Application outages have increasingly become a regular part of doing business. Earlier this month, tens of millions of workers experienced a rocky start to the workweek after Google Docs went down in the US and UK. Microsoft’s Azure, Teams, and Dynamics 365 cloud services experienced two major outages within three weeks this spring, impacting companies’ ability to communicate and share information with employees and customers. Even sudden and extreme weather patterns can complicate digital business operations, with New England’s recent April Nor’easter taking down internet and app access for many.

With app outages becoming more frequent, companies recognize the adverse effect these disruptions can have on productivity. Identifying and remediating outage-induced disruptions has never been necessary, as most knowledge workers are still remote and therefore highly reliant on cloud-based collaboration tools. Even as some companies transition from fully remote to hybrid work models later this summer or fall, collaboration apps will remain essential, with intermittent outages continuing to pose a significant risk to employee productivity and satisfaction.

4 Best Practices for Updating DR/BC Plans

To mitigate the negative impact of future outages, companies and their IT leaders need to prepare now. Given the many fundamental changes brought on by the past year, IT leaders may assume the best path forward is to throw away legacy Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity (DR/BC) plans and start fresh. However, a more effective and realistic approach involves reviewing what’s already in place and updating existing DR/BC plans, so they’re aligned with current realities.

Below are four tactical tips for IT leaders working to modernize their DR/BC plans and procedures for 2021 and the post-pandemic era:

  1. Designate a single point of contact. Having designated leadership to quickly identify any outages in services and quantify the impact on productivity is essential. Put one person or department in charge to lead all DR/BC coordination, as outages and all related implications are highly dynamic, with multiple moving parts and necessary action items.
  2. Outline alternative, company-approved tools. Because the shift to remote work happened so rapidly last spring, many companies made changes out of pure necessity and didn’t have time to update their DR/BC plans and procedures. Confirm that cloud-based collaboration tools and internet outages are included in your DR/BC plans (especially for remote employees) and outline alternative methods and company-approved tools if an app goes down. Most companies already have multiple collaboration tools (such as Teams, Slack, and Zoom), and thankfully, these tools offer overlapping capabilities. Be prepared to immediately communicate and coordinate with users during any outages that they have other means of collaboration available to them.
  3. Communicate quickly and clearly. When an outage occurs, quick and clear communication is critical. Provide employees with detailed updates and specific guidance on how to proceed. Again, share the list of alternative, company-approved tools that can be utilized during the outage so employees can continue to communicate and collaborate.
  4. Implement a call list. Suppose an outage is severe and impacts multiple forms of communication tools. In that case, companies need to have a simple, old-fashioned call list for getting in touch with everyone in the organization. Organize the call list by function and line of business, and make sure it is easily shared. Remind employees regularly that they can easily reach out to each other via phone, as “offline communication” can go a long way during an outage. Also worth noting, simple call lists require little to no financial investment.

Modernized DR/BC Plans Power Work-From-Everywhere

As COVID vaccines become more available, companies worldwide are getting closer to realizing their vision of fluid, hybrid work models. Employees will continue to rely heavily on cloud-based collaboration apps to be productive in remote or in-office settings and communicate with their colleagues no matter their location. It’s therefore paramount that companies and their IT leaders prepare themselves to mitigate any outage-induced disruptions by having actionable access to modernized DR/BC plans and procedures. In doing so, companies can unlock the benefits of a work-from-everywhere culture and at the same time ensure a positive employee digital experience.


Fernando Castanheira

Fernando Castanheira is the chief information officer and chief customer officer at Aternity. Castanheira is a senior technology executive with extensive leadership experienced delivering value to organizations. He focuses on digital innovations that are highly scalable and transformative.

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