Can ERP Protect Your Business From COVID-19?

Can ERP protect your business from the economic fallout of COVID-19? That\’s a bold question. Given what we\’ve experienced over the past 18-months, it\’s also an excellent question. Considering the world is witnessing virus mutations and variants making our health this coming winter concerning, this is also a necessary time to discuss. 

While we wince at the idea of another global lockdown, as business owners, we have to open our eyes to that frightening possibility and be prepared. 

Benefiting from hindsight, we know retail businesses that didn\’t have a good web presence found themselves in a world of hurt. Customers could not drive to their local store during the lockdown and make everyday purchases. Between quarantine mandates and general health concerns, commerce went the way of delivery. 

Service-based industries felt the pain, too, as they found barren offices when their staff went home in March 2020 and never returned. Team members capable of remote work did so, while others remained idle or unemployed. The difference between success and failure under these circumstances often fell on the shoulders of technology. 

Companies that adopted cloud technologies pre-pandemic generally experienced less disruption to continue business under this new normal. The others scrambled to cobble together a plan of action that would allow them to stay afloat. 

Would your business be adequately prepared during another lockdown?

Being Prepared

Maintaining a team of remote workers requires technology but also a mindset shift. The effects of working from home on an employee can vary greatly. In some cases, the staff may feel isolated and no longer part of a team. In others, productivity may skyrocket as those working from home often skip the one-hour lunch break and don\’t necessarily close the laptop at 5 pm. A shift in how one defines \”working\” is necessary with either scenario. 

Once the concept of remote working takes hold, the next phase focuses on relieving pain points. And, this is where technology plays a significant role. 

During the global lockdown, there were many heroes. Among them were our health care providers who stepped up in ways unimaginable pre-pandemic. Those classified as \”essential workers,\” especially those in the grocery industry, made personal sacrifices to provide food and everyday items that are, well, essential to our daily lives. 

Our IT professionals are one such group not often recognized in the media for their heroic efforts. As business owners and company workers, we witnessed [first-hand] the magic produced by our tech departments during high-stress times and when provided no warning. These folks had to supply computers, set up remote file sharing volumes, VPN controls, remote support, and much more in many cases. The difference between this process being pleasurable or painful for everyone involved was predicated on whether the company was prepared in advance. 

Keeping it together

One system the IT teams employed—or wish they did sooner—was a solid ERP platform. ERP, or Enterprise Resource Planning, ties together the entire organization, keeping data centralized. When pulling information from one source of truth, knowledge share is nearly instant, and data entry redundancies are eliminated. These are essential perks during \”normal\” business times but exponentially greater in a pandemic. 

With remote workers, it\’s no longer possible to stroll down the office corridor or turn your chair towards another cubicle to catch up on the status of a project. Leveraging a cloud-based ERP keeps your team up-to-speed on the latest changes regardless of their physical location. 

Since manufacturing product is not viable from one\’s home, at least at scale, nor is order fulfillment and shipping, warehouse team members often found themselves classified as \”essential workers\” and back in the plant. All the while, their front office counterparts participated remotely. Without a robust ERP, each team\’s full view of an order status was impaired, which makes it challenging to know which supplies to reorder, how many, and when.

Disconnected teams can have an equally tough time when handling product returns and placing shipped items back in stock. This can lead to dissatisfied customers, lost inventory, and missed opportunities.

Cloud Collaboration is Key

When the pandemic hit, those tied to office-housed servers found themselves on the back foot. Companies that operated with independent, siloed, and team-specific databases quickly discovered the flaws in their workflow. The key is to collaborate between teams seamlessly and do so on a cloud platform, accessible anywhere. 

While we don\’t know when the next lockdown will strike, we now know how to be prepared if it does. If your company isn\’t leveraging the flexibility and power of an ERP, now\’s the time. Contact us today to find out more!

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