South Florida was fortunate to have dodged a bullet this past weekend as Tropical Storm Erika dissipated over Cuba. Now that we are into storm season this was a great reminder to update your disaster preparedness plan and make sure that your telecommunications systems, which are your lifeline to clients and employees, are protected.
During a disaster, Phone and Telecom Systems are the main source of communication. They manage the flow of key information, whether through warnings or instructions, orders or commands, to help contain further loss or damage to your business and that of your clients. As a business, your main focus during and after a disaster is minimizing damages or loss of information and maintaining business continuity, while keeping clients, employees, and business associates updated.
Follow these six steps immediately to ensure your telecom system supports business continuity during the next potential disaster:
1. Set up a virtual number, so employees and business associates can call to get company updates and emergency instructions. Also set up a separate number specifically for clients to call. Make sure these numbers are cloud-based and housed in a secure location outside of the affected area, to ensure full functionality and accessibility during the disaster.
2. Ensure your main business phone number is automatically re-routed to a secure number, such as a mobile phone or business partner located outside an affected area. You can also employ a cloud-based hosted voice or answering service, or have a second business location, sister company, or related company to use as a secure number to forward calls to.
3. Create a business continuity plan for disasters and emergencies so employees and business associates can be better prepared in the event of a crises. This should be created when minds are calm and the situation is relaxed, rather than ad hoc during or immediately after a major crisis. Double check the plan and perform a drill to make sure everything is in working order.
The following three steps should be considered a more permanent solution:
4. Move your business to a cloud-based phone system where the main “brain” of the system is housed in a Category 5 Data Center. Doing so allows your business to continue to function via mobile devices: smartphones, tablets, laptops, and computers. This option also covers #1 and #2 above and is manageable by your immediate staff, provided they have Internet access.
5. Move all vital company files and applications to your own secure data center, or hire a Business Continuity Consultant to help you partner with the right company. Doing this is critical for the security of all of your client and company files. Over 80 percent of businesses that lose access to company and client files will go out of business within a year.
6. Ensure that your insurance policy is current to your business’s recent growth and changes, including newly acquired equipment, inventory, and employees. Many businesses that grow forget to increase insurance coverage and suffer greater losses in emergencies. Additionally, make sure the replacement value of everything covered is correct. Otherwise, you may find yourself covering the financial difference when replacing equipment such as routers, phone systems, computers, security systems, etc.
Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Andrew hit Miami pretty hard. In both cases, the disaster hit harder than expected after veering inland, especially Hurricane Andrew. Ultimately, it was the businesses with strong communication systems and a business continuity plan that not only survived but bounced back stronger by capitalizing on the recovery and restoration of their local communities.
nQuery Solutions can help ensure your business is prepared in the event of an emergency.
For a free consultation at your business location, contact us today by calling (305) 760-8491 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.