Do Your Business Continuity Plans Cover Telecoms?

Monday, 15 January 2018

No one expects disaster to strike. Business owners and managers have multiple worries, but how often does fire, theft, flood damage, power failures, catastrophic hardware/software failures and even terrorism, cross our minds?

Most of us worry about cashflow issues. Not closing enough deals. Coping with demand. Looking after customers. Managing staff, and other daily challenges. Next, we worry about long-term objectives and active projects. But whether we are prepared for an unexpected disaster: that worry doesn't often make it onto an actionable to-do list.

Not Enough Companies Have Business Continuity Plans In Place.
And yet, according to industry research, 20% of companies will, at some point, suffer a serious disaster. The majority - 80% - will fail within 13 months and from those that survive, 53% won’t recoup the losses they incurred as a result of the disaster.

Every moment your phones, email and other communication channels are down; you are losing money. Can you afford not to have a continuity plan that covers telecoms?

What A Business Continuity Plan Should Include
Every business continuity plan is unique to each business. Operational considerations for a retailer are different from the needs of an insurance provider, or solicitors. Larger firms need more complex plans, but this also means they should have the resources to setup somewhere else temporarily in the event of an extreme emergency, such as a fire.

However, even with operational differences that vary from company to company, communication is key for continuity planning. Here are a few of the essentials that every plan should include.

#1: Disaster Roles
In most cases, not everyone will be able to do the same work in the event of a disaster. Depending on the severity, plan each staff members role should a disaster strike - with a view to ensuring everyone is either working to manage external communications or focusing on getting the business operational again.

#2: Data Backup
Make sure your data, from customer records to accounts and orders, is secure. Businesses that lose data face a significant risk of failing. Cloud-based backup, with at least one redundancy, is the only sensible precaution to take. On-site data is highly risky since that is where disaster could easily strike.

#3: Review Assets
In the event of a fire, flood, theft or another disaster that causes serious damage to your premises, review the assets you have - that are undamaged - and useable again. Report all damages to your insurance company as soon as you can.

Rescue what you can to reduce the cost of getting set up again, and see what staff can use (if computers are damaged) instead. All of which is easier if files are stored in the cloud and easily accessible.

#4: Re-establish External Communications
Cloud communications ensure this can be done without one day's downtime. Landline numbers can divert to mobile phones or other landlines, and you can use email and social media to alert customers and potential customers of any disruption.

Getting back in contact with your customers is the quickest way to reassure them that everything is getting back to normal - even if it could involve a few days or weeks of disruption - and services are as uninterrupted as possible. It is also reassuring for staff to focus on problems they can fix unless they are involved with helping get the company operational again.

Like email and social media, telecoms are such a normal part of business operations that it can be easy to overlook these essentials. Even if you think a disaster is unlikely, you can’t take the risk of not being prepared. Businesses that are ready to handle a disaster, with a focus on business continuity, have a greater chance of surviving one - especially if your data is backed up and communications can be quickly reestablished with customers, suppliers and sales prospects.

Worksheet: Emergency Communications Plan worksheet


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