The usual even-flow of office dynamics at Integrated Communications was no different yesterday, September 4th, than every other day at the small business in Golden Valley, MN. Kip and Thalina headed-out around 9:30 am to meet a client, Sandy shuffled through the morning mail, Mary was hard at work in the front of the office, and Nate, Nick, and Setara were wrapped-up in some calls in the three back offices within close proximity to our D-Mark. All was silent, all was still for a brief moment in telecom history, when a POP emanated from our electrical room, followed by heavy drilling noises. “What was that”, Nick yelled. “I’m not sure; is someone drilling”, Setara questioned. Thankfully Sandy made her way to the back of the office building to give Nick some mail, and that’s when she noticed the fire.
Our morning was filled with chaos, fire-fighters, a local news crew and a disaster recovery plan as our office encountered a small disaster; an electrical fire broke-out in our back electrical room.
How did we handle the disaster at our office?
Besides a crazed pregnant lady running panicked out of the building, the employees at Integrated were ready to contain the disaster, and start implementing a solution.
- Get everyone out of the building and to safety – We evacuated the building and stood a good distance away from the perimeter of our office
- Call 9-11 – The police were informed of the fire and the location of our building ASAP (further on this topic will be discussed)
- Extinguish Fire? – It was possible for our two shining heroes at Integrated (Nick and Nate) to locate a fire extinguisher and put the fire out, and then exit the building to get to safety while public safety officials arrived
- Notify Boss – Although Kip was on his way to meet with a client, we called him immediately to inform him of the situation ensuing at Integrated
- Speak with Public Safety Officials – After a few fire trucks arrived and the men and women of the Golden Valley Fire Department did their diligence in assessing the disaster, we spoke with the fire-Chief and received information on what may have occurred, and the proper steps to take now that the fire has been terminated.
- Contact proper channels – Insurance, Electrician, Clean-up Crew, and our folk at A Couple of Gurus (IT Company in MN) were called within minutes of the incident to be informed and to gear-up in an effort to help us solve any problems that may have occurred. (Thankfully, A Couple of Gurus accommodated our server worries and backed-up our entire system within a few hours of the fire).
- Go to lunch to debrief and come-up with a company game plan – After the event took place, and the proper people were notified, we ventured out to Doolittle’s for a quick lunch and company chat about what our next steps will be. While the office was to be cleaned and fumigated that night and the following day, we decided it was safer for the employees’ health to work from home until Friday (or further notice of safety has been recommended).
A HUGE piece of our disaster recovery plan was knowing who to call in case of an emergency. All of our bases were covered, and the proper people were informed of our situation within a moment’s notice. Great partnerships and equipment also hold value at a time when disaster strikes: Dave Johnson with Velocity Telephone graciously offered office space if necessary until our office and system were cleared for work…
And, on that note, the use of our VOIP phone system through Velocity Telephone came in handy in several ways on the day we needed it most. When the fire started, our phone lines were in flames as well – fortunately, with our VOIP phone system we were able to dial out to 9-11 without operating phone lines. Furthermore, our plug-and-play VOIP phone system made the capability of our employees working from home extremely feasible! Anywhere there is Internet, we are able to plug in our office phones and work – what a great feeling.
**Make sure your company is prepared for a disaster, no matter how big or small the event may be
And now for some pictures…
Fires, floods, tornadoes, oh my! Let’s face it, as business owners and representatives there are many outside factors in which we have little-to-no control over that can create a dip in profit for a few days, or eradicate an entire business structure in a matter of minutes. It’s important to prepare for disasters and protect the assets of your company and your customers. Equipping your company with a pragmatic recovery plan requires knowledge of probable complications that can occur, as well as the necessary steps to implement and test before a disaster strikes. Here are a few questions and points to mull over while preparing your company for disaster:
How much money are you willing to spend to protect your business?
Although no specific number can ever represent the dream of your business, the people, or the work put in, it’s time to get realistic and determine how much of a budget you can carve out to plan and implement a concrete disaster recovery plan.
How much money will your company lose on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis if and when a disaster occurs?
Be sure to weigh the difference of your companies’ profit with how much money to put into a recovery plan. A small business who can survive a while on their existing customer base may only need to endure a small cost for a few recovery operations; however, a larger corporation, hospital, bank, and so on, will need a more complex blueprint, therefore, requiring more of a disaster recovery budget.
Total Recovery Considerations
What are the most important business assets that need to be accounted for and replaced in order to restore your business and maintain the least possible downtime?
Think about your daily operations and what is utilized in order to minimally and maximally function.
– Office Space: If you already have or will need back-up files hosted in the cloud for all of your business data, how will you access that data? How will your employees?
Consider a budget for a small office space in the case of an emergency that your key employees can work from if need be.
– Equipment: What if all of your phones and computers are damaged? Do you have recovery for your equipment ready in the event no repairs can be made or all equipment is lost?
Perhaps educating yourself on VoIP phone systems will allow you easy and quick access to a phone system for as many employees as necessary. A product such as Velocity Telephone’s Virtual Office can be effortlessly procured in the case of an emergency and will allow for quick voice uptime with an easy plug-and-play functionality. Check out a review on the Velocity Telephone Product: http://www.integratedcom.net/virtual-office-voip-review/
So you have a disaster recovery plan in place. Your employees have all been notified where to go in the event of an emergency, your carrier has provided you with redundancy in case the power shuts-down, and you’ve got Dave Johnson on standby incase mother nature strikes and you need new phones a.s.a.p. Now what?
