Integrative Improvement Blog

The integrative improvement blog discusses and provides commentary on the latest topics in the business performance improvement sector.

The road to resilience: Why you need to prioritise CI and productivity improvement during a crisis

During the last economic crisis, a small group of companies came out on top, outperforming their peers and seeing increased growth during the recovery period. All these businesses had one thing in common – they actively pursued productivity improvements during the financial downturn. This helped them survive the crisis and achieve notable growth once business started to return to normal.  

We once again find ourselves in uncertain and tough economic times. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended supply chains and is affecting businesses across the globe. The necessary COVID-19 protection measures are severely impacting economic activity, with the global economy projected to contract sharply by –3% in 2020 

The manufacturing industry has also been hard hit: industrial production in China fell by 13.5% in January and February 2020 combined in comparison with 2019 – a drop not seen during the SARS outbreak in 2002/3 or the global financial crisis in 2008/9, according to the World Economic Forum. This decline has had a major knock-on effect for global value chains, which has only been intensified by the outbreak of COVID-19 in other key manufacturing regions. According to a report by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), the US manufacturing industry contracted significantly in April 2020, with new orders down -15.1% and production contracting by 20.2%. 

While the business context is and will remain uncertain for some time, it is still possible to remain resilient – if your business is quick to react – and if you follow the example of the businesses that came out on top during the last financial crisis.  

Maintaining CI momentum
By focusing on CI and productivity improvement, you’ll be able to keep costs down and preserve ROI. You can also become much more resilient and survive this crisis with your business intact.

Now is the time to strengthen your commitment to the CI journey and further refine practices and processes so that you can effectively navigate the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19  

In this time of turbulence, speedy decision-making is key as business conditions are constantly changing. However, ensuring you keep all your CI basics in place is a good starting point: keeping up with your Daily Management Systems, leader standard work implementation and improvement processes, including focused improvement projects – especially those aimed at profit improvement and cost reduction. 

A focus on CI basics can help you deal with the immediate challenges posed by COVID-19. For example, if your business is understaffed due to COVID-19 health and safety measures, an intense focus on Daily Management Systems can help you ensure the most critical items get worked on first. This focus will also allow you to quickly escalate problems to management that cannot be fixed by the work team itself – like failure of a supplier.   

Conversely, if you are currently over-staffed due to lagging sales, this is an excellent time to focus on your improvement project list, put tracking in place, refine your Daily Management Meetings and train your team on new skills.   

Once you’re comfortable with the basics, you can take it a step further and start implementing new initiatives to build further business resilience. For example, you could focus on improving your supply chain continuity through scenario modelling, fostering closer supply chain collaborations and working towards a state of workforce and supplier flexibility.   

All these activities should be clearly underpinned by ongoing communication with a strong focus on simplification and standardisation.  Using the TRACC Supply Chain Resilience Bundle you can get started on this journey without delay – the work bundle will guide you through critical steps to identify and mitigate risks in your supply chain.   

Another option is to implement best practices aimed at rapid results to quickly drive down costs and improve efficiency. The TRACC Rapid Results Bundle, for example, includes material from our Operational Alignment, Teamwork, Focused Improvement and Visual Management TRACCs to help you operate more effectively and in different ways to meet the changing needs of your industry.  

We can support you in all these activities through our virtual consulting and training offerings. With our proven TRACC best practices, methodology and system you can assess your current risks, strengthen your end-to-end supply chain processes and ultimately build resilience.  

We strongly believe that businesses that maintain momentum on their CI journey during this time will see productivity gains which will help them remain resilient and achieve higher growth once the world reaches its ‘new normal’.  

We’d like to support you during this time, so please do get in touch and together we can create the best possible solutions to assist you as you recalibrate your business. 


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