This article originally appeared on MSP Mentor.
As you and I both know, despite how smoothly business runs, things don’t always go according to plan. Changes are something you need to be able to make on an almost daily basis if you hope to keep uptime in the ever-desirable five-nines territory.
A lot people think of their business as something that will just keep trudging forward, never considering the possibility that something will throw a wrench in the works. But there are wrenches flying everywhere, and regardless of how good you are at dodging them, one will get caught in the gears at some point. Luckily, there’s something that can help you when that time comes: flexibility.
Business continuity relies on flexibility, and flexibility falls into three categories. Let’s take a look at these categories and a few things you can do right now to make yourself or your clients more flexible.
No one task should be exclusive to one single employee, meaning at least two people should be able to perform any one task. That way, if one person quits, is sick, or whatever, that specific task doesn’t go unfinished. Obviously different people have different specialized skills, but the more overlap there is, the more flexible you can be. Inventory any tasks that seem to be exclusive to one person, and decide if there’s another employee that can learn how to do that task. You never know when you’ll need a second option.
Another thing to think about is employee mobility. There are a variety of opinions when it comes to working from home, but giving employees the ability to work from just about anywhere gives you another level of flexibility. Suppose power goes out or some other larger issue keeps work from continuing as normal at the office. Employees can keep working from elsewhere rather than sitting around. Decide if there’s a way to create a VPN or to leverage cloud technologies that can grant employees the ability to work remotely.
It gets a bit trickier when we talk about equipment, but on a basic level, you shouldn’t be dependent on any one single piece of equipment, whether you’re talking about a critical server, routers, or anything (we go into the deep depths of this concept in our latest ebook “Making Disaster Recovery Easy”). You simply can’t have one point of failure if you really want to be flexible.
The key here is to identify any of these points of failure, and decide how to create a redundancy. If all you’re doing is taking backups, you’ll likely be able to recover eventually, but who knows how long that will take? Downtime is costly, and the idea here is to have very little, if any. If you use a full, end-to-end backup and disaster recovery solution, rather than just backup software, you’ll have more speedy recovery options than you know what to do with—that’s the type of flexibility you can’t do without.
Flexibility extends well past your own equipment. You’ve also got to rely on utility providers to keep providing service. Because you rely on things like power, Internet, and so forth, you can’t afford not to be without them. Internet and power outages happen all the time because of a variety reasons both large and small, but by having multiple Internet providers, and having backup power sources available, you ensure that business doesn’t have to stop completely when that inevitable wrench finds your gears. See if there is a secondary Internet provider that can take care of you or a client, and decide what you can do about power when, for whatever reason, your regular services provider can’t deliver.