Businesses all around the world have had to adjust to the events of 2020. Many have ...
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Did you know? An estimated 50% of businesses do not back up their valuable data ...
Businesses all around the world have had to adjust to the events of 2020. Many have ...
Cybercrime is a global criminal industry that is growing every day at an alarming ...
Did you know? An estimated 50% of businesses do not back up their valuable data ...
Businesses all around the world have had to adjust to the events of 2020. Many ...
Cybercrime is a global criminal industry that is growing every day at an ...
As a precaution, many businesses have decided to have their staff work from home in order to avoid contributing to the spread of the coronavirus. Some businesses have found themselves doing so due to mandates from their regional or local government. Whether voluntary or mandatory, there are several actions and decisions that your company can make in order to operate successfully throughout the coming weeks and months.
The following are items that you should consider as part of your Business Continuity Plan moving forward.
Can your team remotely access all the business-critical systems and data to successfully conduct their roles?
When working from home, it is important that your team members can access the company resources to fulfill their job. This means that the software, systems and data that an individual interacts with daily at the office are available to them when they are no longer able to be in the office.
This can be a huge hurdle to cross. Fortunately, remote access solutions and remote cloud desktop solutions exists which can greatly increase your team’s chances of success.
Remote access solutions allow a team member to connect remotely to the computer that they use in the office. The great thing about this is that your team can work like they normally do. They have immediate access to the actual software, files, and other items they have been using in the office since they first joined the company. There are potential downsides to consider. First, they can only access their office computer remotely if:
The second option is to leverage a remote cloud desktop solution. This solution is great because it removes all the dependencies and points of failure that your office introduces. Your team members simply launch a secure connection into their remote cloud desktop. The remote cloud desktop contains all the software, systems and data that team members need to do their job. Each team member can begin by using this remote cloud desktop daily while in the office. Because the remote desktop is hosted in the cloud, your team can securely access their desktop from anywhere at any time on any device.
Our team – and most of our clients – leverage our remote cloud desktop service, LaunchCloud, to do all of our work. Our team members do not have their data stored on a computer that sits in our office. If the building loses power or Internet, the team can use their laptops to connect over a cellular connection to their remote desktop. If the team is unable to go into the office due to an “act of God” such as snow storm or hurricane, they are able to connect remotely and work from their remote cloud desktop as if nothing was wrong. Such day to day use of a remote cloud desktop system injects a built-in disaster preparedness process into your business.
Can your team conduct effective meetings through video conferencing?
Meetings are crucial for making sure your team are all on the same page and rowing in the same direction. Meetings tend to be taken for granted since it is so easy to just walk to another team member’s desk and have a quick chat about business issues. When your team are all physically separated, you need another method of being able to keep the lines of communication open and your company culture intact. Video chats and conferencing are a great solution to this problem.
Our company – and many of our clients – use Microsoft Teams heavily for internal communications. Teams is an amazing collaboration tool for collaborating via chat and video meetings.
Your staff can use Teams on their computers and mobile devices. If a user has Teams installed on their Apple or Android device, they can chat with other staff just as easily as sending a mobile text message. They can also use their mobile device’s built-in camera to join video conference calls. Most laptops have also been shipping with built-in cameras over the past several years. Combined with the Teams application, their laptop can easily join the same video meetings.
For those that do not have a web camera built into their laptop or desktop, an inexpensive webcam can be purchased from a local retailer or from Amazon.
Your team can begin leveraging chat and video conference meetings today! By getting used to leveraging Teams in your business now, there will be less of a learning curve to consider when activating your Business Continuity Plan later.
Note, our team uses Microsoft Teams daily for ALL staff meetings. Everyone is expected to be on video so that we still maintain our close-knit culture.
Can your team field client calls from home?
Just because your team is working from home does not mean that calls will not be received nor that outbound calls will not need to be made. It is important to make certain your team can make and take calls while at home. Your ability to ensure this is possible will be heavily dependent on who your phone provider is and what phone system you use. You should have a conversation with your current provider to understand what options they can provide you with.
