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Xceedance CEO Viewpoint on Business Continuity Planning

April 15, 2020 | Arun Balakrishnan

Businesses big and small across the globe are facing unprecedented challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. With non-essential services closed to resist the spread of the virus, the business continuity plans (BCP) of customer-facing organizations everywhere must especially confront the dual concerns of taking care of their people and serving their customers. In all this, the insurance industry also faces the possibility of widespread claims and litigation around business continuity losses. In the U.S. alone, one estimate puts those losses at $431 billion a month. Meanwhile, insurance companies are working with limited capacities to process higher volumes of transactions, such as virus-related medical and travel claims and attending to distressed policyholders.

The Right Objective

Being a strategic partner to leading insurance organizations across the globe, it is our responsibility to support our clients to the best of our abilities during these uncertain times. In early March, we were having discussions around how we can ensure business continuity and maintain service delivery excellence while making the health and wellbeing of our teammates a top priority.

At the time, the number of cases in India, where our largest contingent of personnel work, was very low. However, based on the alarming rates of COVID-19 infections being reported by numerous nations across the globe, we felt it was right to take immediate precautionary measures. To safeguard our team members and maintain client services availability and quality across our global delivery centers in the U.S., Poland, and India, we decided to transition to a work-from-home (WFH) environment even before various local or national authorities initiated isolation policies.

The Right Strategy

During the early March period, we convened our management team along with executives from across the organization to initiate our business continuity process and set into motion a comprehensive set of procedures to operationalize the two key goals of safeguarding our teams and serving our clients. There was consensus we would immediately enable hundreds of our team members with the essential equipment and tools to be able to work from the safety of their homes. We also restricted all international and domestic work-related travel, compiled the recent travel history of our team members, and enforced a strict 14-day self-isolation period for those who had traveled.

The Right Approach

Like most companies, Xceedance business continuity plans did not envision a WFH environment for our entire global organization, and we had to address a host of practical challenges associated with the transition, including:

Managing clients’ contractual requirements which, in some cases, did not allow service and support teams to work from home;
Mitigating security, connectivity, and bandwidth issues for users, as a result of connecting over virtual private networks (VPN) and home Wi-Fi connections, which are typically not as robust or reliable as commercial broadband solutions;
Ensuring superior productivity for desktop users who may not be able to deliver the same level of service without a dual-screen setup and high-power CPUs needed to run specialized software.
Alleviating those challenges prompted exceptional cross-functional collaboration between global client partners, IT infrastructure support, the facilities management group, and human resources teams. Once we apprised our clients about our plans and obtained the necessary approvals, our organization worked with them to optimize network capacities to support additional loads from devices connecting remotely over VPN. And our IT infrastructure and facilities teams came together to provision remote work tools for our entire workforce at very short notice, involving the delivery of the right equipment to the homes of our teammates, sometimes requiring permission from authorities to complete the deliveries.

During the mid-March period, we ensured we were prompt and proactive with all business continuity communications for our team members, clients, partners, and suppliers. Xceedance continues to communicate often with our stakeholders, particularly about our productivity and task completion activities with our clients.

The Right Result
By the last week in March, we were able to operate at full productivity levels with the entire company in a work-from-home environment. This is a testament to the level of commitment, ownership, and collaboration among our workforce. Additionally, the nature of our business requires our teams to work shoulder-to-shoulder with and among our clients in managing core insurance operations. As a result, we are able to provide additional services and support to some clients who need extra help in various locations worldwide due to local conditions and restrictions.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank every team member who has been a part of this large-scale operation to ensure Xceedance delivers on its promise to be a trusted partner to our clients everywhere in the world. I would also like to extend my gratitude to our client partners who have been patient, flexible, and cooperative, while helping us to enable this complex transition and accommodating requests for modifications to various systems and processes.

At Xceedance, our top priority in this period of pandemic crisis remains to do what is right for our team members, clients, and the communities in which we live and work.

To reiterate the simple but powerful words of the incredibly brave, selfless health care professionals and essential service providers in our communities: Stay home, stay safe.

Arun Balakrishnan

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