KPIs more regularly (attendance, shopping basket, etc.) in order to adapt our offer as well as possible. We have adapted our opening hours and our offers in order to boost our turnover as quickly as possible. Also, we compare our figures every week in order to better follow the evolution of our group.
La crise sanitaire nous a poussés à accélérer l’optimisation de notre pilotage.«

 

How do you see the treasury function evolving, what are the challenges of tomorrow?

"I could compare the cash flow to a lighthouse in the middle of a storm: you must never lose sight of it.
The treasury function is essential and is becoming increasingly meaningful and important. This COVID crisis is the most concrete example of this.
In my opinion, there are many issues at stake tomorrow and today. I believe it is essential to automate more and more processes, thanks to artificial intelligence and Business Intelligence. More intelligent tools need to be put in place in order to feed back cash flow information more quickly and easily. Without forgetting the basics: the cash coming in/going out/staying in.

It is also useful to have simulation tools to anticipate the future and the different possible scenarios. In short, we need to have a 360° vision at all times, with a short-term focus and a medium-term focus. We also need to communicate more and better with our partners and bankers and to anticipate."

The role of Financial Manager today

"As regards the role of Finance Manager, the function is vital for the company and goes beyond the finance professions, with a strong "anticipation" dimension. In this context, the treasurer needs to be given greater prominence, well beyond the day-to-day management dimension.
In the management of the periods we are going through, anticipation and communication are key and cash is king.

The adequacy/adaptation of profiles to situations is crucial, especially when going through periods of profound change. To take up the image of the lighthouse, it is necessary to maintain / restore confidence with seasoned sailors to get through the rough weather."

 

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