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Know Your Workstation Environment

As in any good recovery planning process, the first thing you need is a thorough understanding of your users. Most companies’ workstation environment comprises not one but two general classes of users: production workers and knowledge workers. Let’s consider the characteristics of both user classes.

Production Workers

Production workers are often characterized by standard applications geared at serving customers, in a heads-down work mode. A user staffing an inbound call center or reservations desk is a good example of a production worker. As the name implies, production workers are in the revenue-generating "core" business of the organization.

Production workers also tend to be the most standardized users on any system. Hundreds of airline agents might use the same Sabre or Apollo reservations system, for example. There’s little room for a production workers to self-actualize or use a lot of custom applications, because it isn’t part of the job. The job is rendering service to the customer, whether that service consists of taking travel reservations or, like the little lizard says in the TV commercials, "saving people hundreds on car insurance."

Taking this idea a step further, because production workers are the most restricted in terms of the suite of applications available, they could presumably be deemed the least demanding in terms of resources such as help desk support. Due to the use of standardized applications, problems are usually easier to fix. But don’t confuse this categorization with the idea that these users don’t need help. In some ways, they’re more time-critical than anyone else, because every minute of downtime to a production worker is a minute of lost revenue. These users have a high demand for availability. In some organizations, production workers can constitute 75% of the workforce; airlines, stockbrokers, and telemarketers are all good examples.

Knowledge Workers

The remainder of employees—managers, human resources staff, engineers, and so on—are clumped into another general category called knowledge workers. Knowledge workers generally employ nonstandard applications on their workstations and have a high demand for flexibility in order to be productive in their diverse fields. These workers are not easily standardized and need highly customized applications, at least in comparison to the production workers. Due to the specificity of their applications, they also tend to be demanding on support resources, such as the help desk. The tradeoff is that knowledge workers could also be termed the most available; even if the building sustains a major disaster, knowledge workers can often find somewhere else to work.

Knowledge workers are more likely to own PCs at home that are adapted to their jobs, since they often take work home. Examples of such knowledge workers include attorneys, underwriters, executives, analysts, and so on.

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