Kearney advises CEOs on coronavirus rapid response framework

24 March 2020 3 min. read
More news on

Businesses worldwide are under significant pressure from the coronavirus outbreak – a time when the world’s leading strategy and management consultancies can come to the fore.

At the beginning of the year, one of the world’s oldest consulting firms rebranded from A.T. Kearney to Kearney, with an attendant overhaul of its image. Completely unexpected at the time (despite early stirrings), just two months later and businesses of all sizes in numerous sectors around the world are now facing their own unintended overhauls, thanks to the unfolding global economic crisis brought about the growing coronavirus pandemic.

For Kearney, however, the outbreak may not have been so unexpected – with the firm in its annual year-ahead forecast predicting a wave of crises in 2020, with an emerging disaster economy set to expand alongside the rise in incidents to provide emergency management services and relief technologies. For now, the consulting firm is providing advice for businesses on how to create their own rapid response frameworks to steady the ship.

Establish a COVID-19 command center immediately, states the firm without hesitation. “It is the central body for decision making, coordination, and communication.” Kearney advises that any such a centre should be headed by a senior leader empowered to make decisions and direct work for all crisis management activities, and that it should take an agile approach to operations with the use of digital tools for rapid updates and collaboration across functions.

Kearney advises CEOs on coronavirus rapid response framework

Once the command centre is in place, the next step is to develop a comprehensive plan for the potential impacts of COVID-19, covering all of the commercial, financial, human resources, operational and technology implications. As to the latter for example, the tech department should ensure that networks can handle a large volume of home-bound employees, including by maximising their use of virtual meeting spaces and other communication platforms.

Meanwhile, the operations team should understand changes to customer demand and make sure the sales team in turn can adapt to rapid changes. As for financial, previous forecasts says Kearney should be modified to consider realistic and worst-case scenarios, with profit-improvement initiatives drawn up to cover any expected gaps in revenue. These moves could include near-term procurement efforts and supply chain cost reductions.

Planning around supply-chains features prominently in Kearney’s advice, with the firm urging businesses to protect their overall chains from the disruption. To do this, companies will need to trace back needs from customers to suppliers. “Your suppliers require real-time monitoring of inputs, and you’ll need daily updates to manufacturers on stock levels, inventory, deliveries, and priorities,” states Kearney, with manufactures themselves dealing with shifting demand.

Sooner or later, enterprises will have to rethink their broader supply strategies. “The amount of disruption characterising today’s global markets makes conventional supply chain strategy no longer tenable,” contends the firm. “Companies will do better to rethink logistics strategies, reconfiguring their global supply-chains to deliver maximum customer satisfaction and financial outcomes by anticipating disruptions rather than being cornered into knee-jerk responses.”