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How Covid-19 has Disrupted the Workforce and Supply Chains

supply chain

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the business world in positive ways and, at the same time, created many challenges.

Some positive aspects of the pandemic is that it’s been a catalyst for most companies to think in new ways in how they manage and create new business models for growth. At the same time, it poses a major challenge for a company’s work force and supply chain. Business opportunities have arisen especially in consumerism and exploring alternate ways of working, and simultaneously it has created major issues in the work force.

This includes burn out coupled with an existing complex business environment, causing employees to look for alternatives. Similarly, supply chain issues proliferated due to unpredictability and a drop in trust as complex business processes and infrastructure issues created shortages affecting the ability to meet demand.

Some companies are taking advantage of this change. Specifically in the technology world, by operating with a remote work force and efficiently meeting the demand of tech services and products. Amazon realized the impact and proactively focused on their work force and supply chain challenges and, as a result, they were able to meet customer demand and adjust to shifting distribution needs. The driver behind their success was simple end-to-end workflows and an innovative culture to drive transform of their operations.

These factors coupled with addressing parity in wages and benefits helped them attract, retain, and engage their work force effectively. Similarly, they partnered with suppliers to build effective and proactive engagement models, creating a single source of truth including supplier insights and intelligence.

An example of responding to unexpected disruption to a business model occurred to Toyota’s supply chain caused by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Initially Toyota faced disruption in its supply chain which temporarily reduced production. They realized they needed an alternative option and in 2013 worked with suppliers to develop the Rescue System, a database to visualize supply networks at the component level. 400,000 parts suppliers are registered on the system and in the event of a disruption Toyota can immediately respond. They worked closely with suppliers building trust in sharing information including proprietary data. Engagement now occurs in real time helping them to produce more vehicles than any other car manufacturer.

During this time companies need to focus on their work force and supply chain through digitalization. According to a survey by HR consulting firm Randstad US, nearly 40% of U.S. workers have considered leaving their job citing burnout as the reason. A factor is overloaded schedules putting pressure on workers leaving them with a sense that they cannot get their tasks done on time.

Companies need to simplify business use cases with end-to-end workflows and collaboration which can efficiently engage their work force without having to deal with current complex environment. Proactiveness and efficiency delivered by bite sized outcomes can create growth, better profitability, and some of the value creation can be passed on to employees.

Similarly, supply chain benefits can be achieved through practitioners, simplification, better planning and forecasting, and investments in data and supplier intelligence to meet increased demand.

Every enterprise irrespective of their size and industry needs to embrace digital business taking an incremental approach that will not disrupt their current operations. The path forward is to prioritize and focus on the top pain points to simplify current complex business workflows. Key components of this approach include:

  • Simplification of current business processes through end-to-end collaboration
  • Leverage data from various sources (current systems, spread sheets, third parties, manual) to create intelligence and insights to make effective decisions through a single source of truth (SSOT)
  • Bridge SSOT across all business functions to address enterprise demand, supply chain, and risk management
  • Focus on innovation and experimentation
  • Engage the work force to drive simplification and create new business models

(Raj B Vattikuti is Executive Chairman, Altimetrik and a seasoned technology and business leader and the views expressed in the article are his own)

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