Keep Your Business Running During a Natural Disaster
It was a winter for the ages. Back-to-back blizzards, crippling ice storms and bone-chilling cold garnered headlines across the country for months as Canadians endured one of the most severe winter seasons in decades.
It was more than just inconvenient. For some Canadian businesses, it was costly. Employees couldn’t get into the office. And even if they made it in, they often arrived to darkened workplaces. In some cases, web servers went down, taking the company’s online presence – and revenues – offline as well.
We’ve already explored ways to keep your business going full steam ahead in the event of an IT disaster – see How to Keep Business Running During an IT Disaster – but many businesses remain unprepared to respond if a weather-related outage or similar non-catastrophic event hits.
Traditional disaster recovery plans (DRP) assume the worst-case scenario like a fire, flood or earthquake. But even if a storm doesn’t destroy the office, it can do serious damage to the bottom line. For a lot of Canadian businesses, the damage has already been done. According to a Sage North America survey, one-quarter of Canadian businesses say this winter’s weather had a negative impact, including reduced revenue, profit and productivity. Even as the weather begins to warm up, the risk continues, as only 25% of Canadian businesses report having a bad-weather plan in place.
Fortunately, the answer to bolstering business continuity is fairly simple. By choosing specific and readily-available solutions to run your business, you can minimize both risk and cost and keep your employees moving forward no matter what Mother Nature dishes out.
Here’s a look at some of the key services and technologies to keep in mind as you prepare for the next blast of challenging weather:
Landline telephone. It’s always been the most reliable way to keep in touch, and it’ll keep working even if the lights aren’t. Even if you’re considering shifting more of your on-site and remote telephony to IP-based and mobile alternatives, keep the traditional telephone’s advantages in mind and consider retaining them.
Web hosting. Even if your entire office has gone dark, your website will keep running if it’s hosted in the right data centres that are designed from the ground up to remain operational no matter what’s happening outside. An added bonus: While the hosting provider is focused on keeping your website running, you’ve got more time to focus on running your business.
Mobile devices. Smartphones, tablets and laptops are crucial tools when your workforce can’t make it into the office. Smartphones make anywhere-you-are audio and videoconferencing possible, while 4G- and Wi-Fi-equipped laptops and tablets can turn anyplace into a temporary office.
The bottom line
As this year’s severe winter proved, having a disaster recovery plan isn’t enough anymore. Business interests can be compromised by less-than-catastrophic events, and you need a solid business continuity plan to keep the lights on in just about any situation. Even if a blizzard keeps your employees home or an extended power outage knocks your data center offline, you’ve got options. With a little creative planning and deployment, business continuity in any weather is an attainable – and affordable – reality for any organization.
Do you already have a business continuity plan in place? If not, how will you start the conversation in your own office? Let us know in the comments section below.