From lawyers to power engineers: how to switch factory to remote management

Since the beginning of April, most of the “office” tasks at Kazanorgsintez are being solved from home

From lawyers to power engineers: how to switch factory to remote management
Photo: Kazanorgsintez PJSC

Kazanorgsintez has become one of the few enterprises in Tatarstan that continued to produce products despite the non-working days and self-isolation regime. It is difficult to stop a continuous production cycle, and Kazanorgsintez's products are in demand in the fight against coronavirus. However, Kazanorgsintez has accepted the new rules. And if the operating mode on the industrial site has not changed, the management has been sent home. However, all business processes have been preserved. Anatoly Stroev, the chief specialist of Kazanorgsintez PJSC for information technologies and automated control systems and metrology, told about how to transfer the management of the huge chemical complex to remote work.

Remote work in eight days

Anatoly Gennadievich, the events in Russia with the spread of coronavirus developed quite rapidly, was the decision to transfer some of the staff to remote work taken by surprise and how quickly was it possible to do this?

We first began to seriously discuss the organization of remote work in early March, when the world began to introduce a quarantine regime. Technical options and the cost of such transfer were evaluated. After the announcement at the end of March of the beginning of self-isolation regime, the employees of the information technology department of Kazanorgsintez (UIT) began preparing and implementing a solution for remote access of employees.

The entire preparation process took eight working days from the moment of discussion to the first user's connection. Such short deadlines were achieved due to that our company has been implementing such system for many years, but previously it was used only for a small number of employees. Therefore, we had to scale it urgently and reconfigure it for a large number of users.

Were contractors involved from outside or did they decide everything on their own?

All the work was carried out by UIT's own forces. During the first week of self-isolation, specialists from the UIT systems administration department (OAS) were preparing the infrastructure from home. In the second week, specialists of the workplace support sector of the technical support department (SSRM OTP) of the UIT have already joined the process of transferring to remote work. No other specialists or contractors were involved. There were six employees in total.

We used both new and old servers

Which divisions were transferred to remote work? How many employees?

To date, about 300 employees have been transferred to full-time remote work. These are mainly divisions of the plant management, such as accounting, commerce, finance, UIT, legal department, technical department, production department, press service, department of the chief power engineer, OSBO. But this number is growing, and new requests for remote access connection are received almost every day.

All employees transferred to remote are working from their home computers

Have the equipment been provided to employees?

No. All employees transferred to remote are working from their home computers.

Did it require additional resources: purchase of new licenses, expansion of server capacity, purchase of equipment?

Additional licenses and equipment did not need to be purchased. Due to the fact that last winter new powerful servers were purchased for the virtualization system (VMware vSAN) to replace the outdated ones, and the old servers have not yet been dismantled, the UIT has free server resources. We used them completely to create virtual machines for remote access. The main concern was that there might not be enough capacity. But practice has shown that all systems work stably and are still able to cope with the load.

If in the future Kazanorgsintez decides to use remote work of employees on a permanent basis, then it will have to spend a lot of money on updating both servers and software.

Up to payments

What processes at Kazanorgsintez can be configured under the remote work staff?

All processes taking place using IT technologies, where it is not required or possible to refuse to paperwork and visas on paper, as well as the processes of system and network administration, system user support, and development in IT.

The decision to be ready for this is determined by the owners of processes and the readiness of the legislation. In particular, the finance department quickly reorganized its work on transmitting payment documents via email. We are currently developing a way to make it possible to transfer these documents inside the SAP system.

Kazanorgsintez did not have to buy extra licenses and equipment in the transition of employees to work remotely. Photo: Kazanorgsintez PJSC

How is the problem of information security of systems being addressed?

All settings and access granted were worked out taking into account information security requirements.

How is technical support implemented?

UIT has long had a unified dispatch and centralized system for accepting applications, HelpDesk. For employees working from home, external access has been provided — a city number for the control room, Internet access to email and HelpDesk system. Further support is provided by UIT employees using all available means of communication.

Are there any other unrealized tasks for organizing the remote work process, plans for the development and improvement of the system?

One of the plans for the development of the remote access system is to increase its convenience, reliability and security. Before the outbreak of the epidemic, it had been planned to start in 2021. However, most likely, we will have to do this this summer.

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Tatarstan