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Are Your Suppliers the Weakest Link in Your Emergency Prep?

by | Aug 28, 2015

Let me paint a scenario of a typical company with hundreds or thousands of users handling documents in their everyday work processes. You can safely presume downtime is one of their most critical concerns and one that must be avoided at almost all costs. Let’s also assume that the company recognizes downtime can be very costly if it affects a majority of their employees and therefore there is a budget in place to reduce that risk.

As the CEO of a small software company providing mission critical products to financial, healthcare, insurance and shipping corporations, I am well-versed in the scenario described above and well aware of who and how many companies depend on our products and support being available 24×7. With proper organization, planning, and use of third party resources, we are able to provide world class peace of mind to our customers with regards to downtime. However, to do so, all parties must do their part…
weak link

Company/Customer side:
1) Selection of managers and staff with the proper mindset for emergency preparedness. It’s not for everyone.
2) Main and backup emergency servers
3) Remote backup server facilities
4) Professionally run offsite server hosting centers with UPS generators, redundant HVAC, redundant internet connections, security personnel, security safeguards and special arrangements with energy suppliers
5) Redundant network routers both locally and offsite
6) Backup power supplies, HVAC, and even redundant web connections for your buildings
7) Mirrored and possibly swappable hard drives on your servers
8) Backup computers and monitors for users
9) 24×7 IT staff availability
10) Emergency supplies for staff if needed to stay overnight
11) Training of backup personnel to allow easy replacement of any worker
12) Regular review and testing of your procedures
13) Regularly performed and refined software deployment procedures including vendor communication, prototype testing, sandbox testing, and production testing.
14) And more (fill in your own…….)

Vendor Side:
Verify that…
1) Your vendor has up to date emergency operation processes in place and that they’ve selected the right staff to monitor emergency preparedness.
2) Your vendor has effective disaster recovery plans in place.
3) Your vendor tests those plans regularly.
4) Your vendor has sophisticated QA procedures that ideally include testing for your specific environments and documents
5) Your vendor can provide you with optional priority support options for your software (and/or hardware).
6) Your vendor can provide optional back version support of your software (and even hardware) if you are running “older” equipment.

As you can see, eliminating the risk of downtime takes a team effort from both the software vendor and the customer. When both are working together to take the necessary precautions, then no one has to worry about a weak link.