How to maintain Business Resilience and Continuity during and after COVID19?

Companies worldwide need to be proactive and predictive in decision-making to build business resilience and maintain business continuity. Since businesses are going through the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, corporate leaders are considering a lot of issues and steps they need to take not just to react to severe business traumas but to remodel the business plan for recovery,

In the current scenario, it is essential to respond as quickly as possible and lessen risks and impacts to prepare businesses for the development of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sandy Shen, a Gartner Analyst, says,

When traditional channels and operations are impacted by the outbreak, the value of digital channels, products and operations becomes immediately obvious. This is a wake-up call to organizations that focus on daily operational needs at the expense of investing in digital business and long-term resilience.

We have come up with four priorities to build business resilience based on experiences from countries where COVID19 first impacted, for example, China and other countries in Asia.

What are some of the best practices to build business resilience and maintain continuity during and after COVID-19?

We have come up with the following ways that can help maintain continuity and build resilience during and after COVID-19:

  1. People Safety and Continuous Engagement
  2. Remodel Business Resilience and Continuity with AI and IoT
  3. Communicate with Relevant Stakeholders
  4. Develop Business Resilience and Prepare for Recovery

1. People Safety and Continuous Engagement

Your business runs because of your employees. Therefore, ensuring the wellbeing and safety of workers in the workplace is essential.

Workers amid COVID-19 are looking to their employers, government and community for guidance. Transparently addressing employees’ concerns would keep them engaged and assure business continuity.

Companies need to make adjustments to expand flexible work policies and arrangements that allow workers to work safely and remotely. Organizations should reallocate resources and reorganize teams and set up employee wellbeing programs to support a safe work environment.

Many companies have allowed their employees to work at home to tackle the spread of COVID-19 by using online collaboration tools that help them stay connected with their workers throughout a day.

Working from home is not at all difficult, especially when you have the right equipment and software that helps the workflow. The basic requirement to work from home can be a PC or mobile, a good Wi-Fi or LAN connection and endless power supply.

It is good if your employees have a UPS. Otherwise, ask your workers to arrange extra batteries. If your employees need any additional hardware part that they might need for work, arrange it for them.

Once the hardware part is done, the next step is to consider the required software for better communication. Companies can leverage corporate communication software that allows employers to interact with employees seamlessly.

Using communication tools, companies can do video conferencing with many workers at once. Some of the software come with screencasting feature that allows users to share the screen.

Following are some of the software that can help your employees work remotely and keep them engaged:

  • Slack

    Slack is designed like a chat room that may replace email and allows companies to establish communication by channels for discussing in a group and by direct messages to share files and information privately. It is an easy and fast way to interact with the team.

    Using Slack, anyone can schedule a weekly status meeting for a particular time of the day by which employees should post the work status in a channel. It allows users to directly capture a photo from the phone and upload it to the channel. It is also possible to share Slack channels with clients and vendors to keep them updated on the project’s progress and interact with them without depending on emails.

  • Zoom

    Zoom is one of the commonly used communication tools worldwide with a reliable cloud platform for audio and video conferencing, chat, webinars and collaboration across desktops, telephones and mobile devices.

    Attendees can join the meeting on Zoom in-person or in a group via a webcam. It enables screen sharing to stay connected with colleagues wherever they are. Zoom allows employees to record meetings and save it to the cloud.

  • Jira

    Jira is a project management tool designed to track issues and bugs of the project. It provides your team with a way to monitor the progress of daily tasks, see what team members are working on and set the priority of tasks.

    An employee gets notified via an email when a project manager assigns the issues to a team member in Jira. Employees can add comments and mark the progress when they work on a task.

    Jira provides managers with access to dozen of reports in real-time with insights into how the entire team is performing, eliminating the need for face-to-face reporting.

  • Time Doctor

    Time Doctor is one of the best time tracking software that helps companies work from home efficiently. It tracks the amount of time spent by employees on breaks and during work. It enables automated screenshots to help track employees’ activity.

    Using Time Doctor, it provides you with detailed timesheets and reports and tracks employees’ locations with a mobile app. It can also show regular camera shots of employees while they are working.

Companies where flexible work arrangements or telecommuting are not viable and workers must be on the site or in direct contact with customers; it is essential to provide protection measures for infection.

