What to do the next time a Google outage Happens – FOR Business Owners and Team Managers who use Google as a heavy lifter each and every day
I hope everyone’s day was off to a good start when one of the top international news stories was the GOOGLE OUTAGE. This means a lot of different things for a lot of different people. But here’s what we are going to focus on:
- How to ensure work doesn’t completely stop in your company
- How to double check that everything is still up and running using a group effort
- Building in basic steps to ensure this doesn’t create problems moving forward
Context Of The Situation
In case you were unaware, December 14, 2020, at 6:45 AM EST Google services went down, affecting most of Google’s heavy lifting services and causing delays in work, email, YouTube viewing, and even causing delays for schools getting started this morning because of their use of Google classroom in this time of remote work.
So, I guess I decided that this would be a good time to talk a little bit about preparedness with technology, since it doesn’t look like we’re moving from this remote working world anytime soon. It seems that most of the Google services are back online, but for many people they are still not able to access Gmail. This has also caused a ripple effect, causing outages for Outlook users and some other services out there probably using Google hosting or partner services.
This is a very real component of how business works in today’s world, and it is something to add to a business owner or team leader’s list of things to ensure doesn’t cause problems in your daily workflow. Not only should you work to not cause problems, but those hiccups can lead to emotional distress within teams, staff, clients, etc.
Letting Your Team Know There Has Been an Outage
If you and your company are a heavy user of Google services like ours, it would be a good idea to make sure that your team understands what happened. A simple message going out via email or, even better, Slack or text is a great way to ensure that they received a note that there were issues with Google earlier this morning. All we sent was a simple message that looked like this:
@channel, just a heads up… if you are having issues this morning with any google products (Gmail, Google Drive, Calendar, etc)… let me know. There was a google outage early this morning. I am doing a double check to ensure all processes, automations, etc. are still up and running. What this means for you…
- if you set up any automations that connected with a google application, please, make sure it is still up and running correctly
- if you had any scheduled emails that were scheduled to go out via Gmail this morning, double check to make sure they were sent
- If you were working on a document, workbook, slideshow, etc. early this morning during my typical worktime make sure your changes to it actually were saved.
- Just check to make sure your stuff is working as planned please.
This way we are spreading out the work and awareness in hopes that it keeps everybody in the know and ensures that everybody is checking to make sure that whatever their workflow is is still up and running.
This also helps to eliminate the news as a distraction or potential pitfalls for people to put in mental energy or emotional energy. We were proactive and keeping everybody in the loop to ensure that they went about their day as normal. We also gave them an opportunity to let us know if something was wrong. The psychology of this makes it very simple for people to understand that the problem has been identified, resources are being put towards fixing it and making sure everything still works, and there’s nothing to worry about.
What You Need To Check To Ensure There Was No Disruption
- Does your email send and receive?
- Send an email to another email account and reply to that email to ensure you have full range of features.
- Do all of your Google Drive folders still function as needed?
- Double check your integrations with Google.
- If you are using Zapier or IFTTT, double check to make sure they are firing.
- If you have API integrations with your email marketing tools (website, Mailchimp, Clickfunnels, etc.), ensure that the SMTP integrations or webhooks are all functioning correctly.
- Make sure any CRM integrations are still working.
- Double check to make sure your calendar integrations (ex. Calendly) is still integrated.
Basically, just ensure your critical functions are up and running so your business or team is not at a standstill. Most businesses should not have a hiccup in any of these, but it’s up to you if you want to leave that to chance.
What should you do if any of these are not functioning? Call your Google Administrator or Service Provider who set this up for you. If you don’t have one, you can contact me here, and I can point you in the right direction.
Letting Your Clients Know About an Outage
If you’re like us and work directly with clients who might also be using those services, it would be a good idea to ensure that they understand what this means.
Prior to contacting them directly, we double checked to ensure that all of their Google services were up and running so that there was no panic on their end for their business. Below are some of the items we checked to ensure critical business operations were up and running.
- Emails were still sending and being received
- Google Drive was still functioning and saving information correctly
- All automations using services like Zapier and IFTTT (if this then that) are still functional and firing off as normal
Once we double checked all of these items, we sent out an email just letting them know of the check and letting them know the news. Even though they have probably seen the news already, this was a way to alleviate any mental space that they were putting towards the issues that could’ve pertained to the Google outage.
What Happens Moving Forward?
