Over the past year in my role as IT Manager, I have proactively worked towards developing contingency plans for worse case scenarios. Coming from Christchurch, I am well aware of the toll that a disaster can take on a business when you cannot get into your premises for whatever reason – earthquake, flood, fire, or in this case pandemic.
About 4 weeks ago I started putting together a Covid19 plan. At that stage, there were some raised eyebrows. It seemed, at the time, perhaps an over-reaction. My simple plan included
- list of staff who currently had the ability to work remotely and therefore had limited requirements
- those who didn’t and what they would need in terms of hardware, software and peripherals
- staff members connectivity at home
- staff members contact numbers – to set up an SMS emergency group
Move ahead to the start of last week and my plan was put into action. Deploying workstations for staff to take home and test (with a newly deployed VPN). By Friday we were directed that starting Monday morning (tomorrow), we would be all be working from home. Ahead of any Australian government directive – and in line with other businesses already doing this proactively, to protect their employees and the wider community.
For many businesses that still consider their IT as an expense, they may struggle to keep their business running in the near future if they haven’t thought about and planned for this already. If they don’t already have secure work from home ability, they may open themselves up to major security breaches.
Speaking with ex-colleagues and IT vendors, most have been smashed with requests to get customers working remotely. Businesses may not be able to get their service provider (or internal IT) to dedicate enough time and resources to get remote work setup in a timely fashion.
Businesses who may not have the technology to enable remote work already it may find sourcing such equipment will force them to pay more or get inferior equipment. As proven during the Christchurch earthquakes, in many cases, you sourced what you could get, even if it wasn’t the ideal equipment.
I am very fortunate that the business I work for places value in their IT. They see IT as an investment – not an expense. IT drives the business. Yes, it has a significant cost associated with having a full-time dedicated IT Manager, but my role is to ensure that we are using the solutions we have invested in.
I am not a developer or a coder. At the core of it, my role is IT Support or Network Administrator. A role that is increasingly heralded as no longer required with the proliferation of Cloud, automation and scripting.
There is currently no Cloud, automation and scripting that could perform my job.
My job is creative – it’s about supporting the IT in the business, finding solutions, learning technologies, implementing them, training staff and making technology work to support the business. Using our technology to find ways to reduce the time and effort that it takes to do tasks. This releases staff to then do other work.
Or in the case of a pandemic, seeing the risk, putting a plan into place and supplying the required, personalised setup for each of my colleagues.
Cloud, automation and scripting all have their place, but these are not standalone items – a human needs to get a business to this point and then keep it moving ahead.
Long gone are the days where you buy a new computer and do a server refresh every 3-5 years. Unless you have a good IT person to keep up with technology, your business will be left behind by your competitors who invest in their IT.
For most businesses, without their IT systems, they are completely screwed. The business cannot and will not function. So why the reluctance by so many to invest in a critical business requirement?
Starting 7.30am tomorrow I will be adding remote IT support to my job description – assisting my colleagues and making sure they can do their jobs under this new challenging situation.
I will continue to drive the business forward. I relish the challenge to test new solutions and implement improvements which can drive the business to greater goals.
Happy pandemic!Follow @paula_from_nz