Quickly adapting for social distancing
With these challenges in mind, the company opted for a new approach to keeping payment operations flowing, while keeping employees less worried and more safe.
“As I reviewed my disaster recovery plan last March, I created a ‘worst-case’ scenario with COVID before a lockdown, assuming it was going to be Armageddon,” says the SVP. “I looked at how I could split the workforce to reduce the risk to employees, while continuing to deliver services to our customers without a detrimental impact.”
Nine days after speaking with his Sungard AS team about the plan, he had a new contract in place, shifting from a shared suite to a new solution with greater flexibility: the Sungard AS Serviced Workplace. This dedicated suite is tailored to align with COVID-19 regulations.
“The facility and what it offered was comparable to what we have at our site. It was no different from walking into our own building, but it was customized around the ever-changing government guidelines for social distancing,” notes the SVP.
Just two days later, those guidelines got even tighter. “When we signed the contract, we had planned to move 70 people into one dedicated suite.” He continues. “Then, the Prime Minister made an announcement, calling for a two-meter radius around every single seat in an office.”
In response, Sungard AS made four suites available, designed to the client’s precise specifications and dedicated solely to their exclusive use—and in record time.
“Sungard AS adapted to our aggressive timeline,” he reports. “From sale to seat, it took us only three weeks before we had 120 people taking calls in the recovery center, supporting our largest customer. If you think about this in a normal situation, realistically, it could take 90 days. But this was different, this was Armageddon.”
Operational resilience in a crisis
Since April 2020, Sungard AS’ Workplace Recovery Center in Coventry provides a safe and secure call center environment for the firm’s employees. In addition to the IT equipment, power and telephony they need to be productive, the facility provides an ISO/IEC 27001 certified environment with security access controls to protect the financial data this company manages for its customers. Thermal imaging technology provides temperature testing for extra protection against the virus.
With continuous business activity as the goal, the SVP divided the workforce by job function, with some employees remaining at the company’s own Coventry office. “We have seven lines of business, from fraud, disputes and charge backs to collections, customer service, back office and correspondence,” he explains. “I took a portion of each of those functions and put them in the Sungard AS facility. We created resilience and the assurance that we could service every customer, even if one site went down.”
To avoid the COVID risks of public transportation, the company also arranged for nearly 1,400 taxis to transport employees to work in the recovery center. To date, they have provided nearly 49,000 meals for employees, delivered to the center by food suppliers in airports, who sorely needed the business. “We had to think differently to keep the business going, support our employees and keep them safe, and that’s continued throughout the pandemic,” says the SVP.
To reduce the foot traffic in both Coventry locations, he also equipped about 200 at-home workers with technology and network access. “We communicate with them regularly to keep them up to speed, so they can feel safe and still part of our organization.”