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5.02.2019
VoIP and DRP

The growing popularity of internet-based phone systems rests largely on their cost and convenience advantages, but their potential contribution to Disaster Recovery Plans (DRPs) also deserves serious consideration.

In times past natural disasters seemed to primarily strike underdeveloped countries (or at least that was the common impression in some developed countries), but the experience of the last few years show that western countries are far from immune. Serious flooding in the UK, the damage caused around the USA by a series of hurricanes and the recent fires in California, all go to demonstrate that businesses in all parts of the world need to make contingency DRPs.

In addition to headline-grabbing national disasters, is worth remembering how easily micro-disasters can affect firms in all locations. For example, a fire at their business premises could knock out their PBX. Storms, criminal action or accidents of various types also often cause serious damage.

The common denominator of all these kinds of disasters is that they are beyond the power of the business to prevent, but advance planning for how to continue to operate in these challenging situations dramatically improves a company's survival abilities.

The Commercial Costs of Business Shutdown

Disaster reporting correctly focuses on the terrible human costs so it is easy to overlook the damage to businesses that is our focus here. The commercial costs of natural disasters are glaringly apparent in statistics collected by the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA estimate that about half of the small businesses damaged by natural disasters close for good. Of those businesses that close for at least five days, an astonishing 90% do not survive a year. Since these figures come from a country with one of the most advanced communications systems in the world, we can extrapolate from them that the effects of natural disasters on businesses in underdeveloped countries are going to be even more severe.

The Central Role of Communications

Firms who rely on traditional landline PBXs are highly exposed to risks from damage to on-premises telephone equipment. Even though the insurance may cover the costs of replacement or repair, no company can afford to bear the long-term costs of interrupted communications with customers.

There is little place for sentiment in the commercial world. Your customers value the service or product they purchased from you and they expect a high level of support. Overseas customers might not know about the damage to your premises from the storm, flooding or some other cause outside your control. Even if they discover what has happened and sympathize, it does not change their need for speedy handling of their queries.

Loyal customers might be compelled to take their trade elsewhere to ensure they can continue to cater to the demands of their own clients. Potential new customers are unlikely to call again if they find nobody takes their call. Businesses simply cannot afford to lose a day out of communication with customers and suppliers but disasters often lead to much longer breaks. For example, almost a year after Hurricane Maria hit Dominica and Puerto Rico in 2017, a reporter for the Economist blog discovered that in Dominica "…normality has not returned. Much of the island has no electricity. Telephone landlines work only in Roseau and Portsmouth, the second-largest city…"

Why include VoIP in your DRP?

A way of maintaining emergency communications with employee, customers and "other stakeholders" is one of the points that FEMA recommends all firms should address when making a DRP. A company that uses a cloud PBX is in a much better position to maintain business communications if their premises are seriously damaged or inaccessible due to weather conditions, disruption to transport systems or other disaster scenarios. While the company's landline PBX and telecom hardware easily suffer fire or water damage, the cloud PBX is located off premises and so it protected from such harm. Therefore, if your landline PBX goes out of operations, your calls are forwarded via the cloud to mobile phone networks. This ensures you stay in contact with all your key employees and clients.

It is simple to set up call forwarding schedules to ensure that when the firm's landline phone system cannot receive calls the VoIP phone system forwards these calls to employees at remote locations. From any place with a reasonable internet connection, managers and employees can continue to run the business. With essential customer and supplier contact data well out of the way of fire or water damage, the firm also retains the information resources it needs to function effectively. Staff stays in communication with each other to decide how best to keep operations running. Since customers continue to receive the quick responses and support they have come to expect, they remain satisfied with your service.

Minimum Cost and Maximum Value

Companies never fail to be surprised when they find out that for the cost of a burger they can get the full benefits of an advanced cloud PBX. The savings in telecom expenses and the flexibility internet phone systems deliver help businesses in all situations, but they are invaluable when disasters occur. They make it possible to restore and maintain communications much faster than is the case with firms who are dependent on fixed landline equipment. This could make all the difference to whether a business survives or becomes another disaster statistic. Just as you would never think of managing without fire insurance, you should also make this much more modest investment in "communications insurance."

The Zadarma Project is one of the world's top twenty business cloud PBX suppliers. Our experts will be glad to assist you with a free consultation on how our phone system can make your DRP far more effective.