MultiValue Covid-19 Catchup – Revelation
ELKIE: How has Covid affected your daily internal way of working within Revelation?
Well, we’re based out of northern New Jersey, just outside of New York City, and are close to the hotspots. At that time, our local cases went from zero to tens to hundreds per day over a week. When our offices were closed by government order in early March, we were given about a day’s notice, so we scrambled to make sure staff had equipment and software to work from home. We had to make changes to invoicing and billing procedures – mostly making everything paperless – but still get into the offices to pick up physical mail, which was still being delivered. I would sneak into the offices, keep the lights out, feed the fish, check up on things, and if there were enough cars in the lot, I’d stay and work in the office.
ELKIE: What were your main challenges working through the Covid time?
With everyone out of the office, we needed to make changes to a lot of our infrastructure. We have tons of bandwidth into the servers, which are located in our offices, but our non-IT staff weren’t set up to work from home, so we had to scurry and get laptops, printers, even paper, to their homes. We used to send a number of invoices via regular mail, so we changed all of them to email. We received a bunch of payments via physical check, so we needed them to start paying electronically. We still get phone calls, so we had to route them to people’s homes or cell phones. We had a lot to do, and while it didn’t go perfectly, we made it work.
ELKIE: What were the main challenges that seemed to face your User Base?
We had quite the mix amongst our users. Some were pretty much business as usual – inside of essential businesses or industries, and employees kept working. Some had to scramble like we did, getting people remote access. Some had to let people go, and somehow transfer knowledge remotely. Others just had their business effectively disappear. Others had to hire. Everyone was having troubles – no business got through this unscathed.
ELKIE: How do you feel you managed to help your User Base through this?
We did what we could. We offered advice on working remotely to those customers who were having to do it for the first time. We waived late fees for those sites who were effectively shut down. For those sites that were still working, but were still figuring out how to get invoice handles and payments out, but their systems were expiring, we’d send temporary authorization codes that lasted for a few months until they were able to sort things out. We also had a price increase scheduled for the middle of 2020, and we’ve postponed that as well.
ELKIE: Any suggestions or support for your users how you can help moving forwards?
Oddly, I think that most small businesses should focus on documentation of procedures. With people being let go, and in some cases new ones being brought back on, we’re hearing a fair amount of talk from sites where one person had a lot of institutional knowledge in their head, and when they left, there were gaps in the operations. Not in the usual, every day, things going fine, but when exceptions came up, or processes that were run only once in a while. We were called in to look at code and see if we could figure out what was supposed to be going on and try to reverse-engineer processes from programs. These organizations could have saved a lot of time and money if they had up-to-date process documentation. And, always, have a continuity of operations plan in place, and keep it updated.
ELKIE: Any wonderful feel-good Covid stories to share from yourselves or your customers?
No real specific ones that I can think of. Mostly, I’ve been impressed by our customers, and their customers, who have figured out ways to keep going during the pandemic. Some, like those whose software manages restaurants, lost 80% of their business and somehow kept things going. Others, like those in healthcare, saw their usage go through the roof and needed to add more users.
ELKIE: Any positives to come out of the Covid times?
We’ve streamlined our internal operations a bit more, added some more automation, and done some more work enabling our customers to do more through the website, as far as making changes to their licensing, or ordering new software or upgrades.
ELKIE: What have been the effects so far on Revelation?
Our business is down a bit, as to be expected. A number of our customers' sites have decreased their number of users as their business has contracted. I suspect it’ll take a year or two for us to get back to where we were. Not really related to Covid, but happening about the same time, we had two of our great employees retire: Bob Catalano and Vickie Luppino. They had been with us for a long time, and they’ll both be missed.
ELKIE: Was there anything you changed / concentrated on during Covid? – e.g., OI 10.0.8 ?
We had one very big change, with our 10.0.8 release. We had started work on the release in September f 2019, and were ready to release in March of 2020, just as the pandemic was shutting things down all over the planet. So we withheld the release and kept working on it until its release in early August of this year. It was effectively a 10.0.8 release AND a 10.0.9 release rolled into one, and as a result, we’re planning on our next release to be 10.1.
ELKIE: What can you see in Revelation’s future? Maybe a RevSoft Conference in a new format?
Near term, we’ll keep working with our customers, helping them adjust to the ‘new normal’. I suspect there will be a lot more automation between clients and their customers – invoices via email, more interaction on off hours, or when no one’s in the office (and do we need offices anymore?) via the web, or even automated IVR systems, which we’ve helped a client interface into their OpenInsight system.
We’ll continue to develop the OpenInsight and O4W products, adding in functionality that we think is wanted, or comes from user requests, or from changing technological landscapes – new versions of Windows, or Network Technologies, or security requirements.
As far as conferences, we had been planning one for 2020/2021, but I don’t think that there’s a need, or a want, to get a bunch of developers and users from all over the world in the same few rooms right now. I foresee a few roadshows – virtual or in person – as the pandemic gets a bit better controlled.
I had been expecting a downturn in business here in the US. We’ve had an economic expansion since 2008 or 2009, and these don't last forever. We were ready for things to slow down – we just didn’t expect that to effectively come to a full stop! But we’re making it through, still supporting our clients, still creating software, and still going forward. We will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
ELKIE: Thank you, Mike, for your time and insights.