How business functions are changing in COVID-19 times

The global pandemic is rapidly reshaping organisations as they adapt to a new business environment with new automation needs and changes in human behaviour (customers, employees, partners and others). The biggest concerns relate to health & safety as well as uncertainty around the duration of the situation. Businesses need to prepare to handle these uncertain times as best as possible and find ways to create opportunities from this crisis.

Many small to mid-sized organisations are reviewing their go-to-market strategies and processes, looking at initiatives across functions including finance, HR, supply chain, services sales and marketing.

Automation is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have.

For businesses to operate efficiently and realise their revenue, every function needs to be tech enabled. The finance department has likely started implementing digitally signed invoices, employee claims are no longer paper-based, purchase orders are issued electronically, and vendor payments done online.

The customer care/services team is hard pressed to provide online help guides, chatbots enable real-time collaboration to resolve customer issues. These tools were always available, but the recent situation has triggered increased adoption and implementation. Automation can play a role for any process/sub-process that previously required physical documentation or human intervention for completion.

Employee connectivity, enablement and mental health

With almost 90% of employees working remotely, the focus is on how employees can engage, collaborate and contribute seamlessly. At the beginning of the pandemic, HR planned for enablement sessions, yet we all soon realised this was going to be a long-term situation. The initial couple of months helped to assess the talent in the business and design a specific plan to equip them with the tools and technologies needed within this new scenario.

Employee health, both physical and mental, has become a prime focus. The role of the HR team transformed considerably as they had to introduce initiatives to help employees stay productive while balancing family fun activities. In times of uncertainty, it’s important your people are taken care of so they can help take care of your business.

Supply chain is the backbone of your business

When the whole team is working to create opportunities and getting orders, but your warehouse turns out to be in a containment zone, that’s no good. Make sure you have a back-up warehouse through a third-party provider with limited inventory in Tier B and C cities, which may not be as impacted. Consider factors like the concentration of your customer base, logistics cost, timelines etc.

Your logistics strategy must include a multi-carrier environment. By subscribing to a multi-carrier shipping platform, you will reduce dependency on one carrier. The uncertainty around changes in government policies or infection spread will be reduced as you can plan in advance and choose the best available shipping option.

Marketing has a new charter

It has been difficult to asses whether your customers are available. Even if customers are online, their priorities might be different now. If your products fit into their changed priorities this will drive the purchase decision. Many organisations have shifted to creating webinars or online events, however don’t spend all your budget in one place; see how your customers react to your nurtures or offers. Now is a good time to work on messaging and content development, prepare for digital campaigns to roll out once your target audience is ready.

The pandemic has taught businesses to be agile, flexible and most importantly to act swiftly; navigating the uncertainties and its implications. We don’t have any other choice but to look for opportunities to sustain and grow our businesses. That’s the only way to come out stronger on the other side.

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