Time management is key when it comes to running a business. With so many tasks requiring completion, you may not have enough hours to apportion your tech-team to monitoring your online presence on a daily basis. Client prospecting, analysing, and strategising your marketing channels will all grow your business and add to your bottom line but maintaining your Drupal web property could double or triple your market value.90 percent of operations are no less important, but aspects like security, maintenance, and the backend Drupal essentials shouldn’t be less taken care of. The necessary: A maintenance planNearly a decade ago, you could build a static website, publish content, display pictures and satisfactorily leave it unattended for the entire year. In a riskier scenario like today’s, you can’t take the lineup of features and functionalities for granted even throughout the business hours. Your organisation’s reputation, market-dominance, and operations, are at stake round the clock.What is a Drupal maintenance plan?A maintenance plan is a support and maintenance strategy, solely dependent on requirements. Depending on your Drupal website functionalities, version, and website scale support and maintenance can be custom-curated. However, there are various industry-standard maintenance models which cater to a wide variety of businesses, provided by almost every agency. What comes under a maintenance plan?While there can be a ton of aspects a maintenance model covers, we will get a glimpse:Security updatesThird party integration supportAutomated QA testingBug resolutionCustom server environment supportAlertsEmergency support and much more.The activities undertaken by agencies in a support and maintenance agreement differ from business to business or requirements to requirements. For an instance, in case your business operates at an intermediate level, a standard plan would cover you for only 5 business hours, which is fair for the time being. Likewise, when operating at the enterprise level, you might have several websites with similar functionalities across all of them, and an enterprise level maintenance plan would suit your needs which would include things like: regular checks for malware and outdated functionalities, 24*7 support, immediate security upgrades and bug detection-cum-fixation.How do some organisations do it? Some organisations still take the in-house road.They allocate maintenance hours to their already crowded business agenda. One senior site designer has hours apportioned to check for malware, bug fixes and push the available upgrades on time. Which, by far, is a fine practise when your market is restricted to a specific region or you host a limited number of people per month/quarter.The right wayAs Michelle Colon-Johnson, founder of book publicity company 2 Dream Productions said, and I quote – “One of the most important tasks that I suggest that a small business owner or startup outsources is the updating of their websites.” There is a more than mere probability of new applications not fitting in right with the template you have in place. The need of frequent back ups to prevent data loss or setting up the upgraded version of the website might consume delicate business hours, honestly. Being a newbie to the market, one should avail agency support, look for the right maintenance model and I am sure it is going to be the most economical approach to website maintenance.How rewarding is it for business growth?Assured User SatisfactionYou host your potential customers(visitors) and are probably familiar to the buyer journey theory. Web imperfections such as – glitches, lags, disabled call-to-actions, and malfunctioned pop-ups can drive users away. Having an agency supporting your Drupal website round the clock can ensure visitors don’t experience flaws. This kind of all-round aftercare doesn’t compromise your reputation in the eyes of unique or returning visitors. Uncompromised SecurityAs increases your user base, increases your database. Acquisition of sensitive customer information by an intruder should not even be a worst case scenario. The Drupal community keeps providing security updates and patches (if any), quite frequently. Sometimes these updates are ignored by in-house technicians, may be due to scarcity of time. Going for a Drupal support and maintenance plan can hold the agency extremely strict towards keeping the software updated while also identifying and resolving loopholes which might be prove to be super-destructive. In the enterprise level Drupal maintenance plan, you are provided with skilled developers/technicians who continually monitor and hunt for potential loopholes every minute.  Prevent – out of the blue functionality failuresPayment gateway crashes, button disabilities, content updation issues, unactionable contact forms are  just the tip of the iceberg. You may certainly have much more on your website, depending on the business you are in. The agency’s service level agreement is customisable as per needs be, emergency support is for damage control as there isn’t the need to explain how fruitful can these failures prove to be for your business. About speedSupposedly, you run a very swift website but speed is dependent on a lot of backend factors which undergo fluctuations too frequently. 4 seconds is the ideal time a visitor would wait for the homepage to load. Aren’t you losing so much of easy business ? Here is an infographic to help further with the statistics: (infographic)The right plan for you as per your business stage Website activity Website activity is a measure of crowd (traffic) experienced by the website. Under this, several metrics which are taken into consideration are- Page impressions, visitors and their usual behavior, etc. Quite website When page impressions range from 0 – 10,000 a month, the website is  below-averagely trafficked. You shouldn’t be requiring more than 3 skilled personnel to look after sudden abnormalities and upgrades. A basic support and maintenance plan would definitely meet your possible requirements, as it would include:Timely Drupal core updatesFrequent back upsContrib module updates, security onlyBackup verificationSmoke testing:  Home and internal pages load, user login, and basic functionality checks. Web pages basic work: Basic