Interview by João Moreira, CEO of Abaco Consulting, for PME Magazine: [PT Only] https://pmemagazine.sapo.pt/recomeco-diferente-as-empresas-conheciam-joao-moreira/
After the lack of definition, we are now witnessing a post-Covid-19 change that seems to be becoming the new reality of companies. João Moreira, CEO of Ábaco Consulting, talks about the changes that have occurred, also addressing how companies and their leaders can respond to them.
PME Magazine – What are the most evident changes to highlight in the post-pandemic reality, regarding the way organizations work?
João Moreira – Nothing will be as before and that is a fact. Therefore, I think that the main priority is not to focus on returning to what was before, but to adapt to a new reality, with new requirements, the important thing being to continue to deliver our work to our customers with the same quality level. It is possible that the main changes that we will experience are in the way companies will relate, either with customers, partners, or with employees. I think we have all realized that we are equally efficient in remote mode. The fact that there is less travel (less travel time) will allow an increase in daily interactions and the pace at which we make (or receive) decisions will accelerate. I expect some pressure on delivery capacity and the need for tools to allow us to keep up with this pace. In the same vein, I believe that teleworking will increase considerably and we will see a decrease in the useful work space in the offices. Network and application security becomes a concern and a top priority for companies, as well as their ability to manage the traffic of large amounts of information. The tools for monitoring and monitoring health and safety at work will definitely get on the agenda, as it is necessary to react quickly if a similar situation occurs. However, I think the main change is related to our reach at the market level. The decentralized model of working and negotiating will allow our market to become effectively global, since we will do business equally with a Portuguese customer or with a customer anywhere in the world, once the digital transformation has arrived everyone at the same time. On the other hand, there is no doubt that it is important to continue to innovate, since we have found today that the speed of transformation of our customers’ business, and of the market, in general, is no longer consistent with closed innovation models, requiring a disruptive opening as a way to accelerate this process, betting on networks and clusters that involve universities, startups, suppliers and customers. Only in this way will we be able to keep pace and continue to generate value for our clients in the implementation of projects at national and international level.
PME Mag. – What are the strategies adopted to deal with the impact of the pandemic?
JM – Abaco, as a result of the services it provides, has always had teams working in the office, remotely connected to some of its customers, as well as some employees already working from home, in support activities in a nearshore model. . For this reason, we already had some software tools, systems and communication infrastructures to support remote work, which allowed us to face this situation in a faster and more proactive way, immediately placing our employees in the home office. However, applying this model to the entire organization, quickly, and without preparation, although we are used to living with change processes, it was necessary to overcome some difficulties created by this emergency situation, for example, it was necessary to provide some portable computers for children can continue to take classes remotely, thus supporting some employees who were at home with their dependent children. On the other hand, we also feel the need to increase communication between the teams: to find work methodologies that help in coordination, visibility and support in the development of each one’s tasks. Still internally, knowing that this is an emergency situation, seeking to dematerialize all processes in the company where possible, was another challenge that we had to try to overcome, but for which the collaboration of our customers and partners was essential (100% electronic invoicing, 100% digital financial flows, 100% expense digitalization, etc.). On a personal level, I tried to keep exactly the same routines and times that I would have in a normal context, but at home. What changed were the executive committee meetings that went from weekly to three times a week, given the context of a pandemic crisis, and we started to have a weekly meeting with all employees, remotely clear. We consider that, at this stage, and given that we are all far from each other, it is important to hold a meeting with all employees simultaneously to share the experiences, difficulties and challenges in this new context.
PME Mag. – What new reality should we expect? Is it expected to be long lasting?
J. M. – Yes, without a doubt. For many companies, this ‘fresh start’ will be quite different from what they knew. It is a fact that Covid-19 has driven and even accelerated the digital transformation of many companies and, in this sense, it has become essential that they have the capacity to reinvent their processes and invest even more in the digital transformation of their business. because only then will they be able to overcome this crisis that we face. The challenge now is to be able to define and implement measures, in order to adapt to this new reality, evolving their business models and building solutions that not only survive, but also thrive in the new business scenario that will come.
PME Mag. – In view of the new reality, what other approaches can be adopted in order to deal with the impact of the pandemic?
J. M. – This ‘new beginning’ that is now taking shape will undoubtedly be more digital, both in the way we do business and in organizational processes, with technology playing an even more important role in the lives of organizations. Despite the technological developments that have occurred in recent years, there are still many obstacles that limit our action and, in fact, have always been part of our day-to-day, so we don’t even stop to think about them. Only now, with the limitations we all had because of the pandemic, do we really realize how important digital is. For example, a simple payment by check requires people from two entities to travel to their companies (and one of them to the bank), when, in fact, we have been using bank transfers for tens of years. This is to say that it is urgent to eliminate everything that is not agile, in order to allow us to have a fast business model to react. It is essential that companies prepare themselves to be digital from the sales process to the start of the expedition, from the purchase of raw materials to production planning, from recruitment to compensation and career development models.