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The Best Laid Plans Include B, C, and D

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Last week my water heater started leaking.  I didn't panic as I set about looking for a plumber, it was a slow leak so I set a drip pan under it.  It quickly became a fast leak and I couldn't keep up with it as the drip pan would overflow and flood the area.  One thing about my house, if there's a plumbing problem it seems to always happen on a holiday weekend.  First plan, stop the flooding.  Turn off the water line, drain the heater, and mop.  So now I'm stuck with cold water and need to prioritize my use of hot water and how I'm going to get hot water.  For laundry, it's wash in cold/cold or go to the laundry mat.  For dishes I fill the sink with heated water from the pots on the stove, wash and rinse in cold.  For shaving, I heat water in a kettle and pour it into the bathroom sink.  For showering, I flash back on my Navy days and tough it out under the cold water.  I could heat a bath using the stove, or take a hot shower at the local rec center, or use a shower here on the Cisco campus.  There are options, I just need to prioritize what I need, what I want, and how I'm going to do it.

Your collaboration strategy is very much the same.  Certain aspects of your collaboration strategy are going to be mission critical and you need to keep them up and running.  When it comes to mission critical communications, it's the infrastructure that is key.  The infrastructure that connects all the moving parts of your corporate communications.  Within your communications infrastructure you should have your core capabilities that everybody uses and relies upon.   Basic communication needs like connectivity, voice call control, video session management, and whatever else is mission critical to your collaboration strategy.  The piece parts your business cannot do without.  The best plan for these critical capabilities, which I cannot say enough, is redundancy, redundancy, redundancy.

Your other collaboration capabilities have been used over the years to optimize and refine your business processes.  While it may seem like the end of the world to your users if they are down, the fact is there is always a work-around.  It may not be ideal, but it can be used when necessary.  If e-mail goes down you have the choice to store and forward all of your new messages and replies within the application until the service returns.  Or, you can use instant messaging (IM) to communicate.  You could even type a document and send it to a printer local to the desired recipient.  Push come to shove and you can even have a printed document delivered by courier. 

The challenge with plans B, C, and D is not coming up with them, your users will figure out the work-around based on their needs.  Rather it's that users will gravitate to the communications method they like best and it will become the norm for a segment.  This can be a problem as you end up with silos of technology that can become barriers to collaboration if adoption of other methods doesn't occur by your users.  However, just as necessity is the mother of invention, it is also the father of adoption.  Your normal business process should manage the adoption of your collaboration solutions.

The water is delivered to my house by the water company, I have no control over it except that it's a service I pay for.  What I do with the water is up to me once it reaches my house.  Some of the cold water goes to my water heater for specific use afterward.  I do wish I could have turned on a service for hot water from my water company.  This reminds me very much of a cloud or hosted service.  Perhaps not a bad way to go about redundancy is to have such a service available for your mission critical applications.  Or, the flip side works as well, which is to have a cloud service as your primary and keep your on-premises solution as plan B.

How are your plans B, C, and D?  Will your business be able to continue in case of a communications catastrophe?  What methods of communication are the priority for your organization?

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