I’m sure this is not the last time that a Google outage will take place, causing a ripple effect across the internet. Therefore, over the next month I will be implementing a back-up plan in case this were to happen again or in a more significant way. Below I am going to outline some steps that we are taking in order to ensure that the next time this happens we do not stop working, and it doesn’t cause a panic within our company or our clients.
Do You Have a PLAN B?
There are many strategies focused on the BEST way to back up data for your company. Please, understand that if you have an IT Director, CIO or someone who understands your data and tool infrastructure, you are best served by talking to them, directly, about putting a plan in place.
If you are like most companies, though, you don’t have someone working 40 hours a week in your IT department. Odds are if you are reading this, you are in the IT department and call upon your son, daughter, or a business contact every once in a while to solve the problems.
Basic Items to Consider and Discuss with Your IT Manager
- Do you backup your data and information? If so, when, where and how?
This is a critical piece of any IT strategy. And it is a strategy. The biggest item to consider here is what happens to your data if your cloud computing system goes down. When my team discusses IT strategy, we talk about maintenance plans at the basics of what you need to do.
This includes a regular, monthly schedule that goes over a checklist of items to ensure that your data, tools and other IT infrastructure items are being kept up to date and safe.
List of Items Covered in the IT Maintenance Checklist for Business Owners
This is a very basic list, but it covers a lot of ground to ensure that your technology functions properly as often as possible.
- Data backups
- Back up all cloud data in a safe secure manner
- Tools and Apps
- Upgrade permissions and Access
- Note last usage
- Integrations still working for automation?
- Collect and review new policies for tools (client facing only)
- Plugins updated
- Automations working
- Form Security and ReCAPTCHA
- E-Comm Store up to date
- Payment processor details up to date
- CRM/Email marketing
- Active Contacts and Leads → Remove/Deadfile Expired Contacts
- Integrations still functioning
- Measure if still useful
- Hardware (physical computers and network equipment)
- Clean up hardware (literally clean it up)
- Upgrade operating systems and firmware
- Clean out applications that are not in use
- Review user accounts and access
- Data backups
- Remove any applications that haven’t been used in set time (save $$$)
- Archive and backup any old user data (employee data) and remove their accounts
- Collect and review all policies or terms & conditions for tools
- Replace hardware?
- 1 month out of the year, time is spent to audit this list, the tools, apps and everything within the IT management of the company. This helps to save us money, build in our update plan and keep us focused on making money the rest of the year, rather than chasing new tools.
Most companies, including Google, do a great job of building internal backups into their services, but like everything, they are not perfect. If you’re not technically savvy, you may not even know what data they are backing up. This means you should identify the data or information that is important to you to back up.
- Do you have a disaster plan in case things go awry?
A disaster plan should be part of your regular annual audit. If you create a plan just in case the worst case scenario ensues. Typically this means you will have at least a couple of the following bullets figured out
- Data Backups stored off site.
- A Process to implement and upload the data to make it accessible to the necessary parties.
- Redundancy in the data in case the data becomes corrupt.
- A Prioritized data structure.
- Do you have a backup plan in case your IT manager is unavailable to manage the process?
It is good to have redundancy in people, just like data. Make sure that your IT manager isn’t the only one who understands the disaster plan, maintenance plan and how to manage your data. It’s especially important to those of you who are not technical troubleshooters. It’s ok, there are people out there who can help.
Other Items To Consider When Managing Your Tech
Here’s the thing about the internet – it’s a wonderful tool. It’s just a tool. The rule of thumb with technology is that it just speeds up existing processes that could be run without it. I am a firm believer in making sure the process is documented so anyone in your organization can find it and pick up the mantle in case something happens.
For example, most of the clients I work with, I take a ton of time to observe, dissect and document their business processes. We document these details so that anyone can read through the process, identify the tools using that process and manage it end to end if they needed to. This means that they could do it all manually if need be. They do not need access to an email, software or otherwise.
Take some time to make documenting your process for technology and for “old school” ways of doing business. If the internet goes down, what would you do if you had to use the phone… or worse… send snail mail?
These types of processes can be extremely helpful, even if the internet never goes down ever again. It may give you some peace of mind or an alternate way to get in front of your clients, prospects or potential contacts in whatever you do.
At the end of the day, a significant part of business in the information age is your data. It can make or break whether your company gets that investment, loan or even just functions correctly. We are going to see further outages like this for the rest of our lives. It might be worthwhile to spend some time thinking about this and build a plan that will help you to make sure when the next outage happens, you don’t lose any momentum… or worse, all the work you’ve put into your business or team projects.