COVID-19 poses unprecedented challenges not only to health and the economy, but also to Service Managers. How to manage service effectively in a time of crisis is the subject in a number of proposed small web conferences.
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing unprecedented challenges – not seen before in peacetime. A deep humanitarian crisis, it also poses an almost existential threat to the economy and the very fabric of society. As measures to control the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are expanded parts of the economy have grounded to a halt, supply chains, production, and distribution have been disrupted. The world is heading for a major recession, even depression. The duration is at present unknown.
Demand, however, has not completely disappeared. Some sectors are surging – key medical equipment and supplies, pharmaceuticals and household necessities are examples. But significant general demand has shifted online. Amazon and Walmart are looking to hire 250,000 people for logistics roles (warehouses, order fulfillment, deliveries) in the US alone. And there are already indications that consumer preferences as they evolve during the pandemic may not return to pre-outbreak standards.
To a large extent this also applies to the B2B world as meetings and events get cancelled, travel is curtailed, and customer engagement shifts online. But this can be seen across many other company functions and processes as well -from human resources to product development and from engineering to service.
Service has (again) a special role to play in these very challenging times. Because it is crucial that equipment and assets continue to run smoothly in critical health and economic infrastructure -from hospitals to food processing and pharmaceutical plants; to power and wastewater treatment plants; to telecommunications, power and transport systems; and numerous others. In many cases capacities need to be expanded quickly and productivity increased. For industrial companies therefore, service becomes a key social asset as well as the most important revenue generator.
But managing extensive service operations in time of COVID-19 poses huge challenges. Some are in common with other company operations. But others are unique to the service business:
- More than almost any other part of a company, service relies on people -field engineers, technical and troubleshooting experts, site personnel- and people are highly vulnerable in this crisis. Travel, frequent customer site visits and isolated (from the rest of the company) working conditions. increase not only health and safety risks, but also the psychological burden on people. Cumulatively this can be very substantial. In addition, travel bans, potential quarantines and various administrative restrictions further increase what is already a high logistical complexity and cost of supporting customers.
- Service requires significant interactions with customers to understand, address and resolve problems. But customers themselves are currently experiencing unprecedented operational disruptions and often financial ones as well -which may extend well into the future.
- Profitably managing spare parts demand and supply is a challenge under normal conditions. With disrupted global supply chains this becomes far more difficult -and this applies to all necessary materials and equipment -including now safety and protective equipment.
These are of course examples and the list could be extended. And there are many more issues that service managements are currently facing:
- How to manage with diminished capacity as personnel fall sick, stay home to take care of children or are reluctant to undertake some types of work?
- How to prioritize and allocate resources?
- How to utilize technology quickly and use it effectively and efficiently to help alleviate some of the problems?
- How to price services in crisis conditions? To what extent does profit maximization still apply?
- How to manage the financial situation for the short and longer term?
- How to prepare for the time after Covid-19?
To discuss these questions, exchange experiences and brainstorm ideas for potential solutions we have decided at Si2 Partners to offer a number of small web conferences where service managers can come together virtually. In these trying times nobody has all the answers, but collectively new ideas may be generated and solutions to problems found.
The size of the conferences will be small -not more than 15 people – so that everybody can have a chance to ask questions and express opinions. Some of the topics addressed may be general, others may be more specific. Duration will be flexible between 60 and 90 minutes depending on interest and intensity of discussion. Language will be English. Participation is free of charge.
We have planned the first web conference for March 31/2020 at 15:30. The introductory topic will be
“Managing Service in the COVID-19 crisis”.
If you would like to register, please visit the registration page and fill-in the form. If you would like to comment, suggest topics of interest or propose ideas please do so here and/or email Julia.firstname.lastname@example.org
Register here: Registration Page
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