How Operations Management Technology Helps Prepare for Uncertainty
The COVID-19 crisis brought with it uncertainty and changed the way most people lived their day-to-day lives in 2020. Workplace shutdowns and return to work regulations were constantly in flux and logistics and operations managers were dealt a tough hand trying to manage workflow.
The rollout of new safety procedures, varying staffing levels, and supply chain slowdowns were challenges throughout the pandemic, and organizations that had strong existing operations procedures were more ready to adapt. COVID-19 employee screening quickly became either a suggestion or a requirement, depending on your location, and for many businesses, it is now a small part of your operations management process.
Operations management technology is not new, but the way we use it and how much we rely on it has changed due to the pandemic. While little is known about how long screening and other measures will last, or what form they will take in the future, the framework for crisis management and agile operational processes is here to stay. Here are some ways you can use your operations technology to stay prepared:
Know Your Processes Inside and Out
Any piece of technology is only as good as the information it holds. For many businesses, detailing their current operations procedures is already a complicated exercise. Doing so during a pandemic is even tougher. Organizations who invest in operations software likely have already taken the step of documenting and automating at least part of their internal processes.
If you found yourself running into roadblocks or were unable to get a true picture of how COVID-19 safety procedures could easily fit into your operations, now is the time to optimize and document all current processes.
Inventory and Asset Management
Another common problem organizations have faced is the lack of clarity into their current and future assets, both supply chain inventory and human resources. The nature of COVID-19 means that businesses can never be sure when a staff member may need time off or when a supplier may be impacted by a range of circumstances.
This uncertainty is where operations software and cloud-based employee screening tools have helped companies stay on top of staffing levels and maintain detailed records. Instead of relying on paper-based health screening or manual inventory management you can integrate new tools to existing software or adopt new technology to streamline almost any operations process.
Have Digital Documents Ready
For many businesses, COVID-19 accelerated the need for digital assets and communication tools. Organizations that relied upon paper-based processes or locally-hosted documents or software were quickly behind others who were more prepared to adapt.
For example, adding a simple employee screening tool would take extra time to implement if you didn’t have a staff list with employee details, department, and managerial hierarchy ready to go. Make sure your important documents are updated and that all necessary information is available and accessible at all times to be prepared for any crisis. Luckily, once your information is added to operations software like our MESH platform, your records will be updated automatically so you can continuously and easily maintain accurate records.
You can’t prepare for everything, but COVID-19 has taught us some lessons about how operations can be more flexible. Here are some questions to ask of your current operations management strategy:
- How well was your organization able to ensure the well-being of your staff, the public, and the safety of your assets during the crisis?
- Did you have well-coordinated and standardized communication systems and protocols to ensure clear and transparent communication with staff, stakeholders, and customers?
- How could your crisis management or health and safety teams have better foreseen risks and initiated responses faster?
- What processes are in place to assess future risks and what countermeasures have been developed during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- Have you defined supply chain, production, and staffing risks that were unexpected during the crisis, and how you can mitigate these risks in the future?