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Business continuity plan relies on escrow verification

The Customer

The insurance industry is all about risk avoidance and assurances that customers will be covered if anything happens to their property. This insurance company’s IT team has to provide these same assurances internally — that is, if anything happens to their mission-critical policy writing software, they need to have a way to be up and running again quickly. This is where technology escrow and verification services come into play.

The Challenge

The insurance agents at this provider rely on one specific software application all day, every day. In fact, they wouldn’t be able to do their jobs without it. The IT project manager and team leader, explains, “Our agents really rely on this application. It is truly mission-critical for our business.”

Two years after the initial escrow agreement was put into place, the software vendor began transitioning its product to a next-generation version. As a part of this upgrade, the IT department further reviewed the various levels of escrow verification services offered by Iron Mountain and thought it was prudent to increase their protection to a Full Usability Verification test a true run time system.

Given the insurance company’s investment in its mission-critical policy writing software, it was important that safeguards were in place in case anything happened to the software developer.

The Solution

Escrow and verification services are a critical part of the insurance company’s Business Continuity Plan. “This is for our own protection,” states the IT project manager. “What if our vendor suffers some sort of disaster? What if they go out of business? We are protected because we will still be able to conduct business using the source code deposit.”

The IT department initially escrowed the mission-critical software with a Compile Verification test. Escrow verification services are used to validate the completeness, accuracy, and functionality of the software vendor’s escrow deposits. Specifically, the Compile Verification test validates whether the development environment can be recreated from the documentation and files deposited by the developer into the escrow account. This audit of the technology and deposit materials helped the insurance company ensure that they could read, re-create, and maintain the developer’s technology if necessary.

However, given the criticality of the policy writing application, the IT group wanted to ensure the maximum protection possible. If the software developer for this application was not able to support its product in the future whether due to a bankruptcy, an end-of-life announcement or a merger, acquisition or strategic partnership it would pose a major operational risk. Therefore, the IT project manager felt that she could justify her recommendation of a Full Usability Verification. She laid out a proposal that showed all the incremental items that would be covered in a Full Usability Verification that were not covered in Compile Verification testing, and presented it to her management. The management team’s feedback was very positive and they quickly approved the proposal.

Now, as the insurance company transitioned to the next-generation version of its policy writing application, they also upgraded to Iron Mountain’s highest level verification service. Full Usability Verification tests validate that the source code placed in escrow will be fully functional in the event of a release. In these types of customized tests, Iron Mountain sets up the production environment and runs a series of test scripts through the system to make sure that it’s functioning properly and complies with its specifications. In situations like this, where certain applications are critical to the performance of the organization, a Full Usability Verification test is strongly recommended.

The Results

The insurance company’s Business Continuity Plan outlines how the organization would recover and restore critical functions in the case of a disaster or extended disruption. One of these functions is the operation of its mission-critical software.

The implementation of Iron Mountain’s escrow and Full Usability Verification services provides an operational safeguard for a company that is protecting the possessions and property of others, as well as demonstrating industry best practices.

The IT project manager concludes, “Iron Mountain’s escrow and verification services deliver real peace of mind for our IT and management teams, and provide assurances for the continuity of our business operations.”


NCC Group Software Resilience has acquired Iron Mountain’s Intellectual Property Management (IPM) business. For more information on the acquisition, please visit our dedicated information hub, or contact Iron Mountain IPM.

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