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With ever increasing climate challenges seen recently with the Western Cape Storms and the devastating Knysna fires, Work Area Recovery (WAR) facilities can become vital to ensure business continuity. Often organisations do not have the capabilities to insource all elements of their business continuity plan and Work Area Recovery is a natural area to evaluate the benefits of outsourcing.

“WAR requires capital expenditure, which impacts the balance sheet”, said Willem Olivier, GM: Africa, ContinuitySA. WAR facilities also need to be constantly updated to ensure they remain fit for purpose and aligned with the organisational strategy. By contrast, outsourcing the WAR moves the expenditure into the operational budget, something most companies prefer; the onus of the ongoing investment needed is also transferred to the service provider.

Insourcing such a recovery facility would involve dealing with a long and complex internal supply chain, including the finance, IT, HR, facilities departments etc. BCM personnel and other staff members can move regularly —further complications that can place the significant capital and ongoing operational costs of an insourced WAR at risk.

Outsourcing key components of the BCM programme like WAR removes the need for capital expenditure, and a specialist partner will provide the continuity and focus needed to ensure continuity and realignment with changing business goals. An outsourcing partner provides a single point of contact for management, as opposed to the hassle of managing a complex internal supply chain, and continually having to motivate for capital improvements.

When it comes to choosing a WAR provider, there are many issues to consider:

  • The WAR facility should be distant enough from the primary site to ensure it is less likely to be affected by the same disaster, while still being practical for staff.
  • A provider with a national footprint is preferable. This would mean that data and systems would be replicated to more than one data centre for added protection.
  • At a practical level, getting large numbers of staff productive quickly at a WAR facility is fraught with difficulties—a specialist provider will have the necessary processes and procedures in place, based on years of experience. This would include people management procedures and a battle box, a physical and virtual store of everything that individuals need to work at a strange site, such as shortcuts to software programs, contact details of staff, passwords, instruction manuals and the like. Canteen, parking facilities, backup power, building maintenance, access control and security are also critical.
  • Regular, thorough testing of the WAR facility is critical, including full pre- and post-test reporting.

It is essential for businesses to have alternative worksites at times of need, with WAR facilities that are designed and implemented as part of a holistic BCM programme.