The COVID-19 pandemic has struck and organisations have been caught unprepared when it comes to business continuity priorities to deal with it. 3dotDigital’s IT consulting experts list down the priorities that should be at the top of their business continuity plan during a virus outbreak.
Bolster the Technology Infrastructure
Access and capabilities need to be worked upon on two fronts – technology for workplace resources and technology to serve the customers. The world’s largest remote work experiment has been thrust upon businesses and they need to respond with technology infrastructure for it including:
- Communication platforms like email, messaging, video-conferencing, collaboration tools and document sharing, etc. Multiple brands of such tools exist, and businesses need to standardise on one that is licensed and used by all employees
- Additional bandwidth and network capacity for more employees opting to work from home and the ensuing increase in volume of communication
- Access to systems like CRM, SCM, ERP, etc.
- More data and applications need to be moved to the cloud for secure access to them and for easing the strain on the network infrastructure. Cloud is important from the business continuity and disaster recovery perspective as well
- Self-service and digital sales technologies like apps and websites with FAQs; IVR systems; chatbots; etc., to take on the expected increase in online queries
The remote work paradigm poses security issues. As more and more employees opt to work from home, the attack surface increases. Cybercriminals are more active in times of crisis and attack the vulnerabilities related to remote connection. Businesses need to focus on:
- Identifying the hardware remote workers will be using, could be company-owned or their own; and the networks they’d be using could be public or private
- Implementing endpoint security for devices, including wireless security at employee homes; encryption processes; and identity and access management for secure sign-ins to corporate systems including multi-factor authentication
- Restricting user access according to the principle of least privilege
- Monitoring UEBA (user and entity behaviour analytics)
- Bracing up for credential theft is important. This typically occurs when the wi-fi at the employee’s home is not secure. The IT ecosystem of the organisation could be in for risks like man-in-the-middle, SQL and cross-site scripting attacks for a data breach, etc.
People and Processes
Employees can be classified into the following broad categories:
- Cannot work from home: The assembly line employees cannot work from home and have to be at the production site. Even if the management keeps only a select few of them on-site, it is the responsibility of the HR team to ensure occupational safety like providing protective suits, masks, sanitiser, etc.; dividing the work into mutually convenient shifts; and offering psychological help to bring down their anxiety and associated stress levels.
- Can work from home: The sales team and knowledge workers, for example, can work from home and may already have done so in the past. The management should stay in constant touch, build trust and keep them motivated besides supporting them in every possible manner to turn the adverse situation into a productive one.
Businesses need to check the following in terms of preparedness:
- Is the business running efficiently with almost all employees working from home, other than those who really cannot?
- What are the issues employees are facing while working from home and their possible redressal?
- Are there any issues pertaining to the critical processes and their conduct from a remote location like running the payroll
- Is there a method in place to contact the employees easily? It could be a bulk SMS platform, email or the intranet. Have these methods been tested? Are there pre-approved messages in place and have the employees been told that they could be contacted in this manner or for that matter who their central point of contact is in case they need to report illness or submit their work from home request?