Expecting The Unexpected

The meteor which exploded over Russia on February 15th literally struck “like a bolt from the blue”. Whilst all eyes were on an asteroid which was due to fly past the Earth later that same day, the meteor snuck in on the daylight side of the earth without warning.

Although over one thousand people were injured, many by flying glass, the damage could have been much worse had the timing been out by a small margin; with major cities such as London avoiding the impact by a few hours. Even so, the blast caused some major structural damage and the local mobile phone system was disrupted for a short period.

Incidents such as this illustrate the way in which continuity planning by scenario can always catch us out. When businesses prepare their business continuity plans, one of the most common failings is to consider every likely scenario and prepare a plan for each. Whilst we expect governments to plan for the unthinkable, when preparing business continuity plans it is far more time effective to plan for the loss of any one service rather than look at the causes. 

 For example, if you can’t get into your offices it doesn’t really matter if that is because the police have closed the road due to an incident or if snow has blocked all transport lines. Either way, the immediate problem is to find a way to access computers and telephones so that you can stay in touch. And when it comes to risk or continuity plans, keeping effective lines of communication open is one of the key elements of a swift return to business as usual.

Whilst acknowledging that every business is different, there are a few common telephone disaster recovery elements which could make all the difference. The first of these is the ability to divert all calls to a named line or mobile. After that, consider adding in caller recognition, caller select, customisable messaging, call data reports and answerphone services. 

Mixing these together via a virtual switchboard can result in a sophisticated telephone continuity solution. So, use call data reports to log which employees have called in and when. Use press button services to leave answerphone messages for press, public, suppliers or employees. Add in pin codes or caller recognition and selected individuals can hear messages which are only for their ears.

So when building your continuity plan, don’t plan for the action to take in the event of a meteor strike or any other single type of disruption. Just look at what you need to do to restore communications, IT, customer supplies and so on and your plan will be lean and fit for any eventuality.

Written by Lawrence Gow