In the early days of the COVID-19 crisis, government agencies created a lot of makeshift processes and solutions to continue delivering services to the public, despite having many employees working from home. In recent days, they have shifted their attention to the future – not to returning to normal but preparing for the new normal.
The goal is to ensure resilience by creating an operational environment that won’t be disrupted by whatever the next crisis might be. To learn more about building resilience, we spoke with Bob Osborn, Chief Technology Officer, Global Government, ServiceNow. He described a three-step roadmap to resilience, with each step supporting the others.
The first step encompasses traditional activities in disaster recovery and business continuity (DR/ BC): rapidly acquiring and deploying hardware and software, shifting the workforce from in-person to remote work, among other things.
COVID-19 proved more difficult for many agencies, Osborn said, because DR/BC plans typically assume that people and systems can be relocated to a new location, not scattered across a region.
To improve their ability to respond to a crisis, agencies need to improve the flexibility of the work processes underlying their operations and services. Whatever the crisis – and whatever resource constraints they are dealing with – agencies should be able to pivot quickly to adapt their processes to the new environment and roll out the changes to staff.
Readiness is about being better positioned to respond to a crisis. It’s about having accurate visibility into operations and services. For example, understanding which technologies work together to support operations and deliver services, which parts of the organization use those systems, what dependencies are involved, and so on.
Once you have the visibility, “you can make the appropriate adjustments on the fly” when an event happens, Osborn said. In short, readiness improves your ability to respond. The two concerns go hand in glove, he said.
There’s also a human element here, Osborn added: “You need to know who is empowered to make approvals on short notice to override traditional processes.”
Resiliency means having the ability to rapidly resume delivery of services after a disruptive event and to continue operating in that new environment as long as needed.
True resiliency goes beyond simply creating redundant capabilities that can ensure the availability of data and systems. It’s about taking a holistic approach to the people, processes, and systems involved in delivering services and ensuring that all three aspects are addressed as part of a continuity strategy.
The ServiceNow platform is designed to help agencies create digital workflows that connect people, processes and systems. The platform is supported by a single data model and common application logic that makes it easy to automate processes and update those processes when requirements change.
“Our approach positions ServiceNow as a force enabler for any agency responding to a crisis that they didn’t see coming,” said Osborn.
This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent report, “CIO Perspectives: A New Vision for the Government Workplace.” Download the full report here.
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