Amid Crisis, Now's the Time to Plan Your Business' Long-Term Future

Companies that will emerge successfully from COVID-19 are already modeling post-pandemic ripple effects

08-12-2020
Tom Eldridge
COVID-19

Leaders of companies in every industry are asking themselves how to manage near- and long-term risks to their businesses from the COVID-19 pandemic. And should their business strategies fundamentally change as a result of the crisis?

The challenge is particularly acute in the government services industry, as our customers face new, urgent priorities that may alter or crowd out their previous long-term planning.

In the near term, companies in our market are working rapidly to react and adapt to the “new normal” by helping their customers continue to execute their missions, taking care of employees’ health and safety, enabling their employees to work remotely if they can or take leave, supporting the communities where employees live and work, solving problems with their supply chain partners, and assessing the measurable financial damage. As with any crisis, companies are seeking mechanisms to create order out of chaos, one day at a time.

Build scenarios

Looking further out requires evaluation of a variety of scenarios of possible future worlds and modeling the behavior of our government customers. Responsible planning requires that these scenarios be based on different sets of assumptions, from the likely to the remote.

For example, one scenario might describe the characteristics of a world where the first wave of infection that we are currently dealing with is followed by several others before a vaccine is developed. This would likely result in government spending to prop up the economy that far outstrips tax revenues. There are limits placed by markets on that kind of deficit spending. Our defense, civilian, and intelligence customers’ priorities will shift as their budgets eventually get squeezed. By understanding these potential challenges, you can make logical predictions about what they will do less of, more of, or stop doing altogether, based on how long the crisis lasts.

On the other hand, government customers’ attitudes and priorities will look different in a world where we are successful in developing palliative care regimens or a vaccine within a year. Agencies may snap back to a more “normal” future world that's more like the status quo before the pandemic. Or, while the crisis has our full attention, our government may seize the opportunity to put in place more fundamental and lasting reforms to address future threats, including the next pandemic.

For strategy purposes, we need to ask how this range of future worlds and associated changes in government customers' buying behaviors alters our competitive positions in our markets. If these scenarios point to new enduring customer priorities, then we should skate toward where the puck is going.

 

RELATED: SAIC's Support for Small Businesses Through COVID-19

 

Looking further out requires evaluation of a variety of scenarios of possible future worlds and modeling the behavior of our government customers.

Identify what’s consistent

As we build out scenarios for the future state, a few key themes emerge that should form the basis of any long-term strategy.

Not surprisingly, a safe bet for enduring focus is pandemic preparedness and response, including testing, vaccine development, military support to civilian authorities, and continuity of operations programs. This pandemic has exposed gaps in our resilience infrastructure that need to be closed before the next pandemic or attack by a foreign adversary. We won’t forget this lesson for many years.

Another area that is likely to see lasting reform is our outdated government IT systems. While Congress has passed several laws in recent years to improve the oversight and management of federal IT, it has never provided adequate funding to execute necessary modernization efforts. As a result, federal and state IT systems are failing at exactly the time that citizens and government employees need them most.

A coalition of six leading industry associations called for Congress and the Office of Management and Budget to prioritize funding key IT transformation priorities, like infrastructure modernization, cloud computing, application development, cybersecurity, data analytics, and telework. If Congress seizes the moment, then this would be money well spent. It would save money on operating costs over the longer term and enable governments to maximize the benefits of related technologies that accelerate mission performance, like digital engineering, artificial intelligence, and robotic process automation.

The last area where there will likely be reforms is supply chain services. Look for the government and companies to reassess and reduce dependency on foreign manufacturing and supply chains, especially for defense and pharmaceutical items.

It’s never easy in a crisis to think long term, but the companies that are able to look over the horizon in this moment, model the possibilities, and reassess their strategies may end up steering their companies to long-term growth.

 

Go to SAIC'S COVID-19 Information page for more: www.saic.com/covid-19-response

Posted by: Tom Eldridge

Sr. VP, Strategic Development and Communications

Tom Eldridge is the Senior Vice President for Strategic Development at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), where he is responsible for coordinating development of the company’s growth strategy, securing alignment to the strategy through implementation by senior company leaders of the Objectives and Key Results methodology, and overseeing the company’s Government Affairs advocacy and Business Development Operations, including Pricing, Price to Win, Competitive Intelligence, Proposal Operations, and Sales Enablement. Mr. Eldridge has been with SAIC since June 2009. His prior service includes work at the White House on the National Security Council staff, on the staff of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and at the Departments of State and Justice (where he was an Assistant U.S. Attorney). He also served on two independent commissions, as Staff Director of the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves, and as counsel for the 9-11 Commission. He received a bachelor’s degree in Earth Science from Dartmouth College, a law degree from New York University School of Law, and an M.B.A. from the University of Maryland. He currently serves on the boards of the Atlantic Council of the United States and the Professional Services Council.

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