June 26, 2009, 6:00 PM — Does your disaster preparedness plan include procedures to ensure the continued production and distribution of printed documents, such as invoices and other vital business material? A recent Gartner research note suggested that the swine flu outbreak would be a good opportunity to test print and mail business continuity plans. Swine flu of course, isn't the only reason one should test print and mail systems and consider them in disaster preparedness, but it's a starting point. The reason Gartner focused on swine flu is the potential for widespread absenteeism, which could disrupt operations.
It's quite possible to take print and mail operations for granted, even in the disaster preparedness plan, but companies do so at their own peril. A major outbreak of flu, swine or otherwise, in the company mailroom could be devastating. Have you ever considered what would happen to the enterprise, if the lowly mail clerks were suddenly unavailable? Companies may well depend on these unsung heroes for survival. They are the ones who send out invoices, to keep money coming in. They sort the mail and send incoming checks to the accounting department for deposit. Internal print operations too are vital to survival, particularly in the area of regulatory mandated documents, or in printing and sending vital communications to customers or partners.
Print and mail operations rely on two things, the IT systems that generate the documentation being printed and mailed, and the human manpower involved in the very labor-intensive process involved. There is also an external element involved which must also be considered in the disaster preparedness plan, not the least of which is the post office.