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Don’t turn a drama into a crisis: business continuity planning

These four scenarios will help with your own business continuity planning exercises to keep your organisation running in case of a disaster.

Local outages are an occasional yet damaging fact of business life. However, with careful business continuity planning you can avoid a local problem escalating into an organisation-wide disaster.

“Disaster recovery and business continuity are a key 2014 project for 40% of respondents” – 2014 Computer Weekly/Tech Target IT priorities survey.

“More than half of organisations suffered at least one disruption during 2013 with extreme weather, staffing issues and loss of IT/telecommunications most often to blame.” – Weathering The Storm; 2013 Business Continuity Management Survey, Chartered Management Institute.

Scenario 1 – The doctor’s surgery gets sick:

There’s a nasty bug going round.

All your admin staff have caught it.

Only Muriel the receptionist has struggled in to work.

And now there’s no one to answer the phones but her.


To avoid a surgery meltdown, your business continuity plan must:

› Implement an emergency recording for all incoming calls advising patients there may be a delay in your response
› Provide a sufficient voicemail service for patients to leave messages
› Implement call routing to direct incoming calls to the relevant department
› Utilise call forwarding to direct calls to other offices or mobiles

Scenario 2 – School’s out

It’s mid-January and the school boiler has burst a pipe.

Parents need to know if school is going to open.

The switchboard is jammed at 8am as callers try to find out more.


Good business continuity planning would include:

› A pre-recorded message for all callers as soon as they connect
› Voicemail facilities to request a return call once the backlog is cleared
› A self-service switchboard for routing calls unrelated to the weather

Scenario 3 – The strike

A general strike has decimated your workforce.

There aren’t enough people to man the phones.

Your customers still expect a normal service regardless.


When carrying out business continuity planning you should consider:

› Pre-recorded warning messages to alert callers of potential delays and problems
› Activating a voicemail function to allow non-urgent callers to leave a message
› Self-service switchboard (IVR) to allow callers to route themselves to the right department where possible
› Routing to allow internal redirection of calls to other sites when the head office switchboard is overloaded

Scenario 4 – Winter storms

Floods have stopped many staff getting to work.

Telephone lines are down at some offices.

Your commitments to customers can’t stop.

“Organisations impacted by snow during early 2013 experienced an average financial loss of as much as £52,770 as a result.” – Weathering The Storm; 2013 Business Continuity Management Survey, Chartered Management Institute.


With extreme weather seemingly causing more problems than ever, business continuity planning should consider:

› Using a hosted switchboard to remove the risk of local disasters causing organisation-wide chaos
› External call routing to divert incoming calls to staff working from home
› System status messages to acknowledge internal calls and to warn of potential service delays

Comprehensive business continuity planning

For ultimate disaster recovery potential, your business should consider:

› A hosted switchboard solution for any place, any time offering resilient call routing
› An IVR so callers can direct themselves to the right person or department
› Voicemail provisions to cover peak demands
› Mobile/home office-capable redirection for emergencies