Inspiretec business continuity plan.

Putting the Inspiretec business continuity plan to the test.

By Matt Wakerley13th March 2020

Like many other organisations we’ve long had a business continuity plan (BCP) - a series of tools and processes that allow us to continue delivering the products and services that our customers deserve.

Over the years we’ve tested components of our BCP in isolation but yesterday was the first time we undertook an end to end test – a mandated office shut down with every employee to continue their work from outside of the office.

Continuity is king.

We deliver business critical systems that are often core to the commercial operations of our customers. In terms of the technology, it’s a given that we have resilient infrastructure to deliver secure, robust and scalable service continuity of the enterprise services that we provide.

However, we are also a people business – it’s the talent and expertise of our team who design, develop, implement, train, manage and support our customers, so without an effective human wrapper the technology does not fully deliver the customer the business benefit they are seeking. The machines need the people to make the magic happen!

Collaboration is key.

Given the complexity of the industry we’re in (I’ve heard Travel technology to be described as the 2nd most complex industry after Fintech) it’s the norm to see groups of Inspiretec colleagues gathered in a meeting space, huddled around a screen or sketching on a white board.

Culturally we are very collaborative bunch – communication is really important at Inspiretec. We’ve wholeheartedly adopted Agile principles, so stand-ups are routine, messaging apps are used extensively, and formal meetings also have their place – exec, steering, programme or project meetings happen regularly.

Out of the office.

As with many other high-tech businesses, it’s usual for a proportion of the Inspiretec team to be remote - we have colleagues permanently home based across the UK, North America and mainland Europe. Typically, 80% of us make the commute to HQ but we actively encourage home and flexible working to support a healthy work life balance.

In the last 12 months particularly, we have seen much of our collaboration shift to a ‘hybrid’ model, with only some of the collaborators face to face and increasing meetings are becoming held entirely ‘virtual’ – with all delegates remoting in.

We also have customers in over a dozen countries across the globe, and whilst we firmly believe you can’t beat a face to face meeting in terms of relationship building, focus and productivity, it’s normal for us to engage externally with our customers this way too.

Putting it to the test.

At the moment when Social media isn’t trending with #Covid_19 it’s trending with #WorkingFromHome. We wanted to test our BCP and demonstrate 100% confidence that we can continue to deliver our customer projects and support commitments in the eventuality that we cannot work in the office together.

During our BCP test yesterday, everyone was tasked with continuing their day to day duties but doing so out of the office. We are privileged enough to have an inhouse infrastructure team managing our own private and public cloud, so rolling out softphones and extending our phone system outside the building wasn’t too challenging.

For laptop users it was pretty much business as normal – use the cloud services as you would when on the road, VPN in if you need access to internal systems. We provided remote desktop access to those with desktop systems so they could use their favourite home device to remote in and continue as normal.

Theres no I in team.

Our BCP test was a resounding success. Despite some minor edge case issues in connecting to the VPNs or getting laptop cameras to work we managed to deliver exactly the same productivity, customer contact and service SLAs that we would if everyone was at their normal place of work.

We found that our chosen messaging platform (Microsoft Teams) worked flawlessly. It’s not uncommon for video to be disabled, but during our test it was used more extensively than ever before.

It seems that being able to see your team members as well as hear them helped individuals balance the working from home isolation with the necessary and beneficial interaction with your team – we are after all social beings.

The irony of us all needing human contact is not lost given the current Covid 19 pandemic but at least the technology can help organisations continue to thrive when we are unable to move around and interact as we normally would.

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