Posted on April 2, 2020 by Dan May
I have slowed down the volume of update emails I send you, now that things are slipping into our new pattern of business as usual! But here is an update on what you need to know about your IT services this week.
Sadly we have seen an increase in attempted cybercrime this last 10 days. Quick to cash in on disaster, there are a number of Covid-19 related scam phishing emails doing the rounds and these are having some traction, perhaps because some firms have dropped their security standards in order to just get people up and running from home, and perhaps because people aren’t sat next to a team of colleagues where they may have previously just asked the person next to them about whether an email looks safe or not. We have published some guidance on the scams that we’ve seen reported to our helpdesk over the last week or so, and we will keep this post updated – visit it here.
Now that most clients are set up to work from home, it’s a good time to talk to us about going back over the changes made to ensure that security is not compromised. Given that it appears this is going to be more than just a passing set up, we can’t afford to make too many compromises.
I am pleased to report that we are making great progress on your support tickets. In the 10 days following the lockdown, we received over 1,000 support tickets more than our previous busiest ever week! We appreciate that has meant we’ve been asking you for a lot of patience. We’ve recruited a couple of new colleagues and provided several hundred hours of additional overtime to deal with this situation, whilst not increasing any support costs, because we knew it was essential that we got you all up and running. Our service level targets will certainly be the worst we’ve ever recorded, but actually we’ve still hit our normal targets on 72% of our cases, which we think in the circumstances, is pretty impressive! Whilst we are now getting there, we are still around 100 cases a day higher than normal, and of course, the team are dispersed in their various houses, so please continue to log non-urgent cases by email or the portal if you can and if you have an urgent request, please pick up the phone and make sure you tell your support consultant that the case is particularly urgent and we will do our best to help.
We have continued to deliver a full service of consultancy and network management, shifting to almost all work taking place remotely. Now is not the time to cut network management time – your offices may be empty but your infrastructure still continues to run in the same way as before, and we are committed to keeping things well maintained during this time. Of course, some projects have been delayed where we need to physically roll kit out on site, but conscious of the fact that when offices all reopen we are going to have a backlog of work, we are looking at all planned projects and working with clients to bring forward work that we can actually do remotely so that we ease the bottleneck later on. Your Relationship Manager will be able to discuss this with you if you want to use this quieter time to get some planned work done. We are still visiting customer sites for essential work, but our Operations team will be speaking to you to ensure that the safety of our consultants is not compromised during this time – generally, it’s fairly easy for us to socially distance where your premises are quiet.
The worldwide stock situation has been dire and laptops have been harder to find than a multi-pack of Andrex Quilted. This has been driven by three factors, firstly a delay in component manufacture from China, secondly a panic buy of kit for remote workers and thirdly, Dell, in particular, have been prioritising key workers and hospitals – specifically Dell are equipping the Nightingale Hospital, and so hardware has gone there first, and rightly so. We are now starting to see some stock coming into the distribution network each day so this situation will start to improve – but things are flying off the shelves as quickly as they come in. Our advice to you for urgent orders, is allow us to be flexible with the spec (we need to see what comes in stock each day and grab it, rather than waiting for a very specific specification of hardware) and secondly, you need to move to sign off quotes instantly. On Monday morning we had a client who wanted a webcam. We found a stock of 450 and in the 30 minutes it took the client to agree on the order, all had gone! So please do work with us for a quick turn around and we will do the best we can for you.
Working from home resources
We have created a catalogue of information to help your remote workers. We are adding resources to our website all the time – you’ll find lots of tips, training and information at https://www.ramsac.com/blog/category/coronavirus/ If there’s anything you are particularly interested in learning more about, please let me know and we’ll make sure we add to our list of articles under development!
Positivity & learnings
We are collating weekly feedback to share with our team of all the lovely comments you’ve been making – it’s really been lifting spirits, so please keep the feedback coming! We are also really interested to start collating your own positive learnings about working during this period, we would love to share your learnings, ideas and thoughts across the ramsac community so again, please do get in touch. We are also fascinated to know how you think this current period will change the future of your workplace longer term. These are interesting times and there are good things to come out of the bad and we’re keen to hear from you about this!
As always, all members of the ramsac team are here to help you. We remain fully operational with a full workforce available to assist you in any way we can. Please do get in touch if we can be of assistance.
