This year’s hurricane season is like nothing in recent memory. With the country still reeling from Harvey, Irma, and Maria, everyone held their breath as Hurricane Nate headed toward states along the Gulf Coast this weekend. Those of us at IWCO Direct and Mail-Gard were especially anxious as a number of our colleagues and clients were making their way to New Orleans for the DMA’s &THEN Conference. Thankfully, Nate lost steam before hitting the mainland, but our team at Mail-Gard was prepared to help clients manage the print-to-mail operations of their critical communications at the drop of a hat if necessary. Today we wanted to briefly share how we prepare for a disaster declaration in advance of severe storms and natural disasters.
We start by doing our best to become meteorologists. We have a system in place to closely monitor weather patterns in regions where our clients are located in order to determine which ones may be in the path of a severe storm. We contact those clients well in advance to ensure they have our emergency declaration hotline information readily available. We also make sure our team is fully prepared to spring into action by alerting them to which clients may need to make a disaster declaration, so they can review those specific client requirements in advance. We also analyze our testing schedule to “clear the decks” so that we can devote our full energy to impacted clients.
Preparing for a Disaster Declaration
Mail-Gard was on alert status three separate times between Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which resulted in one disaster declaration. As we all know, Hurricane Harvey caused catastrophic flooding in and around Houston. Although the declared client’s facility itself was functioning, it was not accessible by employees and unsafe for travel. In addition, the logistics of moving the mail outside the affected area was impossible for several days. Critical billing applications needed to be delivered to customers to keep our client in compliance and maintain revenue streams. Through advanced disaster recovery planning and the appropriate preparations, Mail-Gard processed the client’s priority applications flawlessly until their employees and logistics teams could execute from their Houston-based production facility.
Recent Storms Have Companies Rethinking Their Preparedness
If there’s one thing businesses should take away from this year’s hurricane season, it’s that they need to have a plan for emergency situations. It is essential for companies to maintain a business continuity and disaster recovery plan that includes the production and mailing of critical documents. It would be a “double” catastrophe for the company to sustain storm-related losses when it could be avoided with a comprehensive business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) plan.
Too often these plans are left to managers who are too overwhelmed with day to day tasks to dedicate the required time and effort for thorough BC/DR planning and testing. Other times we see large volume companies become overconfident in their ability to self-recover, so they don’t create a BC/DR plan for their mail. They don’t always take into consideration that, while a second facility may exist as a back-up, the burden of running production for multiple facilities may be too much to bear.
If the recent hurricanes having you reconsidering whether or not you’re equipped to keep crucial documents like statements and invoices flowing during a disaster, you may want to review our Disaster Recovery checklist. After all, it’s much better to plan for that critical coverage before it’s needed, not after the damage is done.
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