Most Canadians would agree the world remains a few steps away from business as usual. Two years into the global pandemic, what does this mean for organizations that are trying to plan their budgets amid uncertainty around workplace arrangements (onsite vs. remote vs. hybrid), along with inflation and global supply chain challenges?
We spoke with Daniel Craig, Vice President, Lines of Business Account Management at Staples Professional, to get his top insights into planning ahead for the challenges and opportunities of 2022.
2022 will be a challenge and we must accept it
“Every business has reacted in some way to COVID-19. Some businesses have seen an upside because of it, but most have faced a similar challenge, which is decreasing top line and increasing operating expenses,” says Craig.
Accepting that as a starting point will enable organizations to adapt their business strategy and budgets, accordingly. As Craig notes, the typical budgeting process consists of balancing three key elements:
1. A realistic sales forecast, which includes sales team feedback, broader industry-wide trend analysis and “big impacts” such as a new product rollout, marketing campaign… or external forces like the ongoing pandemic.
2. Your operating plan, which includes personnel, rent and other operating expenses. “You’ll either do a bottom-up operating cost plan or you’ll base it on what you did last year and tweak it up based on what the business needs to deliver” on sales targets, explains Craig.
3. A capital budget to cover depreciating assets which aren’t part of operation costs, but are required to support the business, such as warehouse racks or other equipment purchased at a one-time cost.
The challenge in today’s environment is getting a handle on this data in an environment of unprecedented uncertainty. Resilient companies will work towards this in a spirit of collaboration and transparency, so goals and budgets are as informed as they can be.
Your sales team is your direct line to your customer
Underestimate your sales team’s feedback and forecasting at your own peril. “Because they’re closest to the customer, they can usually give you a reasonable view of what the customers feel like they’re going to be needing for the following year,” says Craig.
Many businesses are coping with delays and unpredictability in the global supply chain, as well as increased shipping costs. “Nobody has a view for when those situations are going to straighten themselves out. Some categories feel like they’ll be short term in Q1. Some categories feel like they’ll be longer term. Those have an impact on how you plan,” notes Craig.
Considering all this uncertainty, Craig suggests getting a handle on what your customers are doing so you can better react to their needs. This will also allow you to plan for the supply and the resources you’ll need. That lead to the customer? It’s your sales team.
Fine tune your budget
In light of the workplace volatility of 2021/2022 – with the much-vaunted Return to Office slowing to a hybrid model – departments and organizations should review purchasing more frequently.
Questions to Consider:
How many more headsets and conference cams will be needed if hybrid continues through Q2?
Should packaging supplies take up increased warehouse space in Q1?
How many cups of breakroom coffee should we plan for in March?
As the situation evolves, it can be helpful to have professionals advise you in your purchasing decisions, whether through inventory audits or budgeting assistance.
“Most organizations are looking for cost savings and efficiencies in their business. We can do monthly or quarterly reviews for our customers and report on potential savings.” Staples Professional helps customers save money by having them buy better, placing larger orders or switching out for owned brand products. “We’re constantly looking to partner with our customers and give them advice on how they can save money on the categories they’re buying from us,” notes Craig.
Need help planning your 2022 purchasing? Contact Staples Professional for advice and solutions tailored to your business needs.