The COVID-19 pandemic has driven a massive shift in workforces everywhere. While work from home had been the exception rather than the rule, it suddenly became standard practice for a variety of industries, including healthcare, education and government.
Many companies added emergency, short-term capabilities to accommodate WFH and we saw some did this more securely than others. Other companies stitched together a mix of policies and technologies, hoping the work environment would return to “normal” soon. We’re now realizing that normal isn’t what it used to be. Many organizations discovered their emergency readiness plans weren’t adequate when faced with a global emergency.
Now we are months in, business disruption has calmed, and businesses across all industries should be asking how they can rebuild and enhance their emergency readiness plans to reach more than adequate levels of success when faced with the next emergency.
Going back to the basics can help with reassessing and improving emergency readiness plans.
Know your environment and your business continuity needs.
- Thoroughly understand the scope of your remote access needs: How many potential remote users do you have? What applications do they need to use? What databases and other resources do they need to access? How much throughput capacity do they need? Will you have enough bandwidth capacity when everyone is working from home?
- Build your emergency requirements with cross-functional teams: The CSO needs to reach beyond engineering, IT and operations teams and get input from HR, legal, compliance and other business leaders across the organization.
Develop a plan that covers some key considerations:
- Rapid deployment: Make sure the plan can be quickly activated to address remote access needs.
- Capacity elasticity: Identify the key apps and resources needed, whether they are on premise or cloud, and the need to handle burst loads.
- Disaster recovery: Establish your DR sites and test all your failover processes.
- Streamline access for employees: Use automation to minimize any setup, configuration and login requirements of remote workers. Avoid overwhelming your internal IT help desk.
Lastly, make sure your plan is flexible. Will you be able to allow access from mobile and other devices if needed? Will your applications work on mobile devices? Will user experience be impacted by bandwidth or access constraints?
Keeping these considerations in mind as you rebuild a plan will mean that business continuity is not just a dream, but a reality. With all successful plans, conduct regular reviews, and run simulations and tests for continued adjustments and improvements. When the next unexpected emergency comes knocking, it won’t be a matter of if you’re prepared.