When other systems fail, smartphones and other mobile devices can provide a vital business communications lifeline. Smartphones and other mobile devices can quickly become your organization's most powerful business continuity tool when other technologies falter during a disaster. Organizing work teams and restoring daily operations can be easier when employees can communicate easily with each other—and business partners—via their smartphones and other mobile devices.
Here are nine steps to take advantage of smartphones' versatility for business continuity.
Plan proactively. Make sure you incorporate smartphones into your overall disaster recovery plan from the beginning. Explain to your employees how the phones should be used during an emergency. After you have prepared your contingency plans, establish notification procedures so your team knows who to call in an emergency.
Organize contacts. Before disaster strikes, ask employees to enter their key contacts—internal and external—into their smartphones to help ensure that communication channels stay open during emergencies. Depending how many new contacts they make, they may need to update the information weekly. If they're entering data into their smartphones first, have them regularly back up that data to a computer in case their phones become unusable, and be sure their computers also get backed up. Be sure everyone has contact information for emergency response personnel and government agencies that need to be alerted if your disaster has the potential to affect public health or safety.
Evaluate applications. Smartphone applications for maps, trip navigation, news, weather, financial account management, contact organization and other purposes can be useful during emergencies. Because there are so many to choose from, have a team member identify the applications that can best help your business during a crisis. Ask your smartphone users to install these applications on their devices.
Draft a plan for email and texting. During an emergency, organization managers should have a plan that includes using the email and text messaging capabilities on their smartphones to help distribute news and instructions to team members quickly and effectively. Train those staff members who are assigned specific notification duties.
Set a coordination strategy. An emergency may prevent or restrict access to your primary business site. Therefore, your organization's business continuity plan should include a strategy for using smartphones to alert employees, customers, contractors, vendors and visitors to temporary meeting locations along with turn-by-turn directions to reach these sites.
Support work-at-home employees. Smartphones can help employees continue working productively at home by communicating with managers and customers, sending and receiving emails and text messages, Web browsing, running basic business-oriented applications and other work-related tasks. Be sure your devices are protected wherever they are.
Provide information. Employees need a trusted and continuously available source of emergency preparedness information. The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) has a mobile website that delivers critical emergency preparedness information and advice on what to do during and after a disaster.
Keep informed. Because smartphone technology is advancing rapidly, you should have a team member periodically search online for reports on smartphone products and services that may help your organization to continue operating during an emergency.
Stay in practice. Consider running a smartphone emergency practice drill at least twice a year. Periodic rehearsals can help employees understand how to use their mobile devices during a crisis and highlight areas needing improvement. Drills are also a good time to see if your employees are keeping their smartphone applications and contact information up to date.
Take the first step toward creating an emergency-ready business communications lifeline with smartphones from AT&T.