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Dispatcher: “911, what is your emergency?”

Caller: “My PSAP is not breathing.”

Your mission is to ALWAYS be available to respond to callers in distress, but what about when the party in distress is your call center? Who comes to your aid? Well, mainly, you. You do not have the option of making a single phone call and awaiting a first responder who will address your needs. You have plans, backup plans, and backup plans to the backup plans. How do you know they will serve you in your time of need?

In planning for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."

General Dwight D. Eisenhower

I have heard a lot of people interpret this quote in a lot of ways, but an observation I would like to make is that plans is a noun, but planning is a verb! Your everyday operations are evolving all the time, so last year’s, last month’s, last week’s “disaster” plans may not adequately address your current operational demands. So, the message for me is to never stop planning for what might go wrong, and how you will address it.

Here are some fundamentals that always need to be addressed, regardless of the scenario:

  • People: Do you have a sufficient number of well trained and experienced people who are likely to be available to you in a time of crisis?
  • Resilience: Are your software, telephone systems, networks, devices resilient to the point that the frequency of failure is extremely small?
  • Alternatives: when “it” hits the fan, whichever fan that is, do you have a way to plug the resulting gap, or do you have single points of failure that render multiple other systems and procedures useless?
  • Help: Do you have organizations like neighboring agencies, other town/city/county departments, vendors, etc., upon whom you can rely, and to what degree can you lean on them?

Part of your plan should be to carefully choose which people, organizations, and companies you can count on to be there for you, when you need to make that call. Another critical part is to stay engaged with all of them. Keep them apprised of what’s new in your call center, and discuss how these changes may be enhanced by options your vendors may have, or how those changes may impact their ability to assist you in time of crisis.

My career has led me to focus on systems/software, the way they fail, and the resulting damage that can occur. We have seen PowerPhone’s customers’ ability to “answer the call” damaged by fire, equipment failure, network outages, software failures, and increasingly, malware.

We make sure that the systems we provide to our customers are resilient, and able to survive issues like server failures and network outages. Our employees know there are as many different ways to deploy our systems to our customers as there are customers. We craft solutions that will best fit the customers’ needs, with “backup” being high on that list.

What we also do is make sure that we are there for you, awaiting that call, armed with deep knowledge and decades of experience about what you do and how you do it, with the ability to help you get back up and running.

About the Author

Jay Avitable has been PowerPhone’s Director of Technology for three years, and prior to that served us our Information Technology Manager. Before joining us, Jay was the Chief Information Officer of a financial service company and managed a diverse distributed team of software developers and operations staff comprised of both employees and contractors located at multiple sites worldwide. Jay holds a B.S in Computer Science from the University of New Haven, and a PMP Certification from the Project Management Institute.