Vikas Khanvelkar, MD, DesignTech Systems
All companies need to evaluate, reinvent, and re-strategize to survive in this paradigm shifting scenario, says Vikas Khanvelkar, MD, DesignTech Systems. In this interview, he talks about the impact of coronavirus pandemic on mechanical engineering industry and the key learnings from the crisis. Excerpts:.
Well-being of our employees is paramount for us. At the same time, we need to ensure that the business does not suffer and also we are able to support our customers in the best possible way. All our employees are working from home. We have sent out a communication to all our customers informing them about the change in the working scenario while assuring them that we will be supporting them remotely. In our business line, most of the software are accessible through cloud, which our engineers are able to use from home and continue working. Whatever technical support is required from our side, our technical team is very much available to help them out with it through emails, phone and webcasts. Our marketing team is conducting webcasts for the prospects and customers. We are investing more on digital campaigns to generate leads, business opportunities and interests. Our Sales teams are conducting technology demonstrations through webcasts. Our Engineering services team has been given laptops at home and they are accessing software solutions through cloud and are continuing to work on their projects. While we all realise that these are incredibly difficult times for people world over, we are trying to see how we can best keep our employees safe and yet not let the business take a bad hit.
We have set up a ‘work-from-home teams calendar’. Based on that we regularly connect through conference calls and webcasts to discuss various strategies and we are also using these tools to connect with the customers and continue to engage with them in business dialogues. It gets a little challenging, but we are making the best use of technologies and solutions such as online meeting platforms to carry out our work and business discussions.
We have sent out an email communication to all our customers on whom they can reach out to for any technical support they require. Most of the software solutions and applications that our customers use are available on cloud. And our technical team is fully equipped and ready to help through their issues via remote access, emails, phone, and webcasts.
Some of the key lessons learnt in this crisis are:
Manufacturing industry in India was already experiencing a slowdown. And with this additional crisis, the industry is going to take a huge hit. It is expected that companies in our area of work, mechanical engineering industry will experience about 30-35% negative growth. It is going to take several months for the companies to recover and gain back the lost momentum. How it will affect the companies’ hiring, salary increments, and other employment policies is unknown at the moment. Every company will have to evaluate their projected damage and might be compelled take some really tough decisions to ensure the survival of the company.
The biggest problem that companies like us are facing is the liquidity crunch. We don’t know when the work will resume. It will take at least 6 to 7 months for business to start picking up. Collections from the customers will be a challenge as they are also facing the same problem of funds shortage. Government should launch some supporting loan schemes which can make the funds available quickly at concessional interest rates. Government can also allow more time to pay statutory dues like GST, TDS etc. Current time of two months is very short considering the uncertainty when the work will resume. Second major problem is the economic activity will be slowed down a lot. It is estimated by the economy experts that it will take two three years for the economy to go back to 2019 growth indicators. Government should provide stimulus to accelerate the economy to shorten this period as much as possible.
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