Why You Can't Forget about Voice Continuity Planning

While outside of the workplace people strive to obtain "downtime" to balance out their busy lives, in a business setting the exact opposite rings true, as downtime refers to the time it takes a company's system to get back up and running when faced with an unpredictable disruption. Sure, some employees may get time to breathe when a system goes down, but the damage caused by a lull in productivity can be catastrophic.

Business continuity planning is getting a lot of attention these days, as evidenced by a 2015 MarketsandMarkets report that expects the global disaster-recovery-as-a-service market to reach $11.92 billion by 2020. But most of the discussion around business continuity and disaster recovery tends to focus on maintaining the stability of the network and IT systems such as email and enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications. Businesses need to realize that voice systems are equally as important to maintain.

Businesses need to be able to make and receive phone calls in the event of a local outage or a more severe emergency. If you can't be reached on the phone by customers, prospects, or partners, your business could be in big trouble.

Whether companies are taken offline due to natural disasters, crashing IT services, or cyber attacks, the result is the same -- hindered productivity and economic losses. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 40 % of small companies end up going out of business when faced with a natural disaster. While businesses of all sizes will be negatively affected by natural disasters, smaller organizations can be especially devastated -- as FEMA says, a few inches of water can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage, which can be harder for a small businesses to swallow.

The key to surviving such disruptions to business is to maintain a working communications system. Adopting a cloud PBX phone system can be a relatively simple way to help prevent unexpected events like hardware failure, human error and natural disasters from taking your business's phone system down for hours, days or even weeks. Rather than making calls over the traditional public switched telephone network (PSTN) that is run by your phone company, a cloud-based approach allows phones to be plugged into the Internet.

With a premises-based phone system, hardware failure means organizations have to patiently wait until their phone provider can replace or repair the equipment before work can resume as normal. If a backhoe digging in the parking lot takes out your phone lines, forget about it. Your callers will receive a busy signal until the line is repaired. With cloud-based voice services, phones can be plugged into Internet connections at alternative work sites or calls can be rerouted to mobile devices (if desk phones need to be repaired/replaced). This plug-and-play capability is also very handy when companies have to evacuate a work site due to severe weather, flooding, fire, etc. Workers can take their phones home and plug them into the Internet connection there.

When mapping out a disaster recovery plan, don't forget about voice services. Adopt a holistic view that incorporates all of your communication systems into your strategy. You don't want to be a sitting duck when a power outage or hardware failure hits you on a busy day. With proper planning, these types of incidents won't paralyze your business and you can go about the work day as if nothing happened.