A brave new world: Lessons for technology from COVID-19

  • Opinion

    29 May 2020

A brave new world: Lessons for technology from COVID-19 Desktop Image A brave new world: Lessons for technology from COVID-19 Mobile Image

At our recent webinar, experts from MinterEllisonRuddWatts and ITNewCom discussed how COVID-19 is forcing changes to the role of technology in business.

Key points from the webinar

In a post-COVID world, Lean-Agile-Procurement (and other collaborative sourcing processes) can enable customers and suppliers to source and sell faster, more cost effectively and more efficiently but without losing any of the benefits of a robust, fully competitive procurement process.

Key attributes of a collaborative process like LAP are:

  • A narrowly time boxed planning and preparatory phase which enables focus on requirements defining, structure governance and refining and a market scan to confirm potential respondents;
  • The collaboration / interaction phase, conducted over 2-3 days enables a highly competitive and transparent process, driving decision makers and key stakeholders to engage at the right time;
  • Realtime feedback and evaluation enables requirements to be iterated and the right solutions to be selected (provided at the right price); and
  • By including legal and commercial processes during the same process timeline, your timeframe to final contracts, and by extension, contract start is drastically reduced and the risk of process challenges reduced.

When considering whether to outsource IT services to a particular provider, take into account:

  • Whether they have an adequate business continuity plan;
  • The need to review any current contract with the provider or to check new contracts are suitable (particularly on security matters);
  • Whether to carry out on-site or remote audits;
  • Whether the provider’s supply chain is suitably robust; and
  • If using an  offshore provider, consider potential challenges (e.g. if the country where the provider is based is still in lockdown).

If you have rushed into a major IT project (or quick fix) in order to respond to COVID-19 without having time to fully consider the consequences, now is the time to take stock and understand what you have signed up for, what the risks are and whether they need to be/can be mitigated. Consider:

  • Reviewing any new contracts – and renegotiating if you can;
  • Understanding the consequences under existing contracts;
  • Check your legal and regulatory requirements; and
  • Check any temporary solutions for IT vulnerabilities.

There can be great benefits in managing IT as a business, provided that:

  • There is transparency around IT spend (leveraging IT, finance and business data); and
  • Sustained executive sponsorship supports a cultural shift to accountability (by the business) for IT demand management and (by IT) providing the information needed to manage demand and provide solutions aligned to business value.

Now is the time to consider your business continuity stance and what sort of preparedness you require, in particular:

  • Understand your delivery ecosystem and revisit the details of your business continuity and disaster recovery planning generally and with a pandemic lens;
  • Ask: is there sufficient diversity and resilience in my plans and in the plans of my key suppliers?;
  • Start by considering what is critical to the business and how it is delivered, then what should be protected and how that should be done.  This will include looking down the supply chain to discover the capabilities and vulnerabilities within it and what the alternatives are;
  • Consider whether the requirements on your suppliers in your outsourcing contracts robust enough in the circumstances.  Do you know enough about what plans and capability they have in place?  Do any particular standards need to be met?  Are these verified and tested over the term?;
  • Understand that business interruption insurance is unlikely to respond in a pandemic and plan accordingly;
  • Look closely at whether single source or exclusive supply arrangements provide sufficient resilience.  Consider sensible carve outs from exclusive supply arrangements;
  • Revisit force majeure clauses in light of the BC/DR requirements and in light of the ongoing nature of the pandemic.  Consider specifying how costs burdens will be shared; and
  • What your suppliers’ vulnerabilities are.

Consider whether you are now subject to IT obligations that have been rendered unnecessary or unachievable, such as extra licences obtained for Alert Levels 4 and 3 that you no longer need or minimum volume commitments that you cannot meet due to reduced activity during lockdown.

There is no guarantee that New Zealand will not slip back into Alert Levels 3 or 4 so it is important to understand how emerging tech could help your business to survive (and possibly thrive) in the event that tighter restrictions are re-introduced.

  • Consider autonomous solutions like drones, robotic delivery, robotic process automation – for supply chain logistics and warehousing;
  • Consider applications with AI for on-site people management; and
  • Consider AR and VR solutions for engaging off shore resources on shore.