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How to Finance Your IT in a Post-COVID Recovery

Paul Hager
09/22/2021
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Every crisis has three phases: the emergency, the response and, hopefully, a recovery. As governments relax restrictions and stimulate more economic growth, the recovery phase of the Covid-19 crisis can finally begin. But don’t think you can dust off your pre-pandemic technology planning and continue as if nothing has changed, as employees want to continue working from home and cybercrime remains at an all-time high.

Whatever budgets and timelines you have used in the past are no longer operative. Remote work has redefined what the office looks like and technology supply chains have been stretched past the breaking point. Looking back over the past 18 months, we’ve seen clients struggle to roll out hybrid work environments while facing down new security threats.

Here are my thoughts on how IT leaders can securely maintain a remote work force and implement new technology without breaking the bank.

SUPPLIER SURPRISES

The first challenge many organizations face is that technology supply chains have broken down. Low supplies of microchips and touchscreens have made some technology hard to acquire just when businesses need new technology for hybrid workforces.

In the face of this supply uncertainty, companies need to budget further ahead, knowing that it might take months for some hardware to arrive. If you are a school or educator, that might mean you have to plan for technology purchases long before the new school year.

BAILING OUT BROKEN BUDGETS

The clients we have seen manage these challenges are those that plan, have a strategic vision and find financial capabilities to be flexible. For example, some leasing services help companies take expenses and spread them over 12, 18 or 24 months. We believe it is important to help organizations be creative with their payment terms so that they can get the very best technology into employees’ hands.

From a budgeting and cost perspective, your three- to five-year plan offers direction that allows you to make decisions. But the plan cannot be set in stone and needs to allow for rapid change. We believe that technology management is a proactive approach which allows for organizations to change their budgeting priorities as the business climate evolves.

LOOK TO THE CLOUD

On Microsoft Azure or other cloud platforms, businesses don’t have to worry about supply chain shortages and can make changes rapidly. Cloud growth went up 61% during the pandemic and is expected to continue to rise. Enterprises have seen an increase in productivity thanks to the cloud and lowered infrastructure costs, and companies are now on board with the idea of a remote workforce.

THE BRAIN DRAIN

We have also found that companies can use technology to increase employee satisfaction. Employee onboarding typically includes a lot of moving pieces, such as completing required paperwork, registering for training, ordering computer equipment, enrolling in benefits and learning about the company’s policies. This can often be overwhelming for new hires, especially with the added stress of starting a new job, which today, looks a lot different than it did several months ago.

A key indicator of whether an employee has a positive experience is whether they receive the technology they needed on the first- like a monitor, laptop, keyboard and access to software. In fact, as much as 20% of turnover occurs within the first 45 days of a new hire's start date. If you can make the onboarding process smooth and give your new staff the tech support they need, they are more likely to have a positive start to their new career.

WORK-LIFE BALANCING ACT

Remote work became necessary in 2020, but it is also muddling the personal and business environment.

One of the big features in Windows 11 is it allows you to have a business desktop, a personal desktop and gaming desktop all on the same machine. During COVID, people increasingly used the same computer for all three phases of their lives, which can be bad for productivity and security. Windows 11 offers new features to help people slip back and forth between the different functions while keeping their files and applications organized.

Also, if remote staff are not behind a firewall in a networked office environment, they need to be protected. The best thing you can do is train your staff with cybersecurity awareness. Your employees will need to know their critical role in cybersecurity, they are the first line of defense.

While cybersecurity training is increasingly important, it is just one of the pieces to consider when planning your technology management strategy. Managing broken supply chains, finding IT talent and managing new remote work strategies will require organizations to develop long range plans while remaining flexible and responsive to a rapidly changing world. It’s a difficult balancing act, but it is possible to do if you have the right partners.

The business impacts of the pandemic on budgeting and employee productivity are still not fully understood. However, Elevity’s vCIOs hold regular business review meetings with clients to keep the technology roadmap current and help navigate challenges as they arise. We call it a Strategic Business Review, but the important part is to provide a roadmap with specific targets to meet. Talk to us today about how to start the conversation.
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