For example, some municipal governments are working with technology companies and mobile operators that use big data to build a health QR code application. The app allows users to monitor their movements over the last 14 days to prove that they have not traveled any impacted and high-risk areas.

Even after taking all these measures, there will be organizations that may experience workforce disruptions. Increased costs and labor shortages due to travel restrictions would affect businesses. Companies that are not covered by specific policies and experience such challenges should get advice from the local government. Governments in various countries have launched assistance and fiscal stimulus programs for small business sectors, for example, hospitality and tourism, that have been impacted severely.

2. Remodel Business Resilience and Continuity with AI and IoT

Many businesses might experience a massive disruption to their regular business operations and can deal with business underperformance throughout and after the COVID-19 crisis. When the crisis started, supply chain challenges were significant for companies that had exposure to China. .

But now the CoronaVirus Crisis has reached the US, Europe and many parts of the world; many companies are facing operational disruption and shifts in consumer behavior and demands.

The COVID-19 has struck many industries, but not all to the same level of loss. Industries, including consumer goods, travel, electronics, retail and auto, have been deeply impacted. Here are some examples.

One of the leading car manufacturers had to shut down its seven factories in Korea because of vendors’ inability to provide components to produce wire harnesses for their vehicles. Suppliers are located within the Hubei province, where it was a complete lockdown by the Government during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The impact of closing down factories has affected 40% of the global car manufacturer’s network output, halting the launch of a new model. Though the carmaker is looking for other vendors for these critical components, the lead time cannot be quick. Vendor’s qualification to comply with quality management requirements can stop the reopening of factories in Korea.

There is no doubt that companies have to perform enormous tasks to recover from this outbreak. Therefore, it is essential to discuss how to prevent the next unpredictable outbreak having the same impact.

Depending on the developments from this pandemic and learnings from past disruptive instances, we have identified the following key pillars to help companies develop a resilient supply chain:

  • Implement automated and digital manufacturing capabilities

Using automation and IoT products for smart manufacturing can mitigate dependency on labor-intensive processes. Digital technology enables a strong manufacturing program that would allow standardization of job aids and daily tasks, reducing the pressure of depending on particular individuals to operate.

IoT technology can help build a digital ecosystem of connected systems, providing users with relevant and updated data to make informed decisions at any time. Automated manufacturing abilities would facilitate a company to run manufacturing operations with interchangeable personnel and lowers labor requirements. .

  • Use Manufacturing Robots

The massive disruption caused by COVID-19 can lead companies to leverage automation to manufacture products. Before the novel coronavirus reached the US, the supply chain disturbances caused by the spread of the virus in China were damaging the American economy. When there were only 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US, Apple declared a warning due to the virus’s impact on its Chinese suppliers.

Therefore, the US requires more robust manufacturing capability right now. American companies have mostly been dependent on international supply chains.

During the last fall, US manufacturers stated more than 500,000 unfilled jobs that is a large gap between the skills workers had and the skills companies.

If countries don’t have the required skill workers, robots might be the best option. For example, a startup spun out of Johns Hopkins University, produces and delivers industrial robots. The robotic software developed by a startup allows workers even with no experience in robotics to execute industrial robots for manufacturing. These changes were already in progress before the pandemic; however, COVID-19 can expedite them.

  • Implement anti-fragile supply chains

The concept of anti-fragility was discovered by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a former trader, hedge fund manager and a professor. Anti-fragility is described as a category of things that not only gain from disorders but improves things because of it.

Therefore, anti-fragile supply chains are not only strong, but they are also malleable to make sure that they would continue working even in the scenario of disruption.

But most importantly, they don’t only survive the disruption; they enhance because of it. Businesses need to go digital to enable anti-fragile supply chains. It sounds strange saying this in 2020. But, in actuality, paper and manual processes execute most of the supply chains.

Making a digital connection is an essential element for developing an anti-fragile supply chain. It would lighten up what’s happening across the supply chain. Decision-makers can detect single points of failure and make decisions about how to handle any disruption. The improved ability to interact with sellers and other parties in the supply chain ecosystem means such decisions, including looking for new suppliers, can be implemented quickly, especially in times of stress.

Establishing the digital ecosystem is the prerequisite to implementing tools that enable the theory of an antifragile supply chain. Consider Artificial Intelligence (AI), for instance.

