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Well, What Did You Expect?

April 1, 2020

I work on broken systems. It’s not all I do, of course. In fact, I do a lot less of it, especially as we have been focused on moving our agents to work from home.

We have a process for handling cases where we have systems that fail. It’s not a complicated system. The simpler the process, the easier it is to follow.

One of the key steps happens right at the beginning. Once an outage has been identified, we need to get the number of people impacted in each line of business. We handle multiple LOBs for our client; helpline, Certificates of Deposit, Investment, Accounting.

We need to know how many Lexington CD agents were impacted by the outage? How many Cleveland Investment agents were impacted?

These numbers are really important. In fact, the numbers are vital. We plan our staffing levels very carefully using historical data and projections. If one line of business has agents at a particular center cannot take calls, we can ask agents at another center to help take up the slack.

And then after the outage is over we create reports based on which agents were impacted. If the outage was our fault, there may. be penalties involved. Our penalties are assessed on lines of business.

It’s kind of an important number.

We sent 1200 agents from across our six sites to work from home this week. It’s never been done by this client before. We didn’t even know if it was possible two weeks ago. We are still working out how to support them.

Today we had an outage. It wasn’t a huge outage, but it was across multiple sites. Our client called me to report the outage.

Rodney, we noticed some dropped calls at three of your centers. Could you reach out and find out who was impacted?

Ah. . .

See, here’s the thing. When I built our outage process, I knew that we had to have a quick an deasy way to find that initial impact count. Our method? Go out on the call floor and ask the supervisors and agents on teh floor if they were impacted.

My problem? My call floor now stretches across multiple states, hundreds of towns and over a thousand work-at-home homes.

Like many businesses, we didn’t have time to prepare for our work-at-home strategy. We had a couple of days to design. A few days to test it. And then we had to roll it out as quickly as possible.

(We’re IT. we love those kind of crazy schedules.)

The problem was that we didn’t have time to also update our operating and outage processes. We figured we’d address it when the need came up.

Well, it came up today.

How many? What lines of business? Who knows?

Email them? Nope. They don’t have corporate email. We have their cell phone numbers. We needed that to enable our multi-factor authentication. But, ever try to text 1200 people? And how do you filter their responses?

You don’t.

Anyway, we’ll figure it out. We’ll develop processes that acknowledge our new reality. In the meantime, I got to give an answer that I don’t normally give.

How many agents were impacted on each line-of-business?

I have no idea

What else did you expect?

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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