Business leaders and employees are all keenly aware of the effect COVID-19 has had on businesses around the globe. The pandemic has imposed significant strain on budgetary and operational resources for businesses large and small. Those disruptions are being felt far and wide.

Fortunately, this is also an opportunity. Business leaders willing to rise to the challenge can better address their organizational needs through leaner operations.

Fostering a culture focused on strategic action and resiliency will lead to success in the current climate.

Here are 5 steps that can be taken now to focus on the essential and ensure the future of your business:

  1. Realign with your company’s strategic vision
  2. Problem solving: be accountable, be part of the process
  3. Own the message and communicate actively
  4. Continually engage with your workforce
  5. Connect creatively with your customers and capture their insight

1. Realign with your company’s strategic vision

Whether you share an optimistic viewpoint that the economy will reignite in the coming months or feel otherwise, hoping for the best and preparing for the worst is both practical and beneficial.

Take this time to realign your focus with the core values and strategic vision of your business. This will ensure you remain on track, no matter what the future holds.

The only constant is change and the current market demands it. Times like these put businesses to the test. We can already see examples of those that are rising to the challenge.

Manufacturers, retailers, and service industries are all adapting to meet market demand in new and innovative ways.

For example, manufacturers are altering production lines to support hospitals and medical care providers with needed equipment. Textile facilities are making masks, distilleries and breweries are making sanitizers, and additive manufacturers are making faceshields. Even some of the largest auto manufacturers in the country have shifted gears to deliver other mission-critical medical equipment.

For many, using innovative software solutions to take their services online is part of the equation. Retailers and restaurants are are making the effort to offer online or curbside ordering and pickup in line with CDC recommendations and customer demand.

Fewer resources at your disposal naturally leads to doing more with less. Rethink any activity that isn’t lockstep in tandem with your strategic vision.

Reevaluate every process and take the time to get input from your employees, those who are carrying out those processes daily, weekly, or monthly.

Meeting with your first line managers is a good place to start. Use their insights between both your company and customers to inform your actions moving forward. you will also be able to identify key areas and resources ripe for redistribution.

2. Problem solving: be accountable, be part of the process

Time is perhaps the most finite resource for many business leaders. When disruption hits, it can be even more critical to solve problems quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, most will agree that time is wasted in abundance when it comes to streamlining business processes. This waste can be the result of unpreparedness, distraction, or inability to focus. Simply put, it’s not harder work that will save you time, but smarter work.

When your teams are tackling their respective components of a problem, they are looking for leadership to keep an eye on the prize. That is the bigger picture.

Be that foundational resource they are looking for and lead by example with smarter budgeting of time in tackling problems.

For example, make a shift in meeting culture. Keep meetings down to a condensed time frame and commit to ensuring all discussion topics and resources are shared and reviewed prior to the meeting. This leaves little room for wasted time in explaining and rehashing ideas.

When it comes to email communications, do away with novellas and stick to bullet points. Clean, clear, crisp communications get ideas across faster. No one should have to spend more than 60 seconds reading an update.

Committing to incremental and cultural changes pays off big in saved time. By showing, rather than telling, how to solve problems and work more intelligently.

This is how business leaders improve organizations and inspire team members to focus and prioritize.

3. Own the message and communicate actively

While there are times when delegating communications, tough times are not those. When times are tough and uncertainty is in no small supply, your workforce wants reassurance from the top of the organization.

Direct and open communications between upper management and teams fosters a cooperative atmosphere and lightens the burden of anxiety. If changes need to be made, be explicit about them and hold true to those directives.

For example, if cash flow issues make salary reductions a necessity, do the math upfront. Lay out how you reached your calculated requirements for salary reductions across the board. Give a time frame. Stick to it. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver and follow through once you’ve set your parameters.

Trust and reputation take time to built and a moment to ruin. Be the leader your teams look up to by instilling confidence, trust, and respect by giving clear instruction, finding compromise, and living up to your word.

4. Continually engage with your workforce

Maintaining employee engagement is a constant challenge for most businesses. COVID-19 and the nature of remote work has compounded that difficulty through distance. So, the question is, with all these factors, how do you keep your people connected?

