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The Role of the Help Desk in a Disaster

The role of the Help Desk in a disaster is threefold. Beginning with the initial report of the disaster, following through with reporting and communication, and serving as a command center throughout, the Help Desk should remain involved in the emergency from start to after it’s resolved.

At the onset of the disaster, the Help Desk gets a report of the emergency, after which its responsibility lies in alerting the appropriate recovery team members. Having an established telephone tree set up that contains the names and numbers of employees to contact during a disaster will streamline this process and have the Help Desk set at ready when a major problem strikes. First the Help Desk will inform team leaders of the problem who will in turn contact the members of their teams, setting up a bridge to conference in all resources to assess the problem. This bridge should remain accessible as all team members resolve the issue.

With a number of teams potentially involved in clearing up a problem from the Help Desk, it is key to have someone in charge of coordinating the action on the bridge. The Help Desk coordinator should serve as a middleman between the teams working on the problem and the business. Informing the business allows them to get back to work promptly after restoration or helps them evade further issues.

The Help Desk coordinator should have a handle on returning to steady-state operations and resynchronizing data so they can communicate between the teams or with outside resources before providing an overall report of the disaster and how it was managed. This synopsis should be communicated to the Problem Management team after the disaster has passed so that they can figure out potential causes and be prepared in the future for similar incidents.

With its third major role of offering open communication for callers throughout the emergency, the Help Desk serves as a command center in a disaster. This allows the Help Desk to prevent additional damage by telling those who call what they can and cannot work on in the midst of restoring the system. Users should be able to get status updates every time they call into the Help Desk during the emergency.

Of course, those at the Help Desk should have their own plan for recovery during a disaster. Having the contacts necessary to enact a telephone tree is a central component, as is storing backup copies of the business’s most used applications and client emails. Furthermore, the Help Desk should have a system in place to easily track the steps of recovery from a disaster. No one wants to have to retrace those steps from scratch, and the Help Desk has all the tools to ensure that this does not have to happen.

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