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  • Parul Bhandari

Accepting 'New Normal' Best Practices - for SME's

Updated: Apr 26, 2020

We’re often hearing the words ‘New Normal’ during this unprecedented time filled with fear and worry. As humans, we are very adaptive & when the coronavirus outbreak began at the beginning of 2020, it was reasonable to think that most of the ‘new’ practices would be temporary. But when the temporary practices have to sustain & begin performing well for more than 2 quarters of a year, you have to think – why undo it all?

One of the most wasteful activity that costs time and money to organizations according to the Six Sigma methodology is ‘Rework’. As a business process expert for the last 15 years, I’m sharing a list of candidate ‘New Normal’ process activities that certainly have plausible reasons to be embraced. Effective new processes can continue and don’t need to be wound back causing rework.

  1. Teamwork & Collaboration: The value of virtual teams and collaborating remotely have emerged as a stronger trend. While face-to-face meetings are far from extinction, the value of virtual meetings have decreased response time, quicker decisions, reduced logistical costs and travel time and expenses. Compassion and staying connected within teams, while caring for team mates in times of difficulty is something that has become a part of us.

  2. Cloud Applications & Video Conferencing: Zoom shares rose up by 40% in February alone with 2.2million new active users according to CNBC. In addition Microsoft Teams can be an indispensable tool to have as it also comes with all other Microsoft365 applications which can be very useful for SME’s. With MS365, you have tighter controls on user data gathering & security. Cloud accounting like Xero allows management of balance sheets and expenses on the go. While there are cloud data storage and backup applications which when employed allows SME’s to be more resilient and be prepared for further growth.

  3. Move To Online Shop: With the reduced foot fall in physical store locations or shops, the current situation has nudged SME’s to move various products and services online. This might have resulted from a reduction in physical customers, but with meticulous planning for the future, e-shop and e-stores can provide an additional platform for sales. Online presence also provides an opportunity to create further brand awareness and to connect with customers via social platforms. Small service oriented businesses have been most hit due to the coronavirus pandemic. So innovative solutions like offering online gift cards is one of the areas where some revenue can still be generated. See details on featured in Forbes for one such new practice. Company named Eazy Diner has collaborated with over 10,000 restaurants in India, to facilitate advance payments in lieu of customer discount cards.

  4. Phone Calls: The traditional way of communication is back on the grid. With benefits of better social connections, direct conversations and to discuss complex matters; the good old method of picking up the phone to call a colleague is more constructive. Allowing for increased productivity, faster communication and reduced wait times, phone calls are here to stay.

  5. Resourcefulness: Working from home or completing tasks with fewer staff members or lower finances have forced us to find workarounds and new methods of working. Using less paper signatures or adapting to automated payments for most transactions, online learning & virtual seminars have emerged as a strong trend for SME’s and Start-ups. Having the attitude of thinking outside the box and making the most of what we have at our disposal has resulted in teams being more ingenious. Small business restaurants for instance have opted for take out food according to Forbes, Burger King has begun contact less drive-thru options, while Amazon is encouraging contact less deliveries; offering easier methods of providing their products and services.

  6. Augmented Planning & Organization: With increased pressure from work, homeschooled children & caring for family members; key traits to plan ahead, add more rigour into future projects and being forced to plan for continuity has surfaced. Building on emergency funds, organising life and company insurances, asset allocation for short term and long term goals have pushed us to be better planned and organised. Unlike before, more scrutiny of contracts particularly for 'Force Majure' clauses & commitment from parties in times of unforeseeable circumstances has proved to be an essential practice, easily missed before. Last but not the least continuing to gain knowledge of financial matters, industry trends and the changing environment has proven to be essential to sustain business operations.

I’m an advocate for change and transformation; especially when it works better for the company in terms of saving time and cost while also encouraging innovation and lean methods. This unusual time due to COVID-19 has allowed us to rethink towards having a resourceful and lean approach. Therefore, if the new practices are working well for an organisation, it’s favorable to continue with them and make them part of standard procedures, rather than causing yet another change cycle for teams to cope with, if undone.

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Apr 17, 2020

Parul - these are great insights and integral for SME’s moving forward.

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