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    Ten Tips to Help Businesses Prepare for Severe Weather

    Recent events have proven that severe weather effects can be devastating to businesses. Economists have estimated the latest bout of severe weather could cost the economy $5 billion or more. Part of that economic blow comes from lost productivity for businesses that have to close entirely, or because employees can’t get to work due to hazardous conditions. Do businesses have any options other than to wait out the storm? The short answer is “yes.”

    Now is the time for businesses to make sure their office is ready to face the elements. Power outages, blocked roads and school closures are just a few of the things that can have a severe negative effect on productivity and the bottom line. Having plans in place and creative work options for employees can be the difference between profit and loss during challenging weather events.

    In this slideshow, Digium shares 10 tips to help ensure that businesses will be able to survive not only winter weather, but all weather-related closures or slowdowns.

    Ten Tips to Help Businesses Prepare for Severe Weather - slide 1

    Click through for 10 tips to help businesses prepare for maintaining continuity during challenging weather events, as identified by Digium.

    Ten Tips to Help Businesses Prepare for Severe Weather - slide 2

    Evaluate systems and business processes.

    The first step in ensuring that the office is ready for the elements is to assess current systems and business processes. This provides businesses with a thorough understanding of what the consequences would be with an outage or work stoppage, and allows them to prioritize in which order equipment should be brought back online. Businesses should also do an analysis to associate a dollar value to the expected downtime to help gain management buy-in.

    Free IT Download: Business Impact Analysis Questionnaire

    Ten Tips to Help Businesses Prepare for Severe Weather - slide 3

    Develop a disaster recovery plan.

    With the knowledge gained from a risk assessment process, businesses can develop a strong disaster recovery plan. Businesses need to make sure that every conceivable detail is anticipated so there are no surprises or unnecessary delays in the recovery process when an event hits.

    There are several key components to a quality disaster recovery plan. None are more important than employee preparation and succession planning. Businesses should not just write down their disaster recovery plan, but also practice it so that they will be ready when a real situation occurs. Succession planning is vital as well. Every key function of a disaster recovery plan needs to have more than one person capable of performing that task in case the primary person is out.

    Free IT Download: Business Continuity: Considerations, Risks, Tips and More

    Ten Tips to Help Businesses Prepare for Severe Weather - slide 4

    Talk to someone who has been through it.

    Businesses can gain valuable information from people who have been through a disruptive weather event. Businesses should learn what they did well and learn from their mistakes.

    Ten Tips to Help Businesses Prepare for Severe Weather - slide 5

    Test, test, then test some more. When done, test again.

    Practice makes perfect. Lack of practice brings chaos and, in the end, costs money. Businesses should practice their disaster recovery plan so that they eliminate unforeseen situations and can make necessary adjustments when there’s nothing on the line. Businesses should create a disaster recovery testing schedule for each system, perform extensive testing on all systems at least twice a year, and ensure new employees are trained in the disaster recovery plan.

    Ten Tips to Help Businesses Prepare for Severe Weather - slide 6

    Have a plan for power outages (short and long term).

    Investing in backup power options is essential. Businesses can’t control when the power goes out, but they can be prepared if it does. Uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and battery backups are necessities, and generators can save thousands if there is any extended downtime.

    Ten Tips to Help Businesses Prepare for Severe Weather - slide 7

    Have backup services.

    Again, businesses can’t control when their provider goes out, but they can be ready when they do. If communications are vital to business, companies need to make sure they have backup communication lines available to keep business moving.

    Ten Tips to Help Businesses Prepare for Severe Weather - slide 8

    Get SIP trunks.

    Session initiation protocol (SIP) trunking is the use of voice over IP (VoIP) to facilitate the connection of a private branch exchange (PBX) to the Internet. It has come a long way and can save businesses money in more ways than one. Not only are the rates inexpensive, SIP trunking has fail-over options that traditional services do not.

    Ten Tips to Help Businesses Prepare for Severe Weather - slide 9

    Plan to transition to a remote workforce.

    Allowing employees to have multiple workplace options can really pay off in a weather event. Letting them work from home can keep them productive and out of harm’s way. Businesses should consider taking the following actions:

    • Provide tools and equipment to critical employees to be able to work remotely.
    • Create a way to manage remote workers.
    • Practice year-round with virtual meetings.
    • Have solid bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies in place.
    • Clearly define expectations throughout the year.

    Ten Tips to Help Businesses Prepare for Severe Weather - slide 10

    Consider the cloud.

    Moving systems to the cloud can eliminate the worry of a disaster occurring at a physical location. With a cloud unified communications (UC) system, businesses can continue to communicate from anywhere. Some other benefits of moving to the cloud are cost, flexibility, security, custom design options and managed recovery teams (support).

    Ten Tips to Help Businesses Prepare for Severe Weather - slide 11

    Get a modern unified communications system.

    UC systems provide many tools that can help a business run during any situation. A couple of them include easily customizable messages to keep customers and employees up to date on company status, and mobile applications to allow workers to function from anywhere.

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