How CIO’s Can Be Battle-Ready During COVID Crisis
The pandemic has only cemented the necessity for the resilience of critical technology that can ensure business continuity.
Over the last few years, India has become a powerhouse of IT services. Close to 3.1 million people work in call centres and IT in the country as of now.
With extended period of nation-wide lockdown, companies have had to react quickly. Most companies do not have an emergency plan to cope with the crises caused by a pandemic. However, IT services outsourcing providers have reportedly placed urgent orders for reinforcements. There has been a significant rise in the demand for laptops and even shipping services as companies have moved entire setups to their key employees’ homes.
A sharp rise in call-waiting durations and customer care demand has prompted a media company to hire 500 remote employees amid the novel coronavirus crisis. Recent times has also seen a steep rise in the demand for broadband packages as more people are working from their homes.
Collating important information from outsourcing providers, and ensuring company data security are all part of the CIO’s work responsibility. CIOs should focus their energy on the resolution of issues that arise as almost 100% of their workforce work remotely and building resistance towards the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
i. Addressing immediate and potential issues of an outsourced service provider
Taking care of the entire team – it’s the time to be one with your internal team and the outsourced service provider team.
The primary way to begin addressing the immediate issues during a time of crisis is by taking care of the employees. It is the CIOs responsibility to ensure that the outsourced team feels the unity and care provided by the company. CIOs should unequivocally extend their empathy and display flexibility towards their remote workers and their families.
Here are a few examples of what a CIO can do –
a. Ask how your outsourced service providers are ensuring their employee wellbeing.
b. Get in touch with your service providers to ensure that on-site employees maintain social distancing and that they have enough resources to keep themselves safe.
c. The extended period of isolation and social distancing can take a toll on one’s mental health. Always ask your outsourced service providers to provide necessary mental health support for their employees.
Secure all services necessary to run your business – remote working can create unprecedented stress on the operations of a company.
CIO’s must ensure that the quality of work is not compromised even when the employees of their outsourced service provider are working from home. Consider a situation where a key employee who has the entire knowledge of the company infrastructure, processes, systems and security takes ill suddenly. There is no backup.
It can expose your business continuity to serious risk.
This is what a responsible CIO can do to secure business continuity and security –
a. Set down work and leave protocols, secure backup requirements, multi-level authentication, remote VPN access and secure collaboration tools for all key employees.
b. Create a backup plan for rebalancing the capacity to work with the provider. Encourage your outsourced provider to share warnings and notifications about limited resources beforehand.
c. Set up a detailed plan with your outsourcing provider to monitor and track the developments on a daily basis. Involve the data centres, network support and critical servers in the plan.
d. Establish a virtual command centre.
e. Ensure that all remotely working devices are compliant to your company security standards.
ii. Build resistance to the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic
Plan for the next step with your outsourcing provider – CIOs should always plan to address the ongoing impacts of the pandemic together with the outsourced service provider. It includes planning for business continuity by a possible reduction in capacity or resolving issues around remote working.
a. Build individual interactive, real-time crisis-monitoring dashboards for all your outsourced service providers.
b. Develop disaster management and mitigation plans for potential and real-life outsourcing scenarios.
c. Consider reallocating limiting resources to projects critical to the business.
Discuss the financial effect of COVID-19 and determine the appropriate outcome for all – CIOs should work with the remotely working employees and the providers to come to a solution that is financially beneficial for all.
These actions can include –
a. Weigh the long-term provider-company relationship. CIOs must avoid knee-jerk cost-cutting since it can accrue higher costs in the long run.
b. CIOs can revisit the company-provider relationship roadmap to maintain the relationship and improve their fiscal resilience. Each party’s needs should be weighed and financial steps should be taken accordingly.
The pandemic has only cemented the necessity for the resilience of critical technology that can ensure business continuity. CIOs will need to unite the workforces and treat the teams of their outsourced service provider partners as their own to minimize the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house