COVID-19: ERPA is with You During these Unprecedented Times

A Time of Personal and Professional Disruption

As the COVID-19 virus spreads across the nation, we are all working to adjust to the interruption that the pandemic has caused in our families, our schools, and in our professional lives. Like you, we want to protect our loved ones and ensure that our friends and colleagues are safe. As cancellations and postponements mount for schools and public events, it is inevitably going to require a great amount of flexibility and support.

During our own internal preparation discussions, we came to the realization that many organizations might benefit from our insight on tasks that make business continuity successful with a specific focus on back-office and your PeopleSoft applications and environments. While this event is unprecedented, strategies that ERPA uses with its clients could be useful for organizations that are being disrupted.

Some of these topics are contained in this page and we are going to provide a webinar to discuss business continuity.

Complimentary Essential PeopleSoft Services
For organizations that may be impacted by the response to the virus, ERPA has decided to provide 60 days of essential support services for PeopleSoft at no cost to any organization that requests it. This is targeted assistance intended to help impacted organizations essentially “keep the lights on.”
Click here to request complimentary services

ERPA has been a part of the PeopleSoft community since 1998 and we want to give back to the industry that has been very good to us. To that end, we routinely provide business continuity services and we have put together some tips to help guide your thoughts. We are providing greater detail on our website and will be hosting a webinar to discuss things that we have seen that can help your organization get through this disruption.

If you have questions, give us a call or drop us a note. We will do our best to answer your questions and help you through.

Some Points for Consideration

Business Continuity Planning (BCP) is an ongoing planning and testing exercise that should be a part of all organization’s activities. No one anticipated the scale and scope of the reaction to the corona virus and, unfortunately, that is the first rule

1. There is no shortage of ways that your business can be impacted by external events.

Given this, you should plan for the actions that your organizations should take during a disruption. Don’t spend time attempting to guess what scenarios might occur that will initiate the disruption.

2. Assume others are impacted in similar ways to how you are being impacted.

This is important and should be a key driver in planning your own activities. Always focus upstream and downstream. Which activities of mine will impact others and which activities of others will impact me. This thought process needs to extend beyond your organizations 4 walls and takes in external dependencies too.

3. “No battle plan survives the first contact with the enemy”, Helmuth von Moltke the Elder

This is a famous quote from a Prussian Field Marshal in the late 1800’s. It is very true that planning is important, but the greatest value of planning is in learning how to anticipate and react rather than the actual plan that is generated.

As Helmut implied, everything changes once you need to take action. Don’t be afraid to think differently about plans made given the circumstances being faced. If you haven’t developed a plan, draw from other situational activities that require your organization to react in a fluid manner, collaborate, ask for help, most importantly, take action. Don’t let the lack of planning paralyze the organization from taking steps now.

4. Nothing is better than experience in being able to deal with things you have never experienced

This is a forward-facing point for consideration. Plan for the next disruption. Take notes about the areas where the organization has been impacted without clean mitigation options. Make those the focus for attention when this disruption ends. Paraphrasing an old saying here; not being prepared for the unanticipated is one thing, not being prepared for what has already been experienced is quite another. Identify those in the organization that are talented at evaluating a situation and deriving solutions. Make sure they are a component of your business continuity planning going forward.

Keep these points in mind as you go through your activities now to deal with the current Corona virus caused disruptions.

First Steps

If you have a plan, review it and begin moving. As noted, don’t be afraid to re-evaluate the tasks to take new realities into consideration. Take action. Optimize later. Remember those groups that are downstream from you that may be dependent on your actions. Delays have a snowball effect within any plan that has dependencies. Make the decision to initiate the plan (or not), but once initiated, don’t pause; that negates the value of planning.

If you don’t have a plan, the remainder will provide some areas to think about. This information will not in any way be exhaustive, but hopefully it will spur some thought and provide a basis for thinking that will allow you to develop a plan on-the-fly to deal with the current disruption. Take time to document all actions taken and why. This should provide the basis for your preparation for the next disruption. It is important to make note of approaches that are effective and those that are not. Both of these are very educational for future planning.

