We’re lucky in that we write software for the web, rather than run a warehouse, serve people face-to-face, or even rely on on-site servers, so our pandemic journey is, to date, more gentle than others’, for which we’re grateful. Here’s what we’re doing.

Health and happiness

Staff and our families’ health is the obvious first priority, so we’ve all be working from home since March 12th, adhering rigidly to social distancing, not leaving our houses except for the weekly shop and daily exercise. Technically, that’s not a problem as all our work machines are laptops anyway. Ergonomically, we’ve kitted out our home offices with standing desks, monitors, microphones and other accoutrements to make things as comfortable as possible. Socially, it sucks, so we’ve had twice-daily team calls just to connect, as well as discuss work. At least it’s been fairly sunny…

Supporting our customers

We’ve not worked remotely as a team before the pandemic, other than the occasional day here and there. But we are natural online people. So after we’d got over the initial shock of the shape of our days changing so much, we agreed that our focus would be on helping customers to make the same transition to a new way of working. So we’ve put regular updates on our Community forum about the tools they have in Consonance that are now particularly useful to newly-remote teams, such as to-dos. And we’re responding as usual to support tickets and continuing the same pace on project communications in Basecamp, so that managing data and processes can be one less thing for customers to worry about.

All the usual things the system does continue: nightly feeds to websites, royalty runs, ONIX to Nielsen, BDS, Bowker and more than 50 other recipients, user support, onboarding, data updates, development and even a bump to the latest version of Rails (6.0.2.2)! Having well-maintained software makes things a lot easier.

Business continuity

Delivering our service is unlikely to be interrupted by the spreading of the virus:

– Consonance is accessed remotely by end users

– Our staff have no face-to-face contact with our users and are not required to travel for work.

– Our key suppliers have confirmed they will continue to meet their obligations, and have good disaster recovery plans in place for continuing emergencies.

– We have arrangements in place to ensure the continued smooth running of our business in the event of staff being ill with COVID-19.

Since we’re accredited by the UK government under their Cyber Essentials scheme, we already had a business continuity plan in place, which we’ve updated in parts based on this emergency. We have our own central store of data for things such as process documentation, insurance, financial and legal documentation, contact and log in information and so on.

Thanks to our suppliers

We also use some excellent web apps that have afforded continuity in much the same way as we hope Consonance has done for our customers. Freeagent for accountancy, Float for cash flow forecasting, Slack for team comms, GitHub, CodeCov, CodeShip and Heroku for code and hosting management, Basecamp for project management: all in the cloud, thank heavens. So thanks to all them for giving us the tools so we can focus on our customers’ communications and our work.

What we’re working on

Development-wise, we’re working on the things we were planning to work on anyway. I am working on revamping the metadata page. Dave is working on new client implementations. Sara is working on enhancing the product importer tools we have. Andy is improving Notifications in the system. For me, programming is proving to be a calming, distracting practice away from the more general worry.

Side projects

Just before the pandemic hit, I finished the https://sideprojectsummer.com website, ready for the summer. We’re a bit uncomfortable about promoting the idea of productivity during a time of emergency, but nearer to May we will suggest that if anyone wants to find solace in coding, we’re here to walk alongside them.

On the note of side projects, my https://makeourbook.com is rather popular at the moment for parents who find themselves homeschoolers, Andy’s https://paintpad.app is providing a hub for hobbyists to take comfort in their model painting, and Sara’s https://bookpenpals.com digital postcards will be a way for authors to connect with children.

We are also pleased to be supporting the newly-online version of Brighton Ruby (https://alt.brightonruby.com/). I got on the list to do a talk which I’ll now deliver via video. And we’re producing a beautiful printed version of the fabled Ruby book Why’s (Poignant) Guide To Ruby as postable Brighton Ruby swag.

All in all, we as a team are proud to be doing things at the moment which provide security and calm for our customers and users.

Stay well, and we’ll update this if anything changes. But we’re expecting this is the new normal for the foreseeable. So buy lots of books from our customers in the meantime!

Overwhelmed with spreadsheets? Drowning in thousands of tasks? Worried about not being ready to face the next round of publishing challenges? If you enjoyed this article, and you want to grow your publishing but you're not sure where to start, get in touch. We help publishers of all shapes, ages, complexity and sizes to organise, automate and grow. Yes: your legacy data is in a pickle, but we promise it'll not be the worst we've seen. We can sort it out and transform your publishing process quicker, and more cheaply, than you'd think.

We're always happy to have a chat and let you know what we've seen other publishers do in your situation to good effect, and we're happy to arrange a tailored demo just for your team of Consonance: the sure-fire way to improve your publishing and lay the groundwork for growth.

Get in touch via our contact form, or email us.