Disaster Recovery Testing: Communication, Communication, Communication

I have a challenge for you that can tell you immediately if your company has a good recovery plan for disaster. First, find out from your network administrator where the cable connecting your business to the telephone company plugs in. Then, bring your voice communications manager or technician to that location and make a sudden move, pretending to unplug the cable.

If the voice manager or technician screams and lurches towards you, then you have no plan. If the technician dares you to go ahead, your company has just passed the test.

It is amazing how companies will spends hundreds of dollars backing up data, identifying a hot-site and making sure the lights will stay on with a backup generator, yet they disregard some key questions: What are customers going to hear or experience when the company experiences a disaster? Or, how will you let all 500 employees know that they need to stay home because the facility has no electrical power?

The number one thing you must have during a disaster is communication. Recovering from a disaster is a very fluid operation. You never know what the disaster will be, what was affected and what actions you will need to take. It is imperative that you are able to communicate in order to direct the response to the disaster and to give your customers confidence that everything is under control.

Businesses have tried to address some of these concerns with clustered or redundant PBXs, and by working with TELCO to reroute calls when prompted. A solution is only good if tested, and that doesn’t necessarily mean just sending the calls to another location. Have a plan, publish the execution time internally and pull the plug. Did it work as planned? If not, that is why you test!

If your testing was done right, the next time you step into the wiring closet the technician will pull the TELCO plug out before you even ask. He will pull the plug with the same confidence you will have during the next disaster when the big boss asks you if everything is working properly. You’ll score plenty of bonus points when you tell your boss to go ahead and call the customer number. 

By: Steve O'Neal

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