Our team – and most of our clients – use our own rocketwise hosted cloud phone services. Our solution includes a soft-phone application that can be used on a team member’s computer or mobile device. Our cloud VoIP app can be installed on an Apple or Android mobile phone or tablet. The app will turn your mobile phone into a virtual phone on your phone system. You will be able to answer incoming calls to your office number or extension. You will be able to make outbound calls from your company’s phone number (this means your customers will not be seeing your team member’s cell phone numbers on caller ID). You will also be able to transfer calls to other users, call other users directly on their extensions, check your company voicemail, etc. If you can do something on your physical desk phone in your office – you can do the same thing on the mobile app using your smart phone, tablet or computer.
What security concerns should you consider?
Malicious actors are already taking advantage of the fear and uncertainty presented by the coronavirus. We are seeing many malicious emails attempting to lure users into providing their credentials or installing a malicious virus/malware. Several websites have been setup to advertise a way to monitor the coronavirus statistics only to find that the sites are designed to deploy infections onto the computers of visitors.
Other concerns arise as remote workers expose company data to home computers that have no virus protection or other security measures in place. Improperly configured, company data could also find its way out of the corporate realm and exposed online.
Be sure to thoroughly planned for maintaining your team’s digital hygiene and cyber awareness. Make certain you do not needlessly expose your company’s most valuable asset – its data – to ransomware, exfiltration or deletion.
If you are unsure of the implications of using a work from home system – please reach out to a strategic technology provider that can evaluate the proper process and system to utilize for your company.
When was the last time you ran a “fire drill” using your Business Continuity Plan?
Practice makes perfect. When was the last time your leadership team evaluated your company’s Business Continuity Plan? When was the last time your team ran through the plan to make sure that everyone knew what to do and verified that things went as expected? Does the plan consider how your business will function if your team is unable to be in the office?
Now is the time to review these plans, kick the tires and make certain there are no surprises waiting for you if you must activate your plan. Test your plan now.
A word about equipment…
Because many manufacturing and supply chains are shut down or otherwise disrupted, it may become difficult to procure new computers and other equipment in the coming weeks and months. If you have any new hires on the horizon or other technology purchases in mind, let your technology partner or IT department know so they can have plenty of lead time to order equipment.
Still have more questions than answers? Need a second opinion regarding your Work From Home process or Business Continuity Plan?
We have helped hundreds of businesses over the years with their Information Technology. We hope our experience will help you keep your business running throughout this world impacting event. If you feel you need hands-on assistance managing your IT please keep us in mind. We are happy to help proactively manage your technology strategy and prepare you for success.
Because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have been considering how we could respond to a worst-case scenario where a team member is diagnosed with the virus, or company and government decisions result in a significant number of people unable to visit the office. How can your organization be prepared for these events?
People might be unable to work from the office because of the shutdown of public transport, schools or large city areas.
Having an unplanned (and sudden) large number of remote workers using established solutions such as VPN access could easily overwhelm the capacity of the office network or have unanticipated software licensing impacts. Further, some applications may be sensitive to slow response times due to VPN or firewall bottlenecks and not function as expected.
Connectivity aside, there may be issues with the physical equipment itself. Maybe a person’s computer isn’t mobile. Perhaps it has not been configured for working outside of the office. Alternatively, the person has never worked remotely and has no idea how to install, configure and use VPN software.
If a person receives a diagnosis while out of the office, they may not be able to come to the office to collect their computer. This presents logistical issues as to how a company would get the equipment to the employee safely.
From an operations point of view, having a significant number of people working from home can present problems both in terms of ticket volumes and the types of issues. In a standard workplace, workers will often ask a co-worker how to resolve something before contacting the help desk. In the work from home context, this interaction is not possible. The types of issues that a worker may request assistance on will also be different while working from home, where all the equipment and connectivity is essentially uncontrolled.
rocketwise’s LaunchCloud virtual desktop is a service that could be one part of a COVID-19 response plan.
