How to Improve Business Availability

As any business owner knows, customers want to be able to easily access products and services whenever they need them. This is why it’s critical to have systems in place that ensure availability of critical business functions — even when they fail. But building a highly available application isn’t easy, and even well-designed applications can fall victim to unexpected problems. The best way to avoid these problems is to have an awareness of the potential for them and to design with them in mind.

It’s common for businesses to confuse availability and reliability metrics, but they are not the same. For example, a system that fails to transfer payroll funds may be considered unreliable, while one that provides uninterrupted oxygen monitoring to premature babies during incubation is available. The two measures differ, but focusing on ensuring high availability can improve customer satisfaction, revenue, and the ability to budget for maintenance costs.

Achieving high availability requires a combination of technologies, processes, and people working together. Achieving it also requires a willingness to make tradeoffs when necessary. For example, large online retailers need to keep their sites up and running 24/7 or risk losing market share to competitors. But they may decide to prioritize availability over reliability by implementing redundant systems and fault tolerance.

Many service-based organizations struggle to understand the availability of their employees, leading to snafus like overbooking a resource or forgetting time off requests. It’s not unusual for teams to spend up to eight hours a week creating schedules using manual methods. This is in addition to the hours they lose due to scheduling snafus, including having to fill open shifts, violating workplace laws, or paying overtime. Having a clear picture of resource availability can help you deliver on business priorities more effectively and reduce time wasted on manual scheduling processes. Runn’s new availability chart gives you a visual overview of your organization’s capacity for delivering on new projects, with the ability to drill down by team or role.

Improving business availability is essential for meeting customer needs and staying competitive in today’s fast-paced market. Here are some strategies to enhance business availability:

Implementing Online Platforms: Establishing an online presence through websites, e-commerce platforms, or mobile apps allows customers to access products or services at any time from anywhere, increasing availability beyond traditional business hours.

24/7 Customer Support: Offering round-the-clock customer support through various channels such as phone, email, or live chat ensures that customers can seek assistance or resolve issues promptly, enhancing accessibility and satisfaction.

Automated Systems: Implementing automated systems for tasks like appointment scheduling, order processing, or information dissemination reduces dependence on manual intervention and enables operations to continue seamlessly outside of regular business hours.

Remote Work Options: Allowing employees to work remotely or offering flexible work schedules ensures that key tasks and services can be performed regardless of location or time zone, improving business availability and responsiveness.

Disaster Recovery Planning: Developing comprehensive disaster recovery plans and backup systems ensures business continuity in the event of disruptions such as natural disasters, system failures, or cybersecurity breaches, minimizing downtime and maintaining availability.

By implementing these strategies, businesses can enhance their availability, meet customer expectations, and remain resilient in an increasingly competitive and dynamic market landscape.