Post-disaster, does your staff have somewhere to work?

Post-disaster, does your staff have somewhere to work?

This is the second crucial question to ask and answer to ensure that your organisation can survive an emergency.

By Willem Olivier, GM: Africa, ContinuitySA

In a previous blog, we looked at why it’s so important that an effective emergency response segues into a recovery that gets it back up and running. We suggested the first question to ask and answer was whether a proper crisis management response plan and process was in place.

The second critical question to consider is:

Do we have a work area recovery facility if we need it? In the face of a major disaster such as the abovementioned fire, it is essential to have a fully functional and tested alternate workplace ready to receive at least the critical staff.

At this point, too many organisations become fixated on the cost of setting up and maintaining such a facility—one which, by its very nature, is destined to stand idle much of the time.  Even when they have concluded that the cost is necessary given that it is essential for survival in the case of the primary site being unusable, they often feel they can do it cheaper themselves.

This familiar insource versus outsource argument is a complex one, but it’s worth bearing a few key points in mind:

  • Many of the costs of insourcing are hidden in other budgets. Procuring and equipping the facility, managing it and maintaining are likely to be allocated to other budget lines. If budgeted directly, these costs would fall under capex, and this can be detrimental to the balance sheet.
  • Other hidden costs would include the time of existing staff members now responsible for developing the business continuity plan and all its components, updating them and then testing them.
  • It must be recognised that business continuity is highly specialised and needs regular dress rehearsals—when it’s needed, it has to work. Unless a specialist is hired to do the job, chances are an in-house emergency response and recovery plan will fail. That really is wasted money!
  • By contrast, outsourcing means a single (and transparent) monthly payment that will be a normal operational expense. It will also mean that the plan is professionally tested and continually improved, and that when a disaster happens, you will have people on board who have successfully survived many such crises.
  • Costs can be dramatically reduced via outsourcing in two ways. The first is that any of the purchased seats or services are effectively shared between all the outsourcer’s clients, even if they are dedicated to a particular client. There economies of scale through items such as UPS’, diesel generators skill staff etc.. Second, once a thorough business impact analysis is completed, it is possible to identify how much of the needed data centre and work-area space can be syndicated. Syndicated space can be up to 80 percent cheaper than dedicated, so these savings can be substantial.

Read more on insourcing versus outsourcing.

Read our final blog for the third critical question to consider.