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Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 5:00pm ET
We send our greatest sympathy to those families, businesses and communities who have had their health affected by the global spread of COVID-19. We hope that each of you is navigating the current environment safely and effectively. The following is an update with respect to Abacus Group addressing current concerns around COVID-19. We are committed to doing our very best to continue to provide the highest levels of service possible to our clients during this difficult time. Our Abacus Pandemic Committee, which is comprised of the most senior individuals at Abacus, has been meeting on a regular basis to address the evolving information on COVID-19, and plan accordingly.
We recognize this is a challenging time with respect to addressing the risks and concerns around COVID-19, and we are very much prioritizing the safety and health of all Abacus employees, as well as the health of the employees of our clients. We are asking our clients to communicate with Abacus not only around any risks that may exist within your firm, but also with respect to any technology needs that you may have. If you have any questions at all, please reach out to your account manager and we will work to get you the information you need.
IMPORTANT: If you are an Abacus client, please contact the Abacus helpdesk IMMEDIATELY if you or anyone in your firm has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or come into contact with someone who has COVID-19.
As of Wednesday, May 13, 2020 at 12:00pm ET:
To protect the health and safety of our employees and clients, until further notice, we are keeping all Abacus physical offices in both the US and the UK closed, and are continuing to suspend all on-site visits to client sites.
In the meantime, we are actively preparing for the day when we can safely allow employees to return to our offices and client sites, and are confident we will be ready when that time comes. As part of this, we need to be aware of when our clients feel they will safely be able to start having some of their employees return to physical offices. To plan for this, we have started sending out a BCP survey to clients asking about expected return to office timing, and will continue to do so periodically to keep apprised as situations evolve.
BCP Survey results from Friday, May 8, 2020 (US clients only; 130+ respondents):
As expected, the number of our client users who have shifted to working remotely has increased dramatically. We can see this by several data points within our infrastructure workload usage.
As of Friday, March 27, 2020 at 5:00pm ET:
The graph below shows the trend in VPN usage over the last 5 weeks, with significant increase in VPN usage starting the week of March 9th:
By the end of the day on Thursday, March 12th, we experienced an all-time high of new service tickets created in one day. We anticipated this significant increase in ticket volume as clients started planning to move their employees to work from home.
We added 4x more support shifts than usual, as well as more escalation resources, for over the weekend to be ready for even more clients to start exercising BCP protocols to have their employees ready for work from home starting the morning of Monday, March 16. The number of service tickets increased by more than 2-fold than usual over the weekend.
The resolve and closure rate of our tickets remains inline with new ticket creation despite high volumes.
The graph below shows the trend in our NEW SERVICE TICKET VOLUME over the last 5 weeks:
As of Friday, March 27, 2020 at 5:00pm ET:
We are periodically asking our clients to let us know the status of whether they are continuing to work from their office sites and/or have moved to working from home. This helps our support team with planning on how to be prepared to best service our clients in this quickly changing environment. Clients have asked that we share this data in aggregate to have visibility into what decisions other firms are making as they decide when and how to move into a business continuity planning phase and office closures.
NOTE - as of Friday, March 27: Given that the majority of our clients are located in areas impacted by government-mandated stay-at-home orders, we have ceased sending client office status surveys, and will restart these surveys when appropriate. We greatly appreciate that our clients submitted survey responses - they have been very useful to understand consensus and adjust our strategy to best support our clients.
Last survey data collected, as of Friday, March 20, 2020 at 2:00pm ET:
1. Business As Usual (BAU) & Testing BCP = Continuing to monitor, preparing and testing for working from home scenario.
2. Opt-In Working From Home = Working from home is available to staff but not enforced
3. Office Closure - Partial = Office is separated with staff working from home or the office
4. Office Closure - Full = Office is closed until further notice, all staff are to work from home
Note that even if one (or all) of our office locations close, our teams are equipped to continue providing support to our clients from remote locations 24/7.
NOTE - as of Friday, March 27: At this time all of our Abacus office locations remain closed with 100% of our employees working from home, until further notice.
As of Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 11:30am ET:
Boston – CLOSED – 4. Office Closure - Full
Charlotte – CLOSED – 4. Office Closure - Full
Connecticut – CLOSED – 4. Office Closure - Full
Dallas/Frisco – CLOSED – 4. Office Closure - Full
London – CLOSED – 4. Office Closure - Full
Los Angeles – CLOSED – 4. Office Closure - Full
New York – CLOSED – 4. Office Closure - Full
San Francisco – CLOSED – 4. Office Closure - Full
We regularly maintain and update our Business Continuity Plan, located on the Abacus Portal (https://portal.accessabacus.com/apps/documents/view/). Our BCP document defines geographically dispersed and relevant stakeholders who can initiate business continuity processes. Our personnel are trained on remote access technologies and disaster recovery preparedness. We routinely test our internal systems, including our emergency notification and remote access capabilities.
To further validate our past tests, we performed rolling department-level BCP tests starting in early March to ensure that our teams could operate in a purely remote fashion.
We have designed our environment to handle and scale to increased workloads, and with several layers of redundancy and growth on a day to day basis. However, we have taken specific steps to ensure that our platform operates as expected during this period:
Individual teams have tested their ability to work remotely to ensure that in the event we do have to close any of our office locations that we can continue to operate normally. For employees who typically directly engage with clients, we have taken the following action:
Establish an appropriate work-from-home policy so staff feel empowered to do the right thing. Familiarize your staff with Abacus remote access technologies (https://www.abacusgroupllc.com/login) to minimize disruptions when the need to work-from-home arises. Submit tickets for non-urgent requests instead of calling into the helpdesk. When submitting urgent tickets, please be patient with us as we are experiencing extremely high call volumes. Ensure that your employees are familiar with the Abacus helpdesk contact information:
firstname.lastname@example.org | US: 866-997-3999 | UK: +44 (0) 207-936-1799
Encourage your users to remain vigilant and take precautions specifically linked to Coronavirus phishing scams. Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails and be wary of email attachments. Use trusted sources, such as legitimate government websites (https://www.cisa.gov/insights) for up-to-date, fact-based information about COVID-19. Do not reveal personal or financial information in email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information. Lastly, adopt two-factor authentication, VPNs and other security measures to protect remote workers’ connections.
If you are an Abacus client, please be sure to read and respond to emails sent from email@example.com. Abacus utilizes this account to quickly distribute important notifications. Ensure that decision makers are opted-in to receive notifications on the Abacus Portal (https://portal.accessabacus.com/apps/contacts/contacts). Feel free to distribute messages to your users as you deem necessary. Call us if the matter is urgent and your email has not received a timely response. Internally, the Abacus Pandemic Committee is meeting daily to address the situation. In addition to client notices, we’re working to educate and protect Abacus employees.