Mike Tyson famously said, "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." Well, 2020 has punched a lot of organization's in the mouth and companies that thought they had a full proof long-term plan realize they did not.
2020 has been a devastatingly bad year to the likes of which most of us have never seen before. To sum up some of the challenges faced by businesses they first had to temporarily close physical locations, then if lucky enough to work remotely these businesses had to figure out how to operate and collaborate from different locations, and finally they had to implement COVID-19 protocols within their physical and virtual locations. According to research conducted by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), 41.3% of businesses reported that they were temporarily closed because of COVID-19. That's a staggering number that could have been less by doing two things that I'll share later in this article.
Don't Cancel 2020
According to a survey taken in April 2020 by PNAS, 20% of respondents believed that the crisis would be over by the end of May. Thirty percent of respondents believed that the crisis would end between the end of May and the start of July. Just over one half of the firms answered that they thought that the crisis would still be going at the start of July. What does this mean? Don't assume things are going to back to how they were anytime soon or ever again for that matter. If you don't adapt to this new normal and continue to adapt to changing conditions your business will suffer. So how do you continually adopt? You start by doing two things differently.
I know I keep mentioning that there's two things businesses should begin to start doing differently to improve their situations. I also know that I haven't yet told you what these two things are. Is that pure coincidence or by design? I'll let you make the assumption. :)
Ok, the two things that you need to do differently are:
Implement or upgrade to the latest versions of good software from a well reviewed name brand such as Microsoft.
Utilize the suite of software provided.
Why these two things above everything else? Here's why:
Worst Case Scenario
It's 2019 and things are going well for your company. Everyone is coming into the office every day, you're running Dynamics NAV 2018 which is more than powerful enough, you're using Office 365 for email, running daily manual backups of your information, and the future is looking great. Fast forward to March 2020 and you just got word that your business has to temporarily close their physical location to help combat the spread of COVID-19. What do you do? You have the ability to check emails remotely but financials, customer service, HR, project management, reporting, supply chain management, warehouse and inventory management, and everything else can't be done remotely. You can't even do your weekly backup of your information to have in case disaster such as ransomware infection strikes. You begin to panic as you realize this temporary close of your physical location might end up being a permanent one.
It's 2019 and things are going well for your company. You've recognized the industry trend of employees wanting to be more mobile and work remotely. Microsoft has recently launched Dynamics 365 Business Central, a cloud first platform, as the next step to upgrade to after Dynamics NAV 2018. You're on the fence because it has a new and improved interface but you also realize the importance of staying current with technology to take advantage of latest features. You find out that Business Central integrates with Office 365 (which you have and use) and Power BI (which you have but don't use). While doing your research on Office 365 integrations with Business Central you realize that you have access to Microsoft Teams, a powerful collaborative software that can replace and give you more functionality than your Skype for Business software and integrate with Business Central in the future. After deliberating for some time you decide to pull the trigger and upgrade to the latest Microsoft software offerings and setup automatic backups of your data through Azure.
Fast forward to March 2020. You've been using Business Central, Office 365, Power BI, and Microsoft Teams for about 9 moths and everyone is fully trained and acclimated to the new software. You receive word that your office has to temporarily close the physical location to help combat the spread of COVID-19. You quickly panic for a second and then realize that you are fully capable of having a remote workforce. Your Business Central ERP is accessible from anywhere there's a internet connection so financials, customer service, HR, project management, supply chain management, reporting, etc. are all still functional. You even now have the option of doing advanced reporting remotely because of Power BI. With the adoption of Microsoft Teams employees can share data, host meetings, video chat, host webinars, and even interact with customers to help your business through this transition. With the adoption of automated backups through Azure there's not even a need for someone to go into the office to back up your data to be used in case of an emergency. However, you understand that this as with everything else will have a learning curve during this trying time and it's not the ideal situation, but it definitely helps to keep your business running and employees working. In the end you're very happy with your decision to upgrade to the latest software and adopt Microsoft's suite of business software.
Now I ask you to ask yourself, which scenario would you like to be part of going forward? I know my choice!