As the challenges presented by COVID-19 continue to affect the workforce around the world, companies are finding new ways to prepare for the next unexpected crisis. The pandemic has highlighted how vitally important it is for businesses to be able to plan for anything and remain efficient, even when the next disruption hits.
Fortunately, various tech solutions provide the opportunity to do just that. In our eyes, one of the most important is automated scheduling, which enables companies to become optimally prepared for the future, whether another virus hits or another type of crisis occurs.
Technology like this gives companies a solid contingency plan, helping them maintain business performance and safety standards while generating important cost-savings. This allows leadership to focus on the myriad of other strategic choices that come up when problems occur.
At Widget Brain, we have developed some key takeaways from this most recent crisis around scheduling and contingency planning, as we have worked with our clients to mitigate exactly these problems. In this post, we’ll take you through our top three learnings and experiences that we believe will help you with your contingency planning when times get uncertain.
Demand has been thoroughly disrupted by the global health situation. Customers may face restrictions on how many times they can leave the house, meaning they visit supermarkets and shops significantly less than before. Restaurants and cafes have to operate on a delivery-only basis in many countries around the world. eCommerce, on the other hand, has experienced a real boost as people stuck at home browse and buy online.
This means many businesses are unsure about the number of customers and sales that they’re due to see in the coming months. Businesses looking for that additional element of control may find it critical to discover their future demand patterns in order to continue running their business as efficiently as possible.
But how do you predict demand when normal demand patterns have changed so significantly? Here are the top recommendations we’ve pulled together:
These elements allow companies to act with their actual demand in mind. For example, restaurants in the recent health crisis may have experienced a quick and sharp reduction of customers in-store but an increased amount of home delivery orders. This changes who needs to be on-shift (restaurant floor staff vs. delivery drivers) and means that hours may be different, too. It is vital for companies to consider this and get the right staff working at the right time.
With any unprecedented challenge, businesses must develop new schedules that account for new tasks and changing timelines. This year, businesses had to install protective plastic between cashiers and customers, increase hygiene standards, and stagger the amount of people in-store. Dealing with these extra tasks changes the timeline of a usual working day. Technology can be used to help account for that.
During challenging times, it’s also true that businesses may change in size; either growing rapidly or downsizing. In the pandemic, some businesses have seen a large rise in their demand, for example, e-commerce stores, that now have to hire more staff in order to fulfill the larger orders they’re seeing.
Conversely, sometimes downsizing is the only viable option. Either way, companies must have a system in place to plan for changes to their labor, recruitment and HR efforts in situations like these. Here are a few ways to tackle that:
Overall, businesses need to ensure that they have updated contingency plans in place, by whatever means necessary. Widget Brain is able to support businesses in their planning for future contingencies, with our automated scheduling solutions. It makes difficult choices easier and this allows companies to focus on navigating your business through difficult times.
When it comes to multi-brand management, it can be quite a task to forecast and schedule accurately for each and every brand. We spoke with Iain Thomson, Operations Planning Manager at Roadchef, about their demand planning challenges and harnessing the power of AI to make highly granular forecasts on brand level, automate their scheduling and plan well ahead of time to make both short and long term strategic business decisions. Read more.
When it comes to child care, parents want the best for their children. G8 Education is one of those trusted centers. We talked with Jason Ball, COO at G8, about their challenges with volatile demand and scheduling efficiency at the start of the COVID-19 crisis and finding the solution in AI and automation to ensure quality care, meet employees’ needs and comply with regulations in their scheduling. Read more.