We’re in the midst of a crisis that nobody expected, where organizations have had to rethink their operations, focus on remote working, and learn how to adapt their processes and their workforce to the proverbial next normal. With the surge in remote work, businesses are scrambling to ramp-up existing systems, or are attempting to onboard new systems to support employees working from home. A well-thought-out plan to keep your business up and running, and improve your operational processes, is critical, today, more than ever.
How can you continue to increase your business efficiency and productivity? How can you move ahead and get your organization “back to business” – primed and ready for further challenges down the road? And how can you best support your operations, to achieve better, faster, and more accurate results, today?
As you continue to stay connected with your employees, customers, and suppliers, many of whom will continue to work remotely for some time, you can take proactive steps to strengthen and maintain your business continuity. Here are some practical recommendations to help you jumpstart the process, streamline your activities, and more important, keep your business… moving forward.
1. Engage with employees, customers and suppliers
To guarantee business continuity, you must involve your employees, and keep them informed and up-to-date on relevant organizational processes, and on their individual tasks. Technology is essential in ensuring your employees stay connected, productive, and can collaborate with colleagues in real-time. Make sure information can be easily accessed from different locations, and prepare your company’s IT Help Desk for a surge in technical support questions. Keep the lines of communication with your customers and suppliers – open. Let them know exactly what they can expect from you/ your organization at this time. Be honest and straightforward. Refrain from making promises or setting targets you are unable to keep.
TIP: As more and more people are shopping online, businesses are fast discovering their great potential, and with it, the necessity of e-commerce. Take advantage of this ‘quieter’ period in the market to explore this option, if relevant for your products or services.
2. Ensure your infrastructure is remote work-ready
Remote work can put a strain on different areas of your infrastructure. Do you have the right tools in place to ensure that your employees can be fully operational when they’re not working in the office? Do they have their own laptop, mobile phone, a reliable Internet connection, and access to relevant software or systems? If your business is using cloud-based technology, your employees can comfortably work from home, or alternatively, from any location. You don’t need to worry about data access and storage, and employees can focus on the tasks at hand. If you’re using on-premise applications, make sure they are readily available for your employees. Do you have a sufficient number of VPN licenses to cover employees who require remote access to on-premise apps?
IMPORTANT NOTE: Keep in mind that your bandwidth requirements will change over time. User traffic will spike, and shift from outbound to inbound traffic, so you need to ensure your network infrastructure can support your entire workforce.
3. Keep your software up-to-date
Cybercrime, criminal activity that either targets or uses a computer, a computer network, or a networked device, is constantly changing. Updating your software when prompted, is vital to address network weaknesses and vulnerabilities. This is not only critical for hardware and operating systems, but also business management software/ERP systems, and other third-party software. By updating your business software to the latest version, you have access to new features, and you’ll receive regulatory and tax updates, such as ISO, GDPR, and MTD (in the UK). Up-to-date versions can help your business take advantage of new functionalities and innovations to stay ahead of your competitors. What’s more, it will help you comply with new government, tax or banking regulations, and prevent paying additional fees or penalties for noncompliance.
TIP: Cloud applications include automatic updates on a regular basis to give users the most up-to-date features and functionality. Your IT department won’t need to track when updates are required, nor have to perform them manually.
4. Data security is key
The transition to remote work and allowing employees to access company data from different locations and from personal mobile devices, raises concerns about access control, data encryption, wireless connection security, loss or theft prevention, and other security threats, such as malware and phishing. It’s important to prevent security breaches, and protect your critical business data as best you can. Introducing privacy regulations, data security protocols, disaster recovery, access control, and user-level privileges (permissions), requires careful consideration and implementation. Ensure your organization is enforcing the necessary security policies, such as data encryption/data masking, network firewalls, anti-virus, intrusion prevention, and periodic backups.
Cloud ERP solutions are equipped with good security standards. Data and network security risks are greatly diminished, as cloud providers have systems in place to effectively detect, mitigate and remediate security threats. In other words, cloud solutions dramatically reduce the time, resources and costs of managing and maintaining IT systems. Your job is to focus on other areas of vulnerability, such as application-level security, and user access.
TIP: Because your business data is stored in the cloud, it remains safe, and can be easily accessed, even if your computer or mobile device is compromised, lost, or stolen.
5. Gain real-time insights and measurable productivity.
Your team’s productivity may decrease by working remotely. Although working from home can be very productive for some, it can also cause anxiety and distraction for others. Companies that achieve real-time insights into their employees’ performance are exceedingly more productive. This leads to making better-informed business decisions, and gain tighter control of your operations. A holistic view of your operations is critical to your business success. In addition to the trust you place in your employees, you must also be able to monitor their activities. Which customer service calls were made? What results were achieved? How many actual billable hours? A number of price quotes generated? A number of invoices sent? The list is long.
These are just some of the tools you need to ramp up your operations today, and grow your business, tomorrow. If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of ERP implementation in your organization, contact us to schedule a no-obligation call with one of our ERP experts.