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Coronavirus/Covid-19 Crisis: Management and Communication For WFH Teams

Project Management and WFH

Project management is key for success in a distributed work environment. Maintaining clear lines of communication between remote resources and keeping teams upstream well informed of progress, risks, and timelines are among a successful project manager’s main goals and focus. Set your project managers up for success by arming them with tools that facilitate project organization and structured communication.

The Right Project Management Platform

Project management has always been core to Victory’s success. Many companies struggle with the basics. In the past, Victory encountered scenarios where multiple project management tools were used in a single department (not to mention company wide), or not used at all. Synchronizing the status of any given project was a regrettable (and expensive) manual process in both cases, and confusion regularly reigned supreme.

Selecting and properly implementing a project management platform is incredibly important, there are numerous project management tools, which is best for your organization? It’s tempting to jump at the first seemingly attractive solution if you are scrambling, but this can be detrimental and dangerous. Victory has seen tremendous success from organizations that optimize their platform selection prior to implementation, avoiding multiple expensive change management cycles in the future. Here are some best practices for platform selection:


  1. Engage stakeholders company-wide to find the functionality that increases productivity and communication for everyone
  2. Check integration points (APIs or native) that allow project management to automatically send data to other platforms already in use, keeping everyone in sync and improving efficiency. Example integrations include:
  • CRM,
  • Payroll
  • Business Intelligence
  • HR & Staffing
  • Resource Scheduling
  • Project Estimation and Timelines
  • and more...
  1. Create a matrix based on criteria collected from stakeholders and rate each platform under consideration, have multiple people rate each platform. This is valuable for discussion, tracking requirements, and ultimately decision making.

Communication

Internal communication becomes increasingly challenging as an organization grows. Removing the proximity that everyone takes for granted at a physical office for quick answers and your newly remote team is already at a disadvantage. Here are some best practices we’ve found to ease the transition for team members who are suddenly remote work from home for the first time.

“What should I work on now? What should I work on next?”

Projects & Tasks As mentioned, having a well defined and organized project management platform facilitates threaded communication for specific tasks and projects. This provides a single source of truth for what needs to happen next and answers the eternal question “What should I be working on now?”

Business Continuity Teams having traditionally relied on proximity for interaction and direction to date will suddenly require more coordination. Over communication at this juncture is not a bad thing and methods like daily "stand up" meetings work for more than just teams of engineers.

Team Member Sanity Team members who have not worked remotely for extensive periods of time will require additional interaction until they nail down their "remote routine". Extensive anecdotal research indicates that it takes 1-2 weeks for first time remote workers to mentally get into the groove and be productive when working remotely for the first time.

Video Conferencing If not already in place is critical for your team, this is the time to review the organizations needs and solutions. In addition to improving overall communication, systems that have screen sharing and other features enable efficient communication in meetings by keeping everyone on the same page.

Chat / Instant Messaging There are many options here too. As organizations grow, we find that more and more communication happens in the context of the project management platform. The PM platform keeps questions and conversations contextually relevant, captures information for people not included in the immediate conversation, and does not lose information as part of an overloaded thread.


Victory has over a decade of experience helping distributed teams stay securely connected, operational, and productive. Victory’s Remote Team / Work from Home security solutions help clients navigate and seamlessly deploy flexible and secure remote work environments. Victory’s all domestic team combines operational savvy with strategic and tactical experience to transform businesses globally.

Coronavirus/Covid-19 Crisis: Security For Your Suddenly WFH Team


3/22/2020 UPDATE: The Victory Consortium is working on a series of how-to videos to help businesses set up their own secure remote worker policy and VPN. So stay tuned, but in the mean time the following is a quick run down of best practices.


Best Practices: WFH Security

For over a decade prior to Coronavirus/Covid-19, Victory has been enabling remote teams for SMB and Enterprise companies. Based on our experience here are some best practices that have historically lent themselves to a successful evolution to an all remote workforce, or Work From Home (WFH) team.

It’s not an emergency until it IS…

The United States took COVID-19 seriously on a Friday - and even then most people thought they would go to work as usual on Monday. Many businesses did not plan for their team to be entirely remote but here we are. Later we will showcase a Victory client that made the switch from fully on site to fully remote as the crisis was hitting home.

