23 February 2017
Very few organisations can afford communications downtime, but it is especially true of the public sector. A breakdown in telephony systems could disastrously hinder an organisations’ ability to deliver services to the public effectively, not to mention the potential damage to reputation and trust.
As the saying goes, ‘prevention is better than cure’. However, many public sector bodies underestimate the scale of their vulnerability to the failure of their communications systems and, as such, might not have disaster recovery plans in place to mitigate the potential damage.
Unscheduled downtime can happen for a number of reasons and disaster can strike at any time. Which is why public sector organisations should plan for potential disruptions by analysing their tolerance for downtime. The following questions will help you determine this and what you should consider for an effective disaster recovery solution.
What would happen if there was a power cut?
Power failures can bring an organisation to its knees, shutting down anything from computer servers and phones to lifts and heating. Consider which of your communications systems would be impacted by a loss of electricity, as these are much more common than you might expect, and how you’d ensure calls could still be answered during the disruption. There were 640 power outages in the UK throughout 2015, affecting 2.5 million people.
What would happen if the internet went offline?
Connectivity powers modern working. Most offices require the internet to access cloud-based tools that are key to productivity. How many of these are utilised by your organisation? Which fundamental services would you not be able to deliver without an internet connection and what backup provisions are already in place to mitigate this?
What would happen if a natural disaster struck?
This is particularly relevant to public sector organisations, many of which might find a strain on their services in the event of a natural disaster. Would you be able to continue to meet the public’s needs if heavy rain, snow or winds temporarily closed your site? Would you be able to do so if conditions prevented staff from reaching the office? What remote working provisions do you have in place to enable staff to work productively away from the office?
What would happen if key staff were unavailable?
If only a small number of staff are responsible for handling the majority of calls that come into your organisation, then service could be massively compromised if they are not able to make it into the office. Transport difficulties, illnesses or industrial action can really interfere with meeting planned workloads, and there should be a contingency plan in place for this eventuality.
Understanding your own vulnerability is the first step
If these questions have thrown up some risks you weren’t previously aware of, you aren’t alone. There are many organisations that do not have disaster recovery plans in place in the event of unscheduled downtime.
The best way to protect your organisation against this eventuality is to build ‘business as usual’ reliance into your communications solutions. There are a host of preventative measures to help you safeguard your business in the face of a catastrophe.
23 February 2017 | Sam Winterbottom
The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.