With LaunchCloud, we no longer need to be concerned with the constraints of the physical hardware or a person’s location. In the example above if the worker cannot come into the office, they can request a virtual desktop which can be quickly and easily provisioned based on their profile, and within minutes they can connect through the a Windows computer, web browser, Android device, Apple Mac/ iPhone or iPad.
In addition to being fast and scalable, LaunchCloud has the benefit of ensuring that your corporate data always remains within your control.
While in a “normal” virtual desktop deployment scenario we need to consider bandwidth to/from the workplace, for a situation such as COVID-19 this is not an issue, as connectivity is from the remote workers home to the LaunchCloud data centers.
Of course, some things will need to be overcome; for example, how does a remote worker access voice and video through a virtual desktop? One obvious answer would be to utilize a personal device just for this, although other solutions also exist.
We have been having discussions with clients about how we can enable LaunchCloud for them. The majority of our clients have been using LaunchCloud for daily operations over the last several years.
We have prepared a rapid start offer to allow clients to quickly enable and test virtual desktop deployments, allowing them to determine if it can form part of their COVID-19 response plan.
The start of a new year is a challenging time for businesses. It can be a good time to reflect on the wins and losses of the previous twelve months. It’s also an excellent time to take stock and evaluate what your business needs to go forward.
IT demands move at a staggering speed, meaning last year’s tech may not fit next year’s needs.
The new year can bring major change to both the business and the environment it operates in. Regulations, contract terms, and seasonal spending habits mean that adaptations have to be made for continued growth.
A smart business knows how and where to incorporate flexibility to win more business and adapt to a new environment. As we move into the new year, there are fundamental questions we should ask about our IT to ensure we are ready to tackle the next twelve months too.
Is Your Hardware Still Up to The Task?
Businesses are often challenged by their client’s demand for files that seem to continually increase in size and resolution. The storage needed to handle, use, and archive these enormous files appears to grow at a near exponential rate.
Every device today is capable of capturing more data at a higher resolution than ever before. Huge data needs have become the new standard.
The expectation of bigger and bigger data is only set to continue as we progress into another new year. Many clients expect, or demand, exceptional quality from professional services and with a fast turnaround time too.
These competing demands put as much strain on network hardware and computing power as they do physical storage. One of the most important things a business can do when reviewing IT demands is to ensure there are no bottlenecks in the productivity pipeline.
Is Your Backup Reliable and Ready?
Almost every business in the modern day has learned enough to put a backup in place. Whether simply transferring files manually to USB storage, copying documents over to a local server, or saving media to the cloud. However, not every business is testing their backups. Fewer still are testing them reliably.
A backup is only as good as what we know can be reliably restored from it. Cases have emerged where big-name firms had famously believed they were backing up successfully for months or years, only to find out their backup was failing when they really needed it.
Whether impacted by missing assets, unable to transfer files, or affected by corrupt data, an untested backup may be as useful as not having any backup at all. A critical goal for the safety and reliability of any business should be to have dependable backups that are tested at regular intervals.
Is Your Compliance Still Up to Date?
Nearly every business in the world has compliance and regulations standards it must adhere to if it is to keep its position in the marketplace. These may be industry specific such as medical or automotive certifications, or regional protections such as data protection regulations.
Requirements for each of these areas change regularly. It is up to each firm to keep on top of both changes to rules and changes to the firm which may impact them.
Changing IT can often impact certifications in a big way. Many feature rules which affect storage, processing, or altering the way in which data is used; it’s essential to check your usage against strict requirements relevant to your business.
While time-consuming and difficult, these checks require a strong knowledge of both the rules and your IT system. The penalties for failure can be severe and crippling. It is a critical area of the firm you can’t afford to get wrong.
If you are looking to boost your business in the new year, check up on your systems and technology, or dust up your certifications to the latest standard: there’s never a better time than now.
Give us a call at 888-686-5224 to get your new year off to a flying start.
Your old computer is beginning to slow down. So, you invest in a shiny new laptop. The clouds part and the sun shines down on this bright and lovely new device. Everything will be faster and easier. Only, from the first day, the new laptop is lagging. Why is it running so slow? One of these might be the reason.