code changes, content modification and additionRegardless of having a small visitor base, you might also want to conduct an overall performance audit to ascertain the errors. While, a thorough check might burn a hole in your pocket, you should try building a long term relationship with the agency of your choice, that will be relaxing in the longer run. Intermediate levelWhen the impressions range from 10,000 – 1,000,000 a month, you would want to dedicate a five member team to monitor everything, at least during the behavioral traffic-spike hours as per analytic data. Traffic set aside, there might be enormous man-hours of content, maybe video, pdfs, customer data, images, published content, and quite a cloud of functionalities. At such a sensitive business stage, one is suggested to seek more than the basic support model.An ideal support and maintenance agreement shall be inclusive of:A periodic performance testing planRound the clock security auditsBackup integrity checksModule and security updatesFlexible support hoursEmergency supportBackup verificationWeb pages intermediate work : Any request for code change to website or page/site revisions.Busy/Enterprise level With 1,000,000+ a month page impressions and thousands of hours of content spread across numerous websites with complex custom code and many third party integrations, a master support agreement is a must. You might want to outsource a  dedicated team to continually back the website, with all the above maintenance elements, plus:A comprehensive testing planEmergency supportMultiple server environment supportAutomated QA testingMultiple third-party integration support Regular alertsMonthly/Quarterly/Annual strategy meetings and improvementsKey components of a S&M service level agreement.Disaster Recovery PlanEarlier this month, a monkey caused a nationwide power outage in Kenya. Millions of homes and businesses were without electricity. Which just goes to show that “not all disasters come in the form of major storms with names and categories,” says Bob Davis, CMO, Atlantis Computing.Disaster recovery has always been treated like an expensive policy but it is the best form of damage control in case of natural or artificial calamities. A support and maintenance plan comprising a DR plan would ensure minimal disruption to the organisation when it comes to visitor base and data. If your website’s downtime will affect your business then the agency you choose to outsource to, must be ready with a jam-packed risk reduction plan.Website downtime can mean the following:Economic imbalance: Your organisation will suffer the loss of leads and future sales, might also mean restarting your business.  Branding or Reputation:  Visitors, frequent visitors might notice the unoperational time or problems which have lasted a while, which may lead to brand image deterioration. Backup and recovery test ( Earlier – Transition strategy (Web application centric))A backup and recovery test is a process used to make sure that a backup and recovery plan will work the way it is supposed to after a real emergency. This kind of testing can involve many different types of analysis, from basic file recovery tests to detailed scenario testing. (To be elaborated post my doubt clearance) A-LA-CARTE Issues supportYou might have a list of minor to-do or feature requirements. A-la-carte support is meant for tracking your random minor requests which consumed not many man-hours. Basically, one flat fee for on-the-go requirements –true simplicity.This shall comprise the following:Online strategy consultationPerform a full file or database backup, upgrading plugins and theme, identification of on-the-spot performance issues and rectificationSecurity related diagnosis and re-infection preventionA ticketing system to request development environment workMigration to some another hosting service, Migration to Drupal, Upgradation to a major version of Drupal.Access/Direct communication with the Drupal development teamWhile, A-la-carte services are initiated as per vendor schedule, they can be pivoted to the client’s schedule as per urgency. Drupal Security Audits Drupal support and maintenance agencies should not operate reactively, proactively instead, when it comes to web security.There has ought to be one expert Drupal best practitioner in the apportioned maintenance team, as it is important to identify what might go wrong. Drupal security audits channel various important decisions, such as server migration, site rebuilding, and Drupal reconfiguration. Once attacked, it is obvious that your business would face upfront costs. Costs may vary as per website scale, but there is a huge chunk of loss which cannot be put into numbers. You might want to avail the quarterly security audits, if your Drupal website is categorised under quite/lite websites. A monthly security report is recommended for enterprise and intermediate level businesses.On the application side, these elements should be incorporated under best practises:Modifications to core and contrib modulesCode overview: Reviewing of custom code is an essential parameter, as custom codes are often not so well written and happen to be open to vulnerabilities due to lack of styling guidance, this usually is more prone to large scale development projects where many developers work towards a common end-goal.Spam protection practises such as forms and captchaFrequent security reports which scan more malicious but common exploitsAutomated testing process in order to ensure all freshly incorporated Drupal modules comply with the security standards. Most of the Drupal support agencies provide monthly security reviews on request at a flat fee. However, Drupal has been the least vulnerable content management system as per various reports since 2012, which doesn’t mean these core requirements should be held for later in your support and maintenance plan. Conclusion:Keep your focus on business related activities and initiatives. Having an agency to handle it all is the best call, by far. For any further assistance related to support models, we can curate one specific to your needs. With more than 35 skilled Drupal developers in-house, you should trust us in handling it all. Drop a word at [email protected] and we will try catching up within the hour.