By: Zachary S. Sielicky
With 2020 in the rearview mirror, it is time to reflect on the events and lessons the year has had for all of us. Of course, it is likely that you have some desire to forget rather than reflect. Tempting as that may be, the end of 2020 did not bring the end of COVID or economic instability. You never know when another event like this might occur in the future. Learning from past events is one of the keys to future success.
Lessons of the COVID Crisis
Just as COVID has shaken every aspect of day-to-day life, it has had a thorough impact on business operations. Public health and workplace accommodations were the most immediately need. Next, businesses needed to rapidly adjust to completely different structures to continue operations in the modern world. Lastly, it became apparent that businesses need to have more flexibility and alternatives in their supply chains.
Change the Outlook on Supply Chains
At the onset of the COVID crisis, manufacturers faced sudden spikes in demand for various goods and shutdowns among suppliers. One of the more memorable results of this was the nationwide toilet paper shortage. While that example might seem funny in retrospect, it speaks to a situation that created countless crises among distributors. In the past, a business might simply discard a supplier that shuts down and seek out alternatives. However, the expansive impact of the pandemic meant there were no alternatives.
This speaks to two lessons that businesses must learn from 2020. On the one hand, they need to have protocols and preparation for dealing with sudden spikes in demand. Such protocols are versatile and will help in virtually any disaster situation. On the other, businesses must forge closer ties with their suppliers and work to manage risk together. Better understanding between suppliers and distributors will give businesses much-needed dynamism in the face of the unexpected.
Digitizing is the Future, and the Future is Now
Since the turn of the century, businesses have gradually been digitizing their operations. The pandemic forced these changes to move at a much faster tempo, with businesses revamping their online presence and creating all-digital workflows. Not only have these changes empowered businesses to operate during the pandemic, but they also made workflows more efficient and flexible.
If your business has not already digitized its operations as much as possible, this should be a top priority moving forward. Even with the vaccine rollout, the benefits of online operations are not going away. Digitizing will help your business cope with the continuing pandemic and boost efficiency into the future.
Maintain Contingency Plans
It is impossible to expect when forces beyond our control will dramatically change the business situation. Economic crashes, pandemics, natural disasters; COVID has underlined the need to be ready for catastrophe.
Dwight Eisenhower once effectively said that plans are worthless, and planning is priceless. While it is impossible to plan for every possible crisis, the very act of planning for a crisis will provide guidance during the critical early days of any such event.
The author Zachary Sielicky is the Membership Manager for the Salem Chamber of Commerce. Zachary advises businesses in the Mid-Willamette Valley on how to connect with the community and fellow businesses. The Salem Chamber is a Convener of leaders, a Catalyst for positive change, and a Champion for a thriving community. Are you a business leader? Find out what kind HERE.