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Coronavirus-proof your business

by Stanton Jandrell

How can businesses mitigate the effects of COVID-19?

With travel bans, border shutdowns and quarantines in effect, the pandemic has reached a global scale resulting in massive geo-political and socio-economic impacts.  The spread of the global virus isn't localized to any specific areas. Highly populated locations such as schools, airports and workplaces are identified as the major hotbeds for viral infection.


With mass school shutdowns and imposed travel restrictions, the global community is poised to look at businesses to follow suit and offer employees safeguards and flexible working options. But how does your business implement these working conditions? How do you protect workers while still maintaining standard operational procedures?

Countries that face an emergent or current COVID-19 outbreak must take more drastic steps to keep employees safe and curb the spread of the virus within the workplace. This can be achieved through digital and remote working solutions.

But where do chief information officers (CIOs) start in preparing systems that can safely and reliably deal with mass amounts of remote workers? How can your staff successfully collaborate online? Can they digitally fulfill your market's demands and not disrupt the daily routine of business?

With businesses having no choice but to shut down when affected with the virus, two areas of operation - remote working on cloud solutions, online ordering and delivery platforms - are becoming increasingly critical. These solutions can mitigate supply chain disruptions.

1.  Implement digital workplace resources, access and communications to battle COVID-19

If and when businesses are ordered to shut down to increase 'social distance', an efficiently running remote work system will make sure your staff stays productive. Irrespective of industry, your company will need to implement some type of digital solution that satisfies five key facets of business operation:

  • An understanding of the workflow of specific staff who can work remotely, and identify the systems and communication tools they need to access. These can be as basic as email or messaging software, or as in-depth as your CRM, ERP or Procurement software.
  • Keeping your security tight goes without saying. If your platforms have segmented job-level access, then great. If not, consider your entire infrastructure and uncover what tools will help your team work from home while keeping your data safe and secure.
  • Access-management is critical for data security. Are your remote employees working on company-issued or personal devices? Are their networks public or private? Stringent security protocols may also need to be set up to allow sign-in access to corporate systems, aiding in accountability and extra levels of control and monitoring.
  • Training on any new or updated systems will be the next step in ensuring your organization is on the same page and understands what's expected of them.
  • Scaling your current technology capabilities is essential. With higher volumes of communication and online users accessing platforms, additional bandwidth and network capacity is necessary. For your technology to facilitate remote working, your CIOs may need to very quickly assess your company's needs, leaving you to renegotiate with vendors around the number of users and transaction volume required for this network-use surge.

2.  Technology bridges the gap between your business and your customers

Once your staff feel confident with the new systems and processes for remote work, they can lean on the technology to digitally fulfill your customer's demands. Here's what you should consider at this point:

  • Self-service on your website is the fastest way to address your customer's need for distance. Leveraging technology like email automation, IVR systems, chatbots or smartphone apps to handle customer queries or purchases helps your service or solutions become self-service web-friendly. CRM automation and setting up workflows will enable sales teams to continue to engage with those all-important communication touchpoints with clients at various stages of their buying journey.
  • Personalization and SMART tools go a long way in building user-trust. Even when they realize they're communicating with a bot, setting up chat
    flows proves to your clients that you've thought about their needs and pain points.
  • Automation should not replace client-facing teams, as not all products or services are suited for self-service delivery. Schools are going the extra mile to provide online classes and your business too can offer online face-to-face touchpoints with prospects and sales-ready clients.
  • Look at this current global struggle as an opportunity to update your product offering, capacity and output. Focus on marketing sprints, automation and data analytics to identify whether your traditional product or service offering is meeting your client's current demands. 

3.  Procurement tactics to curb rogue spend during the coronavirus recession

With your priorities shifted, teams operating remotely online and your marketing automation in full swing, you need to assess your procurement, supply and spend management:

  • Vendor consolidation should be your sourcing and procurement team's primary focus. This entails identifying which vendors supply your company with similar products or services and switch to a singular supplier able to satisfy a variety of your needs. By reducing the number of suppliers or opting for a single preferred supplier, it becomes easier to negotiate price concessions instead of an increase in order volume. Your business may secure a 5-20 percent reduction in unit pricing for either increased volume or exclusive ordering agreements. Fully leverage your procurement software and data to make insightful decisions and negotiate more favorable terms.
  • Renegotiating contracts is another quick win. Once again apply your procurement software data to affirm contract terms, spend analytics and contract renewal dates. Assess relationships with budget owners who are ready to help you reduce spend and are on track to support your saving goals.
  • Business intelligence and procurement software like Fraxion's flexible spend management solution is the answer to giving procurement teams clear visibility of budget and spend trends and purchase order (PO) data. These vital insights not only highlight trends in spend or peaks and troughs in budget owner's behavior. They offer visibility into open purchase orders, indicating committed business spend that may be renegotiated and even potentially delayed. With the right tools in place, your spend management systems work in tandem with your procurement team to make better-informed, data-driven decisions. 
  • Effectively assist your procurement teams with automation and reporting that depicts clear spend and budget visibility, category stratagems and spend analytics. This transparency helps your teams quickly identify cost and risk reduction opportunities and make timely decisions before any impending downturn.
  • When staff purchase from unauthorized suppliers rather than the supplier that the business or procurement team has negotiated excellent terms with, your costs increase. With a lack of visibility between teams, this miscommunication, as a result of poorly-defined procurement processes occurs more often than you might think. Without the aid of a procurement software platform that manages supplier take-on and spend approval, your remote-working teams are without any framework to guide their purchasing behavior.
  • Embrace technologies that drive efficiencies, accountable purchasing processes and decisions.
  • It’s imperative to protect your bottom line during times of uncertainty - implementing more stringent, technology-driven cost control measures that enforce spend approval processes, policy compliance and quoting policies will mitigate risk and contain costs.

How do you effectively coronavirus-proof your business then?

 All paths lead to digital, online, secure and streamlined solutions to safeguard your business amid the economic chaos as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Adaptable working processes, more financial visibility, tighter compliance and spend control can ease the financial pressures and help your business weather the storm.

Talk to us about how Fraxion can assist in enabling remote productivity, streamlining processes and containing costs to mitigate any further or potential loss your business may incur during this difficult global pandemic. 

 

Stanton Jandrell

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