5 steps to overcome the crisis: what needs to be done today

2020 05 20 · 5 min read

Today, it is probably difficult to say exactly what businesses will be able to survive and which businesses will thrive in this time of uncertainty and anxiety.

Until recently, it seems that companies have been immersed in business transformation, open to cutting-edge technology, actively recruiting experts in artificial intelligence (machine learning), and being open to innovation and collaborative work with start-ups. And all of a sudden – stop, crisis. Are we stopping investment in IT? This is probably the case for a number of managers.

While we note that business is currently focusing more on assessing the payback of investment, it seems that many have learned the lesson of previous crises. In situations where it is important to maintain and increase productivity, investment in the introduction of new IT solutions and business efficiency must be pre-emptive.

However, only companies that have successfully completed the first stages of crisis management can afford significant investment in the digitisation of a business, have stabilised their activities and have a clear plan for a return to normal.

5 stages of crisis response

Based on the „mckinsey & companymodel of the international management consulting firm,we can dividethedecisions that companies accept or intend to adopt in the context ofa pandemic into

5 groups, depending on the stages of overcoming the crisis:

  1. A decisive initial response. During the first phase, companies make decisions that directly protect its employees, customers and partners from the threat of the virus. Teleworking is the most important part of this, which often puts workers under stress.
  2. Increasing resilience. During the second phase, companies are facing challenges related to cash flows, quarantine restrictions and preparations for a possible economic knockout by increasing the resilience of their business.
  3. Return toecancer. This phase involves detailed planning, an assessment of alternatives – what would be if the development of the virus were to be managed and the business would have to return to the former production or service volumes. Also, what would happen if the outbreak of the virus recurs in waves.
  4. Rethinking. The fourth stage is devoted to the demolition of understanding what is “normal”. It becomes obvious that a change in life is and will be radical. A new business vision, strategy is starting to develop in a time of rethinking. The focus is also on business model development and innovation.
  5. Reordering. In the fifth phase, new business models will be implemented taking into account changes in value chains, the competitive and business regulatory environment.

Resolute primary response: what to do?

Currently, many companies in Lithuania are still in the start-up phase – implement a determined initial response. That is why I want to talk more about this. Here are the ideas and solutions of the roadthat the world’s leading companies apply.

Leadership of employees. The chains of command must now be simplified, the hierarchy is shrinking, the work should be organized by small teams. The team must respect the rules of distance leadership: clearly set goals, deadlines for the execution of works, communicate solutions in a transparent manner. Do not forget to pay attention to the culture of the inner company, to foster traditions – remotely communicate and informally.

For example, we “Baltic Amadeus” have a very clear internal communication plan for the quarantine period, whereį we implement 4 directions: organization, team, managers and human “life balance”. Each axis provides for specific actions which, in principle, are designed to prevent the cessation of joint activities, which simply take a different form.

It is very important now to invest in the right tools for organisation of work and communication, which allow, for example, to support audio and video conversations, to share information, to express their views. If there is a lack of knowledge in this case, do not be afraid to contact experienced users, IT professionals or experts in this field to share good practices about remote work and tooling capabilities.

Operational and supply chain management. These challenges are particularly acute in the manufacturing sector, which depends on the supply and logistics of the raw material. I have no doubt that many companies model scenarios to understand what stock bumpers should be during a pandemic. However, it is also very important to oblige sales or operations planners to create 3-6 demand plan versions already. In one of these situations, this will allow supply specialists to make quick but evaluated decisions.

In order to maintain productivity, it is necessary to name the most important team members and have a plan for what can replace them in times of crisis. It is also very important to adapt the billing and work-to-work processes for remote work. It must not be forgotten and taken care of IT systems. High resilience of IT systems will help to strengthen and protect internal capabilities. Also to ensure external support: to use IT service providersus, contractors ‘ expertiseas and technicalus resourcesto secure infrastructure .

Customer relationship management. Get ready for the top-priority customer list and develop a plan to protect and save them. It provides an overview of what is most important to these customers, how their business can develop as a result of the crisis. Try to focus on the most valuable segments, taking into account profitability, relationship sustainability and existing commitments.

Relationships based on trust, openness and transparency must be fostered with customers. It is useful to use all possible IT tools to not only better understand their current needs and opportunities, but also to feel the mood and fears. To assess the needs of the customer and end user, use external market analysis data and insights.

The result is needed here and now

Nevertheless, we are also faced with another reality at the moment: certain organisations are refusing even free aid. For example, manage queues, requests, calls. Managers are working in chaos, trying to solve their problems by hiring as many staff as possible and hoping that the load will decrease in the near future.

However, in much of themarket, the choices that allow customers to serve remotely are undoubtedly increased. A lot of options range from automatic chatbots or special consultations, document management systems to tools that enable customers to send personalized video messages with pre-prepared actions. Such solutions can be applied in virtually all areas, starting with sales, consulting, technical support or training.

Currently, companies are looking for quick solutions that can be implemented in the shortest possible time, so they are often prepared to sacrifice convenience, functionality, change established processes. The result is needed here andnow. However, current solutions must be long-term and value-building even after the crisis.