You might think that new year’s resolutions are made to be broken. Whether it’s to exercise more, chew fingernails less, or other clichés, they are hard to follow through on. Witness the packed gym in January that becomes empty before March.
When it comes to keeping the systems that run your business humming along, the new year is a good time to pause and reflect on what you can do differently. And you also have the energy to take action to make it a reality. But don’t let your well-intentioned resolution become lost in the shuffle of forgotten promises of self improvement.
1. “I will learn from last year”
Think back to last year and all of the downtime-related issues that happened. Maybe you have these carefully catalogued, or maybe you just have juts been trying to block out the memories. Consider what you can learn from these experiences. What could you have done to prevent it all together? What could have been done to be more prepared? Would it have been worth it, or was it actually better to let the downtime happen because prevention would have been-cost prohibitive?
2. “I will make sure that my mission critical system hits 99.95% uptime”
You know which system matters most. Maybe it’s email. Or point of sale. Or perhaps your website. In any case, focus your energy on making that one system resilient and reliable. Don’t try to improve everything, you’ll just waste time and resources on systems that don’t matter. Set an uptime goal, and track how well you’re doing.
3. “I will keep my crisis contacts up-to-date, and always have someone on-call”
A simple and effective way to handle the unexpected crisis with your systems or customers is to always have someone who will drop everything to handle it. There are many ways to do this and it’s easy to get it started. But make sure that everyone knows what’s expected, who to contact, and what to do.
4. “I will improve the signal-to-noise ratio, and I will listen to the signal.”
I read a quote from a reformed burglar that said something to the effect that “If I had a $100 for every time I was right outside a house I was about to rob and the owner told their dog to quiet down, I’d be a millionaire!”
If you’ve got systems to alert you that somethings going wrong, the biggest problem is they are always telling you something is wrong. Resolve to improve the number of signal needles in the noise haystack. A good strategy to do this is to treat every alarm as real. You’ll have no choice but to look to how you can improve the quality of your alerts because otherwise you’ll spend all your time responding to false-alarms
5. “I will have a plan, and I will test it.”
If you don’t have a plan for your software or business continuity emergencies, then resolve to build one. But don’t leave it on the shelf, make sure your team knows where to find it, what’s in it, and why it matters.
Think about how you can try out the various disaster response instructions in a controlled environment, and take the time to actually do it. Your team may not want to pretend they are in crisis mode, but without practice you won’t know what to do when there’s additional stresses and time pressures.
As we begin 2012, we are more dependant on software than ever before. We owe it to ourselves to be become resilient to errors & mistakes, and to be prepared for problems outside our control. This is the key to keeping business running and customers happy.
What were some of the lessons you learned in 2011? What will you do differently this year? What other ideas do you have for resolutions and how to keep them?