Manufacturing Stays Stable Despite Harrowing COVID-19 Second Wave

Mark Wilson - MD SYSPRO Africa
Mark Wilson - MD SYSPRO Africa

The better part of 2020 has not been very good for people and businesses, including manufacturing companies following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Companies such as SYSPRO have been on the forefront advising manufacturing firms, among other institutions about how to stay afloat with digital tools such as production automation.

SYSPRO, which bases its business on ERP, has also been running a survey to gauge business confidence amidst the pandemic.

According to the organization, near 50 percent of manufacturing companies have already recovered business, are in the process of doing so. The data is based on a survey done across the globe.

The exercise was performed among CFOs in manufacturing enterprise companies.

More than 100 enterprise manufacturing companies responded to SYSPRO’s online survey, with an additional 30 percent expected to return to pre-COVID-19 trading conditions by mid-2021.

Also, the survey examined CFO statement on the impact of the pandemic and the future of manufacturing business in what is currently termed as the ‘new normal.’

Among areas that responded to the October 2020 survey include Africa (Kenya included), Asia-Pacific, Canada and USA.

According to the survey results, the ability for businesses to weather the COVID-19 storm was particularly prevalent amongst manufacturers involved in the production/distribution of essential goods such as Food & Beverage during lockdowns as well as those who have the ability to augment their existing digital activities and adapt to ecommerce models.

The study also showed that the size of an organization also played a vital role in determining its ability to survive the pandemic. Companies with over 51 employees were significantly more likely to report having fared as well as, or better than, expected.

 As part of the ongoing recovery, a stabilization phase was identified as needed and required a renewed focus on financial controls to protect cashflow and extend enterprise runways. To achieve this, CFOs interviewed in the study indicated cost-cutting including the curbing of discretionary spending and reducing overheads, exploring new revenue models with the aim for increased customer engagement through digital channels and prioritizing the maintenance of margins as some of the top strategies.

The survey findings further showed that reimagining factories to make them COVID-compliant which can only be achieved at a cost was not a short-term current priority, with just 19.3 percent of respondents citing replacing ageing machinery as one of their top 5 business priorities for 2021. Rather, the emphasis was on investing in technology to make manufacturing smarter and less vulnerable to pandemic disruption.

What they said

The levels of optimism uncovered by SYSPRO’s online survey suggest that CFOs – who are increasingly responsible for risk management in their organizations – now see COVID-19 as manageable in a business context, rather than terminal.

Enterprise Resource Planning and Business Intelligence were identified as vital, thanks to their information-gathering, processing and analysis capabilities. In uncertain trading conditions, better, more accurate and more timeous data allows for smarter decision making, as well as supporting strategic decisions through trend identification and assessment.

Mark Wilson, CEO of Europe, Middle East & Africa at SYSPRO