Reports that a second Covid 19 cluster may be more serious should act as a warning to Kiwi SMEs that lockdown proofing a business must go beyond equipping staff to work from home or just hoping for things to get back to normal as fast as possible.

“There is no normal, not even a new normal, anymore,” says director at tech consulting company OneHQ, Hamish McLachlan. “Far too many Kiwi SMEs are adopting a ‘let’s wait this thing out’ approach. The problem is that avoiding change is a high-risk strategy.”

McLachlan says that building resilience into a business is not just equipping staff to work from home but instead requires business owners change from thinking about what they do, to focussing more on how they do it.

“Your business is more the product than whatever it is that you produce. The business itself is the machine that is your point of difference and your value – the how is more important than the what.

“Understanding your business is the key to resilience.”

Think of your business as a machine made up of many moving cogs that need to work efficiently together to produce an end product. The efficiency, quality and unique DNA of your operations creates a look, feel and experience that is distinctly your own.

“When you understand the unique way that your business works, you can make changes that not only future proof your business from disruption, but which also improve quality, efficiencies and ultimately the bottom line.”

McLachlan suggests Kiwi SME owners take the following steps to understanding, positioning and building resilience into a business:

1. Understand how your business works today

“One company we worked with recently thought that they had a technology-based workflow that controlled the way the business functioned, only to find out from the people on the factory floor that they were still using a paper checklist.

“Everybody in the company needs a common understanding across the organisation about how things are done,” says McLachlan.

2. Map out how your business should work

Go through your business model step by step. It is often the smaller things that create the most pain, for example getting work orders signed off by email.

“One company we are working with is experiencing a massive increase in demand, but those making the product can’t see the lead time for that demand. An order comes in today for a product that needs to be delivered next week, but nobody actually tells that to the people making the product.

“People know how it works at the macro level, but the magic happens in the detail and a lot of the intellectual property is kept in people’s heads instead of in a tangible, mapped form.”

When you systemise the intellectual property of your business everybody knows where you are going, so innovation is easier.

3. Establish a good solid platform from which you can evolve.

A business platform is a stack of processes and tools that work well together to enable the business that you have mapped out.

“Don’t rush out and by the latest and greatest tools, technology and processes because they’re cheap or because they promise the world – if your technology and your processes aren’t congruent, your business machine is going to stay broken.

“Use the software, hardware, people and processes that enable interactions and facilitate value exchanges harmoniously – no bottlenecks and no blindspots,” says McLachlan.

Building a resilient, lockdown proof business is more than zoom calls and enabling staff to work from home, it is a building a business engine that is more beautiful than the product or

— Hamish