Ensuring business continuity amidst work-from-home

Being FY closing, it was critical that all departments at Apollo Tyres were able to work together seamlessly for business continuity.

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Business Continuity amidst-work-from-home

Being FY closing, it was critical that all departments at Apollo Tyres were able to work together seamlessly. It was also important to ensure that the company continued to service its partners without disruption.


By Neeraj Mehta

The world is going through some unprecedented times, and we are in unchartered waters. It is time for everyone to work together and get over the disruption caused by COVID-19. Luckily for us, even before the lockdown was announced, some of our employees, especially those working in offices, had been put on a weekly roster and others who had a travel history were working from home.


While dealing with the requirement of the employees who had started to work from home, we started to prepare for what lay ahead of us in terms of IT and communication infrastructure requirement. A quick discussion with business teams and senior management helped us identify the areas where business continuity was critical.

Apollo Tyres primarily follows the B2B sales process and so we identified the process areas like ‘order to cash’. This area has two touchpoints: one is through the telephone, which is managed by the dedicated Call Centre. To deal with this, we identified the components of the Call Centre that required continuity and provided executives with laptops and data cards so that they can work from home.

To ensure there is no disruption in their services, we decided to divert the Call Centre telephone extensions to the individual mobile phone numbers. Using the laptop and data card, the executives connect to the VPN from their home network, log into the company’s CRM of the through it, and continue to book orders received on the phones from the dealers.


The second touchpoint is our B2B (Sampark) Portal. This portal is already available to all our dealers through the web. Our team encourages dealers to make maximum use of this portal and the Apollo Sampark App to place an order and call the agents only if they face a problem.

Keeping the back office running

To keep the organization running, it was important to ensure the seamless back-office operation and we facilitated this by extending VPN to all the users. March being the year-end period, and since the lockdown came into effect from 25th, it was critical for us to ensure that finance, accounts, commercial and supply chain teams are able to work together for proper closure of the financial year account and the books. Hence, all users who were working on desktops were provided with laptops and data cards. VPN was enabled for everyone so that they can access the ERP and other core business applications needed for the job.

To keep the organization running, it was important to ensure seamless back-office operation and we facilitated this by extending VPN to all the users.


As part of the business continuity strategy, all employees have been allowed to access their departmental data on functional shared drives. All users have been made aware of the variable speed of their home networks and the probability of choking of their bandwidth, and the need to remain patient while working. March is also a month when the annual performance review of our employees happens. To facilitate this, all HR partners have been given VPN access to their shared drives to seamlessly work on the annual performance review cycle.

Ensuring data security

While opening the core, restricted areas for work from home, we have taken utmost care about the protection from possible data leakage. Users have been advised not to download data on their personal machines and all large queries, and report creations are being monitored by the Business Applications support teams.

Business Heads have also been advised not to ask for too big and complex reports. All the large file transfer, from, and to the shared drive folders, have been restricted using firewalls, while we are using DLP tools to monitor any possible data leak through emails. Users have been advised to keep the Operating System and anti-virus patches up-to-date, while the password reset policy has been tweaked to ensure that reset of password doesn’t restrict the users to work from home and they are allowed to reset it using self-help tools.


Collaboration and network support

For an organization to work seamlessly, it is important to have a robust collaboration tool. To achieve this, we enabled Zoom video-conferencing tool for all users. This will help employees across all functions to connect and collaborate within, and with other functions, during the lockdown phase and for smooth working from home.

To provide complete digital infrastructure support, we have redirected the IT helpdesk numbers to their respective mobile phones so that users can call the engineers and take remote help. A status quo has been maintained on all the business applications in the production environment and no new patches/features are being rolled out. This is to minimize complexities of breakdown, users training and hand-holding.

We are also ensuring that all the systems that enable VPN and core applications are patched regularly. This is aimed to eliminate any vulnerability. While all incidents of brute force attack or attempt of intrusion are also being addressed immediately, all the firewalls are also being patched regularly by the Security Operations Centre, which is also being managed remotely. The capacity of MPLS and traditional internet leased lines or ILL are being monitored continuously by our Network Operations Centre; this is also managed by engineers remotely.


On the data backup front, all backups on disk are being monitored, but backups on tapes where physical rotation of tapes is required to avoid regular rewrite on the same tapes have been stopped. Besides, we have put in place systems to monitor and control all the network access, and web traffic is being filtered to avoid any threat or misuse.

Connectivity is the lifeline of any organization, more so when all employees in the organizations are on mandatory work-from-home. Hence, all third party consultants have also been provided with limited VPN access to our development and quality environments so that can continue to work on existing projects and application. This will help us avoid unnecessary loss due to delays in projects go-live dates.

The author Neeraj Mehta is the Head of Corporate IT at Apollo Tyres Ltd

The article was first published in the April 2020 print edition of Voice&Data