What is COVID-19 Teaching Us

Two major lessons we have learnt in the last 4 months; we as humans do not have total control and dominion over our environment and that we need to look after each other. Are there some, if any, trying to go back the pseudo-comfortable, non-sustainable, non-agile pre-covid era?

Yes, business will return as it always has, some will have been in the right place and the right mindset, with the right product/service to make the most of a catastrophe, for the rest of us it is not so good. The question is, what has been learnt and are we putting these learnings into practice. Are we evolving as people, as businesses and societies to manage this return to business.

There will be a huge number of specific lessons for businesses but with a broad brush I propose that we should, as businesses, have learnt some generic, wide reaching lessons and be taking actions to update our processes and policies to reflect the new normal. The obvious ones that comes to mind:

  • How do we keep velocity up in the decision-to-implementation process? We had a LOT of noise and extended project time within business, with the discussions, budgeting, planning and execution. Yet when time was seen as critical because of the situation we got things over the line in months instead of years.
  • Have all the contracts been reviewed and updated for new, realistic and versatile SLAs/KPIs, termination triggers and with flexibility to cover unexpected events.
  • Have alternative sourcing protocols been instigated. Have supply lines been reviewed for potential outages and solutions agreed with suppliers.
  • BCP (Business Continuity Plans) – this is the document that for so long was only given lip-service. So… has a BCP been drafted and in place, covering many, broad scenarios.
  • Have HR and WHS policies and systems been put in place that will ensure the safety and welfare yet effectiveness of all employees. Is WFH a new paradigm within the business? Has the working “space” been reviewed?
  • Cyber-tech. Any lessons here? Was software and hardware adequate (also the current trend for security breaches must be included). Did you manage without issues? Is this area a major part of your new BCP – what happens if there was a software COVID, a major, self-propagating virus that had no “vaccine” yet far more contagious than we have seen to date (rest assured, someone will be working on designing one). Most could recover but the outcome for too many could be fatal.
  • Psychological impacts and fallout from a major incident how are they going to be handled and addressed. People will be anxious and more focused on self-preservation (jobs and lives). Will there be an avoidance of risk, will this add value or limit the ability of your business to survive. Plus, the fallout will not just included employees, there will be multiple stresses placed on everyone within society, including suppliers, customer and investors. All will now have their own priorities.

Those are some of the lessons that I can quickly think of to date, there will be more as the economy improves for as history shows, the economy will not return like the slow turning of a tap, it will come in surges and waves.

So you survived the initial downturn, do you have systems and people in place who can work with agility and velocity to keep up with a variable, unknown return.

There will be changes in all areas of life, especially now as we have a second wave of COVID-19 rolling through many countries, reinforcing the fact that we are not as invincible as we thought and yet we are capable of stepping up when we have too.

Overall lesson: do we now know HOW and WHEN to step up.


Improving your Freight Costs 2 – Required History

Phase-2: The method I am using here is to enable you to compare the potential costs of different Freight Providers if you deliver Nationally or at least over a two States. The savings or differences between Providers can be up to 53% (this is an actual figure from a project I am currently doing!).

Once you have the history file of all your consignments for the relevant period together and in a spreadsheet, you should also have all the data for each consignment on one line, with the different types of data in specific columns. You can now remove all the information (columns) that reference a customer or receiver’s name and address (referred to as “Consignee”, while you are the “Consignor”).

What should remain are the following columns:

Date, Consignment No, Destination Suburb, Destination Post Code, Actual Weight, Volume, Number of Pieces.

If you send consignments from more than one place, you will need to include the Sender’s Suburb and Post Code.

Your history file has now been de-sensitised, yet retains all the information required by your preferred/selected carriers (freight providers) to work out an appropriate quote. Now before you send this off, you need to decide what is important to you and your customers. Also be aware, you do not need to send this information to the carriers, you can always just ask for their rate-card, but this would mean you do all the work in the spreadsheet.

Phase-3 of the project is to make a list of the performance standards you will be asking your carriers to provide for comparison. You will also be asking for a copy of all their ancillary charges (these are the ones that can really hurt the pocket if you are not aware of them up front). Next time, I will give you a list of the standards I look for.