Fact: disasters happen. In the span of 12 months, the country has seen two storms of the century.
While big storms, freak blizzards and floods are concerns, business leaders know that smaller daily distractions and disasters also play an important role in business operations and often go un-quantified.
Manmade and natural disasters and their effects can usually be avoided. Simple precautions taken now can dramatically reduce the time, and more importantly, revenue lost by businesses during these events.
1 – Move forward by backing up
Information is the lifeblood of every company. Businesses must back up all relevant data—meaning an exact replica is securely stored so that data can be accessed at any time—even when the primary data is lost, corrupted or inaccessible.
Using solutions that are “cloud-based” ensures that data is replicated and stored off site, immune from local issues and accessible everywhere.
Choosing providers with SSAE 16 certifications will safeguard data and store it in a secure and regulatory-complaint process and facility.
2 - Off-site, not out of touch
When the power dies or flood waters short out your server, you’ll wish that device was elsewhere. Smart companies are outsourcing the equipment used to support operations, including storage, hardware, servers and networking components to the cloud. Unless your expertise is housing, running and maintaining equipment, your company should outsource this function and let the professionals handle the heavy lifting for your business.
Buyer beware! Make sure you have written guarantees called a service level agreement (SLA) that details reliability. The SLA should include a guaranteed 99.99 percent uptime regardless of disasters.
3 – Make sure your voice is heard
Your business will recover faster if your customers can speak with your employees. There are a number of cost-effective backup services that can keep phone calls flowing, even during a disaster.
Several providers offer service via an alternate means of network access, meaning even if your primary circuit fails, you have a backup. Good providers can use the Internet to route calls from your location to their network. This is a great, cost-effective backup tool and one that should be employed if you have your own phone system or PBX.
4 – Phone system as a service
In addition to the remote data backup, cloud-based IP phone systems can further minimize the impact a disaster has on an organization’s functionality. With cloud-based phone systems, the phones are in your office, but the intelligence of the service is secure in carrier grade data centers. This means that you can use the system from anywhere at any time.
There are a few things to consider before jumping in:
- Choose a cloud-based system that is easy to use – nothing is worse than features you cannot access or figure out.
- Get all the features and applications you need and want – don’t settle for just some.
- Consider deploying PC-based softphones as a cost-effective disaster avoidance tool.
- Look for mobile twinning or a feature that simultaneously rings multiple phones at once.
- Make sure features are in the cloud, not on the phones, for the best security.
- Look for a cloud service provider with automatic failover capabilities, so calls can automatically switch to an alternate circuit.
These types of systems are not only good for disasters but can also help your company become more agile and more mobile. With the advanced tools and features that these systems provide, your employees will never miss a call.
Step 5 – Experience, experience, experience
This is the most important aspect to take into consideration. Technology evolves quickly, and while the barriers to entering many markets are low, the learning curve to provide high quality business services is not. It seems like a new service provider is born every week, and while some are good, others will fail you, which is something you don’t want to risk.
Make sure you know how long the service provider has been in business and how many customers they support. Talk to existing customers and get references from the provider so you can make an informed decision. It takes years of experience to develop the right type of service and support structure to respond quickly and effectively in situations where many customers are disrupted at the same time.
Ok, but how much $?
Everyone wants 100 percent service uptime, but when the big bill comes due, it is tempting to back out. Actually, many of the recommendations above don’t require a single dollar of capital investment in new equipment. Cloud-based systems also scale easily and most providers have monthly pricing options so your precious capital can be used on strategic initiatives, not new technology.
The great news is that with some preparation, your business can remain online even if your office is swept away.
About Kevin Goodman
Kevin Goodman is the Managing Director of Channel Strategy & Development for Broadview Networks. He has more than eight years of experience in the telecommunications and cloud services industries.
Goodman is responsible for all aspects of Broadview’s channel strategy, including strategic partnerships, partner management and business development, marketing, product roll out, contracts, sales support and training. He is also part of the Broadview Partner Advisory Board, which seeks inputs and advice from top channel partners on all aspects of Broadview’s channel business.
Previously, Goodman served in management positions overseeing product, and online marketing at InfoHighway Communications, a predecessor company to Broadview. He plays an integral part in the success of the company’s channel sales force, which is comprised of more than 300 channel partners nationwide.
Goodman holds a Masters degree in Business Administration & Management Strategy from Adelphi University (Garden City, NY).
Edited by Braden Becker