Technology considerations in response to the COVID19 pandemic
As organisations respond to the growing COVID19 crisis, their focus will increasingly turn to technology as an enabler of different ways of working and to support business continuity.
Blue Bike works extensively across the human and community services sector and sees a wide range of capabilities and capacities within the tech teams and technology suites of the organisations in this broad sector. The diversity is great; some organisations have a complete cloud presence, others have entirely on-premises hosting of traditional core systems and fragile infrastructure with limited network capacity. Some have multi-factor authentication whereas others have very questionable password security. So, every organisation in the sector will need to understand their own circumstance and respond to challenges as they emerge. Some of those challenges include: (i) The number of staff working remotely will likely increase, (ii) as will service tickets, and (iii) demand for limited access to virtual collaboration tools.
Often, organisations across the sector have fairly rudimentary business continuity plans for technology. Not every organisation has a dedicated CTO/CIO, Technology Managers, or even Help-Desk staff who have the knowledge, time or energy to think through these issues. So, we’ve made a start for you.
Staff Remote Access; To support working from home, do you have any of the following:
Windows 10 has Direct Access,
Cisco Any Connect
or other VPN’s including OpenVPN etc.
And do you have enough:
Licenses - for the number of users who will now be on them?
Capacity – do the servers and internet links have enough capacity?
MFA –physical tokens, as provisioning and supply may be an issue.
Virtual Collaboration; To support greater virtual collaboration via Chat/Video/Phone:
Skype for Business,
Skype for Business
Goto Meeting, WebEx etc.
Many of the above will support phone as well – but consider conference line availability through Telstra, Redback etc:
Do you have enough capacity?
Check the participant limits and ensure they are enough for the purposes
Licenses - check the number of users who will not be on them
File Management; To support greater virtual collaboration, what Collaboration/File Management approach will we take? There are numerous options such as:
SharePoint / OneDrive for Business,
Ensure everyone is using the same one to manage your risk of knowledge leaking AND ensure the company credentials are used – not personal accounts (where possible).
Work Planning & Monitoring; For teams that are used to assigning work and having a leader check in on progress – do you have a team board such as SharePoint Group boards, Trello etc – there are many. Pick a tool that is:
•Secure (definitely) and,
Helpdesk Functions; What level of confidence do you have that your technology support teams (internal or outsourced) will be able to provide services? Can you predict, and therefore pre-empt the common issues that will emerge? How do you triage your trouble ticket workload?
Internet Access; Do you have multiple options as a single provider may expose your organisation to outages and capacity restrictions may likely emerge.
Home Internet; Should you consider topping up people’s home and mobile internet with payments to support working remotely. Do people in critical roles have the download capacity at home or on mobile to support working remotely?
Project Continuity; What projects are inflight, about to commence, or near completion? Which project do you complete, continue, pause, delay? How do you go about establishing priorities to guide these decisions?
Third-Party Providers; What is the status of your contracts with providers? What is the state of their business continuity planning? What will they do if they experience staff shortages? Do you need to increase the service levels for the short term?
Lastly, the topics covered above don’t amount to a comprehensive assessment of your technology needs. Working through this list of topics can prompt thinking and provide a start to managing your vital technology in these times of uncertainty. Blue Bike have a depth of technology experience in the human and community services sector, so feel free to reach out to us if you need support.