Do you have a backup plan?

The world went dark on the social platforms of Facebook including but not limited to Instagram, and WhatsApp  for an unprecedented 5+ hours today.  The disruption to personal lives and business was monumental.  Many asked questions such as: How do I run my business?   How do I contact my loved ones?  How do I service my customers?

In the corporate world we rely heavily on Business Continuity Plans (BCP).  Most employees are annoyed by the lengthy and detailed planning that goes into these, not to mention the annual testing of these plans to ensure they meet current business needs and are up to standards.  But days like today, you are glad you did.  Did you activate your BCP plan today when those apps went out?  

There are varying levels of BCP plans based on your company, technology stack, and service offerings.  These levels are based on severity and outage affecting users.  Today’s outage would have hit Facebook’s MOST critical level because it was a complete outage, affecting billions of people, both internal and external customers, and the duration of this outage.

In addition to the levels of a BCP you also have plan B, C, D, and yes in some cases even Z.  This is because you can never be sure which system or network will go out so you have to be prepared with a backup and the backup’s backup.  You also have to take into account dependencies between systems.  For example, many worldwide use Facebook as their login to their company applications and sites, so when their Facebook credentials didn’t work they couldn’t access even non Facebook tools.  Sometimes one of the BCP action items is to uncouple various systems so they aren’t leveraging Single Sign On (SSO) such that when one goes down you don’t lose complete accessibility.  At the very minimum having a backup tool at the ready for communications across both internal and external customers is critical.  For example, perhaps you only communicate with your customers via WhatsApp, but after something like today, consider capturing email and phone number so you can email your customers, text or even call them while you wait for your tool to come back.  

When evaluating and deciding on your tools you want to make sure that their BCP is buttoned up and that they openly share their system status.  This is one of the reasons I highly recommend Salesforce because of their Trust Status site.  At any time you can login to their trust sites and quickly see the status of all their instances, history, planned maintenance, etc.  If for some reason your instance goes down, customers are immediately notified and given as much detail as possible around the impact, the plan to resolve, and consistent communications are continued throughout the duration.  Many organizations that follow best practices have a flurry of activity going on before, during, and after an event like this.  What’s happening behind the scenes after an outage is resolved is a technical post mortem meeting where the outage or issue is presented, resolution is shared, lessons learned is discussed to seek out process improvements needed or solutions around mitigating future risks, etc.  

BCP’s aren’t just for companies though, they are also important for your personal lives.  My daughter’s school has a BCP plan for pickup in the case of an unexpected early shutdown.  This means that in the case that the school must shut down and I can’t communicate with her school trying to figure out where she is in that emergency, I know that she will be in her after school program at that entrance.  Our family has a tornado go bag and plan for staying informed, remaining in shelter, communicating with the outside world, etc.  

These plans provide peace of mind.  They don’t say that an outage will never happen, a natural disaster won’t hit, or the electricity wires won’t get eaten by a squirrel causing you to lose all power to your house and home office.  These things do happen and what this plan does is says we are ready with plan B, C, D, and Z if necessary.  We pivot and relaunch.  We are agile and able to take on anything.  Communication and planning are essential to any family or any business. 

Are you ready?  When was the last time you tested your BCP?  Do you even have a BCP?  If you answered no to any of these questions, let’s connect and bring you that peace of mind.