The Great Re-Start

Contemplating an event out of our control that impacts all aspects of our personal and business lives was perhaps something we could not foresee or imagine.  Well, it’s happened (big time), and we are managing through it. 

Managing the Waves

McKinsey has recently published some excellent articles in their Retail Insights related to how current events are impacting retailers.  Articles such as, The CIO’s moment: Leadership through the first wave of the coronavirus and Five Actions Retail Supply Chains can take to Navigate the Coronavirus Pandemic, in which they define several waves for CIO’s to manage against as this incident unfolds and redefines our ways of working.  The initial wave was stabilization, which many firms have achieved and now are migrating to the planning and tactical assessments of how to re-start their own economic engines.   

While everyone can relate to and appreciate the general macro themes, applying them to their own condition, we thought it would be appropriate to also highlight some areas and questions regarding getting businesses up and running. This is a specific area that we have been discussing and working on with our mid-tier clients. 

Getting Your Business up & Running

Some of the first challenges to ripple through companies and IT operations – general access issues related to laptop availability, asset management, enterprise and home networking capability, VPN and application/Cloud licenses, and lack of collaboration and supporting tools standards We all appreciate the ingenuity of our teams and their enthusiasm for keeping their process workstreams flowing. In the absence of standard tools, they will adopt what they know or have available.  If you didn’t have standard tools and appropriate licensing before, you may now have several video streaming and collaboration tools, Cloudbased file management and sharing systems now being used with data scattered across them. 

What Do We Need to Get Back Control and Add Flexibility for the Future?

Closing down stores and warehouses, as well as suppliers shutting down or limiting supply, has caused challenges in understanding inventory positioning.  The wrong season may be in the stores or in transit. What merchandise orders need to be canceled and which expedited? Is communication with the vendors sufficient to confirm the changes in direction?    What is the state of offshore manufacturers?  What changes need to be made in pullbacks, transfers, and allocation decisions depending on how, based on geographic or other conditions, stores are able to open?  How will eCommerce be leveraged from an inventory perspective?   

How Can We Regain Inventory Visibility and Handle the Operational Processing Impacts?

If you’ve had challenges with data accuracy and timeliness in the past, this is going to be an area you’ll likely need to pay attention to.  There is significant emphasis that’s being placed on analysis and analytics. Firms are going to be trying to analyze their current operational situations, go-forward strategies, and placing great demands on reporting and analytic environments.  This is not the time to have degraded network performance, out of sync API’s, dropped queues, and late batch processing.   Also, assess the impacts on your year-to-date data in context with normal operations to determine its relevancy for analytic purposes.   

How Do We Monitor and React Quickly to Data Management, Analytic, and Integration Needs?

Firms have moved into preservation mode and are conserving cash and furloughing staff.  Cost controls will be a key consideration for some time.  This is prime time to be assessing how staffing can be prioritized and phased back-in, and assessing whether there are opportunities to add low cost, highly skilled capacity to address some of the immediate issues now facing IT.    

Can Offshore, Low-Cost Resources Add Immediate Impact and Incremental Skills to Address These Issues and Work Within Compressed Budgets?

While the answers to these questions will be different by company, we wanted to flag awareness of the issues, start a conversation, and offer help in whatever way makes sense for your situation.  If you are going through similar thought processes and would like to discuss planning and resource strategies, adding skills capacity or would just like a sounding board, please connect with us.   

Written by Bill Melvin, VP of Retail

 Bill Melvin is a Retail specialist and a seasoned CIO with extensive executive and hands-on experience.  As VP of Retail for Cyber Group, Bill focuses on the transformational trends impacting our client’s operations, including the design and development of technical strategies, OmniChannel implementations, as well as strategic roadmap planning and execution.  

Give him a call to explore these ideas further!