Invennt's Brendan Morahan explains why it is never too late for businesses to improve their resilience...
WHEN the Irish Post asked me to take stock of how Invennt confronted the Coronavirus pandemic, I cast my mind back to St Patrick's Day, when the grim reality of the situation first set in.
In fact, some of our team were due to attend a dinner with the Irish Post but sadly the virus had other plans and the event was sadly cancelled.
Unlike previous years, there was no time for merriment or diversion, business around the world had to confront the challenges arising from the emerging public health crisis and we were no different.
Mercifully, Invennt was less exposed to the threats of the pandemic than many other businesses.
As consultants, our team are mobile in normal conditions, so they were able to switch to full-time remote working relatively seamlessly, and as a business that provides consultancy on the topic of resilience, we have embedded the principles within our business.
Furthermore, our team had begun contingency planning and stress testing for various scenarios many weeks prior to the lockdown announcement.
This preparation, coupled with the comparatively favourable circumstances of our business, meant we were well equipped to respond.
But we were alert to the fact that many of our customers, by virtue of the nature of their own businesses, faced a much greater challenge.
For our contracting clients, physical presence is an inevitability, at least for blue collar workers, and the capital and labour-intensive nature of the sector amplified the financial stresses placed on their businesses.
We knew we would need to step up to the plate to help them confront the challenges they faced.
We have been providing consultancy and advice to businesses seeking to improve their resilience in various guises since we founded Invennt eleven years ago, but recently we’ve seen a sharp uptick in demand due to seismic events such as the Carillion collapse and Brexit.
To cater for this demand, we formalised our resilience consulting offering into a service called the Invennt Business Health Check.
The service uses a diagnostic framework to identify threats and uncover opportunities in a business before it is too late.
The framework is based on established management models tailored to a construction context and assesses the resilience of a business according to 9 variables, assigning each a score to enable executives to prioritise corrective action.
The output is delivered in a concise report that enables executives to target knowledge and resources at the areas of a business that are most at risk, ensuring critical issues do not deteriorate further and potential opportunities are not left untapped.
After extensively piloting the framework on our own business, we began to market the service in earnest.
Fortunately, the response from the market was remarkably positive and the service was highly sought after by executives looking to embed resilience within their business.
This provided us with solid evidence by which to examine the effectiveness of undertaking the process.
This was important as the strongest vindication of the Business Health Check has always been the outcomes, especially when compared to the counterfactual.
Anecdotally at least, this has been borne out during the pandemic.
We’ve seen clients who were fragile before undertaking the process, take the pandemic in their stride while others who appeared strong from the outside have struggled.
But perhaps the most welcome outcome has been the speed at which companies have been able to overcome vulnerabilities in the face of overwhelming external pressure.
Our team were concerned that many of our customers wouldn’t have sufficient time to address the problems we identified during the process, but we were relieved to find out this wasn’t the case.
This speaks to the resourcefulness and spirit of our customers, but it also shows that it is never too late to take stock of a business, dig into its weaknesses and uncover hidden strengths.
Customers have told us that were it not for going through the process, they would be looking at a very different situation and that even where they didn’t have enough time to adequately correct for issues, knowing they existed meant they could factor them into their decision making and reduce their impact.
So even if you think it is too late, you may not have crossed the Rubicon.