#1 Not enough computing power.
In many cases, the laptop doesn’t have enough RAM (Random Access Memory). RAM is the computer’s main memory. This helps your computer do more at once. Information from the operating system, application programs and data are kept here, when in use, for quicker processing.
RAM is like the computer’s short-term memory, while the hard drive is the long-term memory. Just as the human brain can’t hold everything in short-term memory, RAM can get overloaded too. When this happens on your laptop, the computer processor needs to go to the hard drive. This slows things down.
Resolution: You might see 4GB, 8GB, 16GB or more of RAM available. How much you need is going to depend on what you plan on doing with the computer. For a laptop with Windows 10, we recommend at least 8GB of RAM, but 16GB is more comfortable for a better experience.
Not all laptops will let you access the RAM. When you can, though, upgrading memory can be quick and affordable.
#2 Mechanical hard drive.
Often a single part is letting you down. With a less expensive computer, manufacturers skimp. While it’s less common these days, some laptops will come with a mechanical hard drive. You might think of this like a record player with a needle reading the vinyl album. Since something is moving to find data, the laptop runs slower than it would with a Solid State Drive (SSD), which has no moving parts.
Resolution: In many cases, a mechanical hard drive can be easily upgraded to an SSD. However, some super slim laptops have limited upgradability.
Retailers like to tout all the bells and whistles that come with their laptops. So, when you turn on your laptop for the first time, you may notice there’s already a lot of software preloaded. Much of it you’ll probably never use. Maybe there are toolbars you don’t need, games you’ll never use, or stock widgets that you couldn’t care less about. These examples of bloatware slow down your computer.
The third-party applications are a revenue source for the manufacturer, but don’t always help you. Microsoft, for instance, sells a line of computers that come without any pre-installed third-party software. Computerworld reported those PCs “start up 104% faster, shut down 35% faster and have 28 minutes more battery life.”
Resolution: When you get a new laptop, check out the pre-installed software before you add your own. Determine what the existing software will do, and uninstall anything that you won’t want.
If your laptop is slow on the first startup, this may be due to system updates. For instance, a Windows 10 automatic update to bolster the security of the computer. You can’t do much about these, but look on the bright side, your laptop security is current!
Improved speed is a main reason to invest in a new laptop. Don’t let a lagging laptop disrupt your productivity. We can help with a slow running laptop.
Instead of wasting valuable time waiting on a slow computer, give us a call at 888-686-5224!
Very few things in life are as intensely frustrating as slow network speeds. Whether accessing a shared database, sharing files between computers, or sending a file to print; waiting for transfers can seem to take an eternity. Worse still, these business breaks can keep both clients and staff waiting and get in the way of the productive business day.
Every time you save or retrieve files from another computer or network storage device, file transfers have to be made over the network. Depending on your IT setup files can pour over the network with the ferocity of a fire hose, or trickle between machines as if dripping through a drinking straw. Poor network speeds are often a critical bottleneck that slows down the entire IT system. If a slow, frustrating, and unreliable network sounds like your office setup then there are many available solutions we can use to help.
Often, offices maintain networking hardware that is as old as the premises they are in or the businesses themselves. Components can be left in place long after their suggested expiration date. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it commonly rules as long as some working connection, however slow, still remains.
Yet, outdated hardware in key areas can often slow the entire system down. Even when the rest of the network is capable of ultra-high speeds, a single bad component can bring the entire network to a crawl. Sometimes if it isn’t broke, it still might not be working to its full potential. Even peripheral devices throughout the network can cause traffic to slow. A badly installed device may become lost from the network or send out an overwhelming number of messages that spoils network traffic. Defense against errors and vulnerabilities is more simple than many think. Often just one or two small upgrades is all that is needed to unlock the full speed potential of the network.
For some businesses adding a dedicated server is an ideal solution that can balance the IT workload. Access to centrally shared resources often benefits the entire organization by eliminating redundancy. A network server is built with efficiency and reliability in mind to keep your business running at full capacity. By pooling resources for everyone to use, work is evenly shared and centrally available to prevent bottlenecks in the system. Reduced network loads, improved efficiency, and faster transfer speeds mean that higher productivity becomes the new normal.
