Strategies for successfully reopening after COVID-19

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Yogi SchulzThoughtful executives will prioritize planning for fully reopening their organizations now that the COVID-19 pandemic is subsiding. The new normal won’t be the old normal.

The differences go well beyond customer and staff expectations for personal safety in places of business.

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

  • continuing work will be performed differently to keep customers, staff, and suppliers healthy while containing costs;
  • new work needs to start to reduce business risk and survive;
  • new initiatives can start to succeed and grow in the new world;
  • work should stop because it turned out you discovered during the crisis that it was unnecessary.

What should the leadership of organizations think about to thrive in the emerging new world that the pandemic experience significantly reshaped?

Effective remote work

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When lockdowns loomed, almost every organization expanded its use of remote work at warp speed as many employees rushed home into self-isolation and social distancing. The supporting information technology (IT) infrastructure was cobbled together just as quickly.

Post-COVID, the actions for effective remote work include:

  • upgrading the supporting IT infrastructure for improved performance, security and reliability;
  • educating employees on best practices for successful remote work;
  • strengthening software functionality for remote collaboration capability, document sharing and training.

The organization’s leadership should:

  • recognize that the social dynamics of in-person work remain essential to the organization’s culture and plan for in-person events to sustain this culture;
  • enhance HR policies to better define expectations for remote work;
  • support investments to upgrade the IT.

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

Enhanced e-commerce platform

Before COVID, many organizations conducted at least some of their business on an e-commerce platform. During the COVID disruption, as in-person commerce became impossible, the percentage of business conducted on e-commerce platforms shot up dramatically.

Post-pandemic, the likely actions to enhance the e-commerce platform include:

  • increasing capacity and reliability to reduce the risk of poor customer experience;
  • enhancing functionality for better customer engagement and handling more complex products;
  • implementing contactless operations to the greatest extent possible.

The organization’s leadership should:

  • expand the range of products and services available on the e-commerce platform;
  • commit more operational resources to improve customer service;
  • rationalize staff safety practices in production and fulfilment centers to contain costs without sacrificing safety.

These e-commerce platform actions will increase revenue and create awareness of the organization in new markets and among new customer segments.

Digital transformation

Most organizations have been plodding along the path to digital transformation, even if they’re not conscious of it. Then the COVID disruption suddenly made manual data capture and sneaker-net communication of bits of data impossible. The disruption glaringly highlighted the potholes and missing pieces in digital data management.

Post-COVID, the likely actions to advance digital transformation include:

  • expanding enterprise content management (ECM) to reduce the remaining use of paper;
  • expanding the use of existing applications to improve automated support for the remaining manual processes;
  • improving data integration among applications to enhance data sharing and analytics.

The organization’s leadership should:

  • strengthen data stewardship practices to improve data quality;
  • sponsor projects to fill in gaps in the application portfolio to improve data accessibility while reducing the misuse of Excel.

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

Revised supply chain objectives

Before the pandemic, organizations optimized their supply chains primarily to achieve low costs. That cost goal resulted in few or even just one supplier for each component or service. Worse, many of those remaining suppliers tended to be far away. The COVID-19 disruption demonstrated how risky this supply chain strategy can be.

Post-COVID, the likely actions to lower supply-chain surprises include enhancing applications that:

  • encourage design work to simplify components;
  • support procurement to improve inventory management;
  • smooth the management of documents required for shipments to cross national boundaries.

The organization’s leadership should:

  • contract with more suppliers for more flexibility and redundancy;
  • opt for shorter supply chains to reduce transportation costs, elapsed time and disruption risk;
  • build more visibility into who the suppliers to our suppliers are to understand risk better.

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

Restructured organization of work

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

Post COVID-19, the likely actions to revise the organization of work include:

  • analyzing business processes for improvement opportunities;
  • implementing robotic process automation (RPA) for contactless digital transaction processing;
  • strengthening collaboration capability and related training.

The organization’s leadership should:

  • drive decision-making lower into the organization, especially day-to-day decisions;
  • organize work more through small teams rather than hierarchal groups;
  • encourage agility to revise processes, move people and implement technology;
  • evaluate the real estate needs, which have likely decreased.

Organizations that move earlier, faster, and more decisively outperform their peers in important measures such as revenue growth, margins and customer satisfaction.

Yogi Schulz has over 40 years of information technology experience in various industries. Yogi works extensively in the petroleum industry. He manages projects that arise from changes in business requirements, the need to leverage technology opportunities, and mergers. His specialties include IT strategy, web strategy and project management.

Yogi is a Troy Media Thought Leader. For interview requests, click here.


The opinions expressed by our columnists and contributors are theirs alone and do not inherently or expressly reflect the views of our publication.

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