Planning Your Disaster Recovery Services–the Costs and the Considerations
Today I’d like to wrap up our discussion of Business Continuity (BC) and Disaster Recovery (DR) services. First, we talked about why it’s so important to have a BC/DR plan in place to mitigate risk in case of a disaster (like COVID-19).
Last Thursday I covered the value of “At Ready” Outsource work relationships not only during a major disaster but also when your in-house printing function is at max capacity and needs extra help.
On Tuesday I went through a rough list of what is actually involved in setting up and maintaining a BC/DR relationship.
In closing today, I’d like to cover two areas. The first is how to determine some specifics for a plan for your business (no two are the same). Finally, I want to give you an idea of the types of costs you can expect—not specific numbers, but more about how those numbers are determined.
What Factors to Look For to Determine YOUR BC/DR Plan
They say “the devil is in the details.” I’d change that a bit. Because I think the only “devil” is in not knowing the details.
That’s what the Disaster Recovery Assessment List is for. It is designed to uncover and document the different systems, equipment, and processes the plan must take into account, and the deliverables you expect as a result.
Here is a typical list:
You will need to determine which applications will be needed (and which ones must be back online most urgently). A Service Level Agreement will cover this, and whether daily or weekly cycles will be required
An examination of your business policies and procedures. Are documents submitted to customers and regulatory agencies handled in printed or digital form? Is there flexibility? Formats must be determined based on requirements or company preference.
When Disaster Recovery Services are activated and printed documents created, are they to be in black and white or color? For financial services companies, will magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) be utilized? These choices will impact time, costs, and other plan provisions.
Programs to be Included
Most companies administer many different internal and customer-facing programs. All are important, but it is unlikely that all are critical to maintaining the company’s revenue stream and high-quality customer service. A careful analysis is necessary to determine which ones might appropriately be excluded from a Disaster Recovery Plan.
On the surface a mundane issue, but an important one to maintain business functions in a stressful disaster situation. Where are forms, envelopes, inserts, etc. to be printed? Are they part of an on-demand technology, or do they need to be printed and inventoried in advance? And if so, where?
How will data be transmitted? Will it be conveyed through text form, or ported in a PDF? Or (and this one is for data junkies) will the need for access to that data allow it to be stored as RPD, or Cold (vs Warm or Hot) storage?
Each option has an implication for how the plan must be set up, as well as its cost and validation procedures.
The Change Control Process
Perhaps a short discussion and decision, but one that needs to be formalized and documented clearly.
What will signify the official “transfer” moment, when the plan takes effect and the company’s print and communication functions are “officially” in the custody of the print partner? How is that decision to be communicated?
Postal and Barcode Processing
The handling and processing of statements, invoices, and other documents is an important component, and procedures to deal with them must be identified upfront.
Who will be responsible for postal and barcode processing of critical information mailed and/or emailed to customers?
Systems require testing to be trustworthy. Will the disaster recovery plan be validated by testing each component, and ensuring that all systems work as intended?
Will such testing happen on an ongoing basis, beyond obvious checking at the time of establishment?
Active or Passive Testing
The range of testing options is broad. In passive testing, the company’s system remains in normal operation while data is fed, at the same time, to a “back-up” facility so determine if data is handled appropriately.
In contrast, active testing creates a mock “disaster” which shuts down the company’s capabilities, forcing the actual planned transitions to occur.
This provides more trustworthy and actionable results, which can reduce costs to the client.
Pricing the Disaster Recovery Plan
Speaking of cost, let’s look at the factors involved in determining the costs involved in a Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery Plan. Pricing is individualized and heavily dependent upon information provided from the assessment checklist above, so I can’t provide hard numbers here.
But I can give you an idea of the nature of the fees typically involved.
Establishing an effective plan is time-consuming since it involves multiple meetings and substantial analysis of complex details. Thus, it is only appropriate to expect to pay a fee for this work.
Monthly Subscription Fee
This is an ongoing charge based upon the amount and type of data the disaster recovery partner must stand ready to assume. It is generally a three-year contract.
Note: if the partner is regularly given “At Ready Outsource Work” to supplement the client’s inhouse print services, this monthly subscription fee may decrease, as this work helps ensure a strong readiness should a disaster occur.
At the time of a disaster event in which the partner assumes the responsibility, a fee will be assessed.
This covers costs incurred by the partner in executing the client’s regular business functions for as long as the disaster recovery plan is activated.
Two Strong Resources Backing Your Business
Superior Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Services deliver peace of mind to many clients. Our partnership with Digital Data Centers, one of the most respected data protection entities in the country, is one reason. Another is our nearly 100 years’ experience in helping businesses operate with greater efficiency.
Our ISO certification is a source of pride; it requires an attention to detail and customer focus that can only boost confidence in matters as critical as disaster recovery.
And we have earned four consecutive Best of Print and Digital awards on the strength of our customers’ comments.
Most of us in business have suffered substantially from this COVID-19 experience. But we may also have learned something from it: be ready next time.