“The CIO role has become more central [to contingency strategies] because technology mediates almost every single interaction in business these days,” says Vijay Gurbaxani, the director of the Center for Digital Transformation at the University of California, Irvine.
There is no business that hasn’t got affected by the outbreak of Coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness. Everyone is suffering from some or the other challenges. Inadequate demand and supply, inefficient work from home setup, inventory, network security, employee training, and onboarding, are some of the items from a long list of challenges that every organization is forced to face.
In such a situation the role of CEO, CTO, CIO, and CHRO becomes absolutely critical to keep the business up and running. Especially the role of a CIO becomes central as they are the ones responsible for anything and everything related to the information technology and IT could be the only survival during this hard time.
In this guide, we’ve shared some insights on:
- Actions items for CIO
- Tools that become essential for work from home setup
- Checklist to be on top of the game
- Do’s and Don’ts of work from home
Let’s start with the action items for the CIOs first.
1- Communication is the key:
CIOs need to ensure that communication doesn't become a challenge while exploring/leveraging remote working capabilities. Efforts should be made on arranging tools for instant messaging, file sharing, video/voice calls, chatbots, IVR, and allowing secure access to ERP, CRM, and HRM software.
2- Touchbase with Partners and Customers:
Make sure the business partners and customers are given equal importance during this outbreak. Empathy is what it takes to make anyone, and everyone feels valued. One single email could serve the purpose and make customers and partners feel like a part of the family, in this tough time.
3- Leverage digital mediums:
Leveraging tools to be up and running should be the utmost priority. But adopting new tools for everyone could become challenging.
Quick tips: Visit G2 (most trusted software review platform) and explore the right digital adoption platform as per your need.
4- Manage information flow:
Too many channels for communication and irregular flow of information could create chaos within the team. Make a plan, communicate processes and set the medium for information to be trusted. Portals such as HCM systems could be used to keep everyone on the same page.
Tools that become essential for work from home setup
Now, to make the best use of technology CIOs must have a list of tools needed to help employees successfully execute and operate in work from home setup. Here’re the categories along with the highest rated tools in those categories that you can consider.
1. Project Management Software:
A project management tool has the capacity to help plan, organize, and manage resource tools and develop resource estimates. Depending on the sophistication of the software, it can manage estimation and planning, scheduling, cost control and budget management, resource allocation, collaboration software, communication, decision-making, quality management, time management and documentation or administration systems. (Source: Wikipedia)
Here’s a list of 5 highest-rated project management software on G2:
2. Video Conferencing:
Video conferencing software helps to initiate and conducting live meetings between two or more participants at different locations with audio, video and text support. This helps companies to stay connected with employees, partners and customers, increases productivity, solves communication challenges and saves costs.
Most of the organizations do have such a tool in their arsenal but adding one more to list could be fruitful in case of any network or server down issues.
Top 5 highest rated Video conferencing software on G2 are listed below:
- Cisco Webex Me
- Google hangout
As per G2, Chatbots, which are often called virtual agents or virtual assistants, are used in place of a human to conduct specific tasks or provide information based on written or spoken requests. This functionality includes both external, customer-facing requests and internal, employee-facing requests. Chatbots allow users to interact with an application in a conversational manner, whether textually or audibly, to perform certain functions.
Here’s a list of 5 highest-rated Chatbots on G2 that you can choose:
4. Digital Adoption Platform:
A Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) is a software layer that sits on top of any web-based application and provides a seamless learning experience to the end-users with step-by-step on-screen walkthroughs. This becomes absolutely mandatory in the current situation as companies are spending thousands of dollars on procuring tools to be able to execute the business, but these tools are of no use if your employees are not able to use it efficiently. A DAP helps organizations get most out of their software by providing on-screen guidance to the users and helping them adopt the software quickly.
Look at the top 5 highest rated DAP on G2:
Checklist to be on top of the game
Let’s move on to a checklist that a CIO should follow in order to analyze the current state and be on top of their game.
- Adequate resources to enable working from home
- Access to internal/external cloud-based applications.
- Access to shared office suites and cloud storage accounts to be able to collaborate on documents
- Analyze load on server and latency
- Access to web conferencing tools to be able to communicate internally and with clients as well
- Internet and phone usage reimbursement process and plan
- The updated version of Anti-Virus and Malware detection software on the company’s devices
- Check assets like Laptops for vulnerabilities.
- Update policies in HCM tools for leaves, attendance, log work hours and others
- Do’s and don’ts while working from home
- Contingency plan in case of breach or mishap
Do’s and Don’ts of work from home
Another important thing in the list is to keep management (especially the frontline managers) in line with the company’s plan and the short-term goals. They are the ones who will get things done for you by managing the people and the work. It becomes mandatory to have a session with them, address the challenges, instill intrinsic motivation, and share some best practices which they can follow. Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts of working from home in the current situation that you can share with them and even throughout the organization.
- Work time schedule
- Clearly specify the work time schedule during which every team member needs to be available even for impromptu calls and meetings
- Daily and weekly meeting
- The Daily meeting will help teams to be aligned to the goal of the day and the week and discuss the dependencies with each other
- Block Social Media access on company devices
- Social media is a distractor. A survey showed that 75 percent of Americans said that social media ruined their focus and increased procrastination.
- Video calls for all internal meetings
- Using video instead of audio-only calls makes working remotely seem more personable and helps engage the team. If people can’t see each other while discussing something, they’re more likely to be looking at their phone or doing something else distracting. Turning on your camera encourages everyone to participate in the conversation and adds a layer of accountability.
- Avoid traveling
- Obviously, anyone with symptoms should stay put, but even employees without symptoms should avoid traveling. They could easily expose themselves to the virus or carry it back to their family.
- Proper work setup while during business hours
- Encourage employees to establish a productive working environment that is quiet and free from distractions.
- Draw boundaries
- Even though your employees are working from home, they don’t need to respond to email and other stuff after the working hours until and unless an emergency arises. Clearly defining the boundaries will help them find work-life balance and be focused on work and be more productive.
- Maintain security standards
- Clearly communicate your employees to not share the credentials and any confidential information over any of the mediums like email, messaging tools, etc. unless asked to by senior management. Even a small mistake like this could prove costly in case of breach or mishap.
Last but not the least, Trust! Trust your people, process, company, and yourself:
We all know that the situation is not that we’re used to of but CIOs need to play the Superhero here and take care of it.
"The door is more than it appears. It separates who you are from who you can be. You do not have to walk through it... You can run." -- Franklin Richards
Eliminate panic from the company as any superhero does it for the crowd. Mantra for success – Communicate and lead from the front.
We hope this effort of ours in jotting down this piece could be of some help to the Superheroes of organizations which we believe is a CIO.
We’ve been closely monitoring the breakdown and as a small token of help and support to the community; we would be more than happy to offer the premium version of Apty, our digital adoption solution, free of cost for the next 3 months.
This will help you get your employees to adopt and work on any web-based application efficiently from their own location. We believe this can save you thousands of dollars on training and support and enable your workforce to work from home without worrying about “how to” of the software they need to use in their day to day operations.