About 10 days ago I received a surprising email from a government quango. It was moving offices.
Now this in itself is fairly normal, but what amazed me is that all their systems were going to be down including email and website and all telephone numbers were changing. To add insult to injury they hold themselves out to be an institution of ‘excellence’.
Some people may wonder what the fuss is about. Well nothing really, but an institution of ‘excellence’ employing over 60 people should not be working with such outdated systems. What they were saying was that because they were moving offices they had to move their servers. This caused the email and website being down and it also said something about their telephone system.
Clearly said quango had not thought through the risks. One company I worked with had their server plugged into a standard wall plug – of course this quango would not do something as silly as that….or would it? You might be unpleasantly surprised if you look around your own offices.
Sadly the risk when hosting your own website is bigger than the office cleaner pulling the plug. Any power outages and you are out. Backups become an issue. How many of you backup your mission critical systems regularly (preferably daily) or run a copy? Of those of you who do backups, how many of you do regular tests to see that the backup actually works? Sadly, most companies I have encountered actually never do such tests.
The message is that unless you are in the hosting business, don’t do it yourself. Even Enterprise Britain runs on a site hosted by professionals. At Enterprise Britain we use Bluehost because of their quality of service and their responsiveness completely outshone my previous host, but there are many good hosting companies. If the server encounters problems there are copies running and the server is instantly switched over – automatically. If there is a power outage there is backup power and backups are run constantly and they are tested. No worries there then.
Email is the same. Having hosted email takes away all worries and there are lots of companies which provide excellent service. As a small business I use Google for all my emails. Each of my seven email addresses even ends up in the same place and I can send an email from each of them. So I send an email from the company I am representing at that time (sorry to give away my secret).
Then comes the telephone. There is no reason at all for companies to change telephone numbers when they move and it is very confusing for their customers and other stakeholders. We all have numbers stored in our telephones, contact lists, etc and it ends up being a mess when someone changes their numbers. So what is the answer?
Get a VOIP (Voice over IP) system. It will even save you money. My business number is a London number, but it rings wherever I plug my telephone in. Even when I am in the Netherlands I simply plug my telephone into my router and I am reached on my London number. I use Timico. Why? Simply because when I took the system for one of my companies I refused to have one which required a server in my office and they were the only ones I could find at the time offering a hosted service. I never looked back. The change for the company was amazing. 25 employees spread around the country were suddenly on a single system with all kinds of free add on features which helped to enhance our business processes
I am a big fan of outsourcing all systems. It reduces risk and costs and keeps the company focused on its own business. So ‘excellent’ quango, if you are listening, review your operations and you will never need to shut down your website, your email or change your telephone numbers. It works!