Global supply chain issues have generated ripple effects from widespread shortages of raw materials and products. Escalating wages have businesses competing for talent. The hybrid work model changes operating processes. Technology advances quickly but the workforce might not be prepared for it. Businesses need to adapt swiftly and become a more cohesive organization.
There are three areas where businesses need to rethink their priorities and approaches.
- Investment in operations
Businesses consider operations to be a cost centre as it does not generate revenue. Thinking that minimizing expenses is key to attain a healthy bottom-line, many businesses delay operational investments. Subsequently, piecemeal investments lead to siloed departments working with disparate systems and inefficient processes.
To minimize expenses, an auto parts distributor delayed investments in a bigger warehouse and a proper warehouse management system. Movement of inventory between multiple warehouse locations delayed deliveries. The archaic inventory system was not able to provide up-to-date inventory status. It caused problems for partners. These issues held back growth.
Access to up-to-date information is essential for timely responses and decision making in any operations. A business could not afford to have operations hold back its capability to serve its customers.
- Collaboration between marketing and operations
Marketing develops campaigns and programs to promote sales. It focuses on creating appealing offers. Often, it involves operations late in the planning phase. As a result, operations has little time to prepare for the launch.
The food industry learned the hard way when it rolled out the mobile order app. While customers enjoyed the convenience, restaurants and cafes were ill prepared to handle the high volume of takeout orders. Dine-in restaurant customers, for example, ended up waiting for their food because chefs were swamped by the takeout orders. Similarly for Starbucks, drinks ready for pickup took up so much space that baristas had to work around them. Both customers and employees were frustrated.
Operations is the engine that keeps the business running. Customer-facing activities need operations’ input in order to ensure execution would work as planned. Therefore, it is critical to engage operations early to identify issues and incorporate appropriate changes.Operations is the engine that keeps the business running. Click To Tweet
- Investment in employees
Good talent is difficult to find and retaining them is a challenge. In the 2022 Fortune Best Companies to Work For report, great companies prioritize employee well-being, inclusion, purpose, listening and care.
A manufacturing company was hard hit by employee turnover. Extended periods of overtime work not only led to burnout, it generated additional stress for families. Employees felt the company had little interest in their well-being. Few employees got promoted over the years. To make the situation worse, newly hired managers were bad leaders. When the owner understood the culprits, he invested in employee programs and leadership training. Turnover became miniscule.
Culture in every business sets the tone for behaviors throughout the organization. Adequate investment in employees is necessary to build the proper work environment and develop the appropriate skills. Employees leave when they feel there is little they value by staying in the job.
As important as it is to be innovative with products and services, the above areas require just as much attention as they afford a business to be more agile. Operating in a fast changing business environment, it becomes crucial to consider these mindset shifts for a robust operation.