This pandemic has been already quite tough on our services and our projects. The extra effort required due to the huge increase in support requests has had a huge impact on our product release as well as customer project delays.
Network capacity wise (61%) we have managed to cope very easily since we were under-utilising our infrastructure after our last upgrade in August of 2019, our server capacity is now at 86% utilisation and we can afford to wait a little more before requiring new equipment.
I will break up individual projects and issues we are having currently in the following:
First pandemic for us, we will have something here for the next one.
We have always been very proud on the speed of which we resolve support tickets and requests for all of our customers. Since 2009 we have been proposing to customers to never buy our expedited ticket option since the difference in time to solution was less than 5 minutes. At the start of the pandemic a few clients chose to use the expedited support option to get faster response but this had the effect of extremely long times for free support customers.
In order to flatten the response times we eliminated the option of expedited support for all customers and we fully refunded even used tickets to all customers.
I believe this is the best option for everyone since it allows us to set ticket importance according to actual customer needs and everyone receives the same amount of support from us. Why is this happening?
It is pretty simple, everyone is at home, they have less things to do and they instead work on their online presence. It is interesting to see that web shops that would get a few updates per year before, now get updated as many times per day. The avg rate of web shop updates/changes has gone from 6.3 per year to 37.6 per day.
15th of Jan - 15th of Feb:
AVG Tickets per day: 73
15th of Feb - 15th of Mar:
AVG Tickets per day: 618
15th of Mar - 15th of Apr:
AVG Tickets per day: 802
Unfortunately our most important project will be delayed and we do not have an accurate estimate anymore, we hope it will be ready by October 2020 but we cant set it in stone yet. The main issue is lack of development time due to the support requests. How will this affect you our customer?
Technically not at all, the release is only bringing in new functionality, any security issues are backported in our previous release and we do not have any outstanding known issue.
The delay in providing this release is the worst result we could have had. The new management features are extremely important to our clients and you have been expecting them since February 2020. We are still fully committed in releasing ASAP but we are already 2 months over the delivery time and we expect this to be delayed at least 45 more days.
How can we fix this?
The easy answer would be to hire more people. But this is not a good solution Even though our requirements have increased to our current customers and we plan to keep offering free support instead of charging for it, our income has not increased proportionately. New purchases from companies have dropped to a trickle, if we exclude the new web shops getting made at an increased pace, everything else has been paused, spending is now at its lowest point ever, which forces us to pause spending too due to the uncertainty the next 16-24 months bring.
It is not that we do not have a perfect solution at this time, we do not have any solution, but we do the best we can under the circumstances.
Our plans for the future
We are extremely lucky that we have done our infrastructure update last year, and most importantly that we overdid it by quite a lot. If I could plan last years update with what I know now I would easily have doubled down even more on every part, man power, servers and network capacity.
Why? Because of the costs involved now, everything is more expensive by up to 15% and we expect it to go up to 22%, everything takes at least double the time to be delivered and integrated/installed, that cost can only be reflected to the final pricing to the customer who at this point either does not want to increase spending because of fear or due to lack of funding.
At this rate we will be able to add customers and services without issues till November 2020, at that point we will be up to server capacity, we already calculate a drop of 9% on on-boarding of new customers. We have a server order that is to be delivered on June 2020 that has been order and paid for already but the provider has informed us that we should expect it at early August instead. How will this affect you? It shouldn't, we are a private owned company, we are profitable since 2012 and we own zero debt inducing assets as well as zero loans. We have the capability to keep fully functioning for many many years without any issues with up to 36% of our customer base (assuming the same costs as now).
We hope this pandemic will make us all collectively stronger and smarter in the future.