We all want immortality – well, for our businesses at least. But businesses, just like our pets, are prone to suddenly dying, without warning. What’s worse, we often know how they could have been saved with the benefits of hindsight.
Typical business continuity problems include things like a supplier going bust and the electricity cutting out. Here are some essential ideas for making sure your business remains indestructible, like Superman.
Flesh Out Your Recovery Capability
When disaster strikes, it’s a good idea to figure out exactly how long it’ll take you to recover. In the event of a power cut, this could mean switching over to the generator diesel system, in which case, you could be back in business in a few seconds. In the event of something more severe, however, like the failure of an essential, third party app, recovery might take longer.
A fundamental concept that relates to this area is the recovery time objective or RPO. The idea of the RPO is the time that it takes to restore systems following a failure. If for example, you backup all of your data at 8 pm, but your servers go offline at 7 pm, your RPO is 23 hours. Cutting this to as low a level as possible is an essential part of making your business less prone to destruction. Nobody wants to lose their precious data, do they? Also, if your business doesn’t have a backup generator yet, get one. Without electricity, you’re cut off from the internet and your customers.
Keep Customers Informed Of Your Status
When a business goes down, customers are left in a state of confusion. They ask themselves questions like “why aren’t I getting a response to my emails?” and “why won’t this darn website work?”
Because your business is utterly reliant on a good relationship with its customers, it’s essential that you keep them in the loop, informing them at every opportunity about what’s happening at your end and why they’re experiencing problems.
We see this kind of thing all the time in some sectors of the consumer economy, particularly the gaming sector. Businesses regularly underestimate server demand on launch night for a new game, and gamers are regularly left without access to the games that they have bought. It’s frustrating for customers, and companies regularly send out updates on Twitter and via email explaining why users are experiencing problems. (Usually, it’s the game company’s fault, but that’s neither here nor there).
Keep Communication Channels With Employees Open
When disaster strikes, it’s often employees, not customers, who are in the most dangerous. As a result, good communication between management and the rest of the team is important. Without it, managers and staff are cut off from one another, unable to coordinate to solve a problem or avoid danger.
When disaster strikes, it’s a good idea to have a set of protocols in place that everybody can follow. During a power outage, you’ll find it hard to communicate with all your staff, so it’s a good idea to set up a pre-arranged meeting area where you can give further instructions.