Webinars Address Need for Resiliency

The COVID-19 pandemic taught Iowa companies many things about their operations, but perhaps the greatest lesson was the need to develop more resiliency to better handle business disruptions regardless of their origin. To help companies with preparedness, CIRAS hosted a series of business resiliency webinars last spring on 19 topics ranging from building resiliency in manufacturing operations to using TCO tools to reduce supply chain risks to leveraging online meeting tools.

Marc Schneider, CIRAS project manager, led the weekly series. The sessions were recorded and are accessible for a limited time at www.ciras.iastate.edu/covid-19-webinar-library.

“Only about half of the companies represented had some level of preparedness,” said Schneider. “We focused on how to position a company to survive (and thrive) during a business disruption. Research shows that companies that have incorporated or put an effort into building resiliency into their organization have a smaller impact during a disruption compared to the average company. They also recover much faster.”

A critical component of the series was sharing lessons learned from the pandemic, as well as best practices. Schneider enlisted other CIRAS experts to respond to the needs of companies to prepare for a post-COVID world where issues like remote work and online commerce will have great prominence.

More than 70 companies registered for the series. Their responses to the event affirmed the need to look at strategies to make companies remain robust during challenging times.

“I think the biggest thing I took away from the series was that I was not alone in my concerns about the future of our economy and our business,” said Deana Hoeg-Ryan, business manager at Dobson Pipe Organ Builders in Lake City. “The series covered selling, technology, risk management, finding employees…all of which are important to our business. It also helped me to understand more about COVID in the workplace, which was constantly evolving. I also realized that I was thankful to have CIRAS to turn to should I need help, and as it turned out we needed their help.”

For other participants, like Steve Schneiders, COO of Stellar Industries in Garner, the series provided an opportunity to evaluate current efforts in dealing with business disruptions. “It further allowed us to gauge our practices against others across the state. The weekly touchpoint gave us the information in a timely manner, so adjustments could be made quickly. Things were so fluid and moving so fast, it was hard to stay current. Without a doubt, this helped,” he said.

For more information on business resiliency, contact Marc Schneider at maschn@iastate.edu or 563-221-1596.