Is Your Company Prepared for a Disaster?

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Is Your Company Prepared for a Disaster?

The lights go out. Sirens blare. A tornado is on the way.

This week, thousands of North Texas residents faced this very situation, when up to a dozen tornadoes wreaked havoc across Dallas and Fort Worth.

Residents were left cleaning up debris and calling their insurance companies, in efforts to get their personal lives back on track. But what about businesses affected by the storms?

Most companies cannot afford to shut down operations for days, much less weeks. When tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other disasters strike, the resulting interruption to business can absolutely destroy the bottom line.

In all of these situations, a unified communications (UC) solution can help. With UC, a business can stay up-and-running, even if its primary location unable to operate as usual. Here are a few examples:

  • A voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone system typically includes built-in disaster recovery capabilities. For example, if one portion of the phone system goes down, calls are routed to another server that is still active. Backup servers can be set up on-site or at a separate physical location, to get phones back up and running fast.
  • Many UC solutions now can be hosted or backed up in the cloud. This provides a failsafe, so that a disaster in your local area doesn’t take down your phone systems and data access for the long term.
  • Mobility solutions, when combined with traditional communications solutions, make it possible for workers to access their voicemail, email, and other critical data, as long as the server remains operational. For example, when flooding or wildfires keep employees away from the office because of transportation safety issues, they can still be productive at home.
  • Video conferencing strategies help companies reduce travel budget and hassles, stay better connected to customers, build stronger teams across diverse geographic areas, and more. In times of disaster, video conferencing creates a way for team members to communicate face-to-face and create a plan of action.

How can your company prepare for potential disasters? Consider these steps:

  • Plan ahead. Invest time and money in creating a disaster recovery plan.
  • Put together a team. Bring in executives from various functional areas to deal with the many aspects of disaster recovery. This includes human resources, facilities, IT and more.
  • Get it in writing. Policies and procedures need to be put on paper. Plus, these documents should be updated over time.
  • Identify risks. Ask IT and other managers to evaluate the risks you face if you lose power, lose your telephones, or even see your offices destroyed. Find ways to mitigate those risks with strategies such as off-site data backup, hosted applications and more. Identify the technologies needed to get your critical functions back up and running.
  • Make your plan accessible. Put it on the intranet and make it required reading for team members.
  • Train the team. With UC, most businesses can enable their employees to work remotely. If a major storm makes travel to the office impossible, workers who have electricity and Internet connectivity can still access email, phone systems and other information from home. But what if they’ve never worked remotely until that day? Set aside a day for each employee to work remotely and learn to use the systems. In addition, train IT and other personnel on your disaster recovery strategy.

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