Now is the time to recognize your employees at an individual level. Everyone has different ways of processing change and reactions to the current environment. There is no one size fits all solution in the New Now.

It’s up to you as a leader to recognize and be mindful of your staff’s unique reactions and feelings, if they may differ from your own. When you see negativity in the ranks, don’t dwell on it. Find ways to be supportive and create the environment for positive outcomes using your positive perspective of the big picture.

The isolation some may feel in a remote position can put people in a fog. Structure can easily go overlooked when it surrounds us every day. Now that that environment has fallen from view for so many, new and creative ways to remain connected are necessary.

Social media and networking tools are some of the available options for keeping your workforce engaged. Virtual happy hours, hobby threads, internal contests, games, and general intranet activity can help keep employees connected even though they are apart.

5.Connect creatively with customers to capture insight 

With traditional face-to-face meetings out of the question for the foreseeable future, it’s time to get more creative in how you interact with customers.

With a new landscape laid out before us, the same way of operating just doesn’t make sense.

Fortunately, modern virtual meeting platforms and social media tools make it easy to at least see each other face-to-face. Leveraging these resources gives us the virtual eye contact we need in healthy human interaction. It also reassures your customers that you are proactive and engaged with them in conversation. Conveying the tone, body language, and other social cues that email and phone calls fall short with make these tools invaluable.

Rise To The Challenge As Business Leaders

In summary, now is the time to actively adapt and strategically realign with your strategic vision. Respond to disruption using the modern resources available to you. Stay the course in regard to your company’s long-term vision and continue to strive in meeting your customers’ needs. Get rid of the wants and focus on the needs of your organization in the New Now. This is the time to run lean.

Lastly, your employees are the lifeblood of your business. Be clear and transparent in your communications with them. Lead by example and hold true to your word. This will ensure confidence, focus, and engagement as your continue to strive for success.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


Unfortunately, we are seeing an uptick in opportunists using COVID-19 ransomware attacks across customers in many different industries.  Ransomware attacks encrypt all files on your network, leaving you with no recourse but to rebuild your system, and worst case, to start over.

How To Protect Your Business From Opportunists And COVID-19 Ransomware Attacks

There are some steps that you can take to protect yourselves that we wanted to share.  Encompass would be happy to assist you with any of these conversations, we have experience working with customers who have had to recover from critical system failures – up to and including rebuilding systems from scratch. We are happy to share our thoughts on how to harden your own systems to ensure this does not happen to you.

Backups.  Make sure you have a backup plan in place, that it is running, and that it has been tested.  Make sure your backups are not stored on your network – we have seen customers following good backup plans, but by leaving their backups on the network, have found that the backups have also been lost due to encryption.    Make sure you have recent backups, that they are stored off-network, and that you periodically run a trial restore, to ensure that the backups are indeed comprehensive – there may be critical components on other servers (custom reports, custom labels) that are not included in your backup plan.

Media and license keys. This is a great time to locate media to install business-critical applications, and that you have the appropriate license keys.  Often the software may have been purchased many years ago, and with role changes in your organization, it may not be apparent that they are not available, until they are needed.

Key reports.  Frequently generate and store copies of critical reports, ideally both on paper, and electronically that can be used to ensure your business can keep running should the system need to be rebuilt.  Things like Aging Reports, Production Schedules and other critical reports can be automatically generated and sent to an email address should they be needed during a system outage.

Business Continuity plans.  Make sure each department has ‘run on paper’ processes that can be used if needed – preprinted packing slip templates, inventory move templates, production data capture templates.  These can be used while a system is restored, and can be re-keyed once the system is online to ensure accuracy.

Be proactive.  There are things you can do to protect yourself from these kinds of attacks.  Evaluate true failover systems that allow a shadow installation to come online if needed.  Ensure you have multiple-factor authentication configured for your email systems to prevent unauthorized access.  Run anti-malware software on key servers that can detect mass file change and quarantine that program.

Recovery Documentation. Keep all documentation, receipts, expenses, emails, etc. for any legal or insurance needs in the future. Creating a folder within your email program and minimizing email subject threads are two tips for managing this process.

