For a business to be successful in applying technology to fix a problem with automation or to increase productivity, it must be able to correctly identify the issue, isolate the issue, determine how the issue could be corrected, locate the correct IT solution and successfully implement the solution. Successfully identifying and isolating an issue requires a business to understand how and why the issue occurred. Determining a path to correct an issue does not require knowledge of IT, in fact it often requires removing IT from the equation altogether. Finally, locating and implementing an IT solution that is successful requires diligence, patience, and a team approach. Identifying and isolating issues requires a business to look at its past and determine why the issue arose in the first place. Small- and medium-sized businesses face many of the same problems during the initial growth of the company. Businesses that do not start… Read more!
Microsoft developed a cloud platform meant to provide scalable IT infrastructure designed to handle the needs of enterprise business operations. However, the same cloud platform that was designed for enterprise clients is now available for use by businesses of all sizes. The most important services directly affecting small and medium sized businesses are Office 365, Hosted Exchange and Microsoft Azure. Office 365 offers clients the traditional Microsoft Office suite of applications inside a cloud environment which expands the collaboration capability. Office 365 improves collaboration within an organization through SharePoint and OneDrive. These additions to the Office suite make it easy for businesses to develop solutions tailored to their needs outside of any management software they are currently using. SharePoint can help automate business processes while OneDrive provides anytime access to documents and allow users to share documents with people inside and outside their organization. Hosted Exchange offers businesses the opportunity… Read more!
The number one way for small businesses to reduce their operating costs is to improve the communication between their internal personnel and departments. Most businesses try to streamline their systems but do not clearly understand what they must accomplish in order to do this and often times are led astray because they have misconceptions about how software they have purchased is actually being used. Rather than working on something abstract a business can streamline its systems by simply focusing on communication. Start by drawing the business from the customer’s experience pretending computers do not exist. Define every piece of information and the paper that would have to pass between departments for the system to work. After the entire system is defined using paper begin applying the technology the company is currently using to each point of communication. If the company cannot identify what is being used for a particular point… Read more!
The biggest mistakes surrounding cloud computing deployments stem from improper planning. The greatest advantage cloud computing provides a business is scalability. Scalability can only be achieved if there is a clear plan for scaling services up and down. Developing a scalable model starts with mapping each individual position based on the organizational chart. A list of tools or programs required for each position should be created to determine what cloud services are needed for each individual. This map gives the business a clear path for adding and removing individual employees as well as a per head cost of employees based on position. The next step is to determine what type of collaborative tools the business should deploy. In order to determine collaborative tools the organizational chart should be used to map out who needs to share data. Once the data sharing map is completed a business can determine which cloud… Read more!
CryptoLocker is one of the more infamous malware attacks currently referred to by the general category of Ransomware. Ransomware is a Trojan style virus that infects a computer and encrypts all of the documents and data it can locate that appear to be of any value. The virus will work its way through the computer’s hard drive as well as any connected drives it can locate which can include a company’s server files if the drive is connected to the infected device. These types of viruses have existed since the late eighties, but regained prominence in 2013 with the introduction of bitcoin to the ransom formula. After the ransomware encrypts the user’s files they are then prompted to pay a fee in order to obtain the decryption keys from the attacker. Often the attack will use scare tactics such as a warning from a law enforcement agency to try and… Read more!
There is a fundamental difference between software that actually works versus software that people find a way to make work. Software people find a way to make work is one of the most frequently occurring themes we see in businesses, and oftentimes one of the most hindering to productivity. Software should improve some aspect of the communication and data organization of a business. When programs are configured correctly, and the proper training is provided, the results can be magical. Unfortunately, for many companies the reality is the configuration was not complete, the training fell short and a new version of the software is necessary to function properly. When employees find a way to make software work it often chokes the growth of a company, and results in confusion that may become catastrophic. The best employees are problem solvers who believe in the company they work for, and want to find… Read more!
Dropbox was conceived and created by Drew Houston while he was a student at MIT as a better way to store and access documents. For students the need to keep up with and share documents is imperative in today's academic environment. Students are able to collaborate and avoid the traditional issues with papers and research such as versioning. However, as students are graduating and moving into the work force they are taking the skills they learned in school with them. One of these skills is how to implement Dropbox and while the implementation and use is simple the more difficult question is whether a particular industry should be using Dropbox. Professional practices including accountants, lawyers and doctors have third party regulatory issues they must comply with when implementing a practice management system to safeguard client information. For doctors the standards are set by HIPAA, for accountants the AICPA and for… Read more!
The HIPAA Omnibus Final Rule goes into effect less than a week from today and brings new considerations for doctors pertaining to electronic data. The Rule includes three distinct sections that apply to electronic data and what may be required of a practice. The first area deals with a patient's rights to request electronic copies of their records in an acceptable format the other two deal with the encryption of data. From a practice management standpoint these new rules must be understood and applied to any information technology (IT) plan. The first rule dealing with electronic information is the patient has the right to ask for copies of their electronic medical records in electronic form. There are two issues here that are most important. First, the patient may request the data and the practice must produce it in a format that is usable. If your practice management software stores the… Read more!
The HIPAA Omnibus Rules go into effect September 23, 2013 and will bring a sweeping change to the health care industry. These rules have been described by the head of the Office of Civil Rights as "the most sweeping changes to the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules since they were first implemented." (AMA The HIPAA Omnibus Final Rule Summary). The majority of the changes deal with the protection of electronic protected health information (e-PHI) and the need for a medical practice to safeguard against and report breaches of such data. The key to determining whether data may be classified as PHI is to ask whether a third party who comes into possession of the data could learn about a specific person's health information. Credit card processing is one of the major forms of payment received by medical practices, and is continuing to grow as the economy becomes more and more… Read more!
One of the most expensive aspects of an IT setup for any office is the workstations. These computers are the end user devices for the employees and the people who make a business productive. In a traditional IT model these devices have to communicate with central printers and scanners as well as a server. In a cloud IT model there is no server to connect these devices. So what is the difference in expense for workstations after the server is gone? The first expense is the purchase and setup of the device. Most computers that act as workstations with an in-house server range in price from $1,500-$3,000 depending on the exact specifications. After the initial CAPEX the setup time is longer because connecting the computer to the server and configuring it is time consuming which means billable hours. After the initial setup comes the maintenance. When a workstation is connected… Read more!