Ensuring your business continues to operate in the most effective way amid a national emergency is not something you will find in a textbook. Each business owner and manager, alongside their team, will be called on to come up with new solutions. We have already seen incredible examples of where people have been versatile and innovative in moving forward.
To help you support your business, we are gathering stories from across Norfolk & Suffolk about business continuity. Please get in touch and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and send an article with photos or a video sharing your new and proven practices.
This week we caught up with manufacturer and provider of document security 'Security Foiling' and found out how it went about moving its ops, comms and accounts over to the cloud.
"We migrated most of the business management software to the ‘cloud’ just over a year ago,” says operations manager Mark Filby.
“We did not foresee the current situation but we took the decision due to significant changes in the ownership and management of the business. Now, we have also migrated all accounting (to Xero), CRM (to Zoho) and customer support (to Freshdesk), as well as adopting Office 365 for management of communication and data storage. We were already using online cloud tools such as Skype, Teamviewer and GoTo Meeting for communication into our overseas markets.
So, how did they go about it?
"Firstly, we had to decide what we needed,” said Mark. “Simplification was our mantra. We had to be realistic about how much we were spending on locally-hosted hardware, licenses and tech support so we could compare costs objectively.
"Secondly, you cannot do enough research and include trial runs of software where available. For Security Foiling it is relatively easy to mobilise our small team to evaluate new software, but for larger companies it will be essential to seek external independent references and advice. Integration with existing essential software must be managed."
Security Foiling sought help from an independent business consultant specialising in accounting to support the movement of data to Xero for example.
Mark continued: "Crucially, the software developers and resellers may know your sector but they do not know your business; ignore anyone who says they know better than you and evaluate everything they say based on your own needs and objectives.
"Good suppliers in this sector will be patient and make every effort to understand your business and requirements before the ‘big sell’ – we walked away from many companies."
So, how has it worked out? "Very well," said Mark . "Despite being a manufacturing business, we've been able to move staff to remote working and follow government advice.
"We're able to quote, invoice, dispatch goods and carry out technical support with all staff viewing the same data in real time. We're able to continue e-marketing functions and maintain contact with all resellers and customers in the UK and overseas markets.
"We have also implemented a COVID-19 procedure whereby only one member of staff visits the factory to carry out essential physical tasks (abiding also by our risk assessment for lone working) and cleans all contact surfaces on entry and exit. Anyone unwell stays home.
"Cloud software solutions have made it much easier to follow the current government guidelines for social distancing and minimise disruption to the business. As a small business, it has made us more flexible in our working practices, more resilient and for short periods we believe that this temporary closure will have limited impact on the business."