VOLUME 1 | ISSUE 5
BITS is a Managed Services provider working exclusively with community financial institutions. We’re extremely aware of how vital our banking clients – and the services that they provide – are to their communities, so the idea of resiliency is always top-of-mind. In this line of business, resiliency is not only defined as the quick recovery from difficulties, but specifically as the ability of a server, network, or data center to recover quickly and continue operating even when there has been an equipment failure, power outage, or other disruption. Since launching in 2005, BITS has provided high-quality phone and call center solutions, secure connectivity options, and managed services to our clients, making sure that our services are resilient and “always-on” through a certified team of support staff and engineers.
As a company, BITS was well-prepared for this pandemic for a multitude of reasons. Our Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is reviewed and tested annually as part of our compliance strategy and was designed to ensure that our essential business functions survive a natural disaster, technological failure, human error, or other disruptions – such as pandemic flu. Our BCP plan is tested frequently, to make sure that our internal and client communication channels are working properly; training throughout and across departments is up to date, and command directives and designated team members are in place. The BITS team has support staff spread between two offices (PA and NJ), along with remote support team members in other states. BITS employees have access to work remotely, and this access is tested on a regular basis and used often by all departments.
Enabling Customers’ Resiliency
In early March, in an effort to prepare our customers for the COVID-19 pandemic, we provided our own business continuity plans and recommendations to leverage tools and resources to minimize the impact on banking operations. Many of our clients were well-prepared for this event and were already leveraging services provided by BITS that enabled a remote workforce before the pandemic. For others, throughout the past eight weeks, BITS has worked diligently around-the-clock to enable services for a flexible workforce, such as:
- Redirecting phone calls to remote employees
- Single Number Reach: Calls to a business phone which in turn ring to a cell phone
- Softphone: The ability to handle voice calls from a laptop or smartphone
- Home IP Phone: The ability to have the bank phone physically at home
- Allowing employees to access bank applications remotely
- VPN: Virtual Private Network which creates a secure tunnel from the laptop back to the bank
- Umbrella: A Cisco application which filters employee internet traffic, even when they are remote and not on the VPN
- Providing access for remote employees to interact with each other, customers, or vendors
- Webex Teams: Employees can message or share content with each other from a laptop, mobile phone, or tablet
- Webex Meetings: Employees can share content and meet “face-to-face” virtually
Additionally, there is the human health side of a pandemic virus or other wide-spread event. By utilizing a Managed Services provider like BITS, our clients have had access to our deep bench of network and voice engineers, to assist in offloading internal IT staff - which is especially critical if employees are sick or taking care of family members.
With so many uncertainties surrounding the return to “business as usual”, BITS will continue to encourage our clients to focus on their business continuity and disaster recovery plans to ensure that, with little notice, they are able to continue to serve their customers and complete essential business functions from a remote location.
As more of our clients moved to work remotely, we saw an 800% increase in concurrent VPN usage from early-to-late-March.
To support this new way of working, BITS was able to quickly add additional equipment in our datacenter and balance clients among these devices for optimal connectivity and stability. We continue to monitor client usage and add additional equipment or services as necessary.
Advanced planning and execution are keys to ensuring that businesses can survive a natural disaster, technological failure, human error, or other disruptions – such as a pandemic like this.
A video message from BITS to our customers (link to https://youtu.be/x5HwTXhaBY8)