Moving resources outside of the office can work for many businesses too. Where high speed, low-cost internet services are available, moving your work into the cloud can be a highly cost-effective solution. Software packages such as Quickbooks offer finance and accounting packages for operating in the cloud. Similar Suites such as Microsoft Office offers services for creating and sharing documents with cloud resources. Both packages eliminate the need for many of the network operations that we use every day.
For many applications such as Quickbooks huge databases sometimes gigabytes in size are required. It is these types of applications where the advantage of the cloud becomes clear. To use this locally, huge database transfers keep the application up-to-date daily.
These transfers across a local network are time-consuming and clog up vital resources for the firm. Yet, the same application in the cloud requires only a simple web page for each user. Instantly, looking up finances and editing documents becomes as simple as checking your email. With services moved to the cloud purchase cost and maintenance of expensive network hardware are reduced too.
A complete network solution that works to make the most out of all the available resources is unique to every business. Only a tailored solution to address your network needs will increase your productivity.
If your IT is starting to get in the way of your business and your network is running too slow, give us call at 888-686-5224.
Technology today allows us to accomplish more tasks faster than ever before. Paperless documents, remote collaboration and video conferencing have all lowered the costs and increased the speed of everyday business at an extraordinary rate.
The benefits of modern IT does however, come at a cost. Consistent maintenance has become a critical component of almost every business. The IT department is now as important to the functioning of a firm as sales, marketing, or management. The advantages that come with modern technology more than outweigh the drawbacks. It’s up to you as a business owner to balance both. In today’s highly competitive business environment the latest tips, tricks, and tools are essential to keeping ahead of the competition.
The Cost of Great IT
While well maintained IT is a powerful asset; poor, crumbling IT can quickly turn into a liability. Machines, servers and desktops need to be kept up to date with the latest operating system and security patches as a matter of priority. Data requires consistent back-up too.
Poor security and data backup measures put both your own and your customer data at risk from attack. Regular security updates close vulnerable gaps, while backups protect valuable data. Strong security protects your liability against losing your own and your customer data.
Determining what is and isn’t good IT practice for your firm takes the experience and knowledge of a professional. Good security involves more than one managed system to protect your assets. Good data backup is ideally done daily, involving more than a single copy in an off-site location. Without taking these steps at a minimum, a business is as little as one glitch away from a complete critical failure.
Managing Internal IT
The IT demands of every firm changes on a near-daily basis. Software is often added or removed, user accounts need to be added, removed, or changed and permissions require modification to suit ever-changing requirements. The time requirement of daily IT changes alone is more than many departments can handle.
Many small firms deal with accounts, permissions, and software at an individual level. Wherever this is the case, complications inevitably happen. Software and services get lost and forgotten in the system, often polluting other packages and causing IT issues throughout the firm. User accounts are often left on the system months or years after an employee has departed.
For reliable and secure IT management, managed group policies prevents bad systems. IT management allows staff to get on with their work without technology getting in the way. Data is managed at a department level, accounts are removed for staff that depart the business and software is installed by professionals. Using this approach the liability of the firm for IT failures is dramatically reduced.
Managing IT Without Added Burden
One of the major complaints about setting up well managed IT is the overhead that it adds to the firm. Staff costs, additional management, and the office space of an IT department is a daunting financial burden to add.
Staff costs alone can make building an equipped IT department prohibitively expensive. Qualified, dependable, knowledgeable IT staff demand a high salary and costly benefits. In addition, equipment costs and lead time to get up and running on your business systems drive the costs even higher. Some firms simply don’t have the space required to add an entirely new department to the business.
That’s why, for many businesses, outsourcing is the most effective way to update their IT without increasing business overhead. Outsourcing provides modern IT for a simple, fixed monthly cost. Removing the distractions of managing an entirely new department allows the business to focus on doing the job they do best.
