What Tax Accountants can learn from Sandy

I first heard about Sandy on October 25, after reading a post from a meteorologist who dubbed the tropical storm “Frankenstorm.” While we are based in California, we have staff across the country, including two of our seminar speakers, who are based on the east coast. So what seemed like an event that was 2,700 miles away started to feel much closer. The next issue was reviewing our backup plans with our cloud-based systems and our VoIP provider. As a cloud-based business, ClientWhys is directly affected by issues such as power outages, Internet provider interruptions and hardware failures. We choose our partners wisely, working with best-in-class vendors like Rackspace, who really understand what 100% up time means.

Here are some important issues tax accountants need to address before the next disaster. 

Cloud-based Applications

1) Should a total utility power outage ever occur, all data centers’ power systems should be designed to run uninterrupted, with every server receiving conditioned UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) power.

2) Cloud providers should have UPS power subsystems that are N+1 redundant, with instantaneous failover if the primary UPS fails.

3) If an extended utility power outage occurs, vendors should have routinely tested, on-site diesel generators that can run indefinitely. Update 11/02/2012: Here is an example of one way to deliver indefinite power. Great story of dedication.

VoIP Phone Services

1) Does your vendor allow emergency rerouting if the circuits go down. We have our system set up to ring automatically to a mobile phone if the 800# goes down.

2) Does your VoIP use multiple carriers in case one goes down?

3) Does your VoIP vendor use load balancing at multiple locations so that, in case one goes down, the other stays live?

Power Outages and Client Communication

1) Can you update your auto response email or website to notify clients of the current situation?

2) Do you have a Twitter account as backup to communicate with clients if your email is down? Here is a blog article that covers SMS text posting to Twitter.

3) Do you have a trusted vendor, partner or colleague in the area with power that could assist in making updates to your accounts for you? We have helped multiple clients keep communication open with their clients by updating their websites and email notifications.

4) How can you get the most out of your smartphone battery? Click here to read how to save that battery for as long as possible.

Flooding and Structural Damage

1) If you are a using cloud storage system, then you will automatically have all client files backed up on the Web. If you are still using paper-based systems, a storm like Sandy can create a huge mess and loss of data. While the inconvenience of Internet access is temporary, replacing years of client paper tax returns can be a real problem. The cloud should be an extra place to store data, not the only place. Traditional backup solutions such as DVDs & tape drives seem like an unnecessary expense - until they're needed.

As for ClientWhys, both our Tax Update seminar speakers made it to California in time for the seminar. None of our systems ever went down; we consider ourselves lucky to have come out unscathed. Many of our customers are still affected by the aftermath of Sandy, not just customers based on the East Coast. Our thoughts are with them as they slowly dig themselves out. Take this time to review your own processes and vendor choices. Pre-planning and preparation are vital; and, if done correctly, will help your business weather the next storm.

  • Lee Reams II

  • I am a marketing junkie who has spent the last 20 years developing and executing "best in class" word-of-mouth marketing campaigns. With over 10,000 happy clients I think we are on to something. The explosion in web marketing and social media have redefined the way independent professionals market their practices. Follow my blog to see if you can take some of our actionable ideas to market your own practice.

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