Batten The Hatches! Emergency Telephone Failover
October 2nd, 2015
For anyone on the Eastern Seaboard, this is nothing you should need a reminder on. However, because memories can be short, let me jog yours about what to expect as Hurricane Joaquin approaches the continental United States.
Sandy Left a Mark
If you were there in 2012, you know that almost 8 million homes and businesses were without power following Hurricane Sandy’s arrival, some going without electricity for over a week. Plus you needn’t look much further than that to get even more examples, from the Gulf Coast to New England, the Atlantic Hurricane Season (which runs from June through November) has traditionally wreaked havoc on the coastal states. The billions of dollars of damage that follow these events are exactly why local governments and emergency crews have been scrambling to prepare for Joaquin over the past few days. From New Jersey Governor Chris Christie declaring a state of emergency, to the cancellation of the Ironman triathlon in Maryland, to even the NFL announcing plans to potentially relocate or reschedule this weekend’s games, it’s clear that people everywhere are preparing for the worst. That said, what are you doing for your business?
Business Continuity for Profit Perpetuity
Words are fun, huh? Resonance aside, small and medium businesses don’t often have the luxury of alternate facilities in the country or emergency funds to gain access to during periods of heightened unpredictability. Therefore, a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is the best way an organization can protect itself during these and any other unforeseen development. Whether from Mother Nature, technical failures, or any other man-made event, losing access to your office can cost thousands of dollars a day and yet those losses can be avoided with a relatively small investment of time or money.
Among the many features in a traditional BCP are-
- Alternate location plans in the event of an evacuation
- Chain of command and contingent authority procedures
- Communications strategy for both employees and customers
It’s the final point there that can cost the most if overlooked. When there is no access to an office building, but all of the employees are fine and physically safe, why then should there be a need to interrupt operations? There shouldn’t be! If you have a cloud-based VoIP platform for your company, you’re already covered should you lose access to your building. If you are still using a traditional, on-site phone system, you can have all of the protection of a hosted system with the PBX Parachute business failover system from VirtualPBX.
Be There, From Anywhere
By mirroring only the parts of your business that you decide, PBX Parachute can keep essential, customer-facing departments up and running by enabling employees to access their company phone from anywhere they can get internet access. Also, you can program automatic triggering events where the PBX Parachute is deployed that include emergency messaging specific to the audience. This means you can have pre-recorded information accessible only to your company and another message for your customers that you can even remotely update as new information becomes available.
Getting started with your BCP by using PBX Parachute is as easy as it is important. To see how to get started or to learn more about the technology, contact one of our Business Continuity Experts today. In the meanwhile, batten down the hatches, man the mizzen mast, and start working on protecting your company today. Also, you should go back to reread those first two things with the voice of a pirate. Stay safe out there, mateys!
Not Even an Earthquake Can Stop PBX Parachute
August 26th, 2015
Monday marked the one-year anniversary of the 6.0 magnitude Napa Earthquake in Northern California. This was the largest and most destructive tremor in the United States since the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake reached 6.9 on the Richter Scale in 1989, famously recorded during the broadcast of the World Series just minutes before the opening pitch of game three. There exists a constant tension between inhabitants all across the Western Seaboard and the unpredictability of the continent’s tectonic plates. Though these seismic concerns are generally contained just in the western half of the United States, they symbolize the same natural volatility that exists in every corner of the globe.
Prepare for Predictability
Predicting an earthquake is virtually impossible and even the most advanced early-warning systems currently in development at UC Berkeley provide only seconds of advance warning. This is critically helpful in shutting down gas lines, mass transit, and other factors that help reduce damage in the event of a quake, but it does little to help businesses prepare for the worst. The only certainty, the only thing that can be truly predicted, is that eventually there will be a tremor, or a storm, or simply a truck that hits a power line, and even the most diligent of businesses will be forced to shutter its doors for a period.
Depending on the size of the company, a business can risk the loss of tens of thousands of dollars a day in revenue by simply not being open for business. Furthermore, those lost dollars have a doubly damaging impact because not only do they not find the way into your bottom line, but they also are bolstering the business of your competitors. This is where simple business insurance falls short. Getting reimbursed for the costs of rebuilding after a catastrophe doesn’t make much of a difference if your business is crippled during the downtime.