What We Do
By trusting your IT to us, we ensure that your systems are up-to-date, secure, and fully backed up. We can keep you competitive by allowing you to accomplish more than ever before.
Along with day to day IT management, monitoring, and setup; we can assist your transition to paperless documents, setup remote working, and provide IT assistance to set up the latest technology that will enable you to succeed.
Allow us to help you do more than ever before. Bring your IT demands to us and we’ll provide you with the modern IT you need to let your business thrive.
You’ve seen all the ads for Office 365. They’re popping up on your desktop, your employees are sending you meaningful looks, and clearly, it’s not going away. You’ve probably even jumped online to see what all the fuss is about. But is Office 365 a necessary upgrade for your small business? The answer is yes. It’s more than a refreshed set of tools, it’s an efficiency and productivity powerhouse. Here are 7 spot-on reasons why small business owners should upgrade now.
Data security is built in
Office 365 was created with data security at its core. The built-in compliance and security protocols mean your cloud storage is safe, and you can control access so your valuable data remains exactly where you want it. Storing your data in the 365 cloud keeps it safe in case of emergency, with 1TB of storage per user included at no extra cost.
Ditch the licensing drama
Software version differences can be a real nightmare in a small office. Not every system can do the same things, and half the time, they can’t even open the same files. It quickly becomes a hodge-podge of workarounds and lost time. Office 365 includes site-wide licenses with upgrades at the same time.
Mail storage for real people
Not everyone lives in the land of inbox zero. In fact, most people tend to leave messages in their inbox forever. Occasionally we’ll do a quick clean up, but only when the alert comes in that the mailbox is full. Meanwhile, new emails from customers may be bouncing away with the old ‘mailbox full’ message. Eek! In Office 365, your employees can communicate without worrying about storage space.
Better time management
Every person in your business is juggling meetings, emails and contacts – usually across multiple platforms. Office 365 brings all those elements together, integrating seamlessly for more efficient time management. Contacts updated via mobile while offsite are automatically updated across all connected devices. Meetings scheduled in an email are added instantly to the calendar. You can even access files from any device, edit on the run and then back in the office, simply pick up where you left off.
Forget about planning (and delaying) those costly upgrades. Office 365 has small business covered. You can choose a plan based on your unique needs and change at any time. You can even add or decrease the number of users as you scale and streamline. It’s so easy to fit Office 365 into your monthly budget while knowing you’ve got the very best and latest in small business software.
Work on the go
The days of fiddling with private network and security settings are over, thanks to Office 365. You don’t even need any special IT skills or extra software. Users can now securely access their files from home, during their commute, or in meetings for on-the-fly impressive presentations. Got an internet connection? That’s all they’ll need to squeeze productivity out of every day.
Stay up and running with no downtime
A whopping 25% of small businesses shut down permanently after flood, fire, crash or cyber-attack. With Office 365, all your data is stored in the cloud with built-in backups for redundancy. No matter what happens, your data will be there, letting you stay up and running – and always ahead of the pack.
If you are ready to take your email and your IT to the next level, give us a call or schedule and appointment today!
Your dealership is under attack! Hackers can break into your email to plunder your business bank account. It happens every day.
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Your team has so much more to give, they just need the right tools to help unleash their potential - regardless of where they work. One key tool can do just that - Microsoft Teams.
Download your free copy of our Step-by-Step Guide for getting the most out of Teams.
Ready to make this a wildly successful year for your business? To shake off the memories of 2020, and focus on increasing sales and profitability? Excellent.
A great place to start is helping you and your team to get more done in less time.
As a precaution, many businesses have decided to have their staff work from ...Read More
The start of a new year is a challenging time for businesses. It can be a good ...Read More
Your old computer is beginning to slow down. So, you invest in a shiny new ...Read More
Very few things in life are as intensely frustrating as slow network speeds. ...Read More
Technology today allows us to accomplish more tasks faster than ever before. ...Read More
You’ve seen all the ads for Office 365. They’re popping up on your desktop, ...Read More
As a precaution, many businesses have decided to have their staff work from ...Read More