Conversation with Arie Ben Shmueli, CEO of Mashik, about companies’ ability to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic

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By: Yaron Finzi, Innovation Manager at Mashik

The current crisis poses new challenges for companies. Plus, it seems that, with the beginning of a “second wave”, this crisis is here to stay – at least in the short-term future. Accordingly, companies are required to quickly respond to changes, and to challenge the traditional and familiar organizational processes that they have been using thus far.
I sat down for a conversation with Arie Ben Shmueli, CEO of Mashik, who assists and advises leading organizations how to overcome the current crisis, find opportunities in these chaotic and uncertain times, and leverage technologies and innovation.

Arie, you’ve been advising clients for numerous years. What’s different now, when compared to the past?
It’s obvious that this current period is different from the other economic crises that took place in the past 100 years. This is an extraordinary crisis and it has impacted every single person on the planet. Supply chains have obviously also been impacted. Challenges have been extraordinary, such as from demanding supplies from “red” coronavirus countries, communicating with suppliers/ clients working at home, and coordinating with suppliers facing their own complications. All of this requires creativity and unconventional solutions. These difficulties have forced organizations to adjust accordingly so that supply to their numerous clients isn’t hindered.
From the view of Mashik, this period has completely altered the way in which we meet new and existing clients. Before the pandemic, all meetings were face-to-face. Today, most meetings are held on Zoom. Although this change has allowed us to meet various clients all over Israel nearly simultaneously, the personal touch is significantly impaired.

During these times, what type of companies would you recommend to start projects focusing on efficiency and innovation?

Currently, there is a decline in activity in almost every sector. The time that is freed up is definitely an opportunity that just won’t come around again. Hence, it’s best to take advantage of this time and think about ways to improve business performance. This is the time to think outside the box and adopt solutions and technologies that will help us move forward in the future.
In my opinion, this is an opportunity available to companies in all sectors and industries. Each company that doesn’t want to remain stagnant must examine operations that will enable it to reach the next stage of increased organizational efficiency (robotics, computing, etc.) For example, at Mashik, we have been able to formulate, together with a number of our clients, a program to increase productivity, as well as to streamline workflows through the use of advanced technologies.

We organized a monthly forum in which key functionaries and stakeholders are able to meet with executives from similar companies, promoting a fruitful dialogue to share their successes and challenges. Within this framework, numerous, varied solutions were discussed.

What practical tools should companies use in order to better deal with the crisis?

In my view, Mashik is a focal point of knowledge for fields that were significantly impacted by the global pandemic. For this reason, we organized a monthly forum in which key functionaries and stakeholders are able to meet with executives from similar companies, promoting a fruitful dialogue to share their successes and challenges. Within this framework, varied solutions were discussed. Numerous issues have been brought up, such as managing employees remotely (and how to work properly from home), dealing with supply problems, updating agreements and contracts, maintaining relationships with strategic suppliers, etc.
Another thing that I recommend considering is grants offered by funds promoting productivity. These grants enable factories to receive government funding for production floor investments. Of course, each client has a different story and, at Mashik, we know how to offer customized solutions based on our clients’ character, operational requirements, and business needs.

The crisis has undoubtedly caused countless difficulties. Nevertheless, it also simultaneously presents opportunities. What would you focus on as a decision maker?
For one of our clients, we formulated a program based on Supplier Resources Management (SRM). By interfacing with key clients, we’ve been able to come up with common solutions that have helped to reduce costs in a period during which there is simply no room for extra expenses. This is definitely a time in which companies can garner sympathy from their major suppliers. We’ve also been working with technological solutions. During a recent project, we configured and implemented Robotic Process Automation for a leading client in the retail sector and were able to successfully automate repetitive organizational processes, i.e. setting up low-volume requirements, order approvals, etc. We freed up various organizational processes and, most importantly, were able to divert human resources to core issues.

What type of support and guidance do you provide companies who seek your advice?
The projects that we carry put vary according to client requirements. Some clients are looking for defined solutions, such as streamlining processes for lowering procurement costs, improving processes for increased production line output, and logistical planning for factories/ warehouses.

Additionally, some customers request that we undertake a general survey of their organizational processes and identify opportunities for efficiency. The main result of this type of consulting include reports that outline an efficiency plan, based on findings found at the diagnostic stage. Following this, we assist the organization in implementing the recommendations to the point of success, as well as customer satisfaction. Our recommendations are lead to tangible business results and ROI.

In conclusion, what are the keys to successful supplier management?
I would divide it into three timeframes: short, medium, and long term. In the short term, everything humanely possible must be done to save the organization and to undertake activities that lead to high liquidity. At the same time, investments must be made that will lead to results in the medium and long term. Ultimately, we have to keep in mind that we will always be on the cusp of a crisis. Hence, management capabilities must be adjusted accordingly and undertaken properly.

Arie Ben Shmueli, CEO of Mashik4

Arie Ben Shmueli, CEO of Mashik