Quick Reference Guides. Have these created for your most critical servers and business applications. These might contain items like usernames and passwords, support contacts and other important information. Make sure to have these in printed format and kept in a secure location. Some companies put these in a fire-proof safe to protect from fire or flood damage.

Contact Financial Institutions. You will want to contact your financial institutions (credit cards, banks, retirement, etc.) to make sure they are aware of any suspicious-looking activity. The cyber crooks have your data and can easily unencrypt it to gain important information.

User Education. Educate users to bring awareness on ways to prevent future disruptions. Often times we hear of stories where an email came from a contact that looked legitimate but later found out it was a phishing scam to get a user to provide their username and password. Programs are available to help companies better prepare their user community.

Review Network Access. A regular audit of all network shares, user accounts, and security groups to close off any vulnerable access points.

Stop the Spread. Cryptoware and Ransomware spreads via network shares. Once this gets into your network, it can take over your entire business infrastructure. If you detect this is happening, immediately shut down all servers and/or pull the network cables. Doing so will increase your chances of recovering some of your data.

Contact Law Enforcement. This may not be the first thing on your mind, however, once you have neutralized the ransomware from spreading contacting your local FBI cyber criminal division is a necessary step.

Do Not Pay the Ransom. Whatever you do, if at all possible, do not send any money to them. Doing so only makes you vulnerable to future attacks. Exhaust all your resources, backups, data recovery options before paying any monies.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


Join us for an upcoming webinar being hosted by our supply chain technology partner, SourceDay, on the topic of COVID-19 supply chain disruption.

COVID-19 Supply Chain Disruption – A Procurement Professional’s Perspective

Featuring Global Interconnect’s Director of Global Procurement, Troy Mauk and SourceDay’s CMO Sarah Moore, the event include a live Q&A taking place on April 7, 2020, at 11:00AM CST.

The presenters will discuss how Troy used SourceDay to proactively communicate with his suppliers and triage the most important open orders and resolve them quickly. To date, none of their sites has had any downtime despite global supply chain disruption.

Additional topics discussed in this webinar include:

  • Expediting updates from suppliers
  • Getting quick supplier confirmations
  • Focusing on the most critical exceptions
  • Preventing production impact
  • Containing cost through communication

If you can’t make it to the event, register anyway. That way, you’ll have access to the recorded presentation to review at your convenience.

We hope to see you there.

About SourceDay

SourceDay’s platform provides a digital interface between a manufacturer’s ERP system and hundreds of suppliers, automatically updating changes to delivery dates, pricing, and quantities throughout the order lifecycle and across the supply chain. Replacing manual processes with software improves customers’ understanding of the many changes that occur throughout the lifecycle of an order. Procurement teams stop spending their time on fire drills and reacting to expensive surprises. Now they have time to manage suppliers more strategically, proactively addressing pricing and quality issues and ensuring their factories receive the materials they need to meet customer commitments on time.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass has helped modernize operations and automate processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


“3 Ways to Manage COVID-19 Disruption on Your Supply Chain” Was published by SourceDay CMO Sarah Moore on March 16, 2020. you can read the full article HERE.

“How many of your PO lines have exceptions?” – Account Executive at SourceDay

“These days? All of them.” – Global CPG Manufacturer

Manufacturing is no stranger to change, but the coronavirus is changing the game. Schools are closing, and companies have told employees to work from home. Major sporting events and tradeshows are canceled or postponed. Supply chains have started to experience all kinds of disruption. Some will struggle to keep up with record demand, as consumer fears create runs on toilet paper and canned goods. Others will shut down production because of canceled orders and watch their inventory pile up.

Unfortunately, most manufacturers depend on email and spreadsheets to manage open orders with their suppliers. Rather than foster resilience, this approach makes it more likely that they will struggle to manage the impact this global pandemic could have on their businesses.

As the supply chain point person, I rest easier knowing that SourceDay can bring me completely up to date in short order!

Troy Mauk
Director of Global Procurement at Global Interconnect

In the year 2020, there’s no need to depend on manual updates to spreadsheets and ERP systems. By using SourceDay’s cloud software and managed services, you can have a single source of truth on every line of every order. And it can be accessed by your teams from anywhere at any time.

