The COVID-19 pandemic is still raging on, threatening businesses as well as economies as it has brought unprecedented challenges that the world must grapple with in the coming years. The pandemic brought with it the need for organisations to relook at business models for business continuity, safeguard employees and ensure products and services are delivered to customers.
Shiraz Lye, Managing Director/ Vice President Sales, IFS South Asia, explains how global enterprise applications company IFS adapted to the challenges posed by the pandemic, and ensured its enterprise software continued to deliver value to customers through operational flexibility and resilience.
“Agility is an essential catalyst for business transformation. It allows an enterprise to embrace market and operational changes—and realize new opportunities when faced with unforeseen challenges. Companies that have invested in agile enterprise software are in a much better position to manoeuvre challenging situations like this.”
Here are some learnings shared by the global enterprise applications company on how it withstood these challenges and ensured its enterprise software delivered value to customers.
Serving Customers against all odds
Lye explained that, when the lockdown was imposed, customer-facing teams, predominantly sales and consulting, were called upon to pay special attention to customers in order to help them sustain their business. With that in mind, IFS continued its operations during the pandemic with a well-planned work from home (WFH) model. Certain customers wanted to slow down operations while others needed to accelerate their projects, so it was a matter of identifying the customer’s requirement and repositioning the projects accordingly. With a high-spirited WFH team, we were able to continue our go-live projects and sign new deals despite the challenging market conditions.
Realigning go-to-market strategy
He went on to say, “the pandemic was truly a test of the disaster readiness of companies. Top of mind for many business leaders has been “How do I manage my business now and in the near future, even as immediate priorities are to protect employees and ensure business continuity?” Our customers were able to see a snapshot view of operations right from their homes when the lockdown was imposed. Based on such information, customers were able to plan in the new normal without disruptions and subsequently realign and execute go-to-market strategies.
IFS Runs IFS
Shiraz Lye pointed out that the company had already implemented its own ERP solution across the entire business, thereby connecting regional teams to a single version of the truth across its 50 plus offices worldwide. By unifying the business on a central platform, all front-line and back-office staff were able to continue operations, giving management full visibility of the entire business operations and enabling quick and well-informed decision making. This was one of the key enablers of the WFH model globally.
Adapting to a new reality
Companies also need to frame a near-term strategy that prepares businesses for recovery. The near-term moves are mostly tactical improvements that allow a company to operate better in the current landscape by tackling certain challenges head on. The imperatives include:
Digital Supply Chains—Companies need real-time visibility to better manage supply chains. This will allow them, for example, to incorporate weather patterns, port delays, and supplier issues into their decisions, and to take immediate action. Because of social distancing requirements, they also need to run operations and supply chains with fewer workers and reconfigure warehouses and warehouse management systems.
Digital Finance, Procurement, and HR Functions—Companies need advanced automation that enables employees to operate from home. For example, a supplier would be able to submit an invoice online which would go through the standard approval process and get paid for an item that had been procured, without the hassle of physically delivering invoices to the premises.
Consumer and Go-to-Market Trends—Companies need to cope with an explosion of consumer data as consumption patterns change. They need to be able to adapt to the changing volumes of orders, realign production lines and be able to produce goods in demand arising due to the crisis.
Open, Collaborative Ecosystems—Companies need to collaborate digitally with suppliers, for example, to forecast demand for future orders or even look at replacing offshore vendors that have been cut off from transportation.
Operational Visibility—Enterprise software can help address all these business challenges as it provides companies real-time transparency with respect to sales, operational costs, inventory, production, and financials. Powerful data-driven analytics enables more agile decisions, such as adjustments to the supply chain to improve resilience.
Shiraz Lye concludes, “Companies need to frame a long-term strategy to win in the new environment that emerges after the pandemic. Businesses should cut out the complexity arising from traditional processes and embrace technology as an enabler for future growth. Enterprise software should be looked at as an investment in creating business that are future ready, enabling organization-wide collaboration, simplified business processes, and real-time visibility of business operations.