Show Me The Money

Mark Canes

I've lost count of the number of times I've read or heard that this (a recession) is the best time to spend money on (...fill in the blank...). And you can guess who's saying it. It doesn't mean that they're necessarily wrong, just that there might perhaps <cough> be just a wee bit of bias involved.

There's just one problem with asking people to spend money right now. It's a recession! Would you ask a starving man for food? Would you ask a politician for an honest answer? Would you ask Barry Bonds to fill your prescription? (I know the last question's not relevant - I'm just curious - would you?).

However, there's no doubt that for many companies now is indeed a really opportune time to implement some improvements for long term benefit. If business volume is down, you'd have excess time available. But rather than focusing on spending (or more likely, not spending) money, why not start by looking for opportunities to save? Save what? I hear you ask. (I have really acute hearing.)  That will depend on the type and size of business. My expertise is mostly in the wholesale / distribution, where you'd look for savings in your inventory and people costs.

It is critical in an exercise to be able to quantify the savings you expect to achieve. That way, when you weigh up the effort it will take to implement changes, and the possible external costs (like new technology), you're in a position to asses the costs and benefits and decide whether to invest the time, energy and money. This in fact is the approach that one should take even when times are good, in relation to business technology projects.