The sudden twist of fate has made us all superheroes and staying at home means saving the world. Evidently, this is life as we have never known before. Although COVID19 has taken a heavy toll on life and business at large, it has also taught us a very hard lesson in terms of prioritizing our activities. Yes, life and businesses are disrupting everywhere and working from home has become the new normal. But what about business continuity? How are we handling knowledge transfer? What are we doing about skill set allocation and resource management?

While the talk of possible extension of the lockdown might sound ominous, this can be an opportunity for ISVs to undertake a slew of measures that might prove useful when the pandemic is over. From adopting a failsafe BCP strategy to automation, the following initiatives will help both small and large ISVs to cope with the current crisis.

Re-prioritizing backlogs with focus on immediate business value: From a client’s point of view, stability and security fixes might seem to be the most pressing concern right now, but for agile software development, (re)prioritizing backlogs is also an important exercise.

In the current scenario, it is important that agile teams re-prioritize the goals for the year. This lockdown is an opportunity to fix the bugs that have accumulated over time. These are low risk initiatives and can be undertaken by all the team members until they mature as a distributed agile squad. This will optimize your costs even if your customers are impacted by the lockdown and are not utilizing your products/services fully.  Teams can get back to big bang feature development once the lockdown is over.

Utilizing collaboration tools: Managers can manage their geographically distributed teams effectively by using collaboration tools like Microsoft teams and Slack. The most striking features of these collaboration tools are accessibility, user security, communicability, and multi functionality. Collaboration tools give teams a transparent, automated, and centralized environment which in turn will help them achieve their goals.

Video calling for internal communication customer calls has been found to be more effective compared to audio only calls. Video calling for social meetings like lunch and tea breaks will help improve morale.

Strategizing a good BCP based on the current lessons learned: Large ISVs usually have sophisticated Business Continuity Plans (BCP) to face crises, but smaller ISVs rarely have them in place. Unlike floods and fires, the COVID-19 pandemic has not affected the infrastructure that sustains the IT industry. This is an opportunity for both the production and non-production teams in an organization to switch to cloud and avoid business risks. In some cases, secure access to production systems has to be enabled through VPN to authorized team members.

In addition, Aspire has introduced practices like daily logging of time sheets and tracking by leads to ensure there is greater focus and the team stays committed to the project goals.

Focusing on automation for remote workplaces: Given the current conditions, distributed agile may become the norm and hence teams should focus on automation initiatives now to improve productivity. Automated testing can shorten software development cycles and improve the quality of the product.

Similarly, continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) tools like Jenkins and DevOps tools like Kubernetes can automate the release processes. These tools can enable you to release your products and implement changes anytime to suit your business requirements.

Conclusion

While the ISVs around the world are feeling the heat of the pandemic, it is important to adapt and be flexible to ensure that our businesses are not adversely impacted. These are times that warrant creative solutions from our part and improving the way our teams work together can make a difference.

Pradeep Kirthivasan

Project Manager, Sales Enablement at Aspire Systems