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After the Aftermath

By Daniel Antion posted Sep 06, 2011 4:39 PM

  

Last week, like many businesses in Connecticut, we spent a few days without power at our office. The good news is that Tropical Storm Irene hit on a Sunday, and power was restored to our office by Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday morning, we were back to business as usual. Of course, we managed to conduct business on Monday and Tuesday as well, at least in a limited fashion. We took advantage of the fact that the distribution of employees and what sometimes seemed like random action by the storm, left many of us with power. We were able to transfer our phones to coverage by an answering service, and tap into on-line access to our email that was being held with AT&T.

The online email access was operating at a delay, and the answering service was taking messages and forwarding them to me for distribution. In order to speed things up, we quickly began relying upon personal email accounts and text-messaging. Again, this worked well – every critical task during the outage was completed. No phone calls were lost; no incoming email was lost. The system worked; yay! Now what?

At the point that I sent the very first text message to one of my colleagues detailing a request we had received about a quote, I though “where is this content going to be stored?” Yeah, you have to be an ECM geek to have that thought, but seriously, what happens to business content when the processes go off-road? It’s great that we were able to patch together a series of technologies, services, platforms and people, but in many ways it’s like those two days didn’t happen.

Fortunately, our daily transaction volume is always low. The number of incoming calls that required an answer was small, and the people involved have submitted the conversations into the “proper” stream after-the-fact. We documented what we did during the outage, how we handled communication and I copied my normal business email on all the activity I was routing around. Any responses that were made outside our normal communication lines have been captured at this time. That is important, because I would hate to have some future discovery request go outside the normal boundary because of a Rose Mary Woodslike issue.

In the aftermath of the storm, we have formed a small task force to consider how well our backup communication options performed, and how they might be improved. One of the considerations of that study will be “how do we capture the feral content?

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