Transitioning To A Remote Work Program

July 21, 2020
As COVID-19 brought stay-at-home orders across the country, Mesa Water District® sought to leverage their IT architecture and operational management model to quickly implement strategies to remotely manage water utility operations.

Times of uncertainty favor the well prepared. As COVID-19 brought stay-at-home orders across the country, Mesa Water District® (Mesa Water), which provides essential water services to more than 110,000 Southern California residents, sought to leverage their IT architecture and operational management model to quickly implement strategies to remotely manage and operate with minimal operational disruptions.

Historically, Mesa Water’s operational staff has performed all their day-to-day operational tasks from its headquarters in Costa Mesa, Calif. Remote IT services were limited to its field service personnel, remote 24/7 water service monitoring and the capability to work remotely during off-hours or when traveling. The pandemic required the water district to quickly transition to a nearly 100 percent remote workforce almost overnight, without disrupting providing clean, safe and reliable water to their many customers.

“Our ability to leverage our existing IT capabilities to support this timely transition was a critical success factor to meeting the challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Denise Garcia, Mesa Water administrative services manager. “This was imperative for our organization to continue our key objective of providing clean, safe and reliable water supply to our customers.”

As a part of a five year IT strategic plan, Mesa Water effectively collaborated with their long-standing IT partner, T2 Tech Group, to invest in and implement a best practice IT architecture and operational management model in 2015 to support the organization’s strategic initiatives.

Together, Mesa Water and T2 Tech were able to quickly — within three days — complete a comprehensive audit and assess how they would leverage existing IT capabilities to transition their operational model to virtually manage employees, systems, equipment and customer needs. Recognizing the scale and magnitude of such a transition, the team utilized a hybrid agile methodology approach that consists of a refined waterfall strategy and agile-based execution, allowing the team to map out initial steps and still flexibly work with unexpected problems. Using this strategy, the team quickly developed a plan and solution to move the Mesa Water’s staff remote without interrupting service to their customers.

T2 Tech leveraged its vast network of IT suppliers and negotiating practices to acquire all of the laptops needed to support the entire organization within 24 hours.

Once the required laptops were secured, Mesa Water and T2 Tech collaborated on a successful transition to a remote workforce operating model, implementing the necessary policies and processes to enable remote access to Mesa Water IT services by utilizing only company-issued standard laptop hardware and applications.

This enabled T2 Tech to leverage their remote staff IT management tool set to implement a solution to secure, manage, and monitor both the laptop devices and other variables such as the quality of individual staff internet services and data security for misplaced devices.

T2 Tech was also able to leverage its remote staff IT management tool set to provide Mesa Water staff remote support for their transition to their new workspace and IT devices.

Constant communication between groups, including daily scrums and end-of-day retrospectives were required to support the urgent, dynamic nature of this challenge to provide a safe work environment during this pandemic. Project dashboards were developed for real-time progress tracking of each device as they were configured and provided to Mesa Water staff. As part of this process, each device was properly inventoried, documented and added to the IT operations management and monitoring environment.

The provisioning process was designed to provide orientation and training sessions aligned with staff’s specific department operating procedures. This process was also executed with a no-contact process, safe distancing, sanitizing and taking the necessary precautions for employees to collect and receive training on their new IT devices.

Following all CDC guidelines, T2 Tech trained half of the company on the new devices in one week, and the second half of the company the following week, allowing the entire organization to completely shift to the new remote work program within two weeks.

Kevin Torf, managing partner of T2 Tech Group, articulated the learnings from this process: “During a transition to a virtual workplace, it’s important for organizations to expect certain shifts in company culture, such as unforeseeable issues surrounding IT hardware and connectivity. As part of making this transition for Mesa Water District, the T2 Tech team of experts helped leadership confront these challenges head-on with understanding, flexibility, and most importantly, solutions.”

  Mesa Water has not only adapted its entire business operation to the current crisis, but now also has a forward-thinking approach to the future of Mesa Water’s workforce, should additional transitions be required in the future. By resisting any shortcuts during the transition to Mesa Water’s remote work program, T2 Tech was able to take the deployment a step further to implement lasting solutions. WW

About the Author

Robert Konishi

Robert Konishi, co-founder and managing partner of T2 Tech Group, is a results-driven technology executive with a career spanning more than 20 years in the IT industry.