Pandemic Pivot

Pandemic Pivot


In the beginning

On Friday, March 13, the USA declared a national emergency as the coronavirus outbreak hit the country.  The US Defense Department halted all military domestic travel, large in-person events and concerts were cancelled, and bars, restaurants and small retail businesses began to struggle.

None of us knew what to expect as the pandemic still appeared to be far from our own backyards—there were less than 50 confirmed cases in Pennsylvania at that time.  However, at VerisVisalign, we didn’t want to take any chances with our employees or our clients.  So, we decided to send everyone home to work remotely.

For many organizations operating with on-premise technology infrastructures, this demand for immediate digital transformation was a challenge.  For VerisVisalign, on the other hand, thanks to our reliance on Microsoft platforms, we made the transition smoothly and seamlessly.

When the Pennsylvania stay-at-home order went into effect on April 2, we had already made the shift.  It also allowed us to support our clients, and some “friends of friends/clients,” who were not completely ready to transition to work from home for everyone.

Key factors

Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams played a large part in our confidence transitioning to working from home—securely and safely. With M365, we had three key pillars in place:

  • Identity protection. With multifactor authentication (MFA) enabled, accounts are up to 99.9% less likely to be compromised. This is because passwords are easily compromised by phishing, social engineering, poor user habits, and persistent attacks. MFA immediately increases account security by requiring multiple forms of verification when signing into an application.
  • Email protection. With Exchange Online Protection, our email is protected against spam, viruses, and phishing attacks. Auto-forwarding of emails is blocked. Email authentication prevents spoofing of the domain and reduces phishing and other unauthentic emails from other domains. With Microsoft Defender for Office 365 enabled, email threats are prevented in real-time by using intelligent systems that inspect attachments and links for malicious content.
  • Information governance. Configuration of DLP provides protection against accidental leakage of data, and policies are in place for retention of data.

As long-time users of SharePoint online, and having used Teams extensively for months, we had the foundation in place for remote collaboration. We also followed Microsoft guidance for governance, oversight and configuring Microsoft Teams as follows:

     Configure Teams Security:   Settings

Teams governance (to allow users to create Teams on their own)

  Restrict groups settings

Guest access (to allow external users to fully participate in teams & channels)

  Enabled

External chat (to allow external users to initiate chat)

  Restricted

3rd party cloud storage

  Off

Meeting policy and settings

  Block anonymous

Messaging policy

  Defaults

OneDrive for Business sharing

  Require login

Migrate files to Teams & OneDrive for Business (to enable recovery)

  Required

Our phone system was built on Skype for Business and had already been migrated to Teams / Microsoft Phone System. This allowed our employees and our Service Desk to operate from home transparently. Agents could easily be added or removed from call queues as needed to address changes in call volume and arrival patterns, and our back-office staff were still reachable via their work numbers without issue.

The results

In just one day, we changed into a work from home model, and we have not looked back. With Microsoft 365, Microsoft Phone System, and Microsoft Teams we successfully made the critical transition and digital transformation in record time.

If you’d like to learn from our personal experience and hear more about our Microsoft expertise, please contact toddstuchlik@verisvisalign.com.