Recent events in the world have reminded us of how reliant we are on Information Technology to operate our businesses, and how disruptive it is when a system fails. Reasons include:
- Power Grid outage
- Wildfire damage to infrastructure
- Weather events such as storms and extreme cold
- Internet Provider failure
- Computer Server hardware failure
- Cyber Attacks
Naturally, these events are beyond most businesses’ control and when they occur we usually have minimal warning. That is why all businesses would be prudent to have a Data Emergency Plan documented and ready to go.
An emergency plan is just like an Insurance Policy. You hope you never have to use it, but are grateful you have it if required.
The key point to remind ourselves and staff is that Businesses operated just fine on paper systems decades ago. Our modern Automotive and Powersport Industry has roots back 120 years, so our forebears managed just fine without IT.
However, it is obvious to us all that it is very difficult to be efficient without information technology in our modern economy. So when we are challenged by an IT failure, how do we ensure that our business can continue to function until the situation is rectified. Even if we are less efficient, it is still better than not working at all.
So start by asking yourself what are the essential activities that must continue in event of an IT failure, and how can we manage temporarily with a manual system replacement. Suggestions are outlined below:
- Instead of relying on service invoicing, have a carbon copy Invoice book available to produce manual invoice. Load your information into Blackpurl once the system is active again
- Instead of a service worksheet, use a carbon copy book. Service writers manually record vehicle details and instructions. Original goes to technician, they record hours worked and parts used for return to writer once completed
- For tracking part counter sales, a manually written invoice in a carbon copy book will suffice. Customer has a record, and the carbon pages can be used to load transactions into Blackpurl once system is back online
- Are all your parts labelled and priced? If not, then a good practice is to download your inventory once a month and store in a paper form, or on a local hard drive such as a notebook computer
The following is a suggested table outlining the necessary data you would want available to enable the business to continue operation on a manual basis until the Data Access Emergency has passed.
In summary, think about what we are achieving here, a PLAN. No plan is perfect, and trying to create a perfect plan will just waste time and energy. What we are planning for is access to the data you NEED to perform the basic functions that a customer MUST receive. Anything that doesn’t require an instant response can be dealt with once business conditions have returned to normal.
My experience is that businesses either have no plan, or develop something so complex that it is too difficult to keep current and everyone loses confidence in the plan. SO dont overthink your solution, use what we have written above as a guide to point you in the right direction. But make it YOUR plan and keep it as simple as possible.