8 Jul 2014
Business continuity planning keeps customers happy when a disaster threatens their business.
Business continuity planning can be critical to the success of a business. A surprising 75% of businesses without a business continuity plan are forced to close their doors within three years of experiencing a disaster. By creating a plan to stay online during an unforeseen event, you can prevent your customers’ businesses becoming part of that statistic.
Many companies have already taken the first steps towards business continuity planning by creating a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP). A DRP provides guidance on how to restore a business to a functional state when a disaster strikes. Providing a DRP for your client will ensure that they have documented how to restore, or even maintain, their communications infrastructure, critical business data and business processes. A DRP keeps the management team happy but can often leave customers in the lurch while your team scrambles to enact the recovery processes. A business continuity plan takes a DRP much further by providing a way for your client’s business to keep serving customers when a disaster strikes.
One of the biggest components of creating a business continuity plan is understanding what staff need in order to do their jobs. In many cases, staff can get by with only a few of the tools that they use on a daily basis. Making sure that these critical tools are always available is the best way to ensure continuity of service for your customers. Staff are unlikely to need corporate instant messaging services to complete their duties, but probably require access to email and phone services. Separate the niceties that make tasks easier from the core components that drive the business and focus on those core processes.
Today’s technology enables you to continue to deliver outstanding service to your customers no matter what comes their way. Proven technologies from cloud services, hosting companies and SIP trunk providers mean that staff can answer phone calls, access their documents and send and receive emails even if the office they work out of is completely destroyed. Find ways to make core components run autonomously and make them accessible from anywhere. Use cloud service providers, data replication services or hosted solutions to get rid of the roadblocks introduced by on-premise solutions. As an added bonus, moving to these types of solution can assist with regulatory compliance due to increased logging and auditing abilities that are often not possible with on-premise software.
If the physical phone lines at your client’s office are cut, what happens to the calls from their customers? Can they be forwarded to a mobile? These are not the kinds of questions that should be asked when the communications infrastructure goes down. Even if all critical business processes are up and running when the office is not, losing the ability to communicate with customers will still grind the business to a halt. Moving the business to SIP technologies can answer these questions before they need to be asked. SIP trunk providers not only provide a business with significant flexibility over the use of traditional phone or ISDN lines but also allow for instant recovery in the event of a communications failure. With SIP trunk providers, an interruption in communications infrastructure can immediately trigger phone calls to be diverted to:
› Another office location that is still online
› An automated voice attendant system
› Staff mobiles
› Voicemail systems that email messages to staff
Using SIP services, all of these recovery options occur automatically, without the need for any manual configuration changes. Your customers can continue to do their jobs instead of trying to find ways of handling the outage themselves.
Once you’ve made a company’s business processes and communications infrastructure available from anywhere, encourage your clients to test them out. Ask them to send staff home early, drop the network at the office and find any pain points. Fix any gaps that you find, then repeat the process. Keep doing so until staff can work from home as easily as if they were in the office. Once they can, a disaster that would have taken a business offline for days or weeks in the past becomes just another day at the office.
8 Jul 2014 | Justin Coombes
The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.