Our business focuses on the timely, accurate, and reliable delivery of critical communications, including utility bills, loan statements, invoices, collection letters, jury summons, and tax documents. These documents often represent the critical source of revenue for cities, utilities, and businesses or provide appropriate notice to customers and citizens of their duties or obligations.
As a result, organizations relying on outsourcing vendors must have absolute confidence in the ability of that vendor to provide uninterrupted service, in other words, business continuity. Therefore, most vendors will have a disaster recovery plan and operate a Disaster Recovery Facility. These safeguards help to prevent potential service interruptions, ranging from natural disasters to loss of service. In reality, these events rarely occur, but when they do, organizations are forced to activate these backup plans and procedures.
Recently, Information Outsource experienced a real-world test that validates and supports our approach to business continuity. Let’s examine that instance in this case study.
In June 2021, the business immediately due west of our building experienced a six-alarm emergency fire. Multiple fire trucks were dispatched across a multiple-block radius – including our property – and firefighters were dispatched from the City of Phoenix and surrounding areas. In total, the resulting response from the City of Phoenix’s Fire Department comprised the largest fire response in its history.
The fire occurred on a Saturday afternoon, outside of working hours. However, while our facility did not catch fire itself, circumstances related to the neighboring business prevented us from accessing our building: we were informed by the fire marshal that, given fire safety concerns, we could not access our building until further notice. In addition, upon the occurrence of the fire, the electric utility temporarily shut off service to our main facility. The combination of these events presented a significant challenge; however, we were already prepared for this scenario.
First, we leaned on our Disaster Recovery Plan and were able to make a number of critical decisions and adjustments including:
- Communicating with employees to ensure their safety and provide them with a plan of action
- Leveraging long-term supplier relationships to ensure the availability of backup inventory in the event of extended inventory loss
- Reinforcing our disaster recovery facility to handle the increase in production and resume operations.
Given that our Disaster Recovery Facility was located several miles from our primary facility, it was unharmed by the fire event.
Second, our embedded business continuity measures prevented us from experiencing data loss (a crucial factor in this case study). At the time of loss of electric service, our backup generator was activated, preserving the power source to our on-site data servers and avoiding critical failure. Should that have failed, we had built-in redundancy, including backup servers located at our Disaster Recovery Facility and at the Phoenix NAP, a third-party data center located several miles from both the primary and Disaster Recovery Facilities.
Third, we benefited from our personalized and customized approach to client service. Our Client Specialist, Development, and Production teams immediately began working to communicate with key customers, proactively managing timelines, production schedules, and inventory.
Ultimately, due to our proactive approach and business continuity plan procedures discussed in this case study, we were able to return the entirety of our operations to our primary facility within the space of several weeks and continued to do so in the face of significant physical restoration efforts. These physical restoration efforts lasted for eight months with the reopening of a substantial portion of our printing and mailing production space in Q1 2022. Not only did we rebuild this area of our facility, we made a number of critical improvements in our operations, including:
- Installing LED lights which now provide energy-efficient lighting to cover ~15% of total production space, consistent with our goals to become a more sustainable operation
- Acquisition of new printing and inserting equipment both as a replacement of certain existing machines and an expansion of our printing and mailing operations
- Replacing an exterior wall and associated roofing, extending the life of that part of our building
- Repainting the walls and the floors, thereby renewing the aesthetic of the production space
Further, we are proud to report that we did not lose a single of our 100+ print and mail customers during this time, with most customers unaware that we had any interruption at all.
In summary, it is critical for printing and mailing providers to have a viable disaster recovery plan so that, when these tail events do occur, the provider can continue to provide uninterrupted service. Reach out to the experts at Information Oursource and never worry about a delay in service again.