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Keeping your business open, even when the lights are off, is important these days. It’s all about continuity. Thankfully, we’ve got 8 simple steps to help you create your own voice DR plan, because it never hurts to plan.

As I’m writing this, the UK has just recorded its coldest night of the winter so far, with temperatures as low as -12C recorded and the possibility of even lower temperatures to come.

As with every year, the cold is likely to affect people, businesses and infrastructure on both a local and national basis. It seems quite fitting, then, that we have 8 simple steps to help you create your own voice DR plan – ensuring your business stays open and active, no matter what’s thrown at it…

Step 1 – Look at the phone numbers you own

It’s always best to start at the top and drill down. So, firstly, what numbers does your company own? Do you have one single number that you give, or do you have a range of numbers that you use for staff direct dials (DDIs) and marketing numbers?

Make a note of these (we can give you a hand if you’d like).

Step 2 – See how calls coming into your business are directed

Next, it’s good to take a look at where and how calls to these numbers are directed. Do they ring staff members directly, or go through an auto attendant? Maybe your reception team take them and direct them appropriately?

Take note of how these inbound calls flow through your business, it’ll help you identify key areas of your voice plan – as well as any weak points there may be.

Step 3 – See how calls going out of your business are directed

So you’ve made note of how calls you receive are handled, but what about those you make? Start by confirming what staff need to do to make an outbound call:

  • Do they have to dial 9 to get an outside line?
  • Are there any limitations on calling out, such as barring on international calls?

Jot the procedures that need to be followed down, so that you can reference them during a disaster situation.

Step 4 – Identify your key members of staff

There will be a few key members of staff that handle the majority of calls in your office. Write down who they are, as they’re the people who’ll receive most of the calls in the event of a disaster.

Double-check that they’re up-to-scratch on all the ins and outs of your phone system; they’ll be key to ensuring the calls keep flowing.

Step 5 – Identify threats and weak points

Now we know how calls flow in and out of every department, and identified the key members of your team. Next is to identify any potential weak points that could cause your processes to break down:

  • Are calls to some department handled by one person only? What happens if they cant be reached?
  • What happens if your phone lines are down?
  • What happens to calls if your office is closed? (Not strictly a disaster, but where calls go outside of business hours is just as important)

Step 6 – Fill in the blanks

Now we’ve identified the weak spots, it’s time to plug them. While some solutions will be people or process-orientated, others will be technical. We’re happy to help you with both.

In our experience, frequent solutions include:

  • Training additional staff in your telecoms processes to ensure there isn’t an experience gap, should key personnel be unavailable
  • Using call plans to ensure calls are never left to ‘ring out’
  • Setting emergency call plans though a continuity application, diverting calls at the touch of a button if your office is unreachable

Step 7 – Plan it out!

Now comes the fun part, planning. As we’ve taken the time to find all this out, we need somewhere to write it down so we can refer to it if we need it.

We can give you a great DR template to use…and we’ll even help you fill it in if you’d like? You can request a copy here, or contact your account manager.

Make sure you keep your plan somewhere safe where it can be accessed easily, even if your office isn’t accessible.

Step 8 – Sit back and relax

This is quite possibly the most important step, because now you’ve got a plan to keep your business going through anything unexpected. Perfect time to relax with a cup of coffee before it’s on to the next task…