Dealing with Operational Uncertainty

Uncertainty leads to panic and poor decisions. Whether that be personal, financial, or business decisions, the precariousness of what the future holds leaves many people feeling anxious and companies unsure of the best course of action. Developing strategic and innovative responses will help to navigate the crisis and prepare for the future.

Reactive strategies have largely already been implemented at this time in the coronavirus crisis, with companies reacting to immediate challenges with varying degrees of success. Staff numbers have been decreased, operations scaled back, and remote working initiated where feasible. Critical business functions and key staff have been prioritised and supported to ensure the efficient running of core operations.

But as the situation has developed clarity has not necessarily increased. So how do we deal with operational uncertainty in a time when we do not know how or when we will come out of the crisis?

Maintain Customer Service

While scaling down operations, businesses cannot lose sight of the customer. This can be challenging with restrictions on personal contact needing to be upheld. Many organisations are attempting to provide customers with an increasingly digital service offering. Associated challenges around providing the level of support needed to cater to less tech savvy members of the population can lead to an influx of enquires at a time when many organisations are short staffed.

One possible solution is to use RPA and AI solutions to relieve some of the pressure. These tools can work with human employees to handle queries and manage customer data, providing an efficient but personal service at a time when customers are anxious for answers and information.

"We’re observing that the organisations less impacted by the disruption are the ones who embraced Agile working methodologies, and built/started to build Digital Workplace capabilities and support services" (KPMG)

Move Towards Agile

In recent weeks, the focus has shifted away from reacting to the immediate pressures towards planning for the future and any further uncertainty it may bring. According to a PWC survey with US finance leaders, the ‘majority of respondents (72%) believe their companies will be more agile going forward’ following the changes they have made to the business in response to the pandemic.[2] Proactive strategies that make the business more agile and efficient will ensure operational resilience during and after the crisis.

Stay Competitive

This may seem like a strange time to be worrying about the competition, but times of transformation will set the stage for the future. Strategic planning enables businesses to reprioritise for a stronger competitive edge. Implementing automation solutions now can stave off uncertainty whilst making operations more resilient for the crisis, and securing a stable footing for the future competitive market.

"Organisations making effective investment decisions to build their digital capabilities even during uncertain economic times are poised to increase their competitive advantage.’"(Gartner)

Manage Your Budget

Financial planning is essential in normal times, but businesses’ 2020 budgets quickly became redundant. Agile reforecasting and planning will support the business for the future. For many companies who employ contractors unable to work from home, the gap in workforce creates additional budget to apply alternative strategies. Some organisations are able to reallocate staff budget towards digital transformation projects to make their staff more efficient once they can return to work.

Invest in the Future

To ensure a profitable Return on Investment, care needs to be taken to find the best solution for the business’ needs. Consideration should be given to length of implementation, training requirements, and return on investment. A simple application which can quickly provide solutions with minimal maintenance is most beneficial in today’s environment. With the right choice today, the platform can be upgraded, adapted and extended to bring further benefits and solutions in the longer term.

With digital transformation projects that support operations through efficiency, companies are benefiting from the changes they have been forced to make. Considering strategies to deal with disruption and plan for the future will allow the business to emerge from the crisis more flexible, agile and resilient.

[1] KPMG [2] (PWC May 2020