Every Employee Can Have a Headquarters
By including a telephone failover system like PBX Parachute into your company’s Business Continuity Plan, you can ensure that all critical operations can continue under any circumstances and from anywhere in the world. PBX Parachute mirrors the parts of your business you want to keep up and running and allows your key employees to virtually log-into their office lines from anywhere they have an internet connection. It deploys automatically with 99.99% reliability when your phone lines are down or not functioning for any reason, or you can activate it manually if you can anticipate your office becoming inaccessible. This way, should your office become inaccessible for any reason or amount of time, your employees can both stay in the safety of their homes with their families and your business can keep humming along without missing a beat.
You don’t let market factors or competitors dictate your success, why should you let a few bumps in the road do the same? Granted that a 6.0 earthquake is a little bit more than a simple bump, but you get the picture.
Business Continuity Experts today to see how we can help augment your emergency preparations with PBX Parachute. You can rest assure that no matter what is happening under the Earth’s crust, we’ll be here to help you stay in business!
Storm on the Horizon: El Niño & PBX Parachute
August 13th, 2015
Boston had record-setting snowfall last winter and it did so in less time than the previous record year 20 years ago. In fact, it wasn’t even until mid-July until the snow drifts from the winter had finally melted. The entire country was so severely beaten down by Mother Nature that there were rolling blackouts and road closures from coast to coast. Everything from Rainpocalypse, which, though laughable, actually did shutdown the typically bustling San Francisco Bay Area to extreme winter weather all the way far south as Dallas, 2014-2015 was uniquely disruptive to businesses across the country. What would you do if you knew that was just the beginning?
The Boy Who Could Stop a Hemisphere
No, this isn’t some revolutionary political activist or a sole student protestor halting a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square, this is El Niño. El Niño is a weather anomaly during which an irregularly warm flow of water in the Pacific Ocean presses up against the shores of North and South America, creating months of unusually extreme weather, including massive amounts of precipitation. Unless you haven’t heard, by the way, there appears to be one of the largest El Niño effects ever recorded brewing right now, too. Yeah, so it’s never too early to begin preparing for another intense winter weather season.
Plan for Tomorrow, Act Today
Wayne Gretsky said that he doesn’t skate to where the puck is, but to where it’s going to be. With the El Niño effect that we are likely to face in the next several months, perhaps an ice-skating quote is more appropriate than we think, too.
How many times have you wished you had recognized the signs of what was happening in your business while it was still on the horizon? Today you can do just that. By preparing yourself now for the literal storm that is brewing off in the distance, you can hedge your business against any weather situation along with all of the other, unforeseen circumstances that could shut down your operations. By building a phone continuity strategy for your business that includes failovers for your office communications systems, you can stay operational through anything that would normally disrupt your business.
PBX Parachute Delivers
VirtualPBX hosted phone systems are already backed by the reliability and flexibility it takes to keep a business up and running whether its employees are at the office or not. We build multiple redundancies into our system so that our customers never have to worry about their office location being inaccessible due to extreme weather. Some companies, however, have their own on-site phone systems that work better for their business needs, but that expose them to the risk of inactivity during any similar type of crisis situation. PBX Parachute is built for them.
By signing-up for PBX Parachute, a company is safeguarding themselves by mirroring their existing telephone system and keeping it on constant stand-by. With this system in place, administrators can either deploy PBX Parachute on command if they have ample time to anticipate a disruption, or they can program a variety of triggering events to automatically enable the redundant system to activate. Furthermore, like all of the VirtualPBX communications solutions, PBX Parachute is fully customizable, so any combination of departments or extensions can be assigned to deploy in-line with your specific business objectives. If you want only sales and support to keep firing from home, you can do that, if you want only administrative lines for internal messaging, you can do that, too. Anything your company needs to focus on the safety and security of your employees and customers is available with PBX Parachute.
