Aug 17
Harnessing A Knowledge Tree
Harnessing A Knowledge Tree
THE all-engulfing coronavirus has overcast the world like a desert storm. Everyone, in every part of the globe, is feeling its impact, regardless of their position on the economic, political and sociological plane. In the initial days of the pandemic, businesses across the world were taken by surprise and many, including prominent names in the IT sector, were staring into the dark on how to ensure continuity of operations. But the L&T Group company, Mindtree, which has for long been following an agile style of operations, responded in supersonic speed. The outcome, so far it hasn’t lost even an hour of business continuity during this global pandemic.
At the very start of COVID-19’s global proliferation, Mindtree devised a plan that covered four different but essential areas – health and safety, business continuity, customer support, and communications. Its primary objective was to ensure that everything functions without a glitch – even though delivery models would be changing in a snap! It implemented a host of measures within tight deadlines.
By 3 March, that is, even before most countries, including India, declared a lockdown, Mindtree set up a ‘War Room’ and a core Crisis Management Team.
This was quickly followed up by setting up supporting teams across geographies – wherever Mindtree has operations, imposing restrictions on travel, and suspending internal events / gatherings. 
Simultaneously, the company launched a COVID-19 awareness initiative, and this included a microsite to ensure that all Mindtree employees were aware of the gravity of the situation.
Next, the company started reviews of project-level Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and directed all its account teams to secure remote working approval from customers. As part of preparations, it also initiated BCP drills on 10 March so to prepare projects for remote delivery.
Beginning with the basics: Mindtree set up a central team in India and parallel teams in company locations across the globe. At the helm of the team was placed the Chief Risk Officer, who, with other War Room leaders, looked at multiple perspectives to arrive at decisions that would become immensely important over the following weeks. The team closely monitored all Mindtree locations and drafted possibilities for every level. In parallel, preparations were afoot for internal systems and point of contacts (POCs) to be fully enabled for the transition.
Understandably, some Mindtree customers initially hesitated, but all eventually agreed to have their project teams working remotely. By 16 March, Mindtree activated the general work-from-home (WFH) mode and by 24 March, 98.5% employees were actually performing from home. The figure touched an overwhelming 99.5 per cent by 27 March without even slightly diluting the compliance requirements.
Moving at a quick pace to enable business continuity, Mindtree benefitted from several factors inherent in its culture. Its laptop policy ensured that 85 per cent of its staff had hardware with the most updated configuration. The remaining gap was met by swiftly transporting 1,500 desktops and allied devices to employee homes.
Mindtree’s pre-COVID WFH policy of six WFH days per month per employee, now ensured 100 per cent productivity and connectivity with even everyone WFH.
Its business continuity and delivery excellence teams enabled automated tracking through the Mindtree Delivery Platform. Information security controls in Mindtree’s corporate environment are available both in the home and public networks. Hence, the company was able to quickly enable data leakage protection on all end points. Mindtree practices agile methodologies across all development projects, such as a daily stand-up meeting to ensure that all were reporting their tasks to the Delivery Manager and are aware of all their upcoming tasks.
Having the practice ingrained across delivery teams ensured that there was little change in the manner day‑to‑day activities were carried out through the pandemic. Furthermore, Mindtree harnessed its in-house platform, Yorbit, to ensure that staffers learned new technologies and skills even during the pandemic. 
Once Mindtree’s entire workforce switched to WFH, its Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) teams continued to monitor emerging risks.  Vertical risk and continuity leaders were key to driving business continuity for all projects. Continuous communication with all stakeholders ensured that everyone was on the same page. They put Microsoft Teams to extensive use, ensuring that there were not roadblocks in terms of quality delivery. Video and chat facilitated high-touch collaborative support to customers. 
On the other hand, to foster the crucial elements of health and safety, Mindtree activated a Global Contact Center that responded to the anxieties of its employees. 
It launched a 24x7 medical helpline with doctors available on call for staffers and their families. The COVID-19 microsite was regularly updated with new developments and FAQs, in addition to the pandemic related newsfeed.
Kalinga, the residential centre of Mindtree’s global learning and delivery centre in Odisha, was closed in two just days, while making efficient travel arrangements to reach around 600 staffers and their families safely home. The company signed up a leading travel safety and security firm for this. Taskforces motivated and encouraged staffers to follow daily routines as usual and to be as active as possible online.  They made use of Yammer to connect with other teammates across Microsoft Teams, helping people to connect with each other. 
Quite interestingly, Mindtree’s Project Feedback Survey for Q4 of FY20 threw up stunning results - 6.3/7 - the highest in FY20.  During the period, the company received Zero customer complaints and rather, a huge number of commendations. As Mr H P Suresh, Head Digital Delivery at Mindtree, puts it:  “We strictly honoured the commitments that we made (on project timelines). 
In turn, the number of appreciations that we have received from our customers is unprecedented.”
As such, it was a combination of the slew of measures that Mindtree undertook early on and this  ensured both employee safety and zero impact on its customer deliverables.


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