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Strategies for a successful reopening after COVID-19

Prudent leaders will prioritize planning for the full reopening of their organizations now that the COVID-19 pandemic is abating. The emerging business environment is not like in the past. The differences go well beyond the expectations of customers and employees for personal security on business premises.

Successful organizations in the post-COVID-19 world will proactively consider what:

  1. Follow-up work is done differently to keep customers, employees and suppliers healthy while containing costs.
  2. New work must begin to meet changing customer expectations, reduce business risk, and survive.
  3. New initiatives can grow and thrive in the new world.
  4. The work is to be stopped because it turned out to be unnecessary during the crisis.

What should organization leaders think about to thrive in the emerging new world that the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly transformed?

Effective remote work

As the COVID-19 lockdown loomed, nearly all companies expanded their use of remote work at warp speed as many employees rushed home to self-isolate and social distance. The supporting IT infrastructure was cobbled together just as quickly.

Post COVID-19, measures for effective remote working include:

  1. Upgrading the supporting IT infrastructure for improved performance, security and reliability.
  2. Educate employees on best practices for successful remote work.
  3. Strengthen software functionality for remote collaboration, document sharing and training.

The leadership of the organization should:

  1. Recognize that the social dynamic of in-person work is still essential to the culture of the organization and plan in-person events to sustain that culture.
  2. Improve HR policies to better define remote work expectations.
  3. Support investments to modernize information technology.

These workplace actions will improve customer service, employee engagement and productivity while reducing employee turnover and customer churn.

Improved Ecommerce Platforms

Before COVID-19, many organizations conducted at least part of their business on an e-commerce platform. During the COVID-19 disruption, when in-person commerce became impossible, the percentage of deals transacted on e-commerce platforms skyrocketed.

Post COVID-19, the likely actions to improve the e-commerce platform include:

  1. Increasing capacity and reliability to reduce the risk of poor customer experience.
  2. Improved functionality for better customer retention.
  3. More security without compromising the customer experience.
  4. Implement contactless operation as far as possible.

The leadership of the organization should:

  1. Improve integration between in-store and e-commerce experiences.
  2. Expand the range of products and services available on the e-commerce platform.
  3. Deploy more operational resources to improve customer service.
  4. Streamline staff safety practices in manufacturing and fulfillment centers to contain costs without sacrificing safety.

These actions on the e-commerce platform will increase sales and raise awareness of the organization in new markets and customer segments.

digital transformation

Most organizations have misbehaved on the digital transformation journey, even if they are unaware of it. Then, suddenly, the COVID-19 disruption made manual data collection and sneaker-net communication of data bits impossible. The disruption has blatantly highlighted the potholes and missing pieces in digital data management.

Post COVID-19, likely actions to drive digital transformation include:

  1. Expansion of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) to reduce the remaining paper consumption.
  2. Extending the use of existing applications to enhance automated support of the remaining manual processes.
  3. Improving data integration between applications to improve data sharing and analysis.

The leadership of the organization should:

  1. Strengthen data stewardship practices to improve data quality.
  2. Sponsor projects to fill application portfolio gaps to improve data accessibility while reducing Excel abuse.

Digital transformation will improve business processes, support the transition to more data-driven decision making, and reduce operational costs.

Revised supply chain goals

Before COVID-19, companies primarily optimized their supply chains to achieve low costs. This cost target resulted in few or even one supplier for each component or service. Worse, many of those remaining suppliers were far away. The disruption caused by COVID-19 has shown how risky this supply chain strategy can be.

Post COVID-19, likely actions to reduce supply chain surprises include improving applications that:

  1. Encourage design work to simplify components.
  2. Support procurement to improve inventory management with more resiliency.
  3. Simplify management of documents required for shipments to cross national borders.

The leadership of the organization should:

  1. Contracts with more suppliers for more flexibility and redundancy.
  2. Opt for shorter supply chains to reduce transportation costs, elapsed time and the risk of disruption.
  3. Create more transparency about who your suppliers’ suppliers are to better understand risks.

These actions will increase resilience, efficiency and reduce distances in the supply chain, while cost control remains essential in the new world.

Restructured work organization

Before COVID-19, organizations used many meetings, often with too many participants, to agree on priorities and recommendations. During the COVID-19 lockdown, decision-making out of necessity or desperation accelerated and affected far fewer people. To the surprise of some, the organizations did not collapse.

Post COVID-19, likely actions to overhaul work organization include:

  1. Analysis of business processes for improvement opportunities.
  2. Implementing Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for contactless digital transaction processing.
  3. Strengthening of the ability to work together and appropriate training.

The leadership of the organization should:

  1. Shift decision-making down into the organization, especially day-to-day decisions.
  2. Organize work in small teams rather than hierarchical groups.
  3. Foster agility to revamp processes, move people, and implement technology.
  4. Assess real estate needs, which are likely to have fallen.

Companies that move earlier, faster, and more decisively outperform their peers on key metrics like revenue growth, margins, and customer satisfaction. Please watch this slideshow to see the high-level changes brought on by COVID-19: 6 Ways COVID-19 Has Affected the Internet.

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