Working Capital Improvements in a Supply Chain Crisis

Written by Dan Rogney, Esker | 21 February 2022

In March 2020, whether they were ready for it or not, companies across every industry were abruptly thrown onto a roller coaster ride of harsh business challenges. Some managed to ride it out relatively unscathed, others hung on for dear life, many more fell off.

Now, despite COVID’s initial “shock to the system” far behind us, countless companies are still trying to find their footing in an unsteady landscape — the supply chain crisis being a particularly vexing disruption.

How Cash Position Impacts Supply Chain Efficiency

The lingering pandemic has made global supply chains even more vulnerable than they already were — in many cases, requiring supply chain leaders to focus on things outside of their normal scope, such as minimising the amount of money tied up in inventory and other areas of the business. For example, organisations who purchase supplies overseas are all competing for same goods — goods that are needed to serve their customers. The “winner” in this supply chain standoff is ultimately the company with the most cash on hand.

The question is, how can companies — many of whom are cash-strapped themselves in a still-uneven economy — unlock trapped liquidity and increase their working capital to get the products they need to serve customers and stay competitive?

As Esker’s Aaron LeHew discussed on S2 Episode 9 of Esker On Air, companies need to be proactive in implementing creative ways to set themselves up for success. “Even organisations with a strong balance sheet can be exposed to risks through the [financial] health of their customers and suppliers,” says LeHew. “This is either a moment to seize or sustain a competitive advantage or risk damaging the financial health of the organisation across the supply chain.”

Automation’s Role in Optimising Working Capital

Maintaining liquidity through 2022 and getting through the current supply chain crisis will require businesses to find new “levers” to pull that help quickly release cash. For many, AI-powered automation solutions are a catalyst to do just that thanks to their proven ability to:

  • Free up staff from manual, repetitive tasks that inhibit their ability to perform value-added tasks and slow down cash conversion
  • Empower multiple teams and departments with increased financial oversight, predictive analytics and performance monitoring
  • Improve the customer experience by offering self-service tools and greater autonomy

In the end, it all equates to smarter growth and increased financial resiliency — things every business will need whenever the next roller coaster swoops in to take us for a ride.

Want to learn more about automation’s role in optimising working capital? Check out the full conversation with Esker’s Aaron LeHew in Episode 9!