The good, the bad and the ugly - what we learnt from the COVID19 lockdown situation.
Like every other business, we had to adapt quickly to a brand new way of living and working.
Our initial focus was to mobilise our clients’ business continuity plans – we had huge successes here, with customers using cloud telephony and our hosted VDI and hybrid cloud solutions
Now that customers are established in the ‘new normal’ of remote working, it is important to review exactly how they have achieved it. Whilst speed was of the essence in the early days of the lockdown, it is imperative that the security of any remote working is reviewed.
This extends to shared home computers, encryption of data in transit and at rest, anti-virus and so on.
We also believe that there should be a particular focus on the human element. When humans are stressed, in a hurry, under pressure and working in unfamiliar circumstances then mistakes are more likely to occur. Clearly we all find ourselves in this circumstance and so we would advise the implementation of a truly intelligent security awareness, behaviour and culture solution that demonstrably reduces human cyber risk.
We have also made our Sprout Academy product free of charge to all UK law firms and barristers chambers, for 6 months. Sprout Academy is a self-service, video-based training platform which enables you to learn precisely what you need, exactly when you need it - and in just 3 minutes. We have very relevant sections on remote working, remote team management, mental health, stress and so on.
There is some good advice from central government, not least from the National Cyber Security Centre who are alive to the relevant cyber threats, which the current position brings.
Our next focus will be on assisting the market to plug any gaps that were exposed within the BCP:
- Cloud workloads
- Endpoint management
- Remote printing
- Process and documentation
What teams at Sprout have learnt from the lockdown
- Setting expectations with clients who perhaps don’t understand limitation of solutions which are overdue upgrade.
- Helping clients understand consumer level applications aren’t compatible with business tools (expecting single licence to work in shared desktop
- Fast and steep learning curve of solutions we’ve had to quickly design to help clients with remote workingInterpreting and reviewing daily industry documentation driving multiple queries and some of the need for new solutions (eg court use of Skype driving questions and need to use video conference solutions for remote hearings
Governance & Compliance
- Cyber security awareness – phishing, passwords, encryptionUnderstanding where data resides
- GDPR – best practices and continued awareness
- Planning for return for work and bringing information back into the organisation
- Microsoft Teams- effective communication and collaboration
Sales & Marketing
- The first challenge was to understand how Sales & Marketing could simply add value to law firms and chambers during this pandemic.
- Understanding the ways in which the pandemic is affecting organisations differently, they are facing completely different challenges.
- Being educational – we realised that we should be inviting people to learn with us, now more than ever, about how best prepare, secure, mitigate and manage IT and cybersecurity practices.
- Understanding the guidance given out from the Government and other regulatory authorities, around the pandemic.
- Managing expectations of delivery times for projects that should have been a priority before Covid19
- Expedited mass delivery of collaboration tools across client base and getting upskilled quickly in these areas
- The step change in how meetings are run remotely and ensuring that all ‘calls’ are conducted over Video
- Making decisions on what the new priorities are in the new world and getting back to business as (new) usual
- Responding and adapting to the ever changing legal landscape and differing requirements from different bodies
- Managing a service team remotely
- Video conferencing, help touch base with everyone and also keeps teams on track!
- Managing a service desk remotely
- Having the correct channels for escalation
- Having the correct dashboards for monitoring
- Ensuring team meetings are still going ahead to keep focus
- Keeping and maintaining good working relationships with clients
- Quick phone calls, and e-mails to see how they are dealing with remote working as well as how can we support them!
- Managing projects remotely
- Re-scoping and working with the clients to work out what can be completed remotely, with minimal risk to keep the momentum of the project running
- Disruption to budget – Can very quickly become outdated and meaningless as much has changed in the past 6 weeks. Target setting, forecast and resource allocation therefore changes.
- Response – Performance to be evaluated on facts both tailwind and headwind continuously monitoring actual developments and trends, update forecasts as needed (less than before) with scenario planning for decision making – they will quickly be out of date, and make decisions on resource allocation as late as possible.
- Working capital management – ensuring cash flow is able to support the business
- Response – looking at fixed costs and what can be done to conserve cash, deferring liabilities, stopping unnecessary expenditure and managing expectations of suppliers/staff
- The supply chain – obtaining hardware for clients and delivering to home offices around the country.
- Response – ensuring a strong relationship with suppliers for new stock and client comms around expectations and delivery
- Response – Collaborating as a team to prioritise the most necessary tasks and looking after the teams emotional wellbeing.Finance team continuity – ensuring credit control, accounts payable, payroll and billing is still able to be completed. Any one of these not being actioned can have a significant impact