Over the last few days, severe weather has struck much of the Midwestern United States, with devastating tornadoes sweeping through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, Iowa, and Colorado. The Dakotas saw the heaviest May snowfall in 110 years on Saturday and Sunday, while strong thunderstorms have stretched from the Canadian Great Lakes to the southern Gulf of Mexico, bringing much-needed rainfall to drought-stricken areas but also delivering serious spring floods. The bad weather even extended all the way to the Eastern Seaboard, where Tropical Storm Ana formed off the coast of the Carolinas — three full weeks before the official start of hurricane season.
How does that impact your business’ use of technology? In many ways, actually. Here are five takeaways that CMIT Solutions has gleaned from such widespread impacts:
1) Make sure you have regular, remote data backup processes in place. In the event of electrical outages or even the possibility of damage to your physical office, trustworthy backups can be a lifesaver for your business. Redundancy is key with a service like CMIT Guardian, which stores critical business data in multiple locations to account for the possibility of widespread power failures.
2) Develop a disaster recovery plan that covers the “before,” “during,” and “after” phases of a severe weather event. Before a storm arrives, all employees should be signed up with an emergency communication service that can immediately transmit announcements. During a storm, policies pertaining to the security of documents and equipment located at your physical office should be properly spelled out. And after the storm, everyone should understand their responsibilities for returning to work — and returning to normal operations — in a safe and timely manner. Virtualization is a key part of disaster recovery that can allow your business to stay up and running no matter what.
3) In the event of severe damage or travel restrictions, employees should be prepared to telecommute. Economic losses from last week’s storms are already reported in the hundreds of millions of dollars. And looking back to last winter, parts of New England that were debilitated by record-breaking snowfall reported that the financial hit was in the tens of billions of dollars. Depending on your industry, having an emergency telecommuting plan in place before a major weather event hits can keep your business functioning, even if your employees have to work from the safety of their own homes.
4) Critical business data needs to be accessible to all pertinent parties. Of course, employees can only telecommute if they have access to important business information. Utilizing the cloud to host that data and make it available to key personnel (while also ensuring its security) can represent the difference between getting zero productivity out of a fully paid bad-weather day and enjoying a spike in efficiency because employees are empowered and prepared to work from home.
5) Business continuity can maintain and even enhance your company’s reputation. When whole metropolitan areas are affected by severe weather, we expect companies to shut down for a short time. But if your business is closed, you should still maintain communication via email, phone, or social media when possible. Checking in on your clients to see whether they were affected by bad weather is precisely the type of above-and-beyond customer service that makes small businesses stand out.
As a fellow small business owner, CMIT Solutions understands how disruptive severe weather can be. But we have extensive experience helping our clients weather the nastiest of storms by increasing productivity and maximizing efficiency, no matter what natural obstacles you might face. Contact us today to find out how we can put our backup and disaster recovery, business continuity, and other proactive solutions to work for you.