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Business Operations Remote Working strategy during a COVID-19 situation

Business Operations Remote Working strategy during a COVID-19 situation

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Business Operations Remote Working strategy during a COVID-19 situation

Deepak Dixit, Head of Process Excellence Advisory Practice at NIIT Technologies gives his views on how firms should prepare and execute

India’s $150 billion IT and Business Processing Outsourcing industry plays a crucial role for many businesses, however the providers of these services, be it captive operations and or service providers, have struggled to address the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As stated, the services provided are critical to the day-to-day activities of their clients and their failure to adapt to challenges could result in significant operational risk.

Customers are finding that their offshore providers are unable to adapt quickly to support them, why? Until recently, many of the Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans were either theoretical, largely untested or had been tested under an artificial or “ideal” situation. These plans were not designed to cover a global pandemic situation wherein social distancing would result in the need for the entire workforce to work remotely or in very constrained conditions.

Many providers are constrained by the lockdown imposed by the Indian government in conjunction with lack of pro-active planning and subsequent preparedness. This has resulted in:

  • Insufficient workforce to perform activities,
  • Working with processes not suited to remote, distributed working,
  • Lack of technology infrastructure required to support distributed working.

The issues are exacerbated by the manual nature of many services; this has led to a breakdown in the quality of service along with inability to handle volumes provided to their clients

Need to Minimise Risk and Impact of Disaster

The COVID19 pandemic has become a testing ground for many firms; clients are now seeing whether their providers have planned, upgraded and invested in a balanced way to have minimum risk and impact of any disaster. Successful execution of plans by providers helps their clients to reduce the level of disruption, and therefore enhance the ability to retain customers (i.e. retention is a risk that firms face due to disruption resulting in delays or availability of services).

As such, service providers and clients must address current issues and also learn from them. They need to review their ability to seamlessly run their business when such crisis occurs, to look from a people, process and technology perspective to ensure business operations can seamlessly switch to remote working.

NIIT

NIIT Technologies believes that many firms will see major changes in client behaviour post COVID-19, we expect their attention, motivation, confidence and perception towards a provider will be impacted by the quality of service provided during the crisis.

On a positive note, we believe that firms that embrace ‘out -of-the-box’ ways of working that incorporate remote working and social distancing, that enable people to work in an environment that is safe, effective and easy to implement will be the winners. We believe that organizations will be forced to create omni working models that are easy and fast to implement, that enable employees to work anywhere and everywhere, connected through internet or telephone. Overtime, the thinking will move beyond the e-commerce towards the concept of "e-working"

Proof is in the pudding, so how did NIIT Technologies react to the crisis?

As the COVID-19 situation developed, NIIT technologies proactivity put in place emergency processes that focused on safety of employees and the delivery of services to our clients. This included full verification and testing of our ability to support closure of centres. The program was driven from the CEO office down, with key members of the executive tasked with driving our planning and preparations around the globe.

We proactively:

  • Procured and allocated laptops, PC’s and internet connection to enable our teams to work from home without impacting business SLA’s.
  • Sought all client approvals for BCP, to enable a shift to a “work-from-home” model.
  • Enabled and tested the infrastructure to connect remotely to both the client & our environments using Citrix and VPN.
  • Followed stringent information security management system policies and ensured that all the employees working from home had signed the “work from home policy”.
  • Ensured compliance with all regulatory obligations (e.g. all data and information protection clauses).

This positioned NIIT Technology well to support our clients, to date we have successfully invoked remote working across our workforce as part of our

BCP, we have ensured no impact on clients to whom we provide operations services; no drop or breach in any client KPI/SLA nor drop in any other quality metric. This has been achieved whilst also handling increased demands.

In one case, a client for whom we provided a frontline service desk had not signed up to any form of BCP, however we invested to ensure that over 100 service desk personnel could operate effectively from home. After successfully performing a pilot test with 5 resources we rolled out the environment in days to support full team, thereby enabling continuation of 24 by 7 support coverage with no downtime. The plan incorporated provision of configured laptops, remote access to client’s VPN, hourly reporting with clients, configuration and validation of all data and cyber-security measures, adaption of policies and processes etc. Last but not least, we took appropriate approvals from the Indian Government Department of Telecommunication so that we could seamlessly re-route customer calls to employee mobile phones, thereby enabling us to support significantly higher call volumes.

Proactiveness and preparedness are key to handle such scenarios. Preparedness is always coupled with right set of people, standardized & well-defined processes and up to date technology.

NIIT Technologies has been able to cope with such disaster effectively because of its meticulous management & support culture. Our robust frameworks such as ProcessGym have enabled us to provide a streamlined, well defined set of operational processes backed up with quality measures; on which we apply continuous improvement, automation, automations and usage of latest & up to date technology has contributed to enable us to implement a “work from home” model with minimum issues and no disruption on client’s requirements.

COVID is a disaster that none of us would ever want to go through again however, it has reminded us to be prepared for the worst. Charles Darwin theory “Survival of the fittest” is best suited before, during and after such scenarios.

The next step is to be proactive and prepared once COVID19 is over, be pro-active and make sure you chose a service provider who can support you through times of crisis.