Quite simply, test. Practice really does make perfect. Be sure to keep your employees safe first and foremost by providing drills for different disasters. Next, make sure to coordinate with your telecom agent and test your voice and data redundancy. Lastly, touch-base with all of your equipment vendors, customers, etc… to provide them with who to contact in case of an emergency, and how you will contact, inform, and connect with them when a disaster occurs.
Contact us for more information on the types of voice and data back-ups we can offer your company to help you protect your best assets in the face of disaster.
What is VoIP?
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) literally translates to a call being made over the same set of rules as the Internet uses; a phone call over your Internet connectivity. However, VoIP is no longer strictly operable through means of the internet alone, like it once was; rather it operates with the same protocol (a set of rules) as the Internet does.
VoIP capable products are considered “plug-and-play” and allow for a phone system to be plugged directly into your data network, allowing your employees to make phone calls from the data connection; keep in mind if you have high call volumes you may want more bandwidth depending on the call quality. While more bandwidth may not be necessary for call quality, ensuring that your voice comes before all other data will ensure business operable call quality.
Many telecom service providers are seasoned and well equipped for the VoIP future that ensues. These providers offer a phone system in order to use VoIP technology, referred to as IP phones. There are many types of IP phones, servicing businesses from a one-man shop to a multi-billion dollar organization with many complex needs and services. (Refer to http://www.integratedcom.net/virtual-office-voip-review/ for a review on a VoIP phone system).
Your VoIP capable phone system also allows for your employees to take their IP phone-set ANYWHERE to work and/or make calls and bypass the long-distance toll by using their new plug-and-play phone and utilizing data connectivity to make their calls – an inter-operable product that works over multiple networks. How is this possible? Your IP phone system comes equip with its own IP address and can be accessed for use at any time and any place by means of the cloud – your service provider will allow for the phone to search the cloud to find the appropriate IP address, allowing for voice service through VoIP.
Be sure to gather information on the different VoIP products to find the one that best fits your company’s current and growing needs. VoIP is a service in which is becoming more relevant and readily accessible, and one we highly recommend here at Integrated Communications.
Ever wonder about a product, its key features, other companies’ opinions, etc., BEFORE you go out and purchase it? The truth is, oftentimes businesses are wowed at demo’s with fast-talk, and lots of intrigue but never really have the chance to dig deep into a particular product. So, before you go and spend your businesses hard-earned cash on a less-than-ideal investment, be sure to get full reviews from un-biased persons, such as ourselves, and educate yourself on the product before you purchase it.
This month we will be reviewing Virtual Office – a voip Velocity Telephone product, and one we currently use at our own office! Besides product information, we will also provide personal likes on the product we use straight from the employees at Integrated Communications, as well as information on how you can schedule a demo for this business phone at your company.
PRODUCT: Virtual Office; a Hosted VOIP system
COMPANY FIT: This product can fit companies of a large scale, from a 1-2 person at home office to a multi-site company with thousands of employees
FEATURES: Multiple line appearances, call transferring, 3-way conference call, mute, hold, forwarding, speed dials, flexibility in users – limitless expandability, and functions in many works spaces (including home offices, call centers, and virtual call centers), multiple handset options for virtual office, call recording, call blocking, system-wide busy lamp, unified messaging, caller ID, outbound call rejection, video-conferencing capability, admin login user information for customization of product, internal and external conference bridging, call center packaging options, and many other unique packaging and feature options to fit most business needs
HANDSET OPTIONS: Virtual office comes equip with 4 different handset options; Grandstream GXP2124 is a top choice phone featuring 4 dedicated line keys, HD audio quality, integrated web applications, back-lit LCD, key extensions, and many other customizable options and features; Grandstream GXP285 involves easy installation, hand-free duplex speakerphone, 2 call appearances, and is the most cost effective handset for small businesses; Grandstream GXP2100 is an easy-to-use 4 line telephone, supports integrated power-over-ethernet best for both small businesses and enterprise customers; Grandstream GXP2120 comes equip with a high resolution graphic LCD, best fit with executive offices and advanced enterprise users
EMPLOYEE REVIEWS: The users at Integrated Communications appreciate many of the products features, and all seem to have our personal favorite; a few key features liked about the Virtual Office Grandstream GXP2110 product includes:
– We are able to plug the phone in anywhere with an Internet connection and it configures up and works
– We enjoy the convenience of being able to forward to our cell-phone, but the message left will still be on our work phone rather than transferred over to our cell phone messaging system – it helps with keeping work and customers in an organized place but allowing us to pick-up the phone whenever and wherever to better assist our customers
– Users can be in charge of their own system with instant access to a web portal designed for easy-use
– Any call unanswered by a single user is placed in their missed-call cue, it’s a great way for us to keep track of who’s called in to the company
– I’m able to view call logs for all users at the company
– With virtual office we never have to pay another maintenance fee
– The company is covered for all software updates and handsets that need to be replaced
– All of the employees are given individual DID’s with our current main number
– The use of desk-top faxing is convenient and fast
– Users can twin their cell phone and their desk phone to ring at the same time
– We do a lot of conference calling and it’s nice to have the capability to conference in up to 4 people
Contact Integrated Communications to learn more about our personal experience with the Virtual Office product, for pricing options, and to see the phone system for yourself today – also call if you are interested in learning about other business phone options, network solutions, or to get reviews on any product you may currently be interested in!
Integrated Communications: (763) 201-8000