Areas to Focus On

Current situational environment: In an attempt to slow the spread of the corona virus (COVID-19), governmental agencies and other organizations have begun processes to enact a tactic of Social Isolation. The key attribute of this is to minimize unnecessary personal contact between individuals to prevent infected individuals from spreading the infection to others. There is great hope that this will limit the scope and duration of the current situation; however, it is wreaking havoc with businesses.

Many businesses have adopted this tactic and are moving to have many of their employees work strictly remotely. Your organization may or may not be adopting this tactic, but you should plan that external dependencies may be taking this approach and that could impact your organization. Some are very accustomed to having their employees work remotely, but even these organizations are used to many of the companies they interact with being largely onsite.

Think about the impact of moving workers remotely. For organizations that don’t routinely support remote activity, this can be a daunting task. First consider which roles need to continue to work in house. Social Isolation works when fewer people work in close proximity and doesn’t require all people to work remotely.

Consider individuals that would be irreplaceable should they become unavailable and develop a strategy for dealing with that. If cross training or staff augmentation are options.

There are systems that are required to support your business. Take a close look at these to determine if they will be impacted. Validate that the services provided will match your adjusted requirements and capacity (remote access, VPNs, collaborative working, etc.). Reach out to vendors providing services and determine if they are prepared to continue providing the services you require during this disruption.

Communication
Communication is key Ensure that people know how to contact each other. If your organization subscribes to collaborative online working tools, verify that your capacity is sufficient for the level of anticipated use. If a contact list is available, make sure it is up-to-date and accessible to all. Consider requesting workers include their telephone contact information in their email signatures if a contact list is not available.
Help desk The help desk will need to be trained on remote access and be prepared to deal with an influx of new workers with access problems. Do users know how to interact with the help desk from remote locations?

 

Systems Access
How will remote workers connect to internal systems It is common that businesses have the ability for some workers to access systems remotely, but the scale of employees with this type of access varies. If your organization has limited work from home employees and is planning to expand during this disruption, you need to prepare to instruct these workers on how to do this and perform tests with the access solution (typically VPN solutions) to see if the higher volume can be accommodated.
Security Do the systems in place have restrictions that might impact the ability to log in remotely? Some organizations allow systems access via the internet, some require VPN, some are restricted to local only. Understand what your organization has in place and plan accordingly.
Physical equipment and software Will physical equipment (e.g. dedicated laptops, security key fobs, etc.) need to be issued or specialized software (VPN, security software, etc.) need to be installed on employee owned computers to support employees?

 

Availability
Anticipate that workers, either remote or local, will be less available than is typical Some workers are accustomed to work-from-home arrangements and are efficient; however, some will not be used to it and others may have other family members at home that will impact productivity.
Identify areas where employees need to remain on site and arrange for their availability Remember, many of these employees may have their families sent home from school, work, day care, etc. so personal situations could impact availability of key staff to be present on site. Ask those questions now and plan accordingly.
Local Infrastructure support may need to be onsite This includes network support for systems connectivity, server support, and databases. Much of this is routinely handled remotely; however sometime system outages require local access.
Remote / hosted infrastructure should be coordinated Contact your provider and ask if there are considerations that your organization should be prepared for. They are likely dealing with similar issues that you are.
Pay attention to specialized hardware or processes that may require local support Check printing is an example. If your organization prints checks someone will have to be present. Similarly, if customer statements are printed and mailed physical staff will need to be present.

 

Operations
Operationally, look to opportunities to complete tasks early Consider escalating bill payment. Look to identify bills for services that will be required to support remote workers and move them forward. Anticipate that mail, particularly invoices for payment, has to be handled physically prior to entry into the system will require local support.
Validate Required Service Offerings Look at all external services that support your business processes. Contact those vendors to determine if they will have disruptions that could impact your organization. Where appropriate discuss capacity availability and compare that to your revised requirements.

We are in this Together!

As a PeopleSoft solutions firm with more than 20 years of experience with clients like you, we want to reassure you that we have the organization to help you through this crisis. We are here to help you keep your organization functioning and productive until this disruption passes.

If we can help you by answering questions that you might have, or if you have suggestions to share, reach out.

Phone: 614-718-9222

Email: info@erpagroup.com

We are extending a managed services program for PeopleSoft customers and would like to see if this would be helpful during this crisis.