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Groundhog Day

17th February 2021

As I write, huge parts of economies around the world are shut down as we struggle to manage the third wave of Covid. Whether you are an essential retailer and have traded through lock downs or a business that has had to close outlets, you will have been making changes to how you do things and trying to predict what the future will bring.

The new year is always a good time to take stock and consider your ambitions for the following year. And for many businesses you’ll be heading to the close of your current financial year and trying to establish a set of assumptions to base budgets on. It’s never easy to get forecasts for the coming year spot on but this year your crystal ball is needed more than ever.

With so much change and uncertainty, it can feel easier to sit and wait it out and then make plans in light of whatever new circumstances we face by then. The trouble with that approach is it hands control of your future over to chance and means you risk falling behind competitors who are using down time to re-examine their strategy and operating model.

So, what can you usefully do? Budgeting has always required scenario generation based on the different way the forces impacting your business might play out. While your scenarios might be different to usual years, generating a range of possible options is a worthwhile exercise that gives you a flexible framework to make some decisions within.

You’ll most likely be making some changes to how you operate. Driven by both the ongoing customer behaviour shift to digital and contactless and probably by the need to manage your cost base too. Last year we produced a whitepaper on how to find productivity quick wins (click the button below to view our whitepaper series). You might find it a useful read now to get you thinking about short term opportunities to manage costs and protect customer experience.

We’re also having conversations with our most forward-thinking clients about opportunities for them to do things differently, how to rebase their workload based budgets and providing workstudy insights on how their operating model is changing. For example, some retailers responded to the increased online demand by recruiting their stores to be online fulfilment centres. We’ve worked with a few retailers to help them quantify the additional store workload and optimise pick and packing processes to help them become as efficient as possible in the shortest time. With others we’re talking to them about their broad ambitions so we can share benchmarking insights and plan in workstudy measurement.

I always love sharing insights on productivity trends and operations improvement. If you’d like a productivity conversation with me as an input to your planning considerations, you can book into my diary here or email me: Simon@rethinkproductivitiy.co.uk. With so much operational change and business challenge, we’re expecting a busy year at ReThink so suggest you don’t wait too long for a chat if you think you might want some external perspective or workstudy support.