Traditional IT disaster recovery plans are geared towards getting the IT platforms back up and running in case of a physical disaster or a critical impact to system hardware or software. These plans often do not consider disruptions to the environment of the people running the business. The current situation facing the business community has highlighted the need to have plans that can be enacted when the physical location of the employees is not viable for continued operation. Business Continuity plans should go hand in hand with Disaster Recovery plans to provide a comprehensive response to any situation that could reasonably be encountered in modern business operations.
Whether the goal is to reduce current support costs to free up resources for other priorities or to tackle problems that new working methodologies and environments are causing, removing the root cause of issues rather than treating the symptoms will have a much larger long term return. IT support organizations can get caught up in reacting to issues and not take the time to trace and remove the underlying causes. A comprehensive and holistic look at issues and problems can reveal causes from bad processes, incorrect data and other factors that often get overlooked.
The stress placed on support organizations and IT will be tremendous given the current environment. Even with the best plans for productivity improvements and optimizing resources, there will be limits to what an IT group will be able to provide with the constraints they will be under. Articulating what is possible and what is not as well as managing the expectations of the various business stakeholders will be critical. Without a firm consensus on what is to be done and what can be expected much time will be lost in fighting and arguing amongst stakeholder groups. A neutral and trusted third party partner can help manage through the priority setting and assistance requests from the various business functions.
Many companies have license agreements for hardware and software that they have not revisited since implementation of systems. In many cases, there are opportunities to reduce or transfer licenses based on changing needs of the business. In some cases, the cost of maintenance and support is great enough that it could defray a significant portion of the price to upgrade to more modern software with more value-added functionality that supports current best practices.
Many companies get complacent with maintenance and service agreements, particularly with original software providers. An analysis of contracts and renegotiation of agreements considering changes in support needs or volume of issues can often produce significant cost savings. Having an outsider review items that you are too close can sometimes reveal many things that can be open for discussion.
An overall governance structure for all IT initiatives that includes participation by the right level and members of the business is critical for optimal delivery. A partner with demonstrated project and change management experience can help navigate the internal challenges of getting the right structure in place and establishing a process for quickly launching governance for all future initiatives.
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