This year’s arrival of a global pandemic has wreaked havoc on businesses throughout the nation and the world, forcing them to deal with the unknown. Weathering the storm requires implementing best practices for business operations. Great operations managers play a large role in finding ways to shave costs from operations, which can add millions to your bottom line and ensure your business runs efficiently. Business operations encompass a wide list of job duties, and operations managers and other leaders must keep your business running smoothly in the wake of COVID-19. Whether you need to overhaul your entire organization or want to cut operational costs, following best practices is key. Below we cover some key best practices for business operations to stay strong in 2020.
Streamline Your Company’s Communications
Many communication tools exist for those who work in your office or are currently working from home due to COVID-19. Yet, these tools typically leave out frontline workers who are filling catalog orders, accepting deliveries from vendors, and performing other tasks that cannot be done from home or the office. Strong operations require all employees to stay connected, so they can do their job to the best of their ability. Streamlined communication between your main office, supervisors, operations managers, and frontline employees means fewer meetings, improved performance, and cost savings. Good communication also means your leaders and employees can save money by reducing time dealing with mistakes, identifying problems, coordinating tasks, and resolving any issues.
Automate! Automate! Automate!
McKinsey reports that approximately 50 percent of today’s work activities can be automated by adapting available technologies. Often times people think of heavy machinery when they think of automation. Yet, automation also occurs in the office. If you automate and digitize your current business processes, you can save money and increase your overall productivity. For example, automatic scheduling and notifications can reduce the time spent on these tasks. You can also automate many parts of your sales and marketing campaigns that aren’t directly related to circulation. For example, you can schedule and automate social media and email marketing campaigns and use knowledge-base online customer service solutions as the first point of contact with a customer. You do not want to lose the human touch in your organization, but automating tasks that don’t need to happen in person or on the phone can reduce operating costs from multiple angles.
Make Onboarding and Additional Training a Priority
Businesses will feel the impact of COVID-19 in the coming months and likely the coming years, forcing companies and their business operations leadership to find new and innovative ways to save time and money. Best practices must include a deliberate and comprehensive onboarding process for new employees. Shortening the amount of time it takes for a new employee to get through the learning curve and offering specific training to enhance productivity in current employees will add to the bottom line. While the gold standard for hiring and training might have been classroom training with dedicated personnel, COVID-19 has forced companies to include digital training videos, guides, and documents as part of the onboarding process, if they weren’t already doing this. Digital training methods are highly scalable as you continue or resume hiring, and they allow your leaders to spend more time on evaluating team performance and coaching instead of spending time in a classroom.
Invest in Work-from-Home Resources & Technology
Ensuring your business operations stay strong in 2020 requires accepting the challenges that accompany the global pandemic, specifically the idea of social distancing. Sick and stressed out employees miss work or have low productivity. As part of best practices, invest in work-from-home resources and technology, so you can allow as many of your employees to work from home as possible. Yet, creating a temporary remote work policy as a reaction to COVID-19 can hurt your business operations. Experts warn that expectations of employees all returning to the office at some point can negatively impact employee retention and productivity. Instead, businesses must use work-from-home resources and technology to create a remote work policy that maintains or enhances business operations in the long-term.
Focus on Health and Safety
As you continue to operate and recover from the impact of the spread of COVID-19, your business will need to focus on maintaining the health and safety of your workforce and your customers. Business operations managers who can find new ways to reduce workplace injuries and incidents can positively impact the bottom line. If you are manufacturing and shipping products to catalog customers, cleanliness and disinfecting procedures will become a critical part of business operations. Depending on the longevity of the novel coronavirus and whether we experience multiple waves of infection, some mandates and precautions will simply become the new normal. Whether preventing workplace injuries or illness or maintaining the health and safety of consumers, taking appropriate measures will help business operations remain strong in 2020 and beyond.
Master Demand Forecasting
One of the biggest challenges operations managers face in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 is managing inventory based on market demand. Consumer spending habits aren’t as predictable right now, largely as a result of the spread of COVID-19. Sometimes extreme demand for certain products places added stress on existing supply chains. In other cases, product demand disappears, making it difficult to keep the right amount of inventory on hand. Operations managers need to “master the art of demand forecasting” to find a balance between inventory and meeting customer needs. Too much inventory creates cash flow issues, but for business operations to stay strong, you must be able to quickly fill large orders.
Keep Business Booming in 2020
With the spread of COVID-19, 2020 has brought challenges for all businesses. If you create and implement best practices for your business operations, you can ensure your employees remain healthy and productive. This translates to exceptional customer service for your catalog customers that drives more business your way and positions your company as a leader in your industry.