Businesses should set up their own ‘Command Centre’ to respond to COVID-19 pandemic

View from the Carlton Centre, Africa's tallest building. Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa. Photo Credit: Adamina (www.flickr.com).

Businesses in South Africa are looking for the most effective ways in which to manage their response to the coronavirus pandemic and to restart operations. A leading management consultancy believes that an appropriate approach would be to follow the example of Government in setting up their own version of a “Command Centre”.

With offices in more than 40 countries around the world, global management consultancy Kearney has developed a research guide on the steps that business owners should put in place in response to COVID-19.

Kearney believes that this is the time to take immediate action and figure out how to stay relevant as the pandemic develops and moves across the world, and across all aspects of our continent. If businesses want to keep their doors open and protect their workforce at the same time, a rapid response framework is needed, and this will help set companies on a solid footing for what comes next.

The consultancy’s Managing Director for Africa, Mr Theo Sibiya, points out that there are three crucial steps that businesses need to be put in place:

  1. Establish a COVID-19 Command Centre: Business should set up a command centre immediately. The command centre should take an agile approach to operations, using digital tools to enable rapid updates and collaboration across functions.
  2. Build a comprehensive plan for COVID-19 impact: A full rapid response considers all the functions of an enterprise, which would include:
    • Commercial: The business should understand whether there will be an immediate shift in consumer behaviours resulting from COVID-19. Business managers should determine whether customer polices, and priorities require revision and how to improve consumer communications, and the steps needed to protect the brand and improve long-term relationships.
    • Financial: Financial forecasts should be modified to consider realistic and worst-case scenarios. Businesses should develop profit-improvement initiatives to cover anticipated revenue gaps, such as near-term procurement efforts and supply chain cost reductions.
    • Human Capital: HR teams need to confirm the safety and support of all employees and have a clear employee communication strategy with two-way feedback.
    • Operations: Operations teams should understand changes to customer demand and make sure the sales team can adapt to rapid changes. They should have plans in place to protect the safety of manufacturing employees and avoid shutdowns if possible.
    • Technology: IT and tech departments should make sure that the business’ network can handle sizable work-from-home efforts and that workers are maximizing their use of virtual meeting spaces and other communication platforms.
  3. Protect your value chain: COVID-19 will ultimately impact every step of the value chain. Manufacturers are responding to shifting demand and labour shortages, while retailers face increased demand for many products and supply shortages. A business’customers’ purchasing behaviours may be erratic as they sort out what the COVID-19 pandemic means for them.

Mr Sibiya is available to unpack the strategies that businesses need to consider in the coming months. Should you be interested in chatting to him, please let us know and we will gladly facilitate this.

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