“I immediately started looking at SourceDay to see what was confirmed and what was late. I put priorities on the hotlist, and said to our suppliers, ‘here’s what you need to focus on for the next 4 weeks.’  We implemented critical use of the ‘Hot List’ function to shepherd our suppliers in deliveries and to gain real-time insights into confirmed shipments.”

Troy Mauk
Director of Global Procurement at Global Interconnect

3 Ways to Manage COVID-19 Impact

There are three primary ways SourDay solutions help you manage the unprecedented impact COVID-19 could have on your supply chain:

  1. Get real-time visibility to all open orders. Use SourceDay to move your open order report online so buyers and suppliers can collaborate on changes to dates, quantities, and pricing. Any approved change is automatically updated in your ERP.  This will give your demand planning engine accurate supplier order fulfillment data and lets the whole business know what to expect on every line of every order.
  2. Help your buyers and suppliers focus on the most critical exceptions. SourceDay automatically filters PO’s to help buyers prioritize the most important exceptions that might impact production. When buyers and suppliers spend less time updating each other in email, spreadsheets, and data entry, they spend more time making sure you ship your orders on time.
  3. Contain cost with streamlined communication. As customer demand shifts throughout this crisis, Sourceday can help you stay on top of changes that could drive up costs. Communicate push outs and pull-ins more quickly and systematically. Use SourceDay software to safeguard against price gouging and excess inventory.

As SourceDay CEO Tom Kieley wrote last week, the manufacturing industry is resilient. It’s weathered countless global crises because its leading companies found innovative ways to overcome unprecedented challenges. We’re being called to do that again now.

Use SourceDay Free for 90 Days

COVID-19 has moved our supply chains into uncharted territory. Global and local leaders worldwide are ready to do whatever it takes to ensure they continue to run as smoothly as possible. SourceDay’s mission has always been to do the same. That’s why we’ve decided to offer new customers the SourceDay PO Collaboration and RFQ Collaboration solution free for the first 90 days. We know this global pandemic will make the next few months particularly challenging. But we also know we can help you get through this stage if we start now.

Together, we’ll get through these unprecedented times.

  • Sarah Moore, CMO at SourceDay

About SourceDay

SourceDay’s platform provides a digital interface between a manufacturer’s ERP system and hundreds of suppliers, automatically updating changes to delivery dates, pricing, and quantities throughout the order lifecycle and across the supply chain. Replacing manual processes with software improves customers’ understanding of the many changes that occur throughout the lifecycle of an order. Procurement teams stop spending their time on fire drills and reacting to expensive surprises. Now they have time to manage suppliers more strategically, proactively addressing pricing and quality issues and ensuring their factories receive the materials they need to meet customer commitments on time.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass has helped modernize operations and automate processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


If you’re like many manufacturers in the US and around the world, COVID-19 has disrupted your supply chain significantly. Many of our partners have spent the recent weeks evaluating which of their Suppliers in China and other parts of Asia have stopped shipments. Evaluating how this will affect your manufacturing operations in the US and other facilities around the world can be a cumbersome task. The impact on the delivery of products that this global pandemic has produced cannot be understated. By proactively leveraging these COVID-19 resources, your business can be better prepared than businesses reacting to the latest industry disruption.

Discounted Consulting

In an effort to address the increasing call for our services and the remote requirements businesses currently need to adopt, we’ve expanded our emphasis on remote consulting and implementation services. This slower time could be an opportunity, while people have the bandwidth, to prepare to scale up for future growth.

You can tailor these combined training seminars and implementation services to topics specific to projects currently underway or planned in your organization. The benefit of combining these two services remotely results in better use of your time and money.

We are also offering discounted consulting blocks to make these services more easily available to businesses.

Cycle Count Workshops

Streamlining inventory management through effective cycle counting can do away with show-stopping inventory activities at the end of the year when flu-season and holiday social gatherings are in full effect.

Work smarter, not harder, and instate a policy that ensures your organization is prepared throughout the year with accurate and effective inventory management.

Production And Delivery Analysis

Our consultants increasingly hear from the board room regarding how outside vendors, salespeople on the road, and visiting customers could potentially bring nasty bugs into their facilities. It’s a legitimate concern and carrying out predictive analytics is an undertaking where Encompass Solutions is happy to lend a hand. Together, we can sit down and take the time to figure out how you can stay in business during an uncertain time, remain profitable, and protect your staff.

