It never rains but it pours

As Storm Dennis pounded down on already saturated fields and rivers the old saying to the effect that it never rains but it pours has never seemed more apt. Following on from an already wet and gloomy winter, the presence of two storms so close together has never made the prospect of spring look more appealing.

Whilst those who were directly affected by the latest storms are focusing on cleaning up and recovery work, those who were not impacted this time can’t afford to sit back and do nothing. If these storms have shown us anything it is the importance of robust and sound business continuity planning.

Admittedly there are some areas over which businesses have little or no direct control. For example, if excessive rainfall is likely to cause flooding then businesses are partly reliant on councils and other bodies to carry out the infrastructure work needed.

Nevertheless even in these situations businesses can take some action to mitigate disaster. Think about how and where records are stored. Perhaps take some time to review whether equipment currently installed in basements or ground floors could be moved to an upper story.  And look at how feasible it would be for employees to work from home or another designated site.

Most importantly of all, draw up a communication plan. After all, when trying to recover from any disaster, communication is key. If your switchboard is underwater then you may have a problem when it comes to updating employees, suppliers and customers.

This is where a hosted PBX comes into its own. Set up to mirror the business’s own telephone system a hosted pbx enables incoming calls to be diverted to landlines or mobiles as required. If required, hunt groups can also be set up, transferring messages to the first available member of the team. This not only helps the business to stay in touch it can also enable business leaders to better coordinate recovery work.

When it comes to staying in touch, the more information which you can make easily available to employees, customers and others, the better. Company information lines can help here. At their simplest, information lines can broadcast a single update message to callers. But they can also be set up to deliver a range of messages in accordance with a push button menu or even a personalised message to an individual based on pin password access.

Another simple way to get your message out is via SMS text messaging. By setting up pre-populated lists, companies can instantly get in touch with employees; advising them of the initial situation and keeping them updated on ongoing changes. Similarly, other messages could be sent to key customers or suppliers, helping them to feel connected with the recovery effort.

It may not be a storm which affects your business. It could equally be an incident which leaves your premises unaffected but prevents access by staff members and others. Whatever the cause, the key to returning as far as possible to business as usual is to have a robust recovery plan in place. And communication sits at the heart of that plan.

Written by Alison