What is your agency contingency?

Posted on June 23rd, 2014 by in Editorial Musings

Summer is here in the mid-Atlantic. With that comes unpredictable and unstable weather, thunderstorms, and the inevitable power outage! BGE supplies my electricity, and I am not sure how they rank against other utility companies, but it seems when the temperature climbs and the wind blows, I can be assured of a power outage. Unfortunately for me, my outages come in 2 flavors–under a minute and just less than a week.

Several years ago, I was woefully unprepared for an extended outage and it hurt my business. Clients were unable to get in touch with me, phone calls went unreturned; and in general, business ground to a halt.  And grinding to a halt is no way to treat the people that are willing to put food on your table. So, as I prepare for what is to be another exciting Maryland summer, I thought I might revisit my emergency plans!

With the advent of cloud computing, much of the data needed to run your business no longer needs to be stored on your computer. Smart phones and tablets come close to making a traditional computer obsolete.

phoneCommunications. I still have a landline and I still believe it is essential. The unfortunate part is that telephone can usually be restored prior to power; so in addition to my power needing landline phones, I also have a throwback  phone that I can use in a pinch–$5 at a flea market. Of course, I still have my cell to use as I am able.

Power. I also have UPS (uninterruptible power supplies) for my electronics. This is mophiemore to prevent harm from spikes than long term outages, but it does give me a limited amount of breathing room to power down my stuff safely and maybe print off that last set of client documents. While I can charge my cell phone in my car, I have also invested in 2 Mophies that were probably the best $80 I ever spent. When they are fully charged, they can charge my phone 4 times, and my iPad twice. They are no larger than my phone and are perfect for those long days out of the office or on a long flight!

Data. My data is backed up to a few different services. After a significant crash a long time ago, I tend to embrace redundancy. My computer data is baked up automatically to the wonderfully affordable Carbonite. My websites and blogs are backed up to Amazon. But for my day to day access, I have my computers adjusted to also save my documents to Dropbox. I do pay for the premium version, but I have found it has been a lifesaver more than once. Need a contract on my iPad to review with a client? It’s there. Photos to show? There! Have some down time away from home and think of a brilliant addition to a marketing piece for my agency–there!

Alternate workspaces. Make sure you have some alternate workspaces in mind. Your local Starbucks, McDonalds, or library. But what if they are out of power as well?  Just have a plan to be literally out of the office!

Death. No one likes to think about it, but it happens.  And like most of you, I am a one man show. While I have not figured out a way to come back from the dead, I have left very specific instructions in a shared Dropbox folder (shared between my children, a trusted colleague, and my attorney) on what to do if I croak.  They can access the document and the document has all the passwords and locations for client specific active documents.

As we consider this, remember that our emergency (be it power, medical, personal, etc) is never the emergency of our clients. I am not suggesting that they are inconsiderate or not compassionate, but the fact remains that this is a business transaction and you need to hold up your end of the bargain.

Thankfully, technology has evolved to the point where we are not as affected as we would have been in year’s past. But, we still need to be prepared.  If you are not sure what needs to be addressed, test it out yourself. Unplug all the gadgets from the power and see. It might be an eye opening exercise.

Do you already have contingencies in place? I know mine work for me; what are yours?

 

  One thought on “What is your agency contingency?

  1. 1Susan Schaefer says:

    We’ve talked about this in other columns as well … but I think we still don’t talk about it enough … EVERYONE needs a back up / contingency / emergency plan in place … detailed, step by step … have other TAs (in other regions / time zones) lined up to step in when you are knocked out (by weather, health, or the ultimate – death) … your clients deserve as much at the very least.

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