Running a Home Office is always a challenge, more so when your livelihood depends on the internet and especially when you’re living in country like India, where even in the national capital, one can’t be assured of finding basic things like uninterrupted power supply and internet connectivity.
This is where the requirement for a good and sound Business Continuity Plan or BCP as it is commonly known, becomes all the more important, to not only deal with unexpected crisis and disasters like fire and earthquake, but also things like the oh so usual and expected, power cuts and internet connectivity loss.
In fact power cuts and internet connectivity loss require much more planning and thought, since they occur more regularly than natural and man made disasters and thus can slow or even completely stop your work, on a somewhat regular basis.
While I had discussed some of the BCP strategy when I had written “Essentials for a Home Office Setup” not too long ago, I would be going a little more into details this time around and would essentially be focusing on a Business Continuity Plan for ensuring work flow, in case of hardware, power or connectivity failure.
The most essential feature of any good Business Continuity Plan is redundancy; the art of ensuring that no one machine or utility supplier is able to bring you down and this can be broken down in to the following four essential parts:
Hardware Having multiple computing devices like desktop, laptop and smartphone ensures, that in case of electricity or device failure, you are able to move your work over to the next available/working device, without any major or long interruptions, like for example this blogpost, which was composed on my desktop and smartphone, due to repeated power failures. Had I been only dependent upon my desktop, I would have had no option but to sit idle till the electricity came back, which would have been quite unproductive, considering 8 hour long power cut I had to endure yesterday and couple of hour long power cut today itself!
Electricity While having multiple access devices brings in some form of redundancy, without power backup, you would either end up sitting in dark or sweating like pig, thus unable focus on you work, despite having the means to go online. Thus a generator or inverter, along with a UPS is needed for home office setups, even if you only face power cuts occasionally. This also helps you save your work while working on a desktop and reduces chance of hardware failure.
Internet Connectivity Although the MTNL DSL connection I have, works well most of the time, there have been instances when it has stopped working for hours and even days! This is where my mobile phones step in and provide the connectivity I need to carry out my work. Since both my mobile phones belong to different operators, I can be somewhat certain, that at least one of the three internet connections I have would be working and would be able to let me carry out my work without any major interruptions.
Backup and Cloud Computing While we all know the benefit of regular and multiple backups, Cloud Computing as a buzz word, has been troubling individuals across the board, whether you are a blogger or an owner of a large enterprise. In essence, what cloud computing entails is, instead of having all your data eg. documents, emails etc. being stored locally, they are stored online, ensuring that you are able to access them from multiple devices, irrespective of the platform or connectivity available.
A good example of this is Gmail and other web based email services, which make it possible for you to access and archive your emails from your mobile phone, as well as desktop/laptop computers. Ensuring that you aren’t tied down to your workstation or have to open your laptop each time you want to check or send emails. Similarly, one can also store documents like blogpost drafts in a cloud or over the internet, by either using a service like Google Doc or by simply saving them as draft in your blog (something which I did, while shuffling between my mobile phone and desktop, while working on this blog post). Doing this ensures that you can work on a blogpost/document, without needing to use the same computer/laptop/mobile phone you initially used to write it.
Similarly, you can also use the cloud to safely store and share information about various aspects of your business, which you and your colleagues may need access to while on the move or at client’s site eg. something like an inventory management software/app.
Of course at the end of the day, it all comes down to individual needs and resources available to execute a BCP, so make sure to write down your own needs and then look for solutions which can fulfill them, in your budget.