Winter Weather Preparedness: Considerations for Keeping Your Firm and Employees Operational This Winter
Anyone who lives in a region that regularly receives snow knows (and expects) that every winter brings the potential for experiencing disruption, delays, cancelations and closures to roads, buses, trains, boats and subways that transport people to and from work. (If you’re in the Boston area, you’re experiencing this today with the MBTA shutting down all rail service to clean up from more than 70 inches of snow in the last three weeks.) Snow storms don’t just affect transportation though; weather events can cause power outages, force evacuations, impact deliveries, and as we saw recently with Winter Storm Juno, can cause entire states to ban travel.
Impacts of heavy snow if traveling to work
Let’s consider some of the issues firms can face even if a travel ban isn’t in place and employees must attempt to make their way to the office.
Most people who commute to work know that adverse weather can have a major impact on their travel to and from the office. Regardless of the manner of transportation (car, rail, subway, boat, bus, etc.), all will most likely experience delays and present challenges for commuters during a snow storm. Delays, breakdowns, cancellations, and longer commuting times are very common throughout a storm and can still impact travel days after a storm concludes, leaving employees largely unable to work effectively if at all.
In any relationship, when things are good, they’re usually pretty good. And when things are bad, sometimes they are really bad. There may come a point when you need to evaluate whether you’re still a good fit together.
Just like with a romantic relationship, your firm’s connection to a service provider (especially an infrastructure/cloud provider you rely on daily) should be strong enough to withstand a few hiccups and healthy enough to warrant open communication at all times. In some cases, it might be clear that you’re in a good place and moving forward together, but sometimes there are sure signs it’s time to call it quits.
Here are a few of those signs:
1. Your provider’s service levels are not up to snuff.
Maybe you recently experienced a major service outage or find that you not-so-conveniently have to work around confusing and interrupting maintenance schedules during work hours. You’re constantly frustrated and don’t feel like you are receiving the level of support that was agreed to – both verbally and as part of your Service Level Agreement (SLA).
Your SLA should clearly indicate the uptime standard (e.g. 99.995% availability) as well as repercussions to any breaches in the contract (for example, service credits) and associated RPOs if disaster recovery is involved
Pzena Investment Management is a 16-year-old hedge fund with a solid return record and a reputation for business integrity, research excellence and devotion. With close to 70 employees between the New York headquarters and a representative office in Melbourne, Australia, the company relies upon its IT department and technology consultants to oversee its 80 computers and 30 virtualized servers. As a public company and reputable investment management firm, Pzena must be assured that its critical systems and applications, such as its portfolio accounting system, email service, Microsoft Office applications and Swift Connections, are operating properly on a 24x7x365 basis to ensure client needs are addressed promptly.
Seeking an IT Partner for the Future
In 2009, the firm decided the time had come to replace its existing technology consulting company. In its search for a new partner, Pzena reviewed the qualifications of several firms and gathered referrals from other companies in the investment management market. Based on this research and feedback, the firm chose Eze Castle Integration for its deep technology knowledge, worldwide support and the ability to leverage Eze Castle personnel as on-site system administrators.
Here we are again – at the end of another year and recapping some of the best and most popular posts from the Hedge IT Blog in 2012. This year, we spent a lot of time talking about cloud computing, security, and disaster recovery, among other topics.
As always, we welcome your feedback and would love to hear your suggestions for future articles on Hedge IT. In the meantime, we’ll continue to bring you new and interesting posts related to all of your favorite hedge fund technology topics.
At last, here is a recap of our most popular blog articles of 2012:
This year, we undertook a research study surveying 130 hedge funds and alternative investment firms in regards to their adoption of cloud technology. The results revealed that more than eight out of ten investment firms are either currently using or planning to use cloud computing services in the near future. This shift towards the cloud signifies a major trend in the financial services space as firms look to move away from costly on-premise technology infrastructures. You can download the complete survey report here.
Categorized under: Cloud Computing Disaster Recovery Security Hedge Fund Due Diligence Hedge Fund Operations Hedge Fund Regulation Help Desk Infrastructure Outsourcing Business Continuity Planning Trends We're Seeing
It’s no secret that hedge funds and investment firms have been divided over the use of public and private clouds for some time. We’ve discussed it in depth here on the Hedge IT Blog, explaining the differences between the two and why most funds are choosing to go with a private cloud solution.
A case can be made, however, that there’s a time and a place for each cloud platform and both offer their own advantages for hedge funds. We’ve taken a look at some of the key areas firms will consider when looking at public and private clouds and identified who we think takes the cake.
Service & Support
Investment firms demand uptime to ensure operational efficiency and profitability. Public cloud providers, however, do not offer hedge fund-specific IT support and rather have limited customer service representatives troubleshooting the most basic of email and desktop support issues.
A volatile economic environment, increased investor scrutiny and changing regulations have put the spotlight on organizational transparency and operational risk at investment firms. These factors, combined with the rising overhead costs inherent in owning, managing and monitoring a technology infrastructure and related services, have caused technology to take on a greater importance in recent years. It’s become a competitive differentiator and – with the explosive growth of cloud computing –a game-changer for funds’ operational strategies.
One major change we’re seeing within the industry is a trend toward outsourcing. In the past, we’ve discussed a number of outsourcing options, such as cloud computing, colocation, FIX connectivity and staffing. Today, let’s take a deeper dive into one aspect of outsourced staffing: leveraging a third-party help desk for day-to-day technology questions, systems management and troubleshooting.
As we mentioned in our Help Desk FAQs article a few weeks ago, we recently completed a comprehensive profile on our Help Desk team. This includes an in-depth look at all areas of the department, such as the various sub-groups housed within the Help Desk, the team’s client request escalation procedures, professional development and ongoing skills enhancement provided to all team members and more.
While completing this document, we also created a video depicting our Client Support Center and the team members in action. (You may also remember last year’s video, featuring our director of Help Desk services, Dan Kummer, and associate director, Andre Chinkan.) This year’s video introduces viewers to several members of the Eze Castle Help Desk staff, who take us through many of the team’s most important functions and services. Check it out!
Over the past few weeks, we have been hard at work putting together our submission for this year’s Help Desk Institute Team Excellence Awards. These awards honor top Help Desk teams that consistently demonstrate excellence in customer service and support, focusing specifically on the people, processes, and technologies of the teams.
In talking with our Help Desk leaders, specifically Dan Kummer (our Director of Help Desk Services) and Andre Chinkan (Associate Director), we identified a number of questions they hear repeatedly from our clients regarding what to expect when working with the Desk. So, to help clear some of these up, we’ve put together a set of Help Desk FAQs.
People take vacations. Companies don’t.
Hedge funds, just like most financial firms, need staff to run their technology, handle special projects, build (and manage) complex applications and of course execute core business activities. But in many cases it is not realistic or cost-effective to keep everything in-house. Enter outsourced staffing.
Outsourced staffing options for hedge funds abound. So let’s take a look at five common outsourcing practices, which we first introduced in our Technology Outsourcing Guidebook:
As next week’s SIFMA Financial Services Technology Expo approaches, we are gearing up for some great seminars featuring some of the industry’s leading experts. In preparation for the conference, we have been reviewing the conference agenda and sharing some of our top picks for the seminars to check out.
Earlier this week, we looked at such hot topics as Dodd-Frank compliance and cloud computing. For today’s post, we have compiled some interesting and informative SIFMA seminars on technology trends and the impact of social media that are sure to be a hit at SIFMA.