Hurricane Irma struck last weekend and left a long trail of damage and destruction. The catastrophic storm caused at least 32 fatalities and property damages of $20 billion to $40 billion in the U.S., according to the Associated Press.
Faced with potential hardships on several fronts, many Florida businesses implemented business continuity/disaster recovery plans designed to reassure employees and clients, and maintain regional, national or global operations. As a provider of vital electronic data capture (EDC) technology used to help develop life-sustaining medical treatments and devices, Fort Lauderdale-based OmniComm Systems, Inc. (OmniComm) (OTCQX: OMCM), was committed to maintaining operations at its South Florida headquarters.
After Hurricane Irma sparked power outages in Fort Lauderdale, OmniComm launched its business continuity plan. The plan was prepared well in advance of recent events, with the goal of maintaining service to OmniComm’s customers around the globe in the event of a natural disaster or other major incident.
Stephen Johnson, OmniComm’s president and CEO, recently shared insights about the company’s business continuity plan. Highlights are below:
Hurricane Irma and OmniComm’s Business Continuity Plan
When was the business continuity plan created?
The original plan was developed more than 10 years ago and is updated on an annual basis.
Why did OmniComm’s leadership team feel that such a plan was important?
Maintaining optimal service levels and support for our clients in the battle against life-threatening diseases is our top priority. Until there are cures, we, like our clients, will not take a day off.
What were the objectives of the plan?
We sought to maintain seamless, uninterrupted support, even during a catastrophe.
Please share a few details and key items in the plan.
We have multiple redundant data centers (primary and secondary locations, separated by more than 1,000 miles). Some of the key business continuity services include the following:
- Backup electrical power (generators).
- Full-tape backup for all production databases.
- Helpdesk support in multiple locations for continuous support.
- A dedicated, fully functional business continuity site with redundant power and telecommunication circuits. The business continuity site is fully equipped with all necessary computer hardware and infrastructure to allow our staff to maintain operations in case of an emergency (like Hurricane Irma).
How did the helpdesk maintain availability to global clients before, during, and after the storm?
In the short-term, OmniComm has the ability to reroute our helpdesk function to other corporate offices, (Bonn, Germany and Somerset, N.J.). That near-term solution remains in place until our business continuity facility becomes operational.
In the case of Hurricane Irma, phone lines were rerouted to those other offices until the hurricane was over. Once the storm passed and it was safe for our employees to travel to the business continuity facility, our systems were then directed there for continuous operational support, including helpdesk service and study-based support. Therefore, despite the fact that our corporate headquarters was without power, our support for our clients remained seamless and continuous.
Do you feel the plan has been successful?
Yes! Most of our clients weren’t even aware that our main office was impacted by Hurricane Irma. There was no interruption of service or downtime for our data centers despite the fact that roughly 16 million people lost power in Florida.
Our business continuity plan worked very well. This was not by chance. We have formal business continuity/disaster recovery standard operating procedures that we practice annually to prepare for such an emergency.