Product Development during the Pandemic
"Plan for the best, but prepare for the worst."
A quote that is probably as old as verbal communication, but one I most often attribute to my father. And, as much as it is a cliche saying, it has become my mantra for keeping Enable Innovation running since the onset of the global pandemic crisis we all currently face.
There is another saying, though. One that I learned in theory and practice while serving in the Canadian Forces;
"No plan survives contact with the enemy."
This might seem to be an excuse to not have a plan, but that's not really the case. It has always been my understanding that this proverb is meant to convey the fact that, no matter how thoroughly you plan a course of action, it will inevitably face unknown circumstances which will contravene those plans in some way. In the case of military operations, the "unknown circumstances" are often the enemy force, as they too get a say in your plans, but won't provide that information ahead of time.
The "enemy", in terms of business, is the unknown factors that affect not only our operations, but the operations of our clients, as well as the operations of their customers and vendors. And, at the moment, those unknown factors all seem to relate to the pandemic.
For our operations, the unknown factors started before the pandemic officially made landfall in Canada. Supply chains from Asia and the EU stalled as lock-downs spread across the world, which impacted our clients almost immediately, and lead to the halt and/or delay of several projects. This revenue reduction increased as COVID 19 hit Canada, sending businesses in to crisis mode.
Clients who were able to invest in development before the pandemic became focused on survival, which translated into funds being diverted from engineering to damage control. And, this reaction is entirely understandable. Surviving the repercussions of the pandemic became the primary concern for all businesses, including Enable Innovation.
But, the pandemic has also created "crisitunities" for many businesses who are able to pivot into pandemic-conscious services or production. We've seen restaurants adapt to take-away services, stores and shops implementing safety equipment and barriers, and manufacturers re-tool to produce PPE and other pandemic related products. Those who are able to adjust and adapt will survive.
As an engineering company, adapting is second nature. Any engineer or technologist worth their salt should recognize any crisis to be a challenge, and a challenge in engineering is an opportunity to develop a solution. Though there will always be room in the market for new consumer products, and we will continue welcome new ideas and projects, we recognize that the immediate need in industry is engineering support to adapt to changing markets and supply chains.
We often tout our services as being focused on supporting start-ups with limited resources, as we offer our services on an as-needed basis, but this model is readily adaptable to support industrial and manufacturing engineering projects as well. Whether this translates into supporting an existing engineering department in the development of a new line of products, or even just producing engineering drawings and manufacturing data; our service model is designed to provide the engineering support required, within a budget, and as-needed.
Our plans may not have survived contact with 2020, but we will adapt and be stronger for it.