Managing during crisis
Unanet adapts to 24/7 customer support for their project management software.
Virginia Business virtually sat down with Craig Halliday, CEO of Dulles-based software company Unanet, which provides project management software, timesheet software, expense reporting software and other human resources software to federal government contractors, architects and engineers. This is part of an ongoing series of conversations with Virginians about how their work lives and businesses have changed during the pandemic.
Virginia Business: How has business changed for Unanet during the crisis?
Halliday: Overall, because we’re a cloud-based company, we haven’t noticed a huge change. It’s really just been more about making sure that we keep our customers going and making sure that we take care of our employees and that they have everything they need to work remotely.
However, we have seen a very large change in the last month. We were just in the process to launch our 24/7 support, so the timing of that was excellent as it related to our customers because they do need a lot of support right now.
What we’re seeing from our customers is a large increase in the amount of support they need to deal with the new provisions and the new legislation coming out: how they need to record time, record expenses and be able to report on that. A lot of our customers are government contractors, so need to have DCAA [Defense Contract Audit Agency] compliance. They have quite strict government reporting deadlines.
VB: What new legislation are federal government contractors having to respond to?
Halliday: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act [which allows private employers with fewer than 500 employees to keep workers on payroll by reimbursing employers with tax credits for the cost of providing employees with paid sick leave related to COVID-19], especially for our customers who have less than 500 employees. There will be quite a few of those provisions that will apply to them and they will be able to support their employees and also get some relief from the government. But they need to be sure they’re tracking things appropriately.
VB: What has the bandwidth looked like in terms of cloud storage?
Halliday: Bandwidth has not been a problem. Honestly we haven’t missed a beat. That’s not to say that as things go on there won’t be increased loads.
VB: How have employees adapted to supporting clients around the clock?
Halliday: There’s been a large increase in the amount of calls to our support line, especially to help with how to adapt to new provisions. We’ve been putting articles out there about how you deal with it. We have a customer forum where customers can go in and interact. We’re also doing a lot of customer surveys saying, “What do you need this week?” Because last week was last week, this week is this week. Everything is changing very rapidly, so [we’re asking,] “What do you need from us now?”
VB: Have you noticed clients using project planning software differently?
Halliday: We [sell] project planning software both to government contractors and architects and engineers. They’re planning and replanning their projects. Having those resources right now is good for them. We’re seeing a lot of the architects and engineers getting their projects [moving], but then waiting and seeing [what happens next]. Similarly, for government contractors, they have to plan and replan their work right now, and we have to support them to do that.
VB: Have any new customers reached out during the crisis?
Halliday: We’re seeing a lot of interest in the products we’ve got, but we’re really focused right now in supporting our current customers and making sure that they can do what they need to do. Everybody now is realizing that they should be on the cloud, so any of our customers who are not fully cloud-enabled are certainly wanting to make sure that they are. For example, we created an invoicing module that we just released and we’re seeing interest in that because people want to be able to be efficient in getting the bills out and making sure that they can automate a lot of these things, which are somewhat impacted by remote working.
VB: How have your employees responded to the increased workload?
Halliday: On the support side, they’ve been busier than usual. On our development side, we’re just continuing as usual. There’s an impact of working remotely, especially for families with kids. With kids not being at school, that has an impact. There’s no doubt. We need to support our employees to make sure that they can take care of them. We’re just doing a lot more virtual meetings. We have a virtual happy hour tomorrow and making a point of having these employee communications where everybody is in contact with everyone else. I think it’s very important for morale and to keep everyone connected.