Planning for Failure: Outback Style

“Cash only!” yelled the BP station assistant manager in Winton, Queensland.  Turns out internet connections were down and the station couldn’t process any EFTPOS or credit card transactions.  They weren’t alone, one business in Longreach shared they lost $8,000 in revenue in one day due to the outage; the banks couldn’t automatically verify account balances and had to use landlines to verify account balances before giving cash; ATMs weren’t functional.

So what can a business do to help minimize a single fault such as the Telstra outage of July 2017?

  • Have alternate methods to accept payment outside of cash
    • Consider  a second bank with different merchant processing and a different cellular or satellite carrier for processing payments. Key terms to review include the data connection provider and merchant processor.
  • Have redundant internet and data connections that can easily be swapped in the event of a failure.  In Longreach you can now have 2 different carriers: Telstra and Southwestern Wireless.  You could also use wifi hotspots if your cellular provider has one or use a pay as you go system only for emergencies or system faults.
  • Document clearly with pictures or illustrations how to move from your primary service to the backup service; cross train employees on any handheld electronic payment systems
  • Test your systems to make sure that they operate as planned and per the written documentation, document any changes so your newest employee with limited experience can bring the system back online.  Have an employee go through the process to share and fix any areas of confusion on where parts are located or connection points.

There are heaps of ways to mitigate risk to your business, start with one simple item per week or month and progress from there.  Industry terms, books and workshops that cover these and provide guidance or consulting is: Business Continuity.