Crisis management in logistics is probably not something you think about when setting out to build your dream business; or watching your existing business grow. We all love to focus on the positives and look to the horizon.
But as COVID-19 has shown, a crisis can arise at any moment and things can develop quickly. Being prepared, planning ahead, and for the worst, can ensure your business is resilient in times of uncertainty.
At Twill we recently delivered a webinar in partnership with SheTrades and Maersk on this very topic and we wanted to share some of the insights we provided.
Understanding the impacts
The first step to good crisis management is a step back; making sure you take stock and understand where your business and your sector fits into our infinitely connected world. By doing this you can begin to understand what crises will have more of an impact on you.
For example, right now many businesses are feeling the effects of COVID-19 on their business, but some will feel it more than others. Those in the hospitality or tourism industry have been among the hardest hit, while those businesses supplying pharmaceuticals might be less impacted.
Some impacts are universal, like disruptions to the supply chain and/or reduction in the supply of labour – but how you respond to them isn’t. While SMEs might lack some of the financial or technological security afforded to larger businesses, you can benefit from less bureaucracy, more rapid decision making and flexibility which allows you to adapt.
The question then is, how do you channel this understanding into a tangible resilience? Well, that comes with building your approach – and you should be prepared both for a proactive (the ideal) response and a reactive (less ideal, but sometimes necessary) response.
A proactive approach will be ideal for the next crisis that affects your business. Again, it starts with building your understanding, before moving through how you can mitigate to avoid it and plan for what happens if you can’t.
A reactive approach is one many businesses might be in the midst of right now, when a crisis arises unexpectedly. In times like these responding rapidly is the key and SMEs are in a better position to do that. A reactive response is never ideal, but if you pull through, it can be a brilliant learning curve and chance to build resilience from experience.
Responding to a crisis
Responding to a crisis is never easy, but it’s important to act decisively in the ways that you can. Remember, unprecedented crises demand unprecedented actions and we have seen that in the last few months.
You can’t control everything, so focus on what you can and keep an eye on everything else and how it might affect you. We suggest building a plan based on short-term defence, near-term response and mid to long-term recovery. In order to do this, ask yourself questions around your four key business components: operations, people, customers and finances/legality.
The questions you ask yourself might be difficult, but the difficult questions are usually the ones you need to face – and better that you face them yourself so that you can understand what needs to be done and respond quickly.
As you answer these questions, you will hopefully begin to see a plan emerge as to what needs to be done quickly – as part of that short-term defence – and what comes into your response and long-term recovery. Prioritise your actions accordingly and flesh out that plan with your team.
It may take a bit of time, but this is how you build resilience – confronting the things you might not want to think about and understanding how you can prepare for them, avoid or mitigate them. It’s a process that, once done, will prove beneficial not just today but for years to come.
Explore the SheTrades webinar series we’ve been a part of today – and if you’re interested in ensuring the security of your cargo and supply chain in uncertain times, get in touch with a member of our team today.