Someday Isn’t Actually a Day of the Week
Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. As a business owner, you never have the luxury of waiting until things are convenient to act, so why should ensuring the safety of your business and employees be any different? Get in touch with our Business Continuity Experts today to see how PBX Parachute can help you rest easy knowing your company will see its way through any storm.
From the Desk of the CEO: The Year in Review
December 30th, 2014
Well this is it, the last few days of 2014 are at hand and we here at VirtualPBX are thrilled with how the year has passed. Not only have our customers contributed to a stellar year of growth for us as a business, we have grown our team to a new height to accommodate all of our new functions, as well. We’ve been happy to welcome in so many new faces from across the world to across the hallway, and before we look forward to what’s next, I think it’s good to remember how we got here today.
Your Feedback, Your Features
We pride ourselves on service and part of that is listening to what many of you have mentioned would be helpful to you in your daily work. In response to your desire for even more control over your business communications universe from the ease of your vConsoles, we introduced one-click Dropbox integration for all of your recorded call storage needs.
Peace of Mind
Also, we’ve been proud to help many new companies protect themselves from the uncertain with our award-winning PBX Parachute, a service that mirrors on-site phone systems and deploys virtual reproductions of them in the event of a system failure.
Because VoIP is the foundation of all of our products, though, improving the quality of service for all hosted telecom users is of paramount importance to us. With the battery of thorough analysis that comes with our weeklong ProSIP Network Health Check, we are sure to be able to continue offering the most complete business telephone solutions possible.
However, our current state is only as good as our commitment to the future. Therefore, insofar as progress and growth are concerned, our greatest advances may not be immediately evident to you, our valued customers. We have been hard at work developing some really exciting and disruptive technology that we’re thrilled to begin rolling out in the coming year.
We are excited with where we are going and proud of where we have been. I hope during this time of year you too can all look back with similar pride and enthusiasm for what is coming next at your company, knowing that we’ve got your communications needs covered no matter what direction you’re heading.
Thank you for another great year and I hope you all enjoy a safe and wonderful New Year’s celebration.
Infographic – PBX Parachute
December 9th, 2014
Business Continuity Planning, Disaster Recovery, Automatic Business Failover; these phrases can all begin to sound pretty scary when you think about how important they can be to the life of your company. But even the scariest, darkest paths are easily navigated when you use the right tools. Let PBX Parachute be the torch to shine your way down the road of planning for the future. You’ll find though this simple infographic that PBX Parachute functions as a lifeline to both your coworkers and your customers so you can stay connected no matter what happens.
Your Business Twin – Be in Two Places at Once
November 24th, 2014
Have you ever imagined what it would be like to be in two places at once? If you have children or run a business (which can be strikingly similar) then you probably have considered it plenty of times. For those of you with both the title of parent and employer, perhaps two places at once still isn’t enough!
Even when things are going smoothly, it can often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to complete everything that requires your attention. There are a host of services out there to help keep you organized, and we even outlined a few ways people can use technology to work around their schedules recently., All of these tactics help get us through the day-to-day grind., but what happens when the train leaves the tracks and you can’t share your attention anymore?
If your company has a Business Continuity Plan you’re probably perfectly aware of what happens next, because you’ve invested the time to plan for any contingency. What may not be included in that plan, however, is where exactly your energy will be required to help your organization get out of a jam quickly, safely, and without losing any of the momentum that it has worked so hard to build up.
But if you’re there, who’s answering your phone?
PBX Parachute is your doppelgänger, your twin, your surrogate for all of the business calls you would normally be handling while you’re off saving the day. The award-winning automatic business telephone failover system can let you stay focused on the critical tasks of navigating a disaster or disruption in service by-
- Duplicating your on-site phone system, keeping extensions and voicemail lines active
- Forwarding each extensions calls to up to four different devices
- Speaking for you, literally, by launching a pre-recorded emergency hotline for your employees
We have all tried to juggle too many things at once, sometimes it works out and sometimes things fall to the ground. Don’t take that chance during a period of emergency when your company needs you the most. PBX Parachute can’t duplicate you so you can be in two places at once, but it can allow you to be in the one place that really matters in an emergency, which is the next best thing.
