Graig Paglieri is the Group President at Randstad US, overseeing the company’s technologies and engineering lines of business.
Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, only 22% of companies had the infrastructure in place to support mass remote working — and yet, despite that fact, an estimated 37% of organizations to date have successfully implemented mandatory, company-wide work-from-home policies. That’s a testament to organizational agility and highlights the power of surprises and setbacks to reveal surprising capabilities.
But there may be a more immediate lesson from the pandemic in the eyes of enterprise leaders. Namely, that the stakes around disaster recovery planning (DRP) and business continuity planning (BCP) are going to be higher than ever before. In fact, I believe that many organizations will pursue a state we might call “permanent agility” — a state where business models and priorities can shift, and DRP and BCP capabilities adapt right along with them.
For companies pushing in that direction, let me highlight a few areas that should be top of mind for leaders as they navigate the next phase of the crisis.
DRP And BCP In Focus
Workarounds, ad hoc systems, “shadow IT” solutions — so much of the early business response to the outbreak was a period characterized by tremendous improvisation. A lot of decisions were made in the heat of the moment out of necessity.
But now, nearly six months into our still-unfolding crisis, stronger, more “permanently agile” solutions are in order for companies across the board. This need is most pronounced in those sectors hardest hit by shutdowns and related disruptions. Hard-to-digitize, highly people-dependent business models, as well as those that rely heavily on global supply chains, should take note, too.
What does all of this portend for DRP and BCP efforts? Here are three callouts.
A lot of that depends on current maturity. Considering the fact that an estimated 20% of organizations had no DRP or BCP capabilities going into the crisis, some companies clearly have more room for improvement than others. Small wonder that, from the outset, only 12% of executives believed their organizations were ready to cope with the impacts of the pandemic.
As workforces evolve, DRP and BCP capabilities must do so in tandem, so it’s a good idea to audit and assess your own competencies in these areas today. If you can strategically leverage all of the planning, decisions and learnings spurred by the onset of the pandemic, you should be able to emerge with far more robust DRP and BCP capabilities going forward. As a result, you’ll be ready to withstand whatever shockwaves the next unforeseen event brings.
Identify The Essentials
What are the core business applications your company needs, at minimum, to continue operating and delivering value? You might think of these in a similar light to a “minimal viable product,” only scaled out across the organization.
Whatever the answer, that’s what you need to prioritize. These are your “must-haves” — and what you also must have are the requisite infrastructure and systems to support them.
In terms of IT infrastructure and strategy, one final point worth mentioning, particularly as it has been demonstrably linked to business resiliency for many organizations during the pandemic, is migrating to the cloud. The majority of respondents in this survey said it helped their business “a lot” during the crisis.
Upskill Your Way Around Talent Gaps
Upskilling is one of the most reliable approaches to preparing your existing workforce to adapt and be more agile on the road ahead. There aren’t any contingencies involved. You already have the people on your team — and a near majority of them are already upskilling on their own.
Organizations can harness that energy in a number of ways. While some, no doubt, will be tempted to go it alone, bear in mind that partner organizations can be better positioned to deliver value through formal talent development programs. Regardless, it’s vital that business leaders make it a point to continually provide upskilling opportunities for employees.
Other reasons to upskill? It’s an effective curative for burnout, a phenomenon markedly on the rise of late. For example, 69% of employees reported symptoms of burnout while working from home in June, compared to over 50% (which is still a sizable percentage) in May. For these reasons and more, consider upskilling as a key part of your DRP and BCP strategy.
There’s a clear impetus for industries across sectors to revisit, rethink and redefine the role that DRP and BCP play in organizational strategy. As the global pandemic has laid bare, the costs of not doing so could be catastrophic.
Hopefully, the points I’ve raised in this article will help inform your organization’s strategies going forward. I recognize that some of this introspection may be difficult, but these are necessary conversations to have — and they’re also an opportunity to candidly assess the overall digital-readiness of your organization.
Forbes Technology Council is an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs and technology executives. Do I qualify?