Want help creating your own alternate production and sales plan for the next 90 to 180 days? You’ve likely got many questions revolving around how operations and production will change moving forward. We can help you answer and develop plans in regard to the following questions:

  • What products were imported in the last 90 or 180 days?
  • How will limited supplies impact their production?
  • How will this impact open sales orders and forecasted sales?
  • Which customer accounts will be hit the hardest?
  • How will this affect revenue?

Leveraging Remote Meetings

For many, remote work is a concept that difficult to manage within the current structure of their organization. We’ve mastered the art of remote work with our partners and can help your organization get a handle on the most efficient ways to leverage remote resources and staff.

Encompass offers remote support via Zoom on a daily basis to organizations across the globe. Let us lend a hand in helping you set up and manage your workforce remotely when needed. We’ll assist you to manage your data in such a way that facilitates lag-free, streaming audio and video sharing, suggest the best situations when staff should stay at their desks vs a group in the conference room, how to manage audio if there are multiple users on laptops in the same room, downloading recorded Zoom sessions, and more.

Ultimately, in a worst-case scenario, you may decide that your teams should work remotely for a period of time. We’ll help you develop and implement the Zoom and Webex best practices that fit your organization’s structure. You can maintain that framework and adjust it as time goes on.

Alternate Plans For Production And Sales

Ensure your production floor and sales activities remain in operation, regardless of the current climate, through the development of alternatives based on projected 90-day and 180-day forecasts.

  • How will limited supplies impact their production?
  • How will this impact open sales orders and forecasted sales?
  • Which customer accounts will be hit the hardest?
  • How will this affect revenue?

If you have asked yourself any of the following questions over the last few weeks, it may be worthwhile to formulate alternatives in the event your trading partners cannot fulfill their obligations for one reason or another. Reach out to Encompass today and we’ll work with you to ensure you have an effective plan in place prior to the next big disruption.

Encompass Small Business COVID-19 Resources

Encompass Small Business COVID-19 Resources can assist in completing projects, evaluating and renovating new or existing systems, as well as providing managed services to supplement limited workforce scenarios.

US Small Business Administration Guidance & Loan Information

Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program

Small businesses and private nonprofits are now eligible to apply for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. The working capital loans of up to $2 million can provide vital economic support to small businesses and nonprofits to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.

CARES Act

Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act

Payroll Protection Program (PPP) Loans

Payroll Protection Program Loans were put into effect April 3, 2020, to provide small businesses with loan funds to maintain their workforce and keep their employees paid. You can read more about the program Here.

Employment Law Changes

Effective April 2, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act mandates paid sick leave, paid family and medical leave and enhanced unemployment compensation benefits.

Click Here for downloadable workplace posters from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Council of Development Finance Agencies Weekly Briefing

Fridays, at 1 p.m. — These one-hour phone calls will feature legislative updates, news from our members, state and local financing strategies, and lessons learned from previous development finance responses to disasters.

Click Here for more information.

Taxes

Federal: The IRS has automatically extended payment deadlines until July 15, 2020, with some exceptions. The filing deadline is still April 15.

US Chamber of Commerce Coronavirus Response Toolkit

Click Here to access guides for employment law changes, workplace safety information and other resources.

US Chamber Coronavirus Emergency Loans Small Business Guide and Checklist

Ready.Gov Disaster and Emergency Resources Businesses

Click Here for disaster planning for businesses.

COVID-19 Resources For Control And Prevention

It should be noted that first and foremost, you and your staff should be taking all available precautions to minimize the spread of infectious disease in and out of the workplace. While we are adopting our own standards for the health and safety of our staff at Encompass, we don’t feel it is prudent to make suggestions to our partners and other businesses. Join us in following the suggestions of the professionals and research the best practices.

United States Department Of Labor – Occupational Health And Safety Administration

Centers For Disease Control And Prevention

The United States Food and Drug Administration

World Health Organization

We hope you will continue to remain safe and take the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of your families, friends, colleagues, and communities.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.