What’s next?

The office is a walled garden - IT controls what comes in and out at the perimeter and keeps things reasonably safe. Outside of those walls, however, it becomes more challenging. Your team members’ homes are not necessarily any more secure than a public hotspot. The following two technologies allow teams to securely connect to business networks from home, the right solution depends on they size and nature of your business.

Virtual Private Networks (VPN)

A Non-Technical Definition of VPN:

VPNs create a secure connection to external networks, like to the one at your office, across the internet. Connecting to the internet on public wifi (think coffee shop) without a VPN, means that when your computer sends and recieves messages they are unencrypted and could be intercepted, which is a security risk.

There are a lot of public VPN services out there which will protect you when on public or untrusted networks; here is a list. Configuration for your specific security needs is critical. As a baseline, make sure that your VPN includes local network isolation (often called local firewall) so that your computer is fully isolated from the local network.

“Everyone should have a VPN on every device - period.“

  • Every IT Professional Ever

But that's not the point of this article - this is about allowing your people to work on corporate systems securely. Many companies rely on whitelisted IP addresses or local networks, especially to secure legacy systems. To allow your people to log in you need a corporate VPN - which can be very expensive and complex. Victory can help you navigate OpenVPN, Algo and other solutions that not only meet your needs but also your budget. Victory can implement solutions in a short time on commodity hardware and allow your employees to log in to the office network and be in the office virtually.

Secure Remote Desktops (SRD)

First, as a light case study: Victory was recently called on to mobilize a 50+ team member Suddenly Remote Workforce mentioned at the beginning of this article. For security’s sake to date, everyone was required to work on premises because the company handles sensitive financial data. However, due to coronavirus, the state mandated they close the office immediately, leaving the company stranded without any course of action to restore productivity.

Victory was engaged to implement an already-in-a-disaster recovery & backup plan, and as always, time was literally money. Victory accomplished this by creating a Secure Virtual Office using Amazon Web Services (AWS) Workspaces. In a controlled rollout on Monday, 10% of the workforce logged into Secure Remote Desktops from home. On Tuesday, the office was closed and the remainder of the employees migrated to SRDs from home. With seamless continuity, the business didn’t skip a beat.

Secure Remote Desktops (SRD) are one of the most secure ways to address security concerns for a remote team.

There are some distinct advantages to SRDs:

  • SRDs can be managed by the same Directory service as the main office - user roles, permissions and even drive contents will transfer seamlessly
  • Connection to the SRD is a secure encrypted tunnel
  • Files on the SRD cannot be downloaded to the user’s device
  • You can connect from a Windows or Mac Laptop, iPad, iPhone, Android Phone or Tablet
  • The desktop itself is connected to one of the fastest and most durable connections possible

Note: SRDs dovetail with Victory’s Azure Active Directory offering. If you have Active Directory on premise we can migrate to the Cloud and add SRDs at the same time, and they are available in AWS or Azure cloud. With Azure AD security can be implemented down to the document.


Victory has over a decade of experience helping distributed teams stay securely connected, operational, and productive. Victory’s Remote Team / Work from Home security solutions help clients navigate and seamlessly deploy flexible and secure remote work environments. Victory’s all domestic team combines operational savvy with strategic and tactical experience to transform businesses globally.


[Announcement] Data Science Services | VICTORY

Is your data drowning you - or is it being ignored?

Companies are sitting on a tremendous amount of valuable data from many different sources, but are intimidated by the prospect of turning that data into actionable insights or innovative data-driven products.

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  1. Understand the data you have
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How It Works

Understanding the data you have requires only a few samples of all the different sources of data you currently store. Our team will examine each of the fields, detailing how we might merge or enhance each of those with additional data.

The team will work with you to assess your current business needs, and discover where new data models and products could help fill gaps in efficiency or even to create completely new revenue streams.

The Outcome

Our data scientists will use the latest scalable data science approaches to rapidly prototype analytics deliverables based on your data, which can take the form of reports and visualizations for customers or internal web applications that can empower your internal teams to work faster and create value for you and your customers.

The end result is clear and actionable insights that can drive value for your business starting immediately.

Learn more about our Data Science Services or contact us at data.science@victorycto.com.