COVID-19: The Digital Wake up Call
With the unbelievable outbreak of COVID-19, the need for social distancing and the instant work from home, for many organizations it separated the prepared from the unprepared. Some are business as usual with a slight online shift. Some are scrambling to move to a remote workforce, and some are simply stuck coming into the office.
Almost overnight, Laptops, Network Connectivity, and Digital Systems became critical infrastructure for business continuity. I’ve heard many stories from our customers, prospects and industry connections about the immediate need to have employees work from home to ensure minimal business disruption.
Ready and Prepared
Our story would be one that would be considered a success story – and yes, I am bragging. To protect the safety and health of our staff, we issued a work from home order on a Friday afternoon. Everyone simply packed their laptops, hijacked the monitors and headed for the home offices. The total turn-around for our team was 15 minutes. Everyone has a laptop, VPN, access to our digital repository (OpenText Content Server) and an office gigabit connection to ensure stability. We have been working from home for almost two weeks now, and we are running as we normally would, just without the physical presence. If the office imploded tomorrow, we’d only lose desks, whiteboards and our coffee machine.
Some organizations that I’ve spoken with have a very similar story as we do, the only difference is they operate on a larger scale. But they simply sent everyone home with their machines and all staff connected to their existing network and cloud applications. It was business as usual.
Unprepared & Scrambling
Some organizations simply haven’t prepared or made modern IT decisions in the past decade. The common theme around these decisions is lack of software, inadequate hardware and average network connectivity. For their hardware, they either have very few laptops, only have desktops or have thin client machines. Scrambling to meet the demand, I’ve heard stories of organizations asking employees to bring in their own personal laptops. These laptops are being formatted, windows re-installed and VPN configured by IT. Some organizations had to resort to buying laptops or even Chromebooks which sent even more chaos into the user’s world as they don’t know how to use these devices. “Where’s the Start Button/Windows Icon?” or “This screen is to small.”
Other issues are poor network connectivity that is critical to enable an entire organization to work remotely. Phones lines are busy for conference call dial-in’s, networks are running slow or employees cannot get through at all because the network is overloaded.
One contact I spoke with stated C level management was screaming at IT saying, “What have you guys accomplished in a decade?” Their entire organization ran on desktops. For them, it’s been a rough couple of weeks.
Then there are the organizations that are still paper based. How can a workforce work from home if everything revolves around pieces of paper? Now, not only are employers putting their employees at risk of illness by having them come to work, but they also risk contamination via circulating paper. The New England Journal of Medicine scientists found that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. I wouldn’t want to be passing boxes, folders and paper around the office.
Solutions The solution is simple for organizations - it is time to go digital and invest in your organization with the proper solutions.
1. Get rid of the paper, invest in an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) System. Really, what’s the downside in getting rid of paper? Not only are there all the usual risks of losing it, damaging it, trying to find space to store it and of course the time wasted trying to find it. With the outbreak, there is now the risk of contamination just by handling it. Stop moving paper physically around the office!
It’s time to get going on digital workflow. If your organization receives paper as a means of outside document submission, one person should scan it centrally and store it in an ECM. This will then initiate a workflow. With workflow, the document will circulate to the needed employees without them ever seeing a physical piece of paper. You don’t need to go from zero automation to 100 percent to start with. Start small by scanning and shredding. Work your way into digital forms to eliminate scanning over time in future phases. 2. Proper, Modern Infrastructure. Ensure your organization makes the right decision on infrastructure and hardware. A few extra dollars early, saves a lot in the end. Laptops over desktops, adequate network pipe and proper external security.
3. Find a Managed Application Services Provider. When crisis hits do you want the organization to rely on the one guy in IT that knows that system? He’s busy provisioning VPN or taking tech support calls. You need a vendor you can lean on for reliability.
4. Microsoft Teams – You need web and video conferencing anyway. Teams comes included with Office 365. Utilize it, you’re likely already paying for it.
With the above solutions implemented, working remotely is a simple transition that saves your organization time, money and reduces risk.
About Cadence Solutions
Cadence Solutions is a provider of Microsoft and OpenText technology including OpenText Content Server, Microsoft SharePoint, Office 365 and Microsoft Teams.