Get in touch with one of the expert VirtualPBX business consultants today to see how you can multiply yourself in an emergency.
Pennywise and Pound Foolish
November 18th, 2014
You may have heard this one before. It makes sense, though, we shouldn’t sacrifice our long-term opportunities at the expense of saving a few extra bucks here or there on things that we ultimately need to invest in.
Sometimes doing this means shelling-out for that killer software or computer that is outside of your typical onboarding package to make sure your new hire can help elevate your game. Or, maybe you’re just starting out and you are putting some of your salary dollars right back into your business. No matter what the case may be, the simple fact is that there will always be expenses that will come back as revenue even if it’s not as soon as we may prefer. Sometimes, though, our investments are immediately calculable.
Just like switching to a hybrid or electric vehicle will result in immediately realized gains at the gas pump, and retrofitting facilities with water-saving devices or LED lighting will positively impact utility bills, there will always be opportunities to gain from an appropriate amount of prudent investment.
Enlisting the service of an off-site telephone failover system like PBX Parachute allows you to mirror your existing system as we discussed recently. What you may not have known, however, is how you can realize gains from employing PBX Parachute even without a system failure or emergency.
There comes a point for every business where you can no longer divert valuable time and energy into certain tasks, and so finding economical ways to outsource them becomes paramount. Kara Taylor, VP of IS at Qualstar Credit Union in Redmond, Washington, was in such a position when her company of about 100 employees enlisted PBX Parachute to cover their nearly 100,000 inbound calls a month. Her savings were immediately realized. “The solution allowed us to greatly reduce our communications disaster recovery time from potentially hours to less than minutes and in so doing, virtually removed IS from managing another system in a recovery situation.”
You can read the entire case study from Qualstar and learn more about PBX Parachute from one of our experts in San Jose, but one thing you can’t do, however, is let your Information Security team off of the hook without PBX Parachute.
This is a Test, This is Only a Test
November 11th, 2014
Should this have been a real emergency we probably wouldn’t be sitting around chatting, would we? We all recognize this phrase, and for some of us, it may not represent much more than a slight nuisance during our favorite TV or radio programs. The truth is that these periodic tests of the Emergency Alert System (formerly the Emergency Broadcast System) are designed to maintain a nationwide communications network should there ever be the need for delivering critical messages on a massive scale. While that’s a rather bleak notion, it’s also emblematic of something that is equally critical for businesses to consider implementing.
In a recent blog, we stressed the importance of designing, testing, and adopting a Business Continuity Plan and many of our subscribers have since begun that process. That’s a fantastic way to keep your doors open for business during an emergency. Furthermore, it prevents customers and prospects from guessing whether or not you are available or, worse yet, moving on to a competitor. It’s great that you can set your business up for success under any circumstance, but what about the wellbeing of your employees? How do you address their needs if their safety is in question? PBX Parachute can provide access to messages for your workforce in addition to keeping the lines of communication open to the public.
With a few very simple steps, you can prerecord any type of general emergency instructions for your employees and program them to be available on a special hotline as soon as the automatic failover system springs into action. That hotline number can be shared with your employees beforehand but it becomes available when the failover system is activated, thus eliminating the possibility for false alarms. And seeing as how PBX Parachute replicates your primary phone system and can also forward calls to extensions, your employees can both access the emergency hotline and get their inbound calls from a remote location away from any danger. Furthermore, from the convenience of your vConsole, you can also record situation-specific instructions and update the message in real time, making sure your team always has the most important and time-critical information right when they need it.
You’ve put too much into developing your team to put them in harm’s way. Get in touch with our business continuity experts to see how PBX Parachute can help you protect your most important investment- your employees. PBX Parachute helps you do that, test pattern not required.
We’ve Got your Back – VirtualPBX Business Phone Protection
November 7th, 2014
You know that one person in your circle of friends who everyone can always rely on? You know, the gal who will always be there to help you move, the guy who never hesitates to be designated driver, the person who is just rock-solid reliable? The point is that we have occasion to encounter people along the way that can always be trusted to be there in the clutch. Heck, maybe you’re that person, even. If so, you’d know how great it feels to lend a helping hand. We do, too.
