‘Essential or Non-Essential’ has become the ‘To be or not to be’ in today’s time. While lockdowns have proven to be the only feasible solution to limit the worst or even delay it in some cases; getting the business back up and running is an uphill task. Inertia works in funny ways!
Operations involve a lot of moving parts that have to work in an integrated seamless flow. If any part of the Supply Chain is stuck, the repercussions that flow across the value chain are immense in terms of both “Experience” & “Cost”! Gone are the days when Supply Chains were primarily responsible for cost cutting initiatives. They are more so ever actively involved in addressing customer & seller grievances and continuously bringing customer delight. In my opinion, any brand is as good as its distribution. For a product company: if you are not there on the shelf, you’ll never sell! For a services scenario: Whoever does a Quality task the Fastest, wins (Quality AND Speed, neither can be optional)!
We at CARS24 are witnessing a fairly decent comeback from the lockdown. The only way the road to recovery was going to absorb the shocks on the way was to invest in building the right flexibility within the structural guardrails of a robust product. The critical thing for any supply chain professional is to balance the supply & demand with a reasonable assumption of uncertainty. In this road to recovery, the most difficult thing to put in perspective is – “Uncertainty”. Here’s a quick reflection from my personal experience of “Scaling from Home” –
The debate of ‘Work-Life Balance’ & ‘Work-Life Integration’ may not be resolved yet. But let us admit there are people who fall in each bucket strictly. For those who need to shut off post office, it is essential to earmark a corner in your house to act as the office space to maintain sanity. For those who seamlessly switch between the two, it is important to have an office space to prevent drifting away from the work side and simply get more done. With the work-life boundaries blurring, this has become critical
The biggest challenge for teams to work in tandem is ensuring everyone knows the desired state as well as making each person aware of the updates. To bring everyone to the same page remotely, ‘Over-Communication’ becomes the new normal. A lot that could simply be explained while walking the aisled or over a coffee in office must now pass through a structured communication process. This involves a lot of joint calls and one-on-ones. The more you structure your communication process, the more headaches you save yourself. For us at CARS24, since the number of touch points to deliver the experience at the right cost are fairly high (just like any other supply chain), it becomes critical to incorporate both external & internal stakeholders in the communication plan. The bumps on the road to recovery are numerous and hence it becomes important to have ‘Short-Term, more Frequent and Flexible plans’ and execute a step at a time. Delegating becomes essential as you yourself could be the biggest roadblock to productivity if the right person doesn’t get the right message!
As the distractions of ‘Work-For-Home’ gently (and rightly so) creep into the ‘Work-From-Home’ ecosystem, the “diary” is all the more relevant now. Jumping between calls leaves very little time to gather your thoughts on execution. Anything that helps you jot down the critical to-dos (a physical diary works like a charm for me) must be a part of your “office”. Also, as your adhoc brainstorming sessions, enabled by the cafeteria, are no longer a part of the working culture, this ‘diary’ helps you structure your thoughts into a consumable form for that next call!
As Stephen Covey put it in his classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person!”. We at Operations in CARS24 have been busy during the lockdown to strengthen our core by
Improving our internal systems and products to come out leaner & faster
Investing in training our teams
Identifying opportunities for coming days (thanks to data) & even launching newer verticals (Bikes)
Devising the right framework for our ecosystem partners to align with our recovery (our transport & warehousing partners, courier partners, agent networks)
All this has helped us scale back rapidly with a much leaner cost structure & a more agile distribution network.
Are we at our optimized best? Not yet (I don’t think it ever comes for any Supply Chain)! But as we steer carefully at each turn while being hooked on to the ultimate destination, we will continue to Un-Lock (pun intended) the used car industry to its potential!