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Repurposing your business skill set and services in times of crisis

At this moment in time, many businesses have been stuck in limbo, unable to continue delivering their core service, but wanting to play a part in battling the Coronavirus pandemic.

One way for businesses to do this is by rethinking their product or service - whether that be a t-shirt manufacturer moving to make masks for the NHS or a van rental service offering home deliveries.

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Repurposing your business skill set and services in times of crisis

At this moment in time, many businesses have been stuck in limbo, unable to continue delivering their core service, but wanting to play a part in battling the Coronavirus pandemic.

One way for businesses to do this is by rethinking their product or service - whether that be a t-shirt manufacturer moving to make masks for the NHS or a van rental service offering home deliveries.

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 In this article, we’ve outlined 5 key steps to consider when repurposing your skills and resources to deliver a new service, and how to do it quickly, effectively and with minimum risk.  


1).       Talk to others

Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone, write an email or reach out on social media to your local community when evaluating how you and your business can support.

In order to understand how best to tackle the crisis, meet existing needs and find new opportunities, collaboration and clear communication within your business and your local community is crucial.  

By connecting with other companies, government bodies and local organisations, you’ll be able to understand the best role your business could play in preventing the crisis. As global management consulting firm Kearney iterate in their guide to rapid asset repurposing, it’s vital to keep cross-organisational interfaces to a minimum during this period, while at the same time keeping communication channels open and flexible.  

This approach will not only help you decide what you need to focus on, but how best to manage your delivery once you’ve developed your new product or service – who it should support and how to it fits into their current operations. 

There have been several cases recently where companies have developed new products or services to help the NHS tackle COVID-19 but have been unsure of where or how to get such provision to the health service in need.

 Make sure you have spoken to all relevant parties first, to ensure your service meets the right need at the right time.  

2).       Use existing solutions as much as possible

Many clothing suppliers have turned to making non-surgical masks.

Before you look at creating a completely new service evaluate your current skills set and resource.  

You may not realize it at first, but even though it may no longer be ‘business as usual’ your organization and its members may have skill sets and existing solutions that can be repurposed to solve the particular crisis need at hand. 

There are many great examples of where this has currently been put to use, whether that be gin producers turning their alchohol into disinfectant or fast-food outlets brokering staff-sharing deals to support supermarkets under strain, there is lots of potential for your business to use its existing abilities to make a real difference. 

Evaluate your current offering first – is there a way you can minimise change and tweak your service to offer an appropriate solution?  

3).       Focus on solving the problem at hand

Focus on the main reason for your product or service.

If you’ve decided that you need to develop a new solution, additional features and ‘nice-to-haves’ should be put to one side during a crisis.  

Clearly understand the problem and set key goals and objectives with milestones to measure progress. This is essential to making sure you deliver on the problem you’re trying to solve, in as little time as possible. 

4).       Re-think management structures and resource

Limiting management structures will help you deliver the product or service quicker.

When you’re trying to rapidly develop a new solution, big committee meetings are the last thing you need. Don’t let traditional hierarchies and procedures get in the way of creating a viable product or service, quickly and efficiently.  

Also, don’t let your teams vital work get drowned out by day-to-day activity. Ring-fence resource within your team (if possible), with the sole purpose of delivering on your project objective. 

You can also minimise processes by ensuring direct reporting lines and delegating a single decision maker who can quickly make choices from which you can move on. This will not only improve the speed of your processes but enable focus and minimise risk. 

5).       Think minimal product, maximum testing 

When developing a new product or service rapidly you need to think differently about what you’re delivering.

It’s all about minimal viable products and continuous testing in this situation. If this isn’t something your business is familiar with it will be crucial to invest time in finding out more about this and how it can benefit your company.  

When doing this remember it’s ok to have limited resources when delivering protoypes – don’t feel you need to invest in lots of resource at this stage. Once you’ve tested your solution, you’ll then have a greater indication of when to ramp up production or role out your service.  

Feedback is crucial, make sure you’re in regular communication with the service or individuals you’re looking to support. Is the product or service meeting their need? Whether that be supporting with home deliveries or making personal protecting equipment. Is the support getting to the individuals in quick enough time? By continuosly asking these questions you will be improving your service day by day.  

Don’t forget this situation is new to all of us 

No one is expecting you or your business to get it 100% right first time, we’re all in a situation that is very unfamiliar to us and is changing day by day. The benefit you do have, is that we’re all in this together and then are plenty of organisations out there, ready to help you and your business get up to speed as soon as you can. 


Need support in evaluating and understanding your skills need?..

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