AI can analyze data from a wide array of proprietary and public sources to learn from past periods of disruption and propose what supply chain leaders should do to meet continuous challenges. Also, AI-based tools could turn to alternate suppliers when it identifies that the regular suppliers are likely to deal with disruption.

It means that we can move from reactive supply chain management to proactive supply chain management.No doubt that we all can breathe a sigh of relief when COVID-19 is brought under control. However, we must be open to the fact that something similar might happen again.

The next disruption could be around the corner, so it’s essential that businesses must not rest on their trees.

The supply chain is one of the most significant business areas that remain at higher risks during times of disruption. However, making it anti-fragile can become its biggest strength.

3. Communicate with relevant stakeholders

Transparent, timely and clear communications are essential when you create a platform to remodel business resilience and continuity plan. It can help you secure continued support from employees, suppliers, customers, investors, creditors and regulatory authorities.

Review your business requirements and identify the key stakeholders. Analyze what information would stakeholders require, who requires it first and for what purpose.

Create communication and messaging strategies for specific stakeholders. Identify what communication tools you will require and how you will interact with each audience (email, text, video call, audio call, website, etc. ).

Companies need to maintain regular contact with suppliers regarding their ability to deliver services and goods during the COVID-19 crisis and their recovery plans.

Digitally signed contracts can always help companies to review terms and conditions, identify debts and ignore technical debt breaches. You can harness the potential of AI, natural language processing and machine learning to enable smart contract review and analysis.

For example, if you are a large tech firm and you have a considerable volume of procurement contracts with different renewal dates and negotiation terms. It may require hundreds of hours and a large team of contract managers to review and track all information to ensure no opportunity is missed.

However, AI can help extract data and refine the content of contracts. It can allow your company to analyze and review contracts quickly and locate significant amounts of contract data more efficiently.

Therefore, in case of any disruption due to an outbreak, companies would be able to review their contracts quickly and communicate efficiently to discuss further actions.

Once you get the AI-driven reports, you can connect with your stakeholders located across the different corners of the world online via tools like Skype for Business, Zoom, GoTo Meeting and more and share those reports via video conferencing and email. It helps companies save time and reduce the costs of hiring so many contract managers.

4. Develop Business Resilience and Prepare for Recovery

Once companies solidify strategies based on stress tests and interacted about the next steps with key stakeholders, they need to execute new actions based on updated plans while monitoring the current situation.

Senior management needs to report any deviation from the plan timely so that companies can take more actions to avoid negative impacts.

Once the COVID-19 crisis is controlled, companies would need to renew and review business resilience and continuity plans. They would need to understand and assess how existing plans are working.

If companies identify any deficiencies, companies would have to identify root causes, whether its shortages of labor, lack of infrastructure, timeliness of action or external environmental issues.

However, accelerating digitization has broadened the gap in capabilities and performance between laggards and digital leaders.

Analytics-driven and digital productivity improvements can help to cut conventional costs or cross-border labor-cost arbitrage. Digital and automated technologies can help boost productivity.

For example, one of the leading electrical-equipment explored that implementing robotic-arc welding resulted in a 30% decrease in manufacturing costs, better process control and a 50% improvement in productivity time.

This example represents that the introduction of advanced digital technologies creates performance opportunities and reshapes competitive dynamics. Future resilients would have a clear view of which critical processes need to be digitalized to bring near-term value and which initiatives are important to remain competitive.

For example, an auto insurer can use machine learning and analytics for creating claims estimates without the need of an inspector to look at the damaged car.

So, technology plays a significant role in developing business resilience and preparing for recovery quickly and efficiently.

Companies across the globe are trying to prepare business resilience and continuity plans to overcome the impact businesses are facing due to the Coronavirus outbreak. As a technology company, we can help a wide array of businesses build an efficient strategy with the technology advancements.

Author’s Bio

Akash Takyar
Akash Takyar
CEO LeewayHertz
Akash Takyar is the founder and CEO at LeewayHertz. With the experience of building over 100+ platforms for startups and enterprise allows Akash to rapidly architect and design solutions that are scalable and beautiful.
Akash's ability to build enterprise-grade technology solutions has attracted over 30 Fortune 500 companies, including Siemens, 3M, P&G and Hershey’s. Akash is an early adopter of new technology, a passionate technology enthusiast, and an investor in AI and IoT startups.

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