COVID-19 is sending many workers who used to be in the office to Work from Home (WFH) remote situations. Systems that seemed “fine” when working on premise now seem antiquated when workers are remote. Some issues that AJC clients have experienced so far are: getting Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) loaded onto their computers to securely access systems that are stored in on-premise servers, training workers to access on-premise systems using the VPN, taking extra time to “log in” through said VPNs, slow speed of connecting to the on premise system, and frequently getting kicked off due to bandwidth issues.
CEOs are recognizing that their current systems may not be up to handling so many remote workers. One CEO in a Vistage network sent an email last week asking for system recommendations, saying “We have talked about (the need for a new system) for many years and this COVID19 situation has fast tracked this need.”
There are many considerations to take into account when selecting a new system. Basic user requirements, workflow, wish list items, general user-friendliness or intuitive use of the graphical user interface (GUI), ease of reporting and access to information, and many more – depending on the target use and users of the system. However, COVID-19 adds a new dimension that many businesses did not have to consider before: ease of access from “anywhere.”
When considering a new system either immediately or for long-term planning given the risk of a future pandemic such as COVID-19, factor in the following:
- How many workers will need to access the system remotely (and what % of the workforce does this represent)?
- For a cloud-based system: what is the historical system uptime, and what was it specifically for the high remote-working months of COVID-19 (mid-March 2020 through tbd!)?
- For an on-premise system: what protocols must be in place to ensure secure access to the system for our remote workers, and how reliable are those? (If we were using on-premise systems during COVID-19, what speed, bandwidth, and automatic disconnect issues were we having then?)
- Do we have a sufficient IT team to help people who are unused to working remotely connect to our on-premise systems, and what is the opportunity cost of that?
- What are the costs per seat (and how many seats will we need) for a cloud-based system, versus the overall costs of acquisition and infrastructure, including VPN and other secure protocols for remote access, of an on-premise system?
- Are there other considerations around our local server system – specifically around risks of natural or other disasters (i.e. earthquake, fire, flood, theft, etc.), which may influence our decision as to whether to maintain an on-premise system or move to the cloud?
- For a cloud-based system; what are the security measures around the system, and how reliable have these been historically?
- Does the new system support data analytics to enable tracking of important and new metrics to ensure performance in times of remote work is maintained?
When AJC helps clients with Systems selections and implementations, we typically go through the normal process of gathering requirements, searching for matching systems, facilitating demos, ascertaining fees, making recommendations, and then project managing the client team through the implementation and often providing change management to ensure full adoption of the system. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, AJC’s clients are very concerned that the systems we are working to select and implement with them will help them be prepared for the future of work, in any situation. Whether the “new normal” of remote work continues out of necessity, desire, or in a hybrid format, it is imperative that companies be aware and prepared for whatever the future may hold.