Just a quick update this morning to let you know that we have now completely closed the ramsac offices, but it’s very much business as usual with all our team working from their respective homes.
We covered additional shifts over the weekend to help get through some of the backlog but we are still facing an unprecedented demand on our service, and we expect that to continue this week as even more of our clients shift to home working. We continue to prioritise home working requests but as per our advice last week, we would ask that if you have an urgent request, you call in on the usual support number (01483 412 042) so that your request can be escalated. Please note we can’t escalate a request for one users home working set up unless there are very specific reasons to do so, as we are currently dealing with these in the order that they have come in, but if you have some staff who need to take priority over others, it’s useful for us to know that.
Our purchasing team are still working too, so if you need new orders for your home workers, let us know. Like everyone, we are dealing with reduced stock availability but we’ll keep you informed!
With advances in technology over recent years we are now able to complete most of our planned project work remotely. In fact, in many respects now is a good time to be carrying out planned projects where no onsite time is required, as when things return to normal we anticipate being very booked up with finalising out the work that does have to be done on site. So your Relationship Manager is available to chat to you about using this time to progress important projects remotely rather than on site. You should have a direct line for your Relationship Manager, but if you need to check their contact details, do please let me know.
Whilst our tech is all set up for home working, it’s certainly true that our support colleagues in particular, really benefit from sitting together with their teams and helping each other on calls when they can hear what their colleagues are working on. Of course, that’s going to be compromised, for the time being, so please do bare with them – they are doing their very best to provide a great service to everyone in some very testing circumstances.
We were blown away by the emails of praise we received for the team last week, at one point last week we were logging over 100 support cases per hour which is a rate unprecedented in ramsac history. In a moment of positivity, we shared all your lovely feedback with our team at 5 pm on Friday and it put a smile on a lot of faces! Please do keep your feedback coming, it’s making life a little more positive!
Because we know that as your IT provider, we have a huge responsibility as one of your key partners at this time, we want to keep updating you with our main activities during our Covid19 operations. Don’t worry – this isn’t another email telling you about our new handwash regime! Hopefully, this is a useful update that will help you with your own planning.
Firstly, we want to thank you for the kind words of praise and your understanding this week. We are fully aware that we aren’t responding to you as quickly as we would like to. At our peak yesterday we were logging in excess of 100 support calls an hour! We know that means that at times you’ve not got through the first time and that you’ve had to wait a while, but I am sure you’ll understand that these are unprecedented times.
This week we have decided to focus on remote working requests. We have made the decision to park some older cases to focus on getting your home workers up and running. We ask that if you have an urgent request, that you pick up the phone (01483 412 042) to let us know that your issue is mission critical, because there is a chance you’re not automatically at the top of the queue.
We’re extending our teams working hours and we will have colleagues working over the weekend to get through the backlog of requests. At the moment, half our team are working remotely and half in the office and this is our plan for the next few days. So far, no one is off sick.
Onsite work and projects
We have largely continued to deliver services as scheduled. If you have an open project with us, we will continue to meet the project plan where possible. We are still carrying out site visits where these are the only option, but, have switched a lot of onsite time to happen remotely instead. We’ll continue to liaise with you to make appropriate plans and we would appreciate it if you would let us know if your offices are not going to be open.
Ironically, we are actually starting to see some advantages in delivering project work at a time where fewer users are in the office to be affected by our work, so our plan over the coming weeks is very much, business as usual. If you haven’t already heard from us, we will be in touch to discuss your onsite work and we’ll also be looking at our long term priorities to work out what project work can be moved forward to be delivered remotely whilst your office is closed, as we also anticipate a sudden rush when we all get back to normal.
Our team of relationship managers are all working remotely and they will be meeting you via Teams web calls rather than in person. They have been really busy this week consulting with many of you about extending your remote working capability. We appreciate that this week you’ve been busy making contingency plans, but over the coming weeks we actually believe we can see more of our clients more frequently via the medium of webcam! If you want to book in a call with your Relationship Manager, please do get in touch.
Supply of orders
Our Operations team continue to do their best to fulfil all orders. However we are continuing to see some stock delays and we are also finding that with the falling value of the £ against the $, some software pricing is changing daily, so if you have an open quote with us, we may need to requote when you come to place an order, so please don’t leave decisions until the last minute.
