As businesses begin to ascend from the challenges posed by COVID-19, the focus is rapidly turning to ways to improve competitiveness. The world has changed, which means the marketplace has changed, and what worked in the pre-pandemic landscape may not be as effective in the future. Organisations need to understand how to become battle-ready in 2021.
While some companies thrived during the pandemic, others merely coped, and still more struggled. The companies that survive and thrive tend to focus on the basics and look for ways to strengthen their operations during challenging times. However, the way companies approach these basics can be the difference between thriving and struggling.
Here are the three key areas to focus on to make businesses battle-ready in 2021:
One of the first instincts of any business manager during difficult times is to cut costs. However, experience has shown that this can be a shortcut to disaster.
Following the Global Financial Crisis, organisations that focused purely on cost-cutting saw their revenues drop significantly faster than the costs saved. This has a direct effect on the customer and employee experience, making it difficult to compete effectively.
Cost management is about more than just indiscriminate cuts. Without strategic investment, companies can stymie growth, prevent the ability to scale, choke off innovation, and miss out on growth opportunities. While it may seem counter-intuitive, smart spending can pay off exponentially in times of uncertainty.
To manage costs more strategically, it's essential to identify areas where costs can be controlled without impacting the business's ability to compete. This can mean investing in other areas to maximise revenue. Reallocating resources is often a smarter approach.
Instead of a knee-jerk reaction to cut costs, business leaders should take time to review current spending through a strategic lens, then plan to invest in a targeted way to get more value from existing expenditure.
Purchasing and procurement
Maintaining purchasing relationships with organisations because of inertia is no longer feasible for battle-ready organisations. Instead, it's crucial to review vendor and supplier relationships to ensure they remain profitable, contribute to the organisation's overarching goals, and deliver a true partnership.
In a long-term relationship, business leaders need to feel that they're working alongside vendors and suppliers. Organisations need their suppliers to be profitable to guarantee supply, so supporting the suppliers that support the business is essential. It's a symbiotic relationship that needs to be strategically nurtured.
Organisations looking to grow should consider what resources and capabilities they have to support that growth. This includes managing assets effectively for a stronger return on investment, investing in suitable models for growth, and building agility to let the business pivot as needed.
Organisations must find a way to sweat the assets they already have — but that doesn't mean continuing to invest in assets that no longer deliver a strong return. In some cases, it may make more sense to upgrade or replace assets strategically to deliver more capacity that will empower the business to move into new market segments.
With this in mind, business leaders should review how they pay for assets and determine whether a capex or opex approach suits the business best. In many cases, acquiring assets via operational expenditure is a better way to preserve capital and maintain cash flow while upgrading equipment, but this isn't always the right approach; it's important to make this decision based on all the available data.
Organisations looking to become battle-ready in 2021 should examine each aspect of the business to apply strategic cost management, review purchasing and procurement relationships, and consider resourcing.
One key area that can deliver strong returns is print management.
An effective print management strategy can deliver four key benefits:
1. Cost control — By implementing detailed print rules and reducing waste through pull printing and other sustainability initiatives, organisations can significantly reduce their print-related costs.
2. Waste minimisation — Automating tasks such as job deletion and gaining transparency to environmental impact can help companies minimise their waste. This has positive environmental effects, and lets companies demonstrate their green credentials to customers, potentially earning more business.
3. Improved security — When pull printing and other waste management policies are implemented, there is less chance of sensitive documents being left on the printer, susceptible to theft or even accidental loss. Security delivered by print management providers can also help close the gaps created by connected devices, preventing hackers from accessing digital documents sent to and from printers and scanners.
4. Convenience — During the COVID-19 recovery, organisations need to direct their resources towards growth and efficiency. A print management strategy can reduce the amount of in-house resources wasted on dealing with printing issues, freeing up staff members to focus on building the business.
2021 has the potential to be an exciting time for businesses that are ready to seize opportunities for growth and expansion. Focusing on these three areas to become battle-ready will help businesses position themselves to take full advantage of the opportunities they see without incurring undue risk.