Best System Improvements to Beat COVID-19

"Maybe we need to close our doors, at least temporarily, until we can get a handle on operations."

Emma, the CEO of AlphaBetaGummies, a mid-size manufacturer of health supplements, spoke in confidence with her Manager of Continuous Improvement, Cassandra. "This Covid-19 is throwing out of whack every business procedure that used to work so well for us."

"But sales are through the roof!" Cassandra exclaimed. "Especially our immunity booster products. Surely, after forty years in business, we can figure out a way to weather this storm. We could outsource our call center. Rearrange the office layout to accommodate more social distancing."

Emma shook her head. "With the unpredictability of rolling lockdowns, we have to plan for a long-term work-from-home situation. And our current systems just can't handle the job. We use too many on-premise processes."

Cassandra wore a determined expression. "Give me a week." She stood up from her chair in Emma's office. "Let me form a task force and come up with a plan for updating our legacy computer systems so they can support our day-to-day operations."

Are you having similar discussions?

A week later, the AlphaBetaGummies Task Force was thrilled with the work they had performed and were eager to share their ideas with Emma. Of course, they would need to remind Emma that because the company had such a variety of on-premise systems to support their operations, some of their suggestions might take longer to implement than others. But they all agreed that having a Covid-19 responsible “Technology Roadmap” was in the best interest of the company.

These are the top six recommendations:

1. Lead with Systems in the Cloud

Without incorporating systems that were cloud-based, the company was struggling to support employees working remotely. The ability to access personalized dashboards and analytics to measure company performance or the capacity to collaborate on shared documents were just a few activities that would become possible with cloud computing. With or without Covid-19, this was the direction to go.

2. Enable Remote Work Policies

The Task Force was aware that AlphaBetaGummies was very traditional in its philosophy about work procedures. Although management had a high trust relationship with the employees, they weren’t culturally ready to allow their employees to work beyond the corporate campus. With employee safety as a top priority, however, the Task Force recommended enabling employees to work from home as much as possible. This would mean adding another layer of trust while adding internet access for high-bandwidth applications like videoconferencing and remotely accessing the ERP system.

3. Supercharge the CRM

The Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system was the backbone of the sales effort at AlphaBetaGummies. However, now the company would have to take it up a notch, notifying customers more quickly regarding their order status and product shortages. This would require more integration with the ERP system as well as enabling mobile access to the CRM.

4. Emphasize Dashboards and Data Analytics

AlphaBetaGummies produced a variety of supplements that were sold through mass and specialty channels. With the change in consumer behavior, it was becoming more critical to access the sales data daily to track trends and respond to shifting demands. The sales team would need to access dashboard reporting