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Baling Twine and Duct Tape

I grew up on a farm in the Midwest. I have fond memories of going out with my dad to the field at harvest time, riding the combine, and picking corn or soybeans. On occasion, I would get to drive as long as I could “keep it in the rows.” I also remember my dad being very skilled at using baling twine or duct tape as a temporary fix so we could keep on working to get the crops in.

I find it interesting that many companies and organizations are finding themselves in a similar scenario of having to use whatever is on hand to get through the work that needs to get done. Video conferencing systems, unified communications systems, telemedicine platforms, and VPN solutions, are just a few that I have heard about being spun up to address the immediate needs of businesses.

Rapid deployment of systems often leaves gaps in process, creating vulnerabilities or operational inefficiencies, which translates in increased operational cost. As things begin to settle and business is running, now is the time to take a holistic look at the solutions you have implemented to be sure they are sustainable for the future and not costing you more than necessary.

1. Understand the lay of the land. Operations have changed over the past month or two. If you are the decision-maker for the IT group, you need to understand how other business units in your organization have changed as well. Consult others, ask questions, and consider other options as the best solution.

2. Get a second opinion. Even experienced technologists can benefit from a second opinion or holistic review. When you are so deep into a process or solving problems, it is hard to have an objective look at the bigger picture. There are reputable companies out there that are genuine in their intent to provide sound advice and information. Reach out to our local volunteer and professional organizations to get recommendations.

3. Review and document your business processes. It would not be surprising to learn that your internal business processes may have changed to accommodate remote working or a downsized workforce. Now is the time to evaluate those business processes to determine if they will continue in the future or if this has become a permanent change. Look for opportunities to lean out the process and capture best practices.

4. Look for security vulnerabilities. Emergency or quick fixes can create security vulnerabilities. Compliance is about people, processes, tools, and data. Just because your new software is HIPAA compliant doesn’t necessarily translate into your organization being HIPAA compliant. You are likely to find firms that will conduct an initial assessment for free.

Many businesses have been operating in a whirlwind of rapid change and blinded by the unknowns. It is hard to stop to even think about taking a step back or changing right now, however, you mustn’t start down the path of sowing seeds using a planter that is held together by baling twine or duct tape.

If you do, it may be hard to get a return on investment come harvest time.

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