Business Resiliency

4 Best Practices for Maintaining Business Continuity in Uncertain Times – Part 1

By Linda Connor July 13, 2020

Editors Note: This is part one of a two-part series that focuses on best practices we learned when mobilizing office-based Technical Support teams across the globe to work from home.

Technical Support teams are the unsung heroes who keep businesses running, they have their finger on the pulse of a company’s relationship with its customers. At Dell Technologies, our Technical Support teams have a significant impact on our customers and our business. I always knew our teams were the best in the business, but the way they worked through a constantly evolving, unprecedented time, was inspiring. In this first installment of a two-part series, I’ll give you a look behind the scenes and show how truly impressive they are.

When the pandemic hit, our company took the immediate position of safety first for team members, partners and customers. The decision came decisively and swiftly. All non-essential travel was stopped. And over the weekend, 90-percent of our team members began working from home. Our Services leaders went into action and our Technical Support agents shifted to remote work within a matter of hours.

Kelly Truax, senior vice president of Client Support Services recently shared best practices on how her team continued to successfully support our customers during the transition. She said, “Job No. 1 after the safety of our employees and customers is business continuity.  We have to do whatever it takes to ensure our business and the customer’s business is running smoothly.”

1) 360-degree Communication is Vital

Setting up a communication plan, defining processes, and executing is step one. You must do it immediately and quickly. This means establishing multi-level lines of communication that span management, teams, and functions. New lines of communication or new groups may also need to be established. Kelly and her team had their communications plan in place as soon as they were told we were going remote. Then daily pulse calls were set up to monitor the situation, assess what was happening on the ground, make decisions quickly, and keep everyone aligned. Another important factor is clarity in all communications. Sending crisp, clear messages to the team and equipping them with easy access to procedures is critical to success.

2) Business Management System and Business Continuity and Resiliency Plans Can Make or Break Your Ability to Respond

Establishing a business management system (BMS) that always keeps the machine running efficiently is essential. A strong and established BMS helps everyone know their role and rally to priorities in real time, with a set of processes they can quickly follow. I knew we had a solid BMS because Dell’s Support Services team has been dealing with and working through crisis management effectively for years. They are one of the best in the industry when it comes to managing uncertainty, and not only are they constantly improving processes, they are also pioneering new ways to solve problems faster and more efficiently. Kelly told me that having a solid foundation like we did is a great start, but your BMS must also be flexible, so you can adjust for situational crisis management. Every crisis is different and requires unique solutions. In addition to having a solid BMS, it was vital for us to have a business continuity and resiliency plan (BCRP) that worked across our team members and partners. A BCRP must be connected across organizations and companies to ensure that priorities are centralized and can be executed. The key is setting gates and milestones for the BCRP with consistency, while allowing for site level differences at implementation.

3) “Check-ins” Ensure a Smooth Transition

In a high-stress environment filled with lots of new scenarios, Kelly knew it was important for her and her leadership team to do check-ins at multiple levels. The purpose was to assess their inventory of readiness, identifying what is new, what is needed, and what gaps exist. For example, are team members ready? Do they have the basic equipment they need to be productive from home? Do they have a laptop, do they need a desktop, what about headsets?  Are they able to readily access the tools they need to help customers from home?

To dispatch laptops to team members around the globe, site leaders in-country set up distribution hubs to safely distribute and deploy equipment to local team members. The effort included everything from a putting together a distribution center, to delivering equipment to team members’ front doors. The goal was to get every Technical Support team member up and working quickly from home, supporting customers with little or no disruption.

4) “Don’t forget Your Partners,” They Are an Essential Part of Our Ecosystem

Our partners are critical to supporting our business and customers. Kelly noted that everything described above also applied to partners. Not only did her team execute this with the thousands of team members in her organization, they did the same with our thousands of partners around the globe. These partners are extensions of our team and are as committed to keeping our customers working uninterrupted.

Up Next: Lessons We’ve Learned

Even with a strong foundation of best practices, there are always lessons to learn along the way. In part two of the series, I will share the lessons we’ve learned so far.

Please comment below if you have any best practices, we’d love to hear them.

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