Month Seven: Identify Your Technology Options

Continuing in the Information Technology (IT) realm of planning, in month six, we detailed the IT systems and applications that are used daily to support the services and mission of your unit, and that would be used to drive your critical functions. Now we shift to addressing how to maximize alternate options for IT functions should an event limit access to files or destroy equipment. Additionally, if the IT realm is down on campus, what can you do remotely?

Step 1 – How To Restart and What To Do If You Can’t…

  • We have considered ways to continue work despite a loss of network or computers, but those workarounds are not meant to be a permanent solution. The goal here is to get computer systems and workstations set up again. This could go very quickly, or you can get in-depth. We recommend leaning in-depth!
    • Identify the equipment and software that is most needed – prioritize and set goals! For software, list links to download the software and any software keys you have that would allow you to set them up. Your LanTech or IT support will need to be part of this conversation since our network computers have rights and permissions!
    • If any of your IT suggestions require pre work, now is the time to list what’s needed, who’s going to do it and when –
        • Upload any and all documents and standard operating procedures (SOPs) you may need to continue your work or reestablish your IT systems

      • Are there ways to continue your business without the IT systems you usually use? Are they accessible from any computer, or only a computer on the network? How can this be tackled?
  • Lastly, what can you restart from paper records and files that support the same function that IT infrastructure normally does? Think about the key records you could use in a pinch!

Step 2 – Work From Home

  • It’s almost a given that working remotely is widely accepted and many of us are tethered by mobile devices. Many of us already telecommute–sometimes we’re home with a sick kid, or not feeling well ourselves. The occasional telecommuting does not mean that extended remote working is fully vetted, productive and managed clearly. That may be more complicated than it seems: The process you use on a normal day may not be available to you after a business disruption; people who can work from home may be the mandatory personnel to have on site; and once you narrow your business to critical functions you may find it is better to have everyone in the same room. Consider these factors as you develop your work remote list.
    • This is not simply a list of people who are able or allowed to work from home generally; this is about who can/should work from home (or another remote location) during continuity of operations.
  • Start with the people who have responsibility for critical functions, or listed in your mandatory people, because their ability to work from home is of the most interest to you. This should be documented in your call trees (and also with Human Resources for Mandatory Personnel).
    • Use these templates for discussions with employees and understanding critical services/roles during adverse weather and other emergency conditions. 
    • Think about tiering staff – who is available first, who is their replacement and then one more level of replacement? Can someone work remotely to do the same job or should they report to work?


    • The system will ask “Must their office computer be running to connect from home?” This is the million dollar question! Most people at the University who connect from home do so using remote desktop, but that means their computer at the office must be online to connect. Obviously in a power outage or fair, this might not be an option. So what are the options? Get everyone who is going to work from home set up with a remote VPN (Cisco) through OIT.
  • Test the work at home/work remotely idea before saying yes!.

Through this process we have started to think about preparing staff for their role in continuity of operations. OIT offers a number of services that can help eligible faculty and staff productively work from home or elsewhere.

Click here for more information on OIT telecommuting tips.


Coming up next…

Next month, we will address how to prepare staff at home so they are available if the time comes to continue operations despite a disaster, and assign roles ahead of time so everyone can hit the ground running.


*This post is part of a 2018 – 2019 series breaking down the process of emergency preparedness and mission continuity planning for NC State departments into monthly tasks to help build a plan in a year.*