While we can’t exactly commit to helping you move, and seeing as how we keep thousands of telephone numbers up and running 24 hours a day, we might not be the best option to hitch a ride in the middle of the night. However, we are there for you whenever you have an emergency at work.
If you subscribe to any of our Office or Anywhere Plans, you always have the peace of mind knowing that your business lines will be up and running no matter what unfolds. Weather, political, social, animal, vegetable or mineral- no matter what type of emergency comes knocking to your doorstep, your customers will never know the difference unless you want them to. That’s right, with a cloud-based telephone service from VirtualPBX, whenever disaster strikes, your telephone service continues as if nothing has happened and customers are sent to voicemail, or you can quickly change the inbound greeting to reflect any special instructions or updates should you require them. All of this can be managed in real time and wherever you can get online to your vConsole, your complete VirtualPBX phone system control panel. Through the vConsle you can also make lightening-fast changes to call routing by diverting traffic instantly to your cellphone or softphone. This intuitive platform can also be programed to intelligently cascade down a list of phones as you provide them, ex- desk phone, soft phone, mobile, etc.
Don’t have VirtualPBX telephone service yet? No problem, we’ve got you covered, too. With PBX Parachute, you can benefit from all of the same security and peace of mind as our complete phone service subscribers. Very much in the same way as we do with our Office and Anywhere Plans, with PBX Parachute we replicate your entire phone system so that, should you get hit with a system-downing emergency at your facility, PBX Parachute will deploy instantly after your primary system goes down. Also, you can prepare custom messages for inbound callers and information hotlines for your employees. This way you can immediately share critical information to the people who matter to you most, as soon as it is necessary.
No matter where you are or how you get your business phone service, VirtualPBX can be your wingman, your knight in shining armor, your go-to. What can we say? It just feels good knowing that people can rely on us. Reach out to one of our VoIP experts and see how we can help your business stay in the game, no matter what.
Business Continuity Plan – Make the Weather Less Frightful
November 5th, 2014
It seems premature to be talking about holiday music just a few days removed from Halloween, but this isn’t about Black Friday or eggnog, don’t worry. Instead, we’d like to focus on the fact that severe weather really can be frightful and, with the recent fall back into Daylight Savings Time, the worst of it is also right around the corner.
An excerpt from Fox News’ coverage of the recently-released UN report on climate change stated, “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has answered the most important question on global warming — whether humans are causing it — with 95 percent certainty: Yes.”
Regardless of your position on the matter, however, one thing about weather is irrefutable- when Mother Nature shows us her less-than-gentle side, nothing can stand in her way. So where does that leave your business? If you were like the 7.9 million homes and businesses without power following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, your business would have ground to a stop until the utilities had been reinstated. The risk of an indefinite cessation of operations is something businesses can’t afford to be exposed to. Fortunately, there are ways to prepare and protect your business from these and other types of emergencies.
Obviously, having proper insurance coverage is critical for any organization, but that only helps to repair after an emergency has taken place. To keep your business up and running, it’s best to have a comprehensive Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in place. This simple exercise is unfortunately one that too many people overlook until it’s too late, but there are plenty of easy-to-follow guides on how to implement a BCP available online.
Several areas identified in every BCP guide as critical for consideration in a comprehensive strategy can be addressed with a single tool. Having an off-sight business telephone failover system in place automatically creates:
- A hotline for your employees to receive potentially life-saving information
- A mirror of your entire telephone system so inbound calls remain completely unaffected, or
- Should you prefer, an automated message to all inbound callers indicating extenuating circumstances and whatever service delay notifications you should choose to include
These types of reassurances and more are available with the right platform. PBX Parachute is the award-winning business telephone failover system from VirtualPBX that puts to rest any concerns over whether or not you can reach your employees, or if your customers can reach you. Contact one of the VirtualPBX Business Failover Experts today to see how this service can be a part of your BCP and begin weatherproofing your business right away.