In the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, our faith in existing enterprise systems, protocols and technology has been severely tested. Many retailers who once relied on brick-and-mortar stores as their primary point of sale have been forced to pivot to e-commerce and delivery strategies. Meanwhile, grocery stores can hardly keep the shelves stocked to meet booming demand, and electronic and technology service providers are overwhelmed with requests.
The question enterprise leaders need to be asking right now isn’t “Should we adapt our supply chain process and technology?” Adaptation and modernization are no longer optional — they are vital to a company’s survival and ability to remain competitive in an evolving marketplace.
“Should we?” stays at the surface level. It’s time to go a level deeper and explore the strategies that will carry your enterprise into the future, starting with these key questions:
Where Are the Gaps?
The first step is identifying the gaps in your supply chain. Consider:
Work with a partner to conduct a thorough analysis of your systems and technology to identify the key gaps and, more importantly, how they’re affecting your bottom line. Then you can set about the task of finding solutions.
Who Are the Key Players?
Before making any changes, whether incremental or more significant, it’s important to consider all the key players. From top-line management to I.T. to warehouse teams, each person plays a vital role in making the enterprise run. Source feedback from multiple perspectives to analyze the gaps in production, and consider how each part of the enterprise will be impacted by any changes.
What Is Your Timeline?
You’re driving down the highway and you hear the loud thump, followed by the plateauing speed that can only mean one thing: a flat tire. What’s your next move? Do you get out of the car and try to change the tire while the car is still going 70 mph? Of course not. You may adjust your speed or modify your driving style, but you’re going to wait to change the tire until you’re off the highway and able to stop.
Right now, some businesses have slowed to a halt, while others are experiencing a sudden, unplanned increase in activity. Assess the pace at which your organization is currently functioning, and whether or not that pace is conducive to structural change. If you’re among those experiencing increased demand and activity, you might want to take stock and make more incremental changes, bearing in mind a long-term strategy. If it’s a slow period, consider whether it’s an opportunity to retrofit and invest in new infrastructure for the future.
What Are Workable Solutions?
After identifying the gaps in your supply chain, it’s all about finding workable solutions that will strengthen your supply chain for the future and create a measurable impact on your company’s productivity and bottom line.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Depending on your company’s growth strategy, culture and capital resources, the path forward will differ. However, for many companies, these are the key pillars:
Other solutions for enterprise leaders to consider include partnering with an end-to-end device-management group to alleviate the burden on internal I.T. staff and free up those critical teams to focus on value-add projects. Device rentals are another option for companies looking to add capacity in a quick, cost-effective way while still weighing long-term options.
In many ways, COVID-19 has expedited the inevitable. An increasingly technology-driven and mobile workforce? The ability to be more flexible and agile? These were already growing trends. Many of the pain points companies are feeling right now are rooted in pre-existing gaps in infrastructure and technology. Before, we had the time to gradually evolve. Now, the pressure to adapt is more immediate. Investing in modern infrastructure now will strengthen the supply chain and empower companies to innovate and succeed in the future.
Shane Snyder is president of Barcoding, Inc.
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