Strategic Partners

Three Critical Questions IT Leaders Must Consider

As businesses navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, Chris Pope, VP of Innovation, ServiceNow, urges technology leaders to think about broader remote working strategies and how they can enhance and future-proof these models.

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Chris Pope, ServiceNow
Chris Pope, ServiceNow

We’re living through unprecedented times, dealing with a situation completely out of our control. But while IT leaders have no way of managing the pandemic itself, they do have control over how their businesses respond and adapt to the disorder left by COVID-19. And for many, it’s exposing cracks in their planning.

Enabling remote working is not a new thing, it’s a concept companies have grown up with as they utilise technology to scale and grow globally. But never has working from home been so robustly tested as it is right now.

As we’d expect, many organisations are adapting successfully as remote-working moves to an absolute necessity, but others are faring less well and it’s posing big problems for the wider company. After all, how can a business react and take on the crisis if the staff it relies upon to keep things going aren’t equipped to carry on working?

It’s never too late to improve – technologies like the cloud make it possible to do so. But whether you’re thriving or failing with remote working, there are three questions every senior IT leader should be asking themselves right now:

Question 1: How successful is your remote working strategy proving so far? 

The measure of success or failure of your remote working strategy can’t be based on complaints about team members only having one screen to work on at home, or about kids occasionally interrupting video calls – that’s life and those are just distractions.

A successful strategy needs to start with evidence of an understanding workforce, one that’s used to a flexible culture and is showing they’re prepared and able to adapt to these changing circumstances.

Success is also measured by your teams having access to the tools they need to do their jobs properly, no matter where they’re logging in from, and having solutions for their clients as quickly as possible.

Success doesn’t mean perfection, but it does mean a content workforce doing the right work, at the right time, without wasting time or adding unnecessary cost to the business.

 Question 2: What will happen once the crisis subsides?

Your strategy up until now has focussed on digital transformation, using technology to help your teams do their best work. But a very specific and catastrophic event has happened, and it will rightly make the C-Suite nervous it may happen again.

This means the ability to work remotely has shifted from a ‘nice-to-have’ for many, to a ‘must-have’ for almost everyone.

So, building a strategy which enables it to work seamlessly, without costing or losing the business money when it’s up and running, should be a key focus for IT leaders once we’re back to some kind of normality.

You should also expect a percentage of your workforce to question why they’re returning to the office once the crisis subsides. If they’ve adapted and thrived through remote working, why should they spend thousands of pounds and hundreds of hours on daily commutes, when they can achieve what they need to from home?

As leaders in IT, you’ll have a whole host of working-culture questions to come back to, so are you prepared?

Question 3: How do you re-think your remote working strategy?

This is a crisis that’s going to take time for businesses to recover from, and it’s going to change the way people think about work. With buy-in from the C-Suite, and secure access to the cloud, it’s an opportunity for you to re-imagine the working structure of your company.

There are many businesses where the very nature of their industry makes it impossible, or at least impractical, to allow a blanket policy of working from home. So, the first job in re-thinking your strategy is understanding which roles can be performed remotely.

With that data, you can scrutinise which of these functions can be automated – freeing up your teams to do more meaningful work conducted in the office, in a cafe or at home.

For a company that’s solely on-premise, true remote working faces obstacles. But for teams working securely in the cloud without the constraints of outdated, manual, costly, and inefficient work processes, there are possible productivity and satisfaction benefits to be gained.

It’s not too late.

Those who’ve already embraced digital transformation will stand the best chance of making it through these troubled times and set themselves up to thrive in the future. But a successful remote working structure comes from innovative thinking and a true desire to make working easier and more satisfying for your teams. So, it’s never too late.

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