2020 has been a year like no other, with none of us escaping the impacts of the global pandemic in both our personal and professional lives. Grassroots IT has certainly experienced a significant impact over the last six months, and we wanted to share some of our experiences in the IT industry, as well as how we are evolving to meet the changing demands of doing business.
The Beginning of the Pandemic
When Australia and New Zealand first went into COVID-19 lockdown in March this year, we found ourselves on the front line of helping our clients move entire workforces out of the office and into working from home (including ourselves). In many cases this involved not only the physical relocation of staff and computing equipment to homes, but also the hasty implementation of new applications and services, such as Office 365, to allow teams to operate remotely.
Working from Home – The New Norm
To prevent the rapid spread of the virus, quarantine regulations were enforced worldwide, and workers were required to work from home where possible, which hastily pushed forward the transition to remote work. Everyone was suddenly in need of digital solutions to continue operating with minimal interruption. To accommodate the sudden shift of demand for remote working and collaboration technologies, the IT industry had to rethink how technologies were delivered on a larger scale. Many products, like webcams and headsets (not to mention hand sanitizer and toilet paper!) disappeared quickly from suppliers and were hard to attain.
It is a true testament to Australia and New Zealand to see how flexible and adaptable most people have been during this time, despite having to rush to work in such unusual circumstances, in an entirely new way, often on unfamiliar technology platforms. Projects to support remote working or moving to the cloud that were originally planned out progressively over the ‘next few years’ suddenly had to happen overnight.
How the Use of Technology has Changed
As a company that belongs in the IT Industry, we’ve witnessed first-hand how the effects of COVID-19 has changed people’s perception of the use of technology in business, education, entertainment and almost all aspects of society. The pandemic certainly demanded a shift in perspective for many businesses around investing in and deploying technology and a requirement to adapt quickly to digital strategies in order to continue operations. Service-driven companies that had always served their customers in person, such as yoga studios and gymnastics clubs, suddenly had to find whole new ways to operate.
Businesses that had invested in their IT and systems before COVID had the advantage of being well-equipped with tools that enabled remote collaboration. Given that Grassroots IT’s operations run across three different countries, remote collaboration tools and cloud services, like Microsoft Teams, were already a big part of how we work as a team. With the essentials in place, transitioning to a work-from-home environment was, thankfully, a fairly smooth transition for us. Which was fortunate, because helping clients make the transition to remote working has definitely kept us very busy!
How Our Response Times Have Been Impacted
For much of this year, our service delivery teams have been inundated with both helpdesk requests and urgent project delivery timelines resulting from these changes. We have been working long and hard to keep up with demand, however we are aware that our response times have been impacted.
Here are some of the steps that we have taken to address not only the increased demand on our service delivery teams, but also adapting to the rapidly evolving ways in which our clients are relying on our services:
- We restructured our helpdesk processes to provide for earlier ticket triage and escalation. This means that simpler issues can be addressed faster, and more complex issues more quickly assigned to the most appropriate engineer.
- We redefined support teams to provide faster resolution of Level 1 and 2 issues and improve telephone answer rates (for example, before calls go to voicemail).
- We introduced functionality to allow end users to directly schedule an appointment with a support engineer. This helps to avoid ‘phone tag’ and allows end users to engage with our engineers at a date and time that best suits them.
- We created a special email address, to allow end users direct access to team leaders if they feel their issue is not receiving the attention it requires.
- We implemented new data analytics and business intelligence tools to gain better and earlier insight into service delivery bottlenecks and areas for improvement.
- We are developing materials to better communicate with clients around support processes and expectations. For example, encouraging the use of the Grassroots portal for support, rather than phone calls.
One of our Core Values at Grassroots IT is that We Pursue Continuous Improvement. While the pandemic has certainly posed challenges (and we don’t underestimate the devastating impact it’s had on many lives and industries all around the world), we have used this ‘disruption’ as an opportunity to reflect and reevaluate what is working, what we can do better and how we can drive positive change in our personal lives, business and for our clients going forward.
How has your business and industry been impacted?