IssueJune 21Opinion

Demand Forecasting has Become more of an Art than Science

Testing will play a very important part in managing this crisis

COVID-19 has put the industry in the limelight like never before. RT PCR has become the five most common
alphabets on the planet and this is the first time a common man understands the words like antibodies and antigen. I have never seen this in my 27+ years of experience in the diagnostics industry.The entire healthcare ecosystem is being tested across the planet, more so in India which is ranked 128th in the world in terms of healthcare infrastructure.

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Testing has and will play an important part in managing this crisis and has put the entire industry at the forefront of this crises. Managing supplies, enhancing testing capabilities, arranging and training manpower,
managing customer’s anxiety, managing public health system and officials, data management, the safety of
employees, employee motivation and changing operational dynamics almost on an hourly basis, Price changes and managing cash flow are few of many challenges we are facing during this pandemic. Almost no one was prepared for this massive explosion of demand stretching everyone to their limits. There were instances of being covid heroes to covid zeroes and back to heroes in a matter of minutes. We also saw the changing dynamics of human behaviour and many of us are still recovering from the loss of loved ones and trying to move forward. Demand forecasting has become more of an art than science and political uncertainty adds further complexity to this dimension. There is however still a method to this madness and a few of the attributes mentioned
below can help manage the crises of this scale.

Inclusive leadership: In a large and complex organisation, crises management requires a lot of
information processing and may not be visible in data. The involvement of teams in decision making, collecting
information from the ground and collective evaluation of alternatives is the key to making better decisions.
Selection and creation of crises task force remain critical and high-frequency engagement is the key to successfully manage such crises.

Channelling: Channelling the conversation to the task at hand avoids ‘drowning’ in problems.

Accepting: Accepting the fact that “we are not prepared” helps people to find a solution. Remember that everyone is stretched – not only you. From “What’s wrong” to “what can we do about it” is the key to collective creativity. Engagement with the key stakeholders at all levels Patience: Remember everyone is stretched to their limits, not only you.

Communications: Communication is never enough and informal communication is the best –Zoom Calls and Whatsapp groups are an amazing way to reach people quickly. This crisis is by no means is over and the entire nation and the entire world is still learning. We believe covid has taught us a lot and still, it feels like we know nothing.

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