Covid-19 (coronavirus) and IT: Consequences for IT projects

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published on 9 March 2020 | reading approx. time 3 minutes

 

Against the background of the increasing number of cases of illness with Covid-19, more and more companies are confronted with the problem directly or indirectly. Often companies have to correct targets or adjust or discontinue work processes. The question is, how does the coronavirus affect critical IT projects in your company and can IT help to overcome the crisis.

 

 

Preparatory Phase

It is to be expected that a further spread of Covid-19 will lead to staff shortages in IT projects. A plan B should exist to counteract the problem. This is especially true if employees are absent due to illness during the crisis period and thus the resources are not sufficiently available or the scarce resources are needed elsewhere in the company.
 
A company should attach great importance to the current recording and evaluation of risks for critical IT projects. Critical in this context means that IT projects and their results have an impact on the value creation of the company. This can concern the introduction of new systems, interfaces, program changes or the implementation of regulatory or internal requirements. If necessary, the risk assessment should also be carried out ad hoc and the measures already defined should be reviewed, supplemented by others or corrected.

 

The first step was to determine:

  • service providers involved in the projects are also affected by the crisis and have their own contingency plans and
  • which IT projects are critical from the point of view of value creation and also the innovation and competitiveness of the company,
  • which time and personnel buffers, if any, are available and can be used,
  • which personnel loss, both internally and with external service providers, the project can cushion with the available buffer,
  • which dependencies exist between the projects, so that a decision for or against a continuation of a project can be completely captured in its effects,
  • the extent to which work packages can be prioritized differently, the project scope reduced and deadlines postponed without jeopardizing critical project goals.

 

  • In spite of the emergency that has arisen, it must be examined whether digital workplaces are available for the project staff or can be set up at short notice to compensate for mobility restrictions and also the risk of infection and to ensure the continuation of the project. It is important that, in addition to the provision of the necessary infrastructure - collaborative tools and workspaces, sufficient bandwidth, VPN encryption - the project staff is sufficiently trained in the use of the tools.
  • A time shift of projects, up to the postponement of milestones (test phase, acceptance, go-live) cannot be stopped and has to be communicated promptly. The associated dependency must also be communicated so that other divisions can adapt to it.
  • A decision has to be made to shift projects on the resource side to divisions or third parties not affected by the emergency. The transfer of knowledge and work status necessary for the relocation must be ensured.
  • Team members, internal clients, stakeholders in the company as well as external service providers should be included in the communication in order to discuss procedures, changed working methods and restrictions in a spirit of partnership, if necessary, in order to minimize the damage to all parties involved and to avoid legal disputes based on concluded project contracts. If necessary, external service providers can also compensate for staff shortfalls if postponements of deadlines are not possible.

 

However, such a crisis can only be managed to a limited extent with the known household remedies. In the medium term, a company's resilience and competitiveness depends on how flexibly it can react to changing conditions, including such "events of disaster".
 
It is essential to have an IT contingency and business continuity plan that is up-to-date and takes such events into account. This way, in the event of a crisis, employees know what tasks and powers they have and can act in a targeted manner. This creates trust and security.

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