Australia
27 May 2021 | Minutes to read: 3

Return to normal, or thrive in COVID normal?

By Jeremy Raniti

This article was originally published by AMTIL on the AMTIL website on 20 May 2021.

There is little doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the way in which businesses interact with customers, suppliers, and advisors. Although each state has experienced varying degrees of uncertainty, all have shared the need to be better positioned to thrive in the new COVID normal.

Through lockdowns, delays in supply-chains, zoom meetings, and disruptions to global trade and currencies, we now understand how important it is to have solid foundations in every aspect of one’s business. Predominantly, these foundations can be best described as:

  • Supply Chain Management and IT Systems
  • Marketing and Visibility
  • Financial, Accounting, and Legal advice and advisors
  • HR and Staff Management

By focusing on these four areas of a business, one can expect to identify areas in which the effects of the pandemic have highlighted the need to change how they are managed and operated. The following paragraphs will provide a brief overview of how you can thrive in the new COVID normal.

Supply chain and inventory management

A business’ performance during the pandemic can almost be split into two. There are those that continued to flourish during the lockdowns or those that struggled to fulfil customer orders and meet deadlines and desired outcomes. Although the pandemic produced constraints that no-one could have accounted for when planning 2020, the businesses that did prosper during the pandemic all had things in common, including:

  • Seamless transition from face-to-face to the virtual commerce world.
  • Knowing their stock levels at any given point in time.
  • Ability to identify fast/slow-moving stock, and knowing in advance what the appropriate re-order point was for their inventory.
  • Having sufficient job costing mechanisms in place, and were aware of what materials were required and when they needed them.

This emphasises the notion that business needs to be well across the products they sell and stock requirements to fulfil orders, as well as having current and relevant information at their fingertips to make effective decisions. Structuring your business and putting in place the tools to operate this way will allow you to be nimble in the new COVID normal world.

Marketing & Visibility

Lockdowns and social distancing equal disruptions to almost all face-to-face marketing. Trade shows are postponed, showrooms are limited by capacity and B2B networking has been minimised. To be visible in the market, the options have narrowed to be reliant on digital methods. Now is the time to review your online presence, and the customer experience of your clients engaging you through these channels.

While it can be tempting to put a hold on marketing strategy, this is the time to stay the course and redirect your businesses investment in your online presence. Seeking advice from a digital agency on how to maximise your SEO, digital advertising campaigns and social media involvement will equip you with the tools to stay present with your existing and future customers.

Financial, accounting and legal advice and advisors

The start of the pandemic, accompanied by the heightening fear of uncertainty, saw the Federal Government do all it could to keep people employed and the economy afloat. This gave rise to stimulus packages such as Job Keeper and Cash Flow Boost for Employers, as well as situations where employment law was adapted to assess the future of workers’ employment.

In addition to this, the pandemic gave truth to the adage ‘cash is king’, and in uncertain times, how to manage the inflows and outflows of funds were even more important. By being in contact with an advisor, businesses were able to keep informed and up to date with the constant stream of news, information, and stimulus packages. They were also able to efficiently assess their cash position, conservatively plan for the short-term future and reassure their staff regarding their employment. This again highlighted the importance of having advisors who are in tune with your business’ affairs to allow for strategic planning through the pandemic.

HR & staffing

From a people perspective, the Covid-19 Pandemic has seen a radical shift in “the way we do things”. The majority of businesses have experienced either partial working from home arrangements, or (for some states more than others) complete lockdowns of work premises. The need for businesses to quickly and effectively manage their human resources in a flexible and agile way has become critical to business continuity.

Many staff are now accustomed to working from home (WFH) and are keen to look at more flexible working arrangements post-pandemic. The imperative for a business to review flexible work arrangements in light of ongoing business operational need, together with providing a safe working environment for staff will be a key focus for 2021 and beyond.

As always, compliance with relevant workplace laws and standards, effective performance management and development, in addition to the attraction, retention and engagement of staff should continue to be “top of mind”, as business re-establishes within the new “normal”.

Conclusion

Although the signs of recovery are positive, the element of uncertainty within each state still lingers with the possibility of a lockdown never too far away. Taking action now and putting into practice what we have learnt through the pandemic to ensure you thrive in the new COVID-Normal is the only option.

 

Return to normal, or thrive in COVID normal?

Jeremy Raniti

Jeremy is a Manager in our Melbourne based Business Advisory team. He has provided professional services to a diverse range of industries, with a focus on manufacturing and retail. He specialises in both outsourced CFO roles, business reporting and systems integration.

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