Lessons Learned From Hurricanes On How To Run A Tech Company During A Disaster
Carlos M. Meléndez is the COO and Co-Founding father of Wovenware, a man-made intelligence and software program growth firm.
You’ll suppose that after Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, we might be capable of climate any future storm. We’re positioned in a tropical vacation spot that offers us one of the best of one of the best—or worst of the worst—on the subject of climate. We must be consultants by now on pure catastrophe preparedness. Nonetheless, whereas the potential for hurricanes stays as fixed because the tides, the occasions by which they will happen are altering always—requiring new plans and enterprise processes.
Following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, we made daring strikes to shore up our infrastructure. We really moved our headquarters to a unique space of San Juan the place we might have higher redundancy of companies, resembling energy and web, in addition to a safer infrastructure for our servers and programs. The brand new area is far bigger and set inside a campus setting in order that it could turn out to be a “residence away from residence” for our staff. We additionally put in our personal backup generator to offer energy for as much as two weeks if wanted.
When Hurricane Fiona hit the island in September, we had a stable infrastructure in place. As with earlier hurricanes, Fiona worn out energy throughout giant swaths of Puerto Rico, brought about main flooding and threatened fundamental wants like water, meals and drugs.
We additionally had a stable plan of motion, which we developed primarily based on classes realized in 2017. Nonetheless, rather a lot has occurred in 5 years. The pandemic created a hybrid work mannequin that appears to be right here to remain. Lots of our staff are working from residence in areas additional away in distant areas of Puerto Rico. Likewise, we now have areas on the U.S. mainland, together with Missouri. Wovenware has additionally greater than doubled its worker base—from 82 staff in 2017 to 200 and counting immediately.
Regardless of pondering that we realized our lesson again in 2017 and have been ready for no matter got here our method, Hurricane Fiona required a daring new catastrophe plan to handle a reworked tech firm and a drastically altering world.
Preserving Methods Up And Operating And Sharing The ‘Energy’
At the moment, each firm depends on software program and will be dropped at its knees when programs are down. For a software program companies firm, nonetheless, it’s the finish product. We will not afford for our programs to be down—not even for a day. Because of backup mills and a steady workplace constructing, we have been up and operating inside 24 hours and have been even capable of open up our workplaces to offer native shoppers a spot to work. What we realized over time is that companies coming collectively to lend their help to one another is sort of highly effective.
No Such Factor As Overcommunicating
Classes realized from the pandemic taught us that in occasions of uncertainty, there isn’t any such factor as overcommunication. We documented an ordinary working process of fixed worker and consumer communication with assigned roles and tasks. Once we first obtained phrase of the potential for Hurricane Fiona touching down, we put our plan into motion.
For our staff, we made it customary follow to achieve out day by day through the hurricane and its aftermath. We continued to inform them that the primary precedence was their security and the protection of their households and that we have been keen to assist them if that was what was wanted. We additionally made certain they knew that our company workplace was a protected haven for them. We stocked our cabinets with loads of water and meals for meals and snacks, and staff have been inspired to deliver meals residence if wanted. If they’d no energy or web service, our workplace was the place to be if it was protected to get there.
We supplied the identical kind of constant communication with our shoppers, and day by day contact was key. Being in Puerto Rico, it may be tough to know the way the information is being reported on the mainland, so it was vital for us to regulate the narrative and reassure prospects that we have been open for enterprise with little injury and no disruption to their initiatives.
Overcoming The Challenges
Whereas we survived Hurricane Fiona unscathed due to diligent planning, our greatest concern (except for the well-being of our employees) was dropping the arrogance of our shoppers. Lots of them requested how they may assist Puerto Rico recuperate. We instructed them that one of many greatest methods they may present help was by means of their continued enterprise and supporting the native financial system.
We’re working arduous to take away any notion that it is dangerous to work with nearshorers in Puerto Rico. Disasters of 1 kind or one other can happen wherever at any time. Nonetheless, we have realized by means of expertise, and we now have the system and processes in place to climate any storm.
Catastrophe Ideas For Tech Corporations
When a agency’s lifeblood is expertise, no matter the place it is positioned, key steps must be taken to make sure that a catastrophe of any kind does not interrupt enterprise:
• Construct redundancies into energy and web service. It is vital to have backup web service and energy from totally different suppliers to attenuate the chance of downtime.
• Audit your suppliers. Should you depend on service companions for issues resembling meals, water and fuel, commonly ask them about their very own processes and plans for emergency conditions.
• Safe very important programs. It is best to have GPU and different servers and dear gear in a protected, temperature-controlled and humidity-controlled area that is shielded from water.
• Migrate to the cloud. When you have programs on-premise, it is vital to maneuver your programs to the cloud for straightforward entry from wherever.
• Attain out to your group. Be sure you preserve ties to your local people and provide a serving to hand each time you’ll be able to. At some point, it may be you who wants a serving to hand.
Catastrophe can strike tech companies no matter the place they’re positioned. Nonetheless, with cautious planning and a dedication to folks and their security, they will climate any storm and are available out all of the wiser and stronger.
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