How Companies Can Optimize Business Practices in Times of Crisis
In a time of crisis, many things are uncertain. One thing that is certain, the world is changing around us as we speak. As things may seem turbulent for everyone right now, the epidemic situation with COVID-19 has been especially tough for business owners. The entire way that people conduct business has changed. Keeping up with these changes can be difficult, but it is necessary to remain relevant in the future.
It may seem like an awkward time to approach change, but right now, with many businesses not operating in full capacity, this is a great opportunity to follow a crisis management plan and reevaluate how your company operates. The first thing you can do is, for example, to reallocate resources. After, you may find that your business will be even more productive after the crisis is over.
Let’s look at a few different ways that your business can be even more efficient during and after social-distancing is done.
Create new employee guidelines
Remote work has become widespread during the current situation, and many experts agree that it is likely not going away after the crisis is over. A more remote workforce appears to be a reality in the future. As your workplace adjusts, how you operate must as well.
Transparency is key for any business to operate smoothly, but open communication is even more important if a business has remote employees. If your company decides to implement remote work, you will likely want to update your employee handbook so that it establishes rules upfront that will manage expectations. A few things to keep in mind should be:
- Will you want to offer completely remote positions, or just allow remote work to be used occasionally?
- Will employees need approval to work remotely?
- Would every position be able to work remotely?
- How would you track time/productivity?
Having a set of rules that cater to having a remote workforce is a great first step to optimizing how your company operates. Many businesses will be resisting the change, and likely will try to operate as if everything is normal. Establishing a set of rules upfront will only increase the efficiency of implementing a remote workforce.
Improve communication methods
As workplaces become more fragmented, communication will need to adjust to maintain effective communication across all departments. Luckily, there are remote working tools available to help make virtual communication simple.
Online chat platforms
One major software offering that your company will likely want to invest in is an online chat platform. Applications such as Slack, Chanty, RocketChat, and Skype for Business are essential to maintain strong communication and collaboration across all your employees.
These chat-based applications promote open-conversations to take place. Employees can share files, create group chats, engage in private messages, and send company-wide messages.
Messaging software is just one type of communication application that businesses should be using. Most businesses will need to utilize a tool to have video-based meetings.
The most popular company in the space is Zoom.
If your company decides to use Zoom, be sure to follow the best safety practices. Many companies were being ‘zoom-bombed’, where basically, their meetings were being interrupted.
Zoom has announced an initiative to increase security measures within the app, but you should strive to implement security measures to prevent a breach. Be sure to set passwords for every meeting, and vet who receives invitations to each meeting.
As your workforce changes, and with these changes possibly being permanent, improving your digital communication skills will ensure that your company remains productive now and into the future.
Increase your reliance on technology
Technology is already an integral part of running a business. As technology becomes more sophisticated over time, it will become more integrated into every business process.
If your team is using remote work, or if you are operating with a smaller staff, there are different tech offerings available to help you.
Project management software
Project management software is one of the most widespread services available that can help improve the productivity of your organization.
It will help keep your teams organized and your tasks on track. When teams are fragmented, transparency is essential and project management promotes company-wide transparency.
GanttPRO is online project management tool based on Gantt charts. It helps managers and teams from all over the world keep and track tasks, work with resources, collaborate, track time spent on tasks, and meet deadlines. The software promotes clear and transparent work on projects.
Customer relationship management software
Another popular software to consider investing in is customer relationship management software or CRM. This software centralizes all of your communication with your team, customers, and clients into one convenient dashboard. Some of the most popular CRM offerings are Salesforce, HubSpot, and Microsoft Dynamics.
You can also use, for example, another tool called Daylite as a CRM option for boutique firms and agencies that run on Macs.
Re-evaluate your sales process
When trying to maintain your company’s efficiency, you may find that your business will need to adjust how they make a sale.
Almost every industry has been impacted by the crisis. Some companies have had to completely overhaul their product offerings. More companies are relying on delivery, curbside pickup, and pre-ordering to make sales.
If your business has not already had to change up how they sell their product or service, you may still want to. Your company may not be operating as efficiently as it could be.
Right now is the perfect time to take a step back and truly evaluate how your company makes money. If your company does not emphasize online sales, delivery, and curbside pickup, it is time to.
Online ordering is not a new trend, but the COVID-19 crisis might have finally done away with in-person shopping. Depending on your industry, it may be worthwhile to look into hiring a delivery team, installing a new POS system, and placing more of an emphasis on your e-commerce experience.
If you do not know where to start when evaluating your company’s sales process, look into bringing in an outside consultant. Business consultants can help you visualize the big picture, set your goals, and evolve your business.
Finance your projects
Almost everything in this guide will cost your business money. As an owner, you must be willing to put a lot of money and effort into your business. However, remember about putting cash into something that you truly care about.
It may seem like a scary time to finance a completely new project, but if you truly want to come out of COVID-19 in a better place, you may need to. Obtaining a small business loan may be difficult in the current climate we are in. It may be wise to wait to apply for a loan after the crisis is over.
When applying for a loan, be sure to go over all of your options. There are big banks and credit unions that will offer standard business loans. Depending on what you need the loan for and how much money you need, your business may not need a traditional small business loan.
Online lenders are an emerging alternative to traditional banks when it comes to providing business loans. These alternative lenders often provide different types of capital solutions that are tailored to fit each business’s needs.
If your company does need a loan now, you likely will need to apply for a PPP loan or an EIDL loan. For more information on these loans, visit SBA.gov.
Change is necessary
Humans resist change. It can be scary, unnerving, and downright impossible to deal with, but oftentimes, change is good. When approaching change do not think of it as your business is changing, but rather evolving. Every business must be flexible in order to survive. By optimizing your business processes, you will be able to react to difficult situations quicker and more efficiently in the future.