The world is facing a level of crisis that we have not seen for generations. Countries are in lockdown and individuals, businesses and governments are learning to adapt daily to changing circumstances. It’s impossible to predict the long-term effects of COVID-19 but worldwide people are feeling the effects, and businesses and economies are wondering about the long-term impact.
Planning for South Africa’s lockdown had to happen rapidly and many critical decisions, with far reaching repercussions, had to be made really quickly. The knock-on effect, of course, was that South African businesses had to respond in the same way.
What was the effect of Covid-19 on Essential Services?
Businesses deemed as ‘essential services’ have been allowed to remain in operation, but working within a climate of interrupted supply chains, extraordinary demand (for certain services and products), workforce complications (transport, remote working, ill-health), reduced income and productivity and more. It has not been easy for them to adapt and in a short amount of time we have seen both great successes and failures.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) tells us that businesses “are calling for governments to intelligently and flexibly implement pandemic response policies to avoid freezing the supply system for medical goods at a time when they’re most needed”. The WEF also states that right now, “businesses need flexibility to adapt production to manufacture critical goods; the supply chain finance to keep suppliers working, and the legal adaptability to cope with practical problems such as accepting digital signatures to minimize human contact”.
How does a small to medium sized business navigate an ever-changing crisis of this magnitude with sound business-making decisions? Sean Fowles, new business sales representative at Seidor explains that the key is to be able to understand the full picture using business intelligence and rock-solid systems. “At the moment it is critical for businesses to adapt to market and environmental changes on a daily basis and to do that they need an integrated system that gives them real-time data,” adds Fowles.
Says Fowles, “Efficient resource management is difficult to do without access to reliable and up to date information. An effective integrated business system like SAP Business One gives companies the tools they need in order to move quickly, diversify suppliers (if needed), shift production to focus on current needs and keep business continuity (despite the changes) using the right technology.”
SAP Business One provides businesses access to real-time updates across the company with instant sharing of information from factories, warehouses, project sites or customer locations. This helps to speed up the processing of orders and to address any product, project or client issues timeously.
Essential services in South Africa are currently responsible for, among other things, feeding the country and supplying critical health-care services. The effective supply of these two services are a make or break for the country at the moment. It is worth noting what the WEF lists as lessons learnt from previous crises in terms of how we manage our solutions going forward:
- Improve the international and interagency compatibility of resilience standards and programmes.
- Ensure that supply chain and transport risks are assessed as part of procurement, management and governance processes.
- Develop trusted networks, made up of suppliers, customers, competitors and government officials, that are focused on risk management.
- Improve the visibility of network risks through information sharing and development of standardized risk assessment and quantification tools.
- Improve risk communication before and after disruptions to create a more balanced public- and private-sector discussion.
Governments, businesses and individuals are all learning as they go along at the moment. This crisis is unprecedented but it also offers great opportunity for SMEs in the essential services space to step up and offer real value in the fight against COVID-19. The trick is to make sure businesses are equipped with the best tools possible to help them find adaptable solutions as and when it is required.
Click here to read more about thee effects of COVID-19 on the Distribution Industry
Written by Sean Fowles