By: Mary Jo O’Neill and Shawn Harvey
On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. The world faced the crippling effects of this illness, both personally and professionally. For some businesses, work stopped or slowed drastically, while others saw a tremendous increase in demand for their goods and services.
According to Julia Child, “Any disaster is a learning process.” This is a great time to reflect on what businesses can do to be prepared for future pandemics, or catastrophe. As a result of social distancing, many businesses made the choice to have employees working remotely. This can be an excellent choice, but several conditions must be met to make this possible.
How are my employees going to access the information they need to conduct business, and communicate internally with your team and externally with clients and vendors? They will need internet access, phone, and perhaps video and conferencing call capabilities. At Parallel Solutions we specialize in Business Management Software otherwise known as ERP, and Network Support. Our staff regularly works with clients remotely, so we are able to help.
Is it possible to give your employees access to your business information? Sure, it is. There are desktop sharing solutions, VPN’s, remote desktop, and cloud-based solutions.
For immediate needs, it might be best to focus on faster and more flexible solutions. Hosted services like eBlvd, LogMeIn or TeamViewer can be quickly deployed with no capital expense, just the subscription service. These are excellent web-based solutions that offer flexibility for the connecting client.
Another option is for your employees to access your business via a VPN (Virtual Private Network). If your business is already set up with VPN’s, that’s great. VPN’s can give your employees secure access to your business software. If not, this is something that can still be implemented, but keep in mind that each VPN is paid for by the seat, and often times they go unused. You will also need to consider what you want to access, bandwidth and VPN server capabilities, in addition to licensing.
A user with a laptop can connect to the VPN, but that doesn’t mean they can run every application over the VPN. If bandwidth is insufficient, you might consider using Remote Desktop over the VPN to connect to a computer local to the server and run the application from there.
For those users with a laptop and no PC in the office, the odds are that they already have a lot of what they need available to them for working out of the office. If there is something specific, they need, then an extra PC or less critical user’s PC may need to be allocated to them for access. This is where prioritizing people may be necessary.
Cloud-based ERP, like Acumatica makes working from home easy. Acumatica is built for the cloud and the mobile workforce. It will run on any device using a web browser. Acumatica works in real-time, so there is no delay in information. Your employees will be working with current, accurate information. Even remotely, employees will only have access to the information that is specific to their role.
Another great option is Exact Synergy, a web-based collaboration system that gives role-based access to your business management software. Synergy is a great tool to promote accurate, secure communication between departments and branches across countries.
Disaster Recovery Planning
Finally, in addition to remote computer access, there are also cloud solutions for things like email, file storage, phone systems, etc. that will give you more flexibility in how your workforce can access information. But none of these can just be implemented with no warning if the governor says work from home. This all really falls under disaster recovery planning beyond backups.
In a few months this crisis will pass, and the way we do business may change forever. Are you prepared to keep up with the demands of today and the future? We are can provide a demo of cloud based software. Give us a call at 440-498-9920 or contact us.