If there is anything as frustrating as the loss of irreplaceable lives occasioned by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is the uncertainties foisted on businesses globally. Whilst early expectations were that the pandemic would abate within a few months, recent disclosures by medical experts at the highest echelon suggest that it is impossible to determine, with exactitude, when the pandemic would be defeated. Accordingly, businesses must come to terms with this reality and brace up on how to survive and be effective in the face of the uncertainties foisted by the pandemic.
At this time, boards of directors, saddled with decision-making duty and the responsibility of setting the strategic goals of companies, are under pressure to ensure the survival and effectiveness of their organisations. Whilst companies have varying business objectives, there are however general strategies that a determined board of directors can develop to advance the effectiveness of its company in these critical times.
As a start, a determined board, in a bid to put in place strategy for the company’s survival and effectiveness, needs to undertake a review of its expense budget. The purpose of undertaking this review is to determine areas in the business that are not strategic to the company’s performance and attract extraneous or excess spending. The focus of the board should be directed at ensuring that spending is for core projects of the company, which would improve customers experience and satisfaction and yield revenue for the company during and after these uncertain times. Accordingly, the board should cut out inconsequential areas of the business and get rid of or limit extraneous spending.
To stay effective and navigate through these uncertainties, a determined board should undertake an assessment of the company’s supply chain. As is usual in businesses especially in the manufacturing industry, many companies depend on products or services from third party vendors and contractors to produce or offer services to their customers. A disruption to a company’s supply chain could have devastating impact on the company’s business. It could, especially, result in inability to produce, loss of customers and revenue. Given the impact of the pandemic on majority of businesses, the board needs to assess whether the company’s supply chain would be impacted and make a contingent plan after such assessment. Such plan would involve staying in touch with and maintaining constant communication with the company’s suppliers.
An effective communication system is also important to the survival of a company. It would therefore be beneficial for companies to foster seamless communication with their stakeholders in this period. At the moment, some of the most important stakeholders for a company are the employees and customers. It is important for the board to maintain frequent communication with its employees. In a time where job losses are at a record level, there is no doubt that there are bound to be panic and tension amongst employees in the workplace. The board should ensure that the panic and tension are effectively diffused to avoid a negative impact on employees’ performances, and this can be achieved through constant and honest communication of developments with the employees. Honest and constant communication, as well as putting in place protective measures for employees at workplace would facilitate and propel teamwork in the company, which is instrumental in improving service delivery.
The board should also ensure that the company communicates constantly with its customers. Constant communications on the company’s efforts at improving its service delivery and customer experience would ensure the company’s effectiveness during this period. The customers should have a feeling that the company cares about them and is not just after their money. This would facilitate customer loyalty and prevent loss of customers to competitors.
In addition, companies need to be flexible and adaptive during this period. Reports have shown that businesses in e-commerce, communication technology, healthcare & pharmaceuticals and telecommunications have continued to make profits despite the pandemic’s adverse effect on the economy. In order to survive, companies should explore the option of expanding their objects to these unimpacted but profitable businesses. Alternatively, companies may also leverage on the financial boom of these businesses, by exploring the option of servicing their critical needs.
The board needs to also understand the usefulness of technology and leverage same in facilitating business operations. Businesses have become more sophisticated with exchange and critical use of data. Business decisions are sometimes required to be made speedily which require immediate access to critical information and data. With the aid of technology, processes have become automated and it has become easier for companies to track the popularity of their brands, market their products to distant target and track internal performance of employees. In the period of uncertainties, the board must appreciate that technology would play a decisive role in furthering business performance and must be prepared to deploy same.
Whilst the devasting impacts of the pandemic continues to unfold, there is no doubt that the pandemic has created uncertainties for many businesses. A determined board should however be proactive, vigilant, and effective in this critical time. Deploying some of the strategies above would assist a business in surviving and staying effective in the market.