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What can businesses learn from the pandemic?

No-one really knows how the business landscape will look in the coming months and years, but, writes Paul Driscoll, publishing director at Media Systems, it’s safe to say it won’t be the same as before the pandemic.

By Paul Driscoll

What can businesses learn from the pandemic?
Everyone needs to be connected through highly efficient and transparent workflows. You can’t shout across the office to check what’s going on anymore...

Businesses have had to react to the pressing need for their workforce to be based at home, and some have managed far better than others. What it certainly pointed out though is that there is an overwhelming need for flexibility, from both employers and employees alike, and from the systems and processes that underpin all that we do.

Such systems need to be as proficient for home users as they are for office based workers, and needless to say, the more processes that are automated, the better the results.

It also requires that the users and the system suppliers are fleet of foot, able to look at things from different perspectives and, importantly, not afraid of change.

So, with many companies likely to downsize and increasingly looking to outsource non-core business, what are some key considerations when planning for the future?

1) Office location

  • Can you save money by relocating / redefining your office needs? Do you even need a central office anymore?
  • People have got used to staying at home and you want to retain their talent, so consider part time hot desking, office club or similar (rentable meeting rooms) for times when people do want to meet in person.

2) Rely on more technology

  • Things can change quickly. Most of us wouldn’t have thought the use of tools such as Zoom, Teams etc enabling remote collaboration would form a vital cog in our businesses, but they are now widely accepted as a viable way of communicating, both internally and B2B.
  • Put the right systems in place. Internal solutions are often little more than just about acceptable workarounds. Mature systems, ones used daily by thousands of users come at a cost, but using antiquated processes because ‘that’s how we do it’ is the real cost.
  • Everyone needs to be connected through highly efficient and transparent workflows. You can’t shout across the office to check what’s going on; the system needs to be telling you everything you need to know as and when you need to know it.

3) Re-examine your DNA

  • What are you? A publisher? An events company? A brand, an agency? A…? Surely you are not a server or applications specialist? Then outsource this function to a partner, a specialist who can help and be impartial with their advice. Good ones can also integrate solutions for you.
  • A lot of the time, the costs of technology are hidden. The true cost of internal teams keeping your systems going is often not taken fully into account. And remember, you already outsource a lot: the pipes and plumbing, the building upkeep, cleaning, security, and so on.
  • What you do do is create and publish content to various end-points and you should be left to concentrate on that, not the provision and upkeep of the technology.
  • Rely on others! You do not want to run offices as your core business; you do not want to run servers as your core business; you do not want to administer applications as your core business. So, maybe it’s time to outsource these to specialists who can lighten the load as and when needed.

4) Work smarter

  • Don’t replicate what are effectively part-time jobs around each title or division, avoid silos.
  • Give the best technology to your users and you will get the best from them, particularly from your highly valued internal specialists.
  • Ensure correct prioritisation of tasks by facilitating transparency, it being more important than ever that the technology keeps everyone fully updated as to what’s being done, who’s doing what, and what tasks remain to be done.
  • Encourage users to share knowledge but also be prepared to train new users rather than just have them pick it up on the hoof, an approach which works for some people but not all.
  • Ask a specialist to examine your end-to-end processes – they will use their knowledge gained through working with multiple similar businesses to your own in order to help identify the good and the bad.
  • The right specialists will save you money! They can help you measure throughput and find out where the bottlenecks are, then recommend solutions to ensure a better flow; they can help seek out mundane and repetitive tasks that eat away at time, are not job-fulfilling but nevertheless have to be done, and then automate them for you. They can join your systems together, ensuring information gets to where it is needed in a timely and accurate manner. And, finally, they can then support the resulting changes.
"We work very much as partners to our customers and help to ensure the best possible ROI."

About us

You may already have addressed some or a lot of the above, or it may simply be food for thought, but if you would like to examine things a little deeper here’s some information about us.

We’ve been around for over 25 years and have worked with a wide spread of businesses, from very small niche ones to large multi-nationals, encompassing newspapers, magazines, agencies, corporates and brands. Not surprisingly, we’ve picked up a lot of knowledge and experience along the way. However, we do of course recognise there’s always more to learn, and each business has its sometimes subtle nuances to factor in. We learn more with every project and partnership we enter into, and one key lesson is the need for flexibility in approach and the avoidance of dogmatism – ‘it must be done this way’ say some, a statement we will always at the very least challenge.

At MSL we pride ourselves on such flexibility, responding quickly to situations as they arise and supporting our customers whether it’s BAU or business transformation. Our products cover multiple aspects of the publishing sphere, from Advertising to Planning to Editorial to Production to Syndication, all available as separate modules or as a fully integrated single solution. In addition, our services cover infrastructure, hosting, system admin, website development, ad-hoc development, consultancy and support.

We work very much as partners to our customers and help to ensure the best possible ROI is to be had from whatever products, services and support are deployed. It would be great to hear from you if you are looking for new ways of doing things, are looking to replace or enhance your existing systems, or are in need of some consultancy. Please don’t hesitate to call us if you think we might be of help.

Media Systems Ltd

Mill House, High Road, Epping, Essex CM16 4DY

Tel: +44 (0)1992 563390