This COVID-19 pandemic: it’s been a crazy couple of months for everyone, around the world, in every industry, in every organization.
We’ve scrambled and managed. We’ve made tough decisions. We’ve kept things going as best we could.
And maybe, just maybe, it’s time to start exploring what IT in your organization will look like in a post-pandemic world.
Nobody knows what’s going to happen. But it doesn’t hurt to start making some tentative plans, if your organization hasn’t already started down this path. Even if your company has begun making post-pandemic plans at a high level, it’s critical to identify the role the IT team will play in the execution of those plans.
How to approach post-pandemic IT planning
One classic approach might be hypothetical scenarios. Work with your team to brainstorm possible outcomes – best possible case, worst possible case, and options in between. The scenarios don’t have to be detailed. Your goal is gathering ideas about what your organization needs to do.
For instance, take one critical variable: work from home. There’s a range of possibilities: nobody works from home, people that already worked from home continue to do so, some percentage works from home, and everybody works from home. What’s most likely for your organization? What would each scenario require from IT?
Another way to approach the planning is to evaluate what happened before COVID-19, how the organization has managed IT during COVID-19, and then think about after. If you think the organization will try to go back to pre-COVID-19, what process or changes might the organization choose to keep from COVID-19, and what’s missing for a viable go-forward post-COVID-19 plan?
What factors to consider
Once you’ve identified possible end states, it’s time to plan the logistics of operations. Key elements for most organizations to consider are infrastructure, personnel, end-user processes, vendors and providers. For end-user processes, consider what employees need to do, like connect to VPN, access SaaS and on-premises software applications, call customers, answer inbound calls, send files, etc. From each scenario, the IT team can explore what’s required from IT, what’s available, and what’s missing.
A final part of the analysis can be budget, but it’s important not to be constrained by finances when considering alternative scenarios. Talking about money early in the process can shut down new ideas and discourage suggestions for changes and the generation of alternative solutions. Budget estimates are part of the process, but it’s best to start off thinking ‘what can we do,’ not ‘what will our budget permit.’
There are lots of other factors to consider. We don’t know what the next few months will bring, and executives and business units will undoubtedly be making many difficult decisions. But it can’t hurt to start thinking ahead. Planning for best and worst possible cases could bring us some peace of mind, along with the hope that we can take control to devise ways to continue to do the best for our organizations.
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