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Enabling business as usual in unusual times: The view from the CIO’s seat

Van Richardson

I’ve been in IT for 20+ years, and I view my role here at iManage, which I joined just over a year ago, through a very simple lens: how do I enable the business to operate and carry out its mission at any given moment?

In “normal” times, this means supporting an innovative and fast growing company, and making sure our people have all the core systems and tools they need to execute on their mission of transforming how professionals work.

This fundamental goal remains unchanged in these challenging times surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

A primary focus has been ensuring we can continue normal business operations without any disruption or change in service – and that means enabling our people to work remotely in a frictionless manner.

In early March, we instituted a mandatory remote work policy for all our global employees triggered by the pandemic. We have infrastructure in place to enable all our staff to continue remote work in a regular and timely manner, with access to online video conferencing, email, and other technology solutions.

This is a case where advance preparation pays off. As the saying goes, you prepare before the storm, not when the storm hits.

As part of our ISO 22301 certification, which focuses on business continuity planning, we conduct regular testing of our business continuity plan. In fact, in October 2019, we simulated a scenario in which a pandemic resulted in a large portion of our staff being unable to travel to or from their places of work.

On the IT front, one of the first things I did when the initial stirrings of COVID-19 were being reported was to conduct some initial assessments of our systems – including video conferencing, IM, VPN, remote access, and other key technologies – to make sure that they operated as expected and would be fully performant.

These third-party tools have been invaluable – but we are also well-positioned to support remote working and collaboration simply by nature of our core product offering, and its ability to deliver anytime, anywhere access to critical documents and emails. These capabilities aren’t just something we sing the praises of to our customers – they’re capabilities that we ourselves take advantage of, utilizing Work 10 and the Mobility app extensively.

As we’ve transitioned to making remote working “business as usual” during these unusual times, communication has been key: educating our workforce about the tools that are available to them and how they should use them. We all need a little education when our normal routine is upended. My role as CIO is understanding what our people need and then working together to deliver on that.

Like People Ops or Finance, IT impacts everyone in an organization. The IT team provides the foundation for everyone to get their job done. When we’ve done our job properly, our ability to react to situations like COVID-19 or to switch on a dime from office-based work to working from home can take place much faster because we’ve done our homework, and we’ve prepared in advance. That’s how we, as an organization, can ensure that everyone stays safe in the face of current COVID-19 challenges – even while we maintain a focus on what drives us as a company.

About the author

Van Richardson

Van is the CIO at iManage.