Accelerating your IT updates during the pandemic
State and local agencies are on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19. As part of the fight, leaders are making monumental adjustments to day-to-day operations and processes as they navigate the unknowns caused by the Coronavirus. Extending license renewal dates, expanding online registrations for life cycle events, and retooling essential services like utility crews to respond safely during the crisis are among the dozens of examples of how agencies are adapting.
But as leaders in the public sector, we can’t let challenges — not even a global pandemic — derail plans to future-proof our organizations. It’s more important than ever for us to streamline and upgrade our capabilities to better serve the public. And for those who think balancing digital transformation projects and the current challenges of COVID-19 is an impossible task, Consider this: This virus shouldn’t stop your agency’s path toward a better future. It should accelerate it.
Preventing digital disruption at your agency during COVID-19
The first step toward protecting your digital strategy against disruption is to stray as little as possible from what was already in place. Organizations that already have plans in place for new systems or digital tools should stay the course. Those in the midst of digital transformation should proceed as well, even in the face of some unique challenges. Now more than ever, we can’t afford to stand in place.
No matter how mature your digital operation, there are three components that can prevent disruption from occurring when evaluating (or re-evaluating) your digital strategy in the face of COVID-19.
- Don’t panic. Staying calm is easier said than done, especially for overstretched and underfunded public agencies. However, resist the urge to panic or only perform essential functions. Instead, consider the potential for system downtimes or the flexibility some departments may have and use it to propel your agency forward. Now is an ideal time to contact vendors about building a proof of concept for a new platform or migrating certain activities to the cloud. By using this time to make small, incremental changes to non-essential operations you can achieve far greater efficiency when we get a reprieve from the virus.
- Don’t overspend. There’s a reason why this advice immediately follows my warning against panic. As the demand for state and local agencies to deliver the same services in this new environment increases, it can be tempting to choose the first solution that promises to solve a problem. Imagine a local municipality that can only process utility refunds on-premises — they’re probably scrambling for a new billing and chargeback solution. But critical platforms like these and the vendors that sell them vary wildly in experience and price. So, it’s important to shop carefully. Additionally, all eyes are on public sector spending during this crisis, so it’s important to be a good steward of the public’s funds as you solve problems.
- Don’t lose control. As the pressure to stay open or reopen mounts, we can’t sacrifice controls that keep the public safe. Breaking regulatory compliance or cutting corners on security during a crisis creates bigger problems down the road. Instead, use this time to determine if your agency’s security and compliance strategy needs further consideration. Are the systems in place or planned FedRAMP compliant? Does the digital transformation strategy take into account any Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) issues that may arise from storing medical data? During this crisis, we should raise the bar on security and compliance, not lower it.
Modernization is still possible for public sector leaders facing COVID-19 — plans just may need to be retooled or follow a different path. To ensure that our organizations will emerge healthier and stronger post-pandemic, we must harness ingenuity and agility to keep our agencies running now and achieve our digital futures.
Dan Stroman is the senior director of the public sector at CloudCheckr.