Your largest client out in New York called to push forward a deadline that conflicts with another project. You and your team are already squeezed because of the approaching hurricane. That’s when your phone buzzes. It’s a text message from your Secretary. The hurricane has changed course and school is canceled. She won’t be in while her kids are out. You know more texts are on the way and that your clients won’t wait.
You stop to think about how to get everything done, but you can’t concentrate. “When was the last time I checked the generator? How soon can I re-open the office? Do I have copies of all of our important documents?”
That’s when you realize: You’re in trouble.
4 of 5 Businesses Don’t Have an Up-to-Date Disaster Recovery Plan
You are not alone. 68% of small business owners report they do not have a written recovery plan. Even when a recovery plan exists, 80% do not update it. Business owners also fail to protect themselves against the threats they consider most devastating. Just 21% of business owners with less than a month’s cash reserve have continuity insurance. It’s no wonder only 40% of businesses re-open after a natural disaster.
Use technology to bridge the gap between operations and disaster planning
The reason businesses don’t plan for hurricanes and other natural disasters is always the same: they lack the time and money to do so. Put another way, it’s not essential to daily operations. When it comes to deciding where to spend money, businesses purchase things that generate more business: inventory, staff, equipment, etc. Everything else can wait – or so the thinking goes.
Modern technologies ease the burden of disaster planning by pulling double duty. When designed and implemented correctly, the same technology that helps make you money daily also enables your business to run during or immediately after a hurricane. This drastically reduces the costs of disaster recovery plans and ensures the plan is always up-to-date. Better still, you’re likely already paying for some of these technologies – you just aren’t using them to their full potential.
So what technologies do we use to hurricane-proof your business? Here is our list of 7.
7 Tech Solutions for a Hurricane-Proof Business
You may already use Dropbox, Box, or Microsoft OneDrive to share files with clients, but few have setup their businesses to work from it exclusively. There’s usually a good reason for this. Unfortunately, it means that you won’t have all of the files you need when presented with limited access to a specific computer and other staff members. It takes time to identify workflows and properly customize the product to fit your needs.
Cloud Email Provider
G Suite and Office 365 have become ubiquitous in business because they work extremely well “out of the box.” Where they fall short during a disaster is that they usually aren’t structured beforehand to share contacts and emails. You may be surprised how often businesses forget to post an “Out of Office” message with information relevant to their clients. There’s no better opportunity to set your client’s expectations than with an immediate response to their inquiry.
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. There are a variety of tools and platforms, many industry specific. For your needs, CRM becomes the easiest way to overcome limited access to information. When you can’t contact your sales or project manager, everything relevant to a client or potential client resides in one known location. This is an invaluable tool when failed electrical grids and downed cellular antennae limits communication between team members. For the full effect, CRMs need to be configured to work with your email provider and/or cloud storage.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is another popular technology meant to help businesses place phone calls using the internet. It’s exciting because the internet is everywhere and it’s reasonable to conclude, “I can make calls from anywhere.” Sadly, that’s not always the case. While some VoIP solutions do work from anywhere (on your smartphone or tablet, for instance), some don’t even work when your office loses power. Before you sign a deal, be sure to understand fully what kind of VoIP solution you’re buying.
Video Collaboration includes tools that help share your desktop, run webinars, and place face-to-face video calls. We’ve written about why we think video collaboration is great before. When discussing hurricane-proofing your business, the reality is that people want to know you’re OK and able to get the job done. A video call does just that in a single click.
Virtual Hot Site
In the “old days”, a hot site exclusively referred to another physical location ready to work. This meant servers, computers, and phone systems had to be ready-and-waiting for you at the new location so you never lost business operations and you continued to produce for your clients. It was hugely expensive. Today, you can create a hot site using the cloud for a fraction of the cost.
Most businesses utilize a warm site hybrid cloud solution. That means they work from their offices until they can’t. A loss of connection signals something is wrong and the cloud automatically begins loading backup systems.
Turn to a hot or warm site when consistency and security are paramount. You can’t always take a top-of-the-line computer with you when you travel and you don’t want your staff to work on the virus-riddled computer their child uses.
Many business owners are surprised to learn that tucked away in the Terms and Conditions of most online services is a provision which states that the service provider is not responsible for their data. That means you must find a way to backup your documents, emails, templates, etc. across the multiple cloud services you’ve purchased. Extra caution must be applied to the legal requirements for storing specific documents and identifying where online providers have their data centers. There’s little reason to archive to a facility in the same hurricane path as you.
Your business, hurricane-proofed
The 7 technologies above allow you and your staff to work from anywhere without interruption. Better still, every dollar you spend improves your daily operations. A shift in thinking and the way you work is no longer necessary to plan for a disaster or to keep up-to-date. While your competition struggles to return calls and is incapable of taking on new projects, you continue to deliver for your clients and increase revenue. A hurricane-proof business is now a reality.
Get the help you need
Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to hurricane-proof your business. Each technology requires additional configuration and an understanding of how to make it run smoothly to meet your needs. It can be a lengthy and technical process that spans more than a half dozen vendors – but don’t worry: We’ve helped businesses across South Florida with this exact problem.