Small and medium businesses do not just need to prepare for medical emergencies in the workplace, they also need to prepare for unwanted events such as telco outages that can greatly affect daily business activities.
Telstra’s major mobile network outages during recent months remind us just how important it is to have systems in place to deal with failures and to seek the best possible small-business-aware services from your provider.
It is important to develop a plan (often called a Business Continuity Plan) for what you would do if there was a similar network failure in the future. This plan needs to be developed when everything is working and you are relaxed, not when you first hear of an outage.
Ideally, you need a plan for all your services (Mobile, Fixed Voice, Broadband, etc) and to consider different types of outages (partial/total; short/long, continuous/intermittent; single telco/more than one telco affected, etc).
But to keep it simple for this blog, we will cover the main scenarios with the recent Telstra outages: mobile services affected; involving only one mobile provider; somewhere between four hours and several days in length. Here are some things your plan might include (there are many more – have a brainstorming session with your colleagues):
1. Make a short list of critical business activities that would be affected by such an outage e.g. you are:
2. Decide in advance how critical these activities are to your business – this will dictate things like how much you would be prepared to spend to buy redundancy features, such as spare equipment linked to a different provider.
3. Make an assessment of the likelihood of an event happening e.g. if the likelihood of the event happening is low (say once every 5 years) but the impact is very high (e.g. you lose $15,000 like a case cited in the news), then you can see the value in investing to avoid the worst consequences of an outage.
If an outage occurred in the future do you have specific responses planned – and written down? Everyone’s circumstances are different and can be much more complex but we will give some simple examples here to establish the concepts:
It doesn’t matter as much what is in your plan – though clearly that is important – but it is critical that you have one; panicked decisions on the day nearly always lead to chaos – and you could be competing for alternate solutions with everyone else who hasn’t planned.
We are hearing encouraging feedback from small businesses about Optus, Telstra and Vodafone’s new small business initiatives. Digital Ready welcomes these but they don’t go far enough. Service providers should:
Outages happen from time to time, but small businesses can reduce their losses by asking providers the following questions before choosing a service:
Is your business ready for outages? Make sure you are. Digital Ready can help you get your business going (even with outages) using digital tools and technologies.
Alsco would like to thank Paula Corvalan of Digital Ready for this article. Digital Ready provides small business owners, organisations and clubs the knowledge to take advantage of latest technology on growing business anywhere and anytime.
Is your business already WHS compliant? Is your workplace first aid ready? Keep your staff safe and healthy. Contact Alsco now to get a First Aid Kit rental service that gets you compliant the hassle-free way.