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Our lessons from the Covid 19 crisis: Samrat Das, CIO, PNB MetLife

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Given the unprecedented situation, PNB MetLife is taking a series of initiatives focused on employee safety, continuity of customer services, and fulfilling regulatory obligations whilst we run business and allow employees to work from home, says Samrat Das, CIO, PNB MetLife

Some edited excerpts from an interview:

From an IT standpoint, what are some of the key initiatives initiated by PNB MetLife in ensuring that business continues as usual?
Given the unprecedented situation, we at PNB MetLife are focusing on employee safety, continuity of customer services, and fulfilling regulatory obligations whilst we run business and allow employees to work from home.

We already have a robust Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in place, and have facilitated the following:

· We have online platforms for our business sourcing, renewal payments and claim management processes – which are coming in handy. We are there for the customers during these testing times.
· We have sent out communications to all our customers, encouraging them to use our AI based customer service app – khUshi – to get resolution on their existing policies. We have also sent messages informing our customers about our toll-free number and dedicated email address so that they can get seamless customer service.
· Since all employees have now been advised to work from home, we have ensured that access to our internal portals can be managed seamlessly via VPN connections. Employees can connect their systems via mobile hotspots or even their home WiFi.
· All our internal and external meetings are being hosted virtually via WebEx or other digital means
· We have allocated dedicated IT spocs for various departments, so that in case any employee comes across any problems, they can get ready resolution

What are some of the key challenges faced to ensure a Work from Home Policy?
The first and foremost requirement is to ensure that a seamless work from home environment with all of our networks and internal portals working seamlessly. To address this we have allocated a 24×7 helpdesk for employees to address such queries or problems. So far, we have not encountered any major challenge.

What are some of the key lessons learnt during this crisis?
The key to facing a situation like this is to have robust risk management and BCP processes in place. Fortunately, we already had our backup plans ready. In fact, much before the lock-down was announced, we did real-time BCP testing with employees and asked them to work from home for three days. We addressed all hiccups encountered during the testing phase and now we are all prepared for this prolonged work from home mode.

What are some of the technology tools used to facilitate smooth collaboration between employees?
We have used platforms like VPN, CISCO and AnyConnect as technological tools to facilitate work from home mode. Among collaboration platforms, we are using include Webex, MS Teams and Yammer.

Do you believe that the current mandatory use of remote work for business continuity is a signal to all organizations that it’s time to revisit their remote working policies and redesign them for wider application for business as usual? Please share your perspective?
Definitely. The world is changing and companies need to evaluate flexible work from home policies. PNB MetLife implemented such practices as a part of our IT processes and evolution in years past as we realised the potential need for being able to work remotely. As a result, we already have adequate systems in place.

Additionally, allowing each employee to work from home for three days per month was already a part of our HR policy. And with our Corporate Office teams located in both Mumbai and Gurgaon, connecting virtually has long been a part of our daily operating rhythm.

If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]


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