How To Create Your Telephone Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity Plan

Your disaster recovery / business continuity plan will require a lot of thought if it’s to be a good one.

Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity Plan

Although it’s impossible to cover every eventuality, it’s important to put in place a structured yet flexible plan to help you cope in an emergency.

Our range of business continuity / disaster recovery phone services can be adapted to your unique requirements, activated instantly and updated on the fly to match the fast changing circumstances you may encounter.

Here are our tips to help make the telephony part of your DR/BC plan as straightforward and painless as possible:

Step 1 – Decide who is responsible for implementing your Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity plan

Make a list of the team responsible for carrying out your DR/BC plan in the event of some sort of crisis. This will likely be your senior management team, plus other key staff.

Now make sure you have up to date contact numbers (mobile and landlines) for each person, along with their email and possibly their home address. Every member of your team should have an up to date list on hand both at work and at home (make a copy).

Next, you should work out who has responsibility for activating your disaster recovery phone services, specifically. This should be one nominated person, with the rest of the team listed in order after them. That way, if the nominated person is on holiday or unavailable for any reason, it’s clear who is responsible for stepping in and activating the services.

It’s also possible you want to allocate different roles to different staff members (e.g. one person is responsible for switching over the phone system, another for sending out alerts, a third to post an update and emergency numbers on the website, etc.) although we recommend having one person with overall responsibility to make sure everything is done, as per the plan.

Once you have allocated roles and responsibilities, you should then ensure that everyone is trained in how to implement the required changes and activate the services. This includes making sure that everyone has up to date passwords (e.g. for the website) and PIN numbers (required to access some of our services) so they can actually carry out the tasks they are responsible for.

Step 2 – Set up and test a mirror phone system

If you don’t use Callagenix for your existing phone system, you can log in to your account and create a phone system that mirrors your existing set up, complete with all extensions and other associated services, such as a Virtual Switchboard, Answerphone, Call Diverts and more.

You can then pre-fill all the extensions with back-up destination numbers, such as mobile phones, or extensions from a second office or back-up premises if you have them in place. Alternatively, you can send selected calls to a recorded message and / or voicemail service etc.

Of course, if you already use Callagenix for your main phone service, your system is already hosted in the cloud and so not tied to any specific physical location. You can then toggle between your primary destination number and a backup destination number from within your account. Key employees can also choose to choose to update the destination number themselves if they have been trained to do so.

Incidentally, we have an app that allows users to switch between destination numbers and choose which one is live at any given time. This is ideal when your staff are out of the road a lot, or work from multiple sites and / or a home office.  

Once you have set up your mirror system, be sure to test it and train key staff how to access and update it.

Step 3 -Compile a list of all employee mobile numbers and create an SMS notification list

It’s also a good idea to keep a regularly updated list of employee phone numbers loaded into your account so you can send out a bulk SMS notification in the event of some sort of emergency.

You can use this to warn your staff not to travel to the premises, to meet at an alternative site or to call an emergency information line that plays a more detailed update to them.

If you have a number of key clients or suppliers, you can also set up separate lists to notify them of any updates directly. Keeping in regular contact whilst you sort out the mess can help to keep them onside and deepen existing relationships.

You should make sure that the relevant members of staff know how to create and send out emergency texts from your online control panel.

Step 4 - Set up an Information Line with holding message.

After loading your lists ready to send out bulk text messages, you should then set up an Emergency Information Line with a holding message.

This information line is a recorded message that multiple callers can access simultaneously to get up to the minute news on what’s going on. You can have more than one if you’d like to share different messages with say staff and clients.

You can link the recorded message to any number range, such as 0800 freephone number, or just a regular 01/02 regional number. It’s also possible to offer international numbers and have them connect to the same message, for example if you have overseas offices / staff you want to keep in the loop.

As part of your plan, you should also train key staff so they know how and when to update the messages played. Messages can be recorded over the phone by dialling in to the service, added by uploading an audio file, or even updated using our text to speech service.

We also recommend sharing your information line number with employees ahead of time, maybe asking them to save it to their phone, just in case.

Step 5 – Set up a conference bridge

It’s also a very good idea to set up a conference bridge ahead of time and share the details with all key decision makers.

When things go wrong, it’s important your senior team communicates regularly to make sure your organisation responds effectively. By having a dedicated conference call facility set up and ready to go, you can get everyone together quickly, no matter where they might be.

A simple SMS reminder beforehand to share the conference call dial in number(s) and meeting time can get everyone together to co-ordinate your response.

Conclusion

As you can see, setting up your telephone disaster recovery / business continuity plan need not be difficult, but it does require some thoughts and focussed attention.

What’s for sure though, is that should you ever need to activate your backup phone services you’ll be very glad you had them in place. We have had numerous clients who have had the misfortune of needing to use them, but all were very pleased to have them.

The only other thing we recommend is scheduling time for a regular review and update of your DR/BC planning. It’s amazing how quickly some aspects can become out  of date due to the departure of key staff and other employees, as well as business expansion. Take time every few months to review the situation and make any necessary updates, so all will go as smoothly as possible (under the circumstances) should your plan ever need to be acted upon.

For more information and to discuss any requirements not mentioned above, please contact us today for advice and recommendations.

Written by Matt