Executive Voices 5 mins read

Four steps to digital resilience

Seize the opportunity to protect your processes with digital tools; be more effective to save lives and your business, and bring competitive advantages.

Bernd Gross Bernd Gross

There are many lessons to be learned from the pandemic, but the main one is “be prepared for the next crisis;” here are four steps that can help.

Not so long ago, Corona might have been your favorite beer. Now a virus with the same name is quickly rising to the number one challenge for your company (or certainly the highest newcomer on the agenda).

What seems apparent is that the companies that are suffering the most are the ones that were the least prepared. What do I mean by prepared?

Prepared companies – ones that have gained a deep understanding of their supply chains, with real-time visibility – were better equipped to assess the impact of production shutting down in China.

A prime example of unprepared was a car manufacturer that had to halt production in Italy because a tiny-but-crucial part made in China was out of stock. Being unprepared also meant that companies reliant on traditional physical outlets for sales were hit harder than the ones that had a cohesive digital sales strategy in place.

So, while Covid-19 might not change the underlying fundamentals in how companies compete, the outbreak has shown how important digitalization has become. I know we are all tired of hearing about Covid-19 – “What did we do wrong? What did we get right? What can we do if it happens again?”

But the fact remains that there are some lessons to be learned from the pandemic. Many companies had not invested wholeheartedly in digitalization, dismissing it as a low priority, a “nice to have” measure. They were caught by surprise at the suddenness of the crisis, which required fast, think-on-your-feet kind of action. Employees had to work remotely, ad hoc; processes were interrupted, things that should have happened didn’t happen.

That is not to say there is no hope. Disrupted processes can be restarted again, your businesses can be reborn in ways you never imagined. You can and should make provisions for a digital future.

Digital support for all core processes means you can substantially reduce negative impact for customers, partners and employees during a crisis.

This takes a strategy that improves a company’s resilience. There are four steps that have proven effective in these circumstances:

Step one: Analyze your current operating situation

You need to precisely examine and analyze the situation for all business processes. The safety and security of your employees, customers and partner companies take top priority here. Transparent and judicious communication is essential, along with informing all stakeholders in processes and supply chains in a timely manner.

A rapid analysis of risk processes and prioritization of all impending measures is necessary to best protect areas like distribution and logistics – which are often impacted heavily by crises. The important questions that must be reviewed continuously during the crisis situation are as follows:

  • How are your employees coping? How is their health?
  • Which areas of the company need dedicated support?
  • How is the company ensuring compliance even during the acute part of the crisis – for example, can you guarantee quality management, information security and data protection?

A suitable digital tool such as the ARIS software, which provides support for maintaining all business processes (i.e. business continuity management), helps companies keep a vigilant overview. These tools can help generate a business impact analysis (BIA), for example, as well as a data-based risk assessment for every area of the company.

Step two: Pull out of a state of shock

As soon as you have analyzed the current operating situation, identified weak points and prioritized them, you need to take action to steer a course out of the crisis.

If changes to business processes are necessary—for example, to maintain safe distancing—all employees need to be informed. Customers and partners need to be notified as quickly as possible about potential delays with orders, capacity adjustments in production or re-planned logistics routes. You need to maintain precise documentation and monitor all business processes to keep an overview of all the measures and changes being implemented. Business Continuity Management software offers a solid foundation for these activities as well.

Step three: Back to business—but not “business as usual”

After the crisis should not look like before the crisis. Some processes that were originally envisioned as a transitional solution will become established and shape day-to-day business. Some examples include digital tools for internal and external communication with customers, home-office rules and new digital marketplaces that could supplement analog procurement measures.

If a new software tool has become established in some departments, you should analyze whether the solution could provide meaningful support for other areas. New processes need to be actively integrated into everyday business activities. You need to fully exploit the potential of digital tools to slim down processes even further while boosting productivity and effectiveness.

Step four: Secure the future

In order to be armed for future incidents and able to resume normal business operations faster despite unforeseen situations, you need to learn lessons from the situation you have just overcome. Creating an emergency management plan that catalogues threatening business risks makes sense. Effective countermeasures should also be defined there, along with a clear allocation of responsibilities for initiating and implementing those measures. In the next crisis, processes can be converted quickly based on the experience gained in this situation to avoid succumbing to a state of shock.

Software can support the crisis resilience of companies in any industry.

For this reason, your business should seize the opportunity and protect your processes with digital tools according to the latest standards.

Being more effective can not only save lives and your business, that effectiveness harbors additional potential that can bring you a key advantage in times of growing competitive pressure.