It is frustrating to hear when your call results in an automated message that tells you that you cannot reach the party you are calling. It is even more frustrating to hear it when you call your own office.

Saturday morning two weeks ago, I was deep in contract negotiations with a new client via email. While I was in my home office, our email servers are in our office about six miles away. At 9:19 all email stopped. At first I thought it was some email burp and I tried to send it again. I called the office to see if the power was out by checking to see if the answering system was working. Instead what I heard was, “The number you are calling is temporarily out of service.Ó

A contractor a few blocks from our office had accidently cut major phone and data cables for Redmond. Not only our office, but about 6,000 customers downtown were out. It caused McDonald’s, Trader Joe’s, Bank of America and many others to close for several hours to several days. Our office was out for 13 days.

What did we do?

Our initial response was to start making calls and sending email on our personal cell phones. We then forwarded calls to a cell phone and took thumb drives home to send critical information to our clients and contractors. But with the phone company’s promises of tomorrow, we continued to wait.

What should we have done?

In hindsight we should have had a plan to forward all business calls immediately and immediately set up a remote server to capture incoming email. The remote server would allow us access to our business email from our cell phones and from home. But it would not connect our network to the internet.

What will we do? Ð Make a Plan!

It is amazing how many things we do depend on internet and phone access. We will establish a business continuity plan that covers phone, email, data and power. A true disaster might also cover water, gas, and other services. For us, lights and power for the computers allow us to do work. But, without the exchange of data through the internet, business is very difficult.