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With the energy of a start-up company, the Red Cross began providing emergency aid on Dutch soil. Due to the duration and scale of the operation, a number of operational sticking points had to be resolved. Jessy Lamers, Associate Partner Boer & Croon, explains how this reputable organisation also tackled these issues head on.

Rode Kruis trans

The Red Cross
Operations

Jessy Lamers

For the Red Cross, the corona crisis marked the largest aid operation in the Netherlands since the 1953 flood disaster. The voluntary organisation offered food aid, supported the care services and helped with testing and vaccination, among other things.

Due to the unprecedented scale of this operation, for the first time paid support staff was needed. This required a major shift for the Red Cross, which had no experience with the financial, legal and other operational processes that are needed to successfully manage such an operation. Jessy Lamers, Associate Partner and member of the Boer & Croon Operations CEO/COO community, set up the operational section that was needed to be able to provide this help.

You were asked by the Red Cross to set up that operational structure. What was the situation?

SITUATION: TYPICAL START-UP SITUATION

"When corona broke out, the GGD municipal health service was in charge of setting up testing and vaccination lanes. There are 25 GGD regions, all of which operate independently, purchase and enter into contracts. That works fine in "peacetime", but not when a pandemic breaks out. Every region needed support from one moment to the next in staffing the testing and vaccination lanes and turned to employment agencies, first aid associations and the Red Cross, among others. In 22 GGD regions, the Red Cross eventually got to work. In about half of these, the Red Cross is operating with volunteers, exactly as the Red Cross has been operating successfully for the past 160 years. In the other regions, however, the scale of the task was too long-term and extensive for it to be carried out by volunteers alone. It was here that the GGD departments made a request for the use of paid workers."

"The Red Cross has been tremendously vigilant and quick to respond to the request of the GGD regions. The Red Cross had never had to provide help on such a scale before. And that within a very short time. Setting up essential back office processes demanded a lot of attention Director of National Operations Red Cross Heleen van den Berg then asked Boer & Croon to set up the underlying business operational processes."

How did you go about that and which business operational processes are you referring to?

APPROACH: ANALYSIS AND PLAN WITH A MULTIDISCIPLINARY TEAM

"To start with, I brought in several experts from the respective departments themselves. Two Young Executives from Boer & Croon were also brought in. One important aspect was the involvement of various members of the management team to assure that decisions could be made quickly as well as further communication within the organisation. With this multidisciplinary team, we made an analysis in two weeks and made an inventory of the problems. This led to an action plan, which we implemented in the next 3-4 months, until everything stabilised."

Quickly putting things in order

"The processes that we dealt with were financial and legal, planning, onboarding and, of course, personnel administration. By getting the operation and underlying processes up and running smoothly, the Red Cross has its hands free to make a difference in what really matters: providing emergency aid. This operation underpinned the strategic ambitions of the Red Cross. By aligning the operation seamlessly with these ambitions, we were able to put our affairs in order quickly, restore calm and the organisation was able to focus on the future."

"Together with a partner, a temporary employment agency, we were able to make sure that the testing and vaccination lanes could be staffed. Thanks to the good name of the Red Cross, we were able to recruit good people fairly easily, even when other employment agencies were no longer able to do so."