One aspect of pre-pandemic life that may never return is going to an office five days a week. For years, experts have predicted a future where workers are remote and working on virtual platforms—and that future is now.
There are many benefits to hybrid and fully-remote work situations—from reduced real estate overhead to increased employee happiness—but these setups are more complex than they seem for associations. They are tasked with building a technological architecture that supports and serves both members and employees, providing convenience and security simultaneously. And from integrating antiquated systems to misunderstandings about how the cloud functions, solutions are far from turnkey.
The experts at DelCor Technology Solutions have seen firsthand every major pain point that organizations experienced during the lightning-fast changes brought on by the pandemic. “While 98% of our pre-pandemic clients were already set up for remote work, many of the new clients we’ve worked with experienced quite a bit of pain transitioning to a new technology infrastructure,” says Brian Sheehan, executive vice president at DelCor. Chris Ecker, the company’s chief technology officer, adds, “It is more than just the technical, geeky aspects of the migration work. It takes guidance from experienced people to create new workflows that make sense for their business and guide them through the most common problems they will face.”
The experts at DelCor believe it is imperative for associations that want to thrive to adopt cloud-based systems. “Today’s workforce wants remote and hybrid situations,” says Sheehan. “In many ways, they are driving this shift. Association leaders need to understand that it is vital for them to transition to stay competitive and attract talent for their staffs.”
Here, Sheehan and Ecker highlight the most common problems that organizations in transition face, and how they can solve them.
Problem: Transitioning From Antiquated Systems
“One of the primary things that remote association staffers need is access to their resources, like file shares,” says Ecker. “A lot of clients were still using what I would refer to as ‘legacy file shares,’ which were drive mappings to a Windows server. That works great in the office or even remotely a few days a week. But when you are trying to use that five days a week, it becomes apparent that it is not the most flexible.” For example, Ecker says, to institute a policy change of company laptops locking out after 30 minutes of inactivity, many setups would require bringing the device into the office for an IT administrator to update the settings on-premise.
To solve cumbersome and time-consuming issues like this and many others, Sheehan says many organizations have transitioned to a fully-collaborative infrastructure that allows users to use a wide array of tools to communicate and interface remotely. “This includes moving to laptop management from a legacy active directory to a modern Azure active directory,” he explains. “And migrating to cloud-based platforms such as Google Workplace and Office 365.”
Problem: Migrating to the Cloud Is Not Turnkey
“Back in the day, we would build a private cloud for organizations that was smooth and simple for them to onboard,” says Sheehan. “But moving to the public cloud is a little more complicated. To use a simple analogy, an omelet doesn’t start out ready-to-eat. You are given all of the ingredients and you need to know how to put them together to get the results you want.”
“If you are going to AWS or Azure, you can spin up a server, but that’s all you have,” he continues. “You don’t know what it is going to cost because there is data flowing in and out, there’s no backup—there is a lot to orchestrate and it is not easy.”
Ecker relates a story of an employee working in SharePoint who accidentally deleted 50,000 shared files. “SharePoint’s files-on-demand feature makes it very easy to access files, and this person thought they were just deleting them from their local computer—but were in fact not.” SharePoint does have some recoverability functions, he notes, but the company had a robust backup in place which helped restore the files and avert catastrophe. “Having redundancies is not fully baked into many of these platforms. You want to make sure you have proper protections in place for potential disasters like this.”
Problem: Alienating IT With New Tech
“Internal IT teams are usually focused on support and operational things—basically trying to keep the lights on and keep things going,” says Sheehan. “And when pivoting to a new technology, there is a lot to understand in a very short amount of time. We’ve been doing this for years, so this hasn’t been a pivot for us. We understand the complications that come with it, so we work with clients’ internal IT teams to get them from A to B and then hand over the keys or continue to work with them from a support perspective as needed. This way they don’t get overwhelmed or feel alienated by the new setup.”
Problem: Lack of Support From Third-Party Providers
“Using third parties can be frustrating because you can’t fix problems yourself,” says Sheehan. “If Zoom goes down or you are having an issue with a cloud-based platform, it can be very difficult to reach the right person to help you. You need an advocate,” he points out. “We become your advocate in these cases. We’ve been partnering with a lot of large application providers for many years, so we’re able to cut through red tape and get a resolution pretty quickly.”