By Amit Gupta, Head-Technology Services, Sun Life Asia Service Centre (ASC) India
For more than the last 6 weeks, business and industry around the world has been facing a challenging situation, which is not only sudden but also unique. These are not “normal” BCP situations of civil unrest, earthquake etc. where the full impact is understood quickly and then you can plan for it.
The full impact of the COVID-19 situation is unfolding gradually every day. Given its uniqueness, many businesses were not fully prepared to handle the situation. While we all are in it together, the onus lies with technology leaders to ferry the organization to come out of this crisis by using technology.
We at Sun life Asia Service Centre, India managed the situation in a manner, which was decisive, fast and secure. Within 3 weeks, we were able to scale our work- from- home posture from below 55% to 100%.
Our technology teams in collaboration with enablement and business teams were able to put a plan solution where the cornerstones were – Decisiveness, Agility, Engineering, Collaboration & passion, Client centricity and Digital thinking.
Decisiveness – Our BCP team was keeping track of the situation since early February 2020. Our technology teams were always prepared to go in a mode of work-from-home on a short notice to push social distancing. We decided for our technology teams to start work from home from 6th March onwards. We fast tracked procurement of essential items – laptops, network accessories etc.
Agility – The situation was unique and hence there was no handbook or a 100% ready plan to deal with it. However, we as a team started putting our plan and goals for each day in an agile manner. We took help from our scrum masters to break the outcomes into small goals and an agile plan.
Engineering – Our network & server engineering teams worked to optimize the network links to reduce traffic on internet due to work-from-home posture by splitting the on premise and cloud tool traffic. VPN (virtual private network) infrastructure was re-configured to increase stability and its capacity was increased. Imaging & Configuration management server were optimized to ensure preparation of more than 100 laptops or desktops per day. The desktops were enabled with encryption and virtual machine connectivity software to ensure similar data security as we get in office premise by using Thin WYSE client.
Collaboration and passion – A single person or a team cannot handle situations like these. We created a cross -functional team with Human resources professional, Infrastructure engineers, process experts, business operations users, risk & information security specialist, collaboration tool expert and communication specialist. This team worked as a well-oiled machinery with a purpose of making the business tide over the situation.
Client centricity – We keep clients at the center of everything we do. As an organization, we were always working on solutions where our clients were provided all possible support to deal with the situation. Our application support teams worked with our business partners to extend system availability to enable keying in transactions and requests for extended period. Communication is key during these times. Our Marcom team were working round the clock to reach clients and employee by all modes.
Digital thinking – Out of the box and innovative solutions are always essential in such situations. For any employee technical query support we leveraged the collaboration tool by making the helpdesk available in virtual chat rooms. This ensured quick problem resolution. For some repetitive work and standard process, short videos were created and pushed to our internal social platform. For reimbursement, we launched the digital and paperless solution.
As a result, in a short span of 2-3 weeks we not only were able to enable 95% of the teams work-from- home but also ensured same productivity by introducing smart engineered solution, quick servicing and introducing digital solutions.
While the situation is still evolving and has already taught us a few lessons, I feel there are numerous opportunities. The digital mindset can no longer be a strategy, it needs to be pushed with more force for implementation to prepare us better for these situations. We need to put more focus on organization culture because people are integral to any solution to get out of any such crisis.