Running an organization would sure be a lot easier if we could anticipate everything that will happen in the future. The COVID-19 pandemic and its ensuing economic and business disruptions have been a profound reminder that, in addition to the everyday uncertainties organizations face (key staff quitting suddenly, statistically improbable systems failures, etc.), there are periodic major disruptions that no one can see coming—future-defining unpredictable events.
How can companies prepare for something like Covid when no one knows when it’s coming or what it will look like? For IT leaders, the key is building a resilient organization and technology stack. Let’s focus on communications and telecom preparedness. As we know from the shift to work-from-home, telecom and collaboration solutions were the key to workforce continuity during Covid. In adapting to Covid, organizations discovered three primary reasons why it’s hard to be prepared for major shifts:
- IT organizations often don’t have a holistic view or blueprint of their technology.
- IT organizations are not constantly optimizing their solutions—meeting objectives, reviewing vendor agreements, and monitoring for better alternatives.
- IT organizations are support-focused or project-focused. If telecom and communications services are running OK, optimization for effectiveness and costs is not a priority when there are limited or non-dedicated resources.
- Gain Visibility
- Any type of planning starts with an in-depth understanding of current projects and initiatives as well as having clear insights into what assets and services are in place today.
- Analyze all vendor contracts and ensure that terms, conditions, and optional cancellations scenarios are clearly understood (specifically ETF fees, auto renewal classes, or renewal for discount opportunities).
- Ensure that everything that is being worked on within IT aligns to a macro business goal. Another pitfall of being engaged in daily firefighting is that IT initiatives, assets, and services can gradually drift away from business goals unless they are diligently and proactively aligned.
- Clearly describe how a project’s efforts are going to directly deliver macro business goals.
- Consider realigning resources so IT’s time and effort is relevant to the broader organizational priorities. Always quantify the risk to the business’s macro priorities if a specific project is scaled down, paused, or outright sunset.
- Identify opportunities where scalable, outcome-based services (such as XCaaS, managed cloud, managed security services, etc.) can reduce operational risk and costs in the event of headcount reduction or in the event of growth outpacing internal support.
- Consolidate vendor relationships to drive deeper partnership beyond commercial contracts. It’s important to be working with vendors you know and trust. When dealing with partner-status vendors, creative solutions and long-range mutual support (hallmarks of resilience) are much more likely.