Getting bills out on time and receiving prompt payments is fundamental to staying in business. As the provider of technology platforms and print and mail services that our clients depend on to make these activities happen, we take our responsibility to stay up and running extremely seriously.
Although we did not foresee the specific disruptions from a prolonged pandemic, our business continuity planning has paid off. Deemed an essential business, we have continued to operate at full capacity with no interruptions at our Las Vegas and Coral Springs, Florida locations.
Here are key steps we take to disaster-proof our operations.
Focus on business continuity, not disaster recovery
Recovering from disaster already puts you behind. We focus on resilience, aiming for brief to no downtime for our software applications and services. We’ve taken a comprehensive and proactive approach that thinks through the potential impact and ways to mitigate fire, flood, hurricane, fiber-optic line cut, power outage, staffing issues, cyber-attack and other business disruptions. Our planning is customized to fit our business model and takes into account our people, processes, technology and locations as well as business partners and clients.
Count on the cloud
Our strategy to build and market cloud applications and to move our business operations to the cloud means we can continue providing our services without a hitch.
Our Expresso® customer communications management system pioneered the use of cloud technology versus relying on server-based software. With Expresso, clients can just as easily work from home as in the office, creating digital and paper bills, payment reminders, and other transactional communications and sending them via email, mail, SMS/text, mobile wallets and other channels. They also have the flexibility and control to quickly update messaging, payment terms and other key customer information due to the COVID-19 crisis.
To complete transactions, our ExpressoPay® electronic bill presentment and payment system enables clients to continue collecting digital payments while offering electronic options including ACH, credit and debit cards and PayPal to those who traditionally mail checks.
Our own company data securely resides in the cloud, insulating us if anything happens to one of our physical locations. We can pull production jobs from the cloud and assign the work to either of our facilities, which run multiple daily shifts. This agility means we re-balance work between the production environments as needed.
The cloud applications we use for marketing, accounting, human resources and other departments also enable remote work for our non-production workforce. We’ve also become more adept at using collaboration software including Microsoft Teams since the pandemic.
Our production operations are deliberately located some 2,000 miles apart. This ensures that if there is an interruption at one facility, data and service can move to the other production environment and its redundant high-speed digital production technologies, multiple power supplies, and diverse IP connectivity.
Prepare locations and operations for disaster
Our Florida facility, which also houses Nordis’ corporate headquarters, is built to withstand CAT 5 hurricanes. Both locations are equipped with diesel generators that switch over immediately if there is a power outage. We maintain enough fuel for 10 days of uninterrupted operations and have priority contracts in place for refilling diesel as needed. And we test our diesel generators once a week.
We’ve taken an equally tough approach to physical and cyber security. Because we handle sensitive documents and personal information, we meet and are regularly audited for compliance with HIPAA, SOC 2 Type 2, and PCI DSS.
Try to break your plan
We are constantly revisiting our plan and training our workforce, including conducting formal tabletop exercises twice a year with key stakeholders. Our simulations seek to identify deficiencies in our plan, especially as business and technology changes, and try out all kinds of scenarios: What happens if there’s no running water? What are the steps if there’s a production stoppage in the middle of a client job? We have answers and workarounds for all these situations and more.
Our operations rely on partners, such as our cloud provider. We vet them based on their business continuity plans before collaborating and then keep close tabs thereafter. I have quarterly calls with key organizations, and I personally read the reports and certifications to ensure their controls align with ours and they successfully pass all review steps.
Adjust as needed
Despite our planning, COVID-19 demanded unforeseen moves. We’ve rearranged our shop floors for safe social distancing, supplied our production staff with gloves and masks and instituted new cleaning procedures in line with CDC guidelines and government orders. We are disinfecting commonly used surfaces, paying close attention to our production equipment before, during and after each shift.
Once the current crisis eases, we will regroup to see how we should further modify our business continuity plan, arrangements and stockpiles. While it’s impossible to prepare for every contingency, we plan to keep trying.
About the Author
Charles directs development of Nordis’ innovative technology solutions, including Expresso®, and manages Nordis’ information technology infrastructure, support services, and IT and physical security. Before joining Nordis in 2019, Charles served as CIO for Universal Data Technology and Vice President of IT for AeroTurbine. He sits on client advisory boards for Lenovo and Stellar, is Chairman of the Board and a trustee of the CIO Council of South Florida.
Chief Information Officer