As a response to the current health concerns impacting the nation and the world, the AHEAD team has developed a checklist of actions businesses can take to prepare for large-scale remote work situations. These guidelines are not meant to be an exhaustive list of IT preparations but instead, serve as steps for ensuring digital systems readiness within a short timeframe.
Remote Work IT Readiness
- Establish diversified communication and collaboration options for your team. For example, if one vendor is experiencing lags or outages as a result of heavy usage, a back-up communication tool will allow your team to continue moving projects forward.
- Perform readiness testing at scale. One approach could be to have employees log in remotely each Friday to ensure your systems can not only handle remote access, but remote access from the whole of your staff. This will give your team a chance to correct issues in advance, resulting in a reduction of pressure on IT support during declared events.
- Validate that your VPN devices, firewalls, WAN and other required systems can handle the increased workload. WAN and VPN device capabilities tend to be especially limiting factors at scale.
- Validate out-of-band system access for complete remote operation and emergency console access.
- Determine which systems are mission-critical and ensure those systems are fully supported by both your staff and vendors/service providers. Remote-equipped laptops and email access are obviously critical, but if your mission-critical components lapse, business operations will suffer.
- Consider licensing for remote clients. Most licenses only cover remote workers, not office staff. Check with software providers on how you can extend your contract to cover your entire staff if necessary.
- Ensure your help desk is remotely available and well-staffed.
Supply Chain Risk Mitigation
- Supply chains have already and will continue to be impacted by not only production interruptions but also travel restrictions. Consider how this will impact any net new purchases, especially if you take a JIT (Just In Time) approach to inventory management.
- This could also impact replacement parts for critical systems. Consider stocking a small number of spare parts (e.g. power supplies, fans) for critical hardware platforms.
Client, Partner, and Vendor Ecosystem Readiness
- Communication between clients, partners and vendors is key during pressing times like these. Engage service providers, including cloud providers, early in order to ensure your account is equipped to withstand additional workloads.
- Be sure you understand your clients’ measures when it comes to remote communication and any additional needs they foresee.
- Have a plan for how you will prioritize your own customers if not all can receive the same quality of service. Develop a triage approach to take care of the most pressing needs first.
Business Continuity Plan Refresh
- Get ahead of absenteeism by identifying product and service managers and backups.
- Take a longer view of emergency planning. Illnesses can rebound and the work you do now can have an impact of your preparedness for the near- and long-term future.
- If you do not have a business continuity plan, start building one now. You can use the collateral and templates and the corresponding instructions provided by FEMA as a starting point.