Looking after our suppliers
We are all in this together! We all want to have stronger organisations when we come out of this in a few week’s time (remember – the current crisis will not be forever!) so we are committed to maintaining our existing agreements unchanged, and paying our supplier invoices on time, to ensure that we don’t compromise the future operations of the suppliers that we depend on.
Help with remote work
We are producing some additional training resources that you may find useful. Today we hosted a well-attended webinar on business continuity and we hope to share a recording of that with your shortly. In the meantime, if you’re using Teams for the first time, you may find these links helpful:
Talking of Teams, we’re using it for daily meetings with our newly remote based team. We highly recommend it! Tomorrow one of our teams is hosting a morning virtual tea round – gathering people together with their favourite mug and biscuit to check in on how we are all doing. Give it a go – we all need to carry on smiling through these challenging weeks!
Please don’t hesitate to contact us.
We’ve sent you a few updates in the last couple of weeks, to keep you informed about how Covid-19 is impacting on our plans. We recognise that now more than ever, you need your IT supplier to be on the ball as you make your own contingency plans. We are currently having daily leadership briefings and of course, we are keeping an eye on the latest advice as it appears, but for now, this is our current position:
We are continuing to open our Godalming office but on a reduced staff level with many of our colleagues working from home. We are not inviting any visitors into the office – if you had a planned meeting with us in the coming couple of weeks, your ramsac host will be setting this up as a video meeting using Microsoft Teams. All of our staff are set up to work remotely, and our phone system is designed to route calls to colleagues at home, so as far as possible, we intend to provide a full service to you.
As we advised yesterday, we are experiencing an unprecedented number of support requests at the moment, as we work to assist clients with their own remote working challenges. We know that will not always be hitting planned response time targets in the next few days and we hope that you’ll understand why. You can help us with this. If you have genuinely urgent support requests, we would ask that you phone in, rather than logging your request via the portal or email. Please make it clear to our support consultant that your issue is business critical, so we can ensure we prioritise that ticket for you.
If you have non-urgent issues, please log these via email and state your deadline for the ticket resolution. We really appreciate you giving us a bit of extra time or notice, it will greatly help with our planning of work. Please also remember that your support contract covers the fixing of issue, not the completion of new installs! If you need dedicated engineering time to set up remote working for the first time, you should chat with your Relationship Manager about this so we can quote for and book in work accordingly.
If you have open requests for new user setups that are no longer required, please let us know. We will be providing more support services via remote workers. That will have an impact as whilst technically, all our tools are available remotely, there is a lot of ‘group think’ and mutual support within our support team that can’t be replicated when colleagues are all remote. Again, I hope we can rely on your understanding here.
Planned onsite work, field support days and projects
At the moment, we are continuing to deliver planned consultancy work and projects. If it’s feasible to deliver this work remotely as efficiently as if we were onsite, we will contact you directly to discuss doing so. If you know your offices are going to be closed, please let us know as soon as you’re able to do so, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
We will be reviewing all project schedules to ensure that we can deliver as much work as possible remotely. We recognise that when things return to normal, we are going to be incredibly busy with a backlog of work, so we want to carry on and deliver as much as possible whilst we still can. Of course, we are depending on you to notify us if you have identified any risks for our team visiting your offices, and we would expect that you have taken appropriate measures to provide additional surface cleaning, hand wash facilities etc.
If you have regular ‘onsite support’ with one of our field based support consultants, we would like to continue with that time as scheduled, but do so remotely. We suggest you encourage users to log requests via the Support Team, and on your scheduled onsite support day, we will allocate your Field Support Consultant to work through as many of your outstanding support tickets as possible on a dedicated basis but remotely.
We were to be hosting a lunch and learn on business continuity planning on Thursday (19th March). We have now moved that to be a live webinar more specifically focused on pandemic business continuity planning. This event is free to attend, you can register here
Supply of equipment
We are doing all that we can to meet your requests for hardware orders. There continues to be a worldwide shortage of some equipment, caused both by the delay in shipments from China, as well as a surge in demand for laptops for remote working. Please consider early notification of any planned needs to allow us plenty of time to source stock for you.
Assistance with remote working
Clearly IT is going to be key in helping to keep your business active in the next few weeks. If you have specific questions, please get in touch with your Relationship Manager or email email@example.com
We shall continue to keep you informed of our plans as the situation unfolds. Please do not hesitate to contact us.Contact us