Something to Consider March 2020 3
We never counted on this sort of disruption though…
We are all trying to manage changing priorities as we see the impact of this surreal virus situation unfold around the globe. We have all been impacted in various ways, professionally and personally, at varying paces.
Talking to our global clients, peers and friends around the world, and even staring out of the window of my new ‘home office’, makes me realise we are going to need special efforts to maintain the ‘heartbeat’ of our businesses.
In no particular order, the disruptions we now need to juggle while steering the ship include;
- Safety of our people – Our families our friends, our customers, suppliers, subcontractors. This is paramount, and tricky in these times of such rapidly changing information, and most of us hit this as Priority One.
- Future of our people – Surprisingly fast, we have already seen layoffs in some early effected firms, a mandatory 8 week unpaid leave at some airlines, and even some dubious attribution of the collapse of some fragile businesses. We owe it to our teams to make sure our businesses are as resilient as possible to minimise the personal impact on our people.
- Customer behaviour is changing fast – While some companies may directly benefit in the short term, (when did toilet tissue manufacturers become the doyenne of the stock markets?), customers are getting distracted, changing their own priorities, and every leader needs to consider the changing dynamic of customers and revenue especially in retail and face to face businesses or where physical supply chains are key.
- Supply shocks – Our supply chains and availability of direct goods for manufacture or resale have a direct effect on customers and revenue too. We need to engage with speed and empathy with our supply chain partners, for everyone’s benefit. Indirect and niche procurement is key too. UK supermarket chain Morrisons acted fast to announce IMMEDIATE payment for small suppliers which has helped reinforce their supply base, and raise customer and team pride and motivation too!
- Facility closures – Manufacturing, packaging, distribution facilities are being operated on reduced staffing and some are closing. This has a wide ranging set of effects. If we cannot produce and deliver our product or service, we reduce our options. Some manufacturing businesses are even redirecting capacity to produce urgently required products that they knew nothing about eight weeks ago!
- Shared Services transaction processing centres – The benefits of centralisation have been clear for years, but we now have new business continuity challenges. Many shared service centres have realised they are no longer able to process paper invoices from suppliers, due to facility closures. Many of these centres are designed for centralised working. Access to required ERPs and other systems may not be enabled for remote working for these teams. We all know the benefits of digital, we just didn’t know quite how big the downside of physical paper processing centres were. Companies in the electronic invoicing space for example, such as Tungsten Network, are receiving a big spike in requests for rapid response and supplier enablement to ensure that suppliers can be paid!
- Office closures & remote working – We are all used to the experience of the “road warrior” and remote working, but many of us are not used to this as our primary operating model. It has technical implications (do we have all the VPN access we need for all our staff to corporate systems?), availability issues, capability questions (do all our staff have an effective home working environment?), family impacts (what happens now the schools have closed, who is looking after the kids?) as well as deeper psychological impacts such as potential feelings of isolation, lack of motivation, lapses in self-discipline, greater sense of fear, and more…This time we will really learn the impact of “Working from Home” and it may not turn out like we all expected. On a lighter note, we all have much more empathy for Professor Robert Kelly’s home working travails now! It’s good to laugh!
- Policy Development – In addition to the day job, many of us are involved in developing new policy response to these changing situations. What are the new business continuity challenges and responses?
- Ecosystem support – There are many “hidden figures” that depend on us, beyond the full-time staff we employ. We have part time staff, contract workers, supplier personnel, support services, cleaners, caterers, and even local coffee shops and lunch spots that support our people in the normal times. What can we do to limit the impact on them?
This is a quick inventory. What have I missed? Let me know. There is no monopoly on understanding or managing impact.
How can we help each other? This is no time for isolation of thought or aspiration, personally or business-wise.
These are volatile times, and this requires us to be highly agile and responsive as well as more aware of our surroundings.
Stay safe, sending our best wishes across our global network, please reach out if we can provide any help in these trying times.