What can SharePoint do for my office?

14 03 2013

Don’t you ever get tired of shuffling through all those files? Or searching for the most recent copy of a document on the computer?

 

Allow me to shed some light on the perks of what we like to call a “Simplified Office”

To begin, let’s look at a few statistics. Did you know there are over 4 trillion paper documents in the U.S. alone? This number is rapidly growing at a rate of 22% per year!  91% of organizations have multiple and out dated copies of the same document taking up wasted space on the server.

A Simplified Office is an office that minimizes the use of paper and duplicates files by storing documents electronically.  A Simplified Office will increase your productivity. Think about it!  Your boss asks you to locate an employee manual from last year and email it to him. Last year? After several minutes, you finally locate what you think is the correct file on the server.  But now you have to shuffle through those papers in a file cabinet to find the printed version and make sure your saved version is the correct and most current version. Once you find the printed version and are able to verify that it matches you then have to email the file on the server to your boss.  Your boss then opens the file and save another copy of it for editing.  Quite the process, huh?

Okay, now think of this scenario in a Simplified  Office.  Your boss asks you for that employee manual but rather than shuffling through the clunky file cabinet and searching the file server, you can relax at your desk and with a click of a button the manual is retrieved and link is emailed straight to your boss.  Easy right?

Not only will you have easier accessibility, but also a simplified process of editing and transferring the document. You can simply search it, edit it, and send it right to his email.

Best of all a Simplified office will help reduce costs within your company. On average, it costs a company $10 in labor to file a paper document, $80 to find a misfiled paper document and $260 to reproduce a lost document.  That’s a lot of waste time and money!

Let’s sum this all up. The benefits of a Simplified office include:

·         Exceptional customer service – A Simplified Office allows you to provide the highest level of customer service as you can respond to requests in a timely fashion.

·         Cost reductions – Your business will save a sufficient amount of money without the need to purchase large amounts of paper and can reduce network storage which in turn can reduce electric consumption.

·         Easy storage – No longer will you have to hassle with bulky file cabinets. You can now enjoy the comfort of your spacious office.

·         Organization – You can now stay more organized with electronic filing. No longer do you have to worry if you placed that document in the right file or if you are editing the most updated version.

·         Security – When storing documents electronically, you are able to place essential security settings to allow selected people to view the stored documents.

·         Simplicity – Not only will a simplified office provide easier accessibility to the documents, it will also simplify the process of creating, saving and placing a document in an easy-to-find location.

·         Productivity – The less time spent guess and locating allows for more time spent working.

Want to find out if SharePoint will work for your office?  Contact me for a free consultation.





How Do I Battle Spam?

29 01 2013

In today’s business world most office employees spend the majority of their time sorting and responding to emails.  Spam & Viruses can be a HUGE burden on the employee and business, keeping work from being completed and possibly losing the company money.   When choosing how to battle spam & viruses with proper email security you should definitely consider Barracuda Networks.

BarracudaBarracuda Networks is a leading provider of security, storage and networking solutions.  The Barracuda Spam Firewall is an effective, easy to use, and extremely affordable solution to help eliminate spam and viruses from your company network.  The Spam Firewall is a technology that integrates the latest hardware and software to provide the latest in e-mail spam & virus protection.  This Spam Firewall is compatible with nearly all e-mail servers and can be incorporated into any size business environment.  The Spam Firewall employs the latest software technology to provide virus scanning, rate controls and encryption to ensure the legitimacy of all outgoing emails.

Once the spam firewall has been installed, the system can be easily monitored and maintained by a system administrator with a simple web interface. Updates to the Spam Firewall are continuously provided by Barracuda Central with the latest spam and virus definitions with no need to manually update and to keep maintenance at a minimum.

About Barracuda Networks Inc.
Barracuda Networks Inc. combines premises-based gateways and software, cloud services, and sophisticated remote support to deliver comprehensive security, networking and storage solutions. The company’s expansive product portfolio includes offerings for protection against email, Web and IM threats as well as products that improve application delivery and network access, message archiving, backup and data protection. Coca-Cola, FedEx, Harvard University, IBM, L’Oreal, and CBS are among the more than 150,000 organizations protecting their IT infrastructures with Barracuda Networks’ range of affordable, easy-to-deploy and manage solutions. Barracuda Networks is privately held with its International headquarters in Campbell, California.





What’s Office 365?

25 10 2012

In the past it has been fairly expensive for a small to medium business to keep up with technology.  Most business owners that I have worked with often prefer to maintain a lean networking budget but have the need for  solutions that improve productivity and business process.  These solutions can become and complex and expensive quickly. Finally the businesses are getting a break.  No longer do they have to surrender to this undesirable expense.  Microsoft Office 365 is here to change the game.

Microsoft is one of the biggest names in software. Every computer user in the world has likely used a Microsoft product at some point. They’re one of the most trusted developers of PC software in the industry.

Microsoft Office 365

What is Office 365?

World-class, familiar tools including Word, Excel , PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote on your computer

  • Cloud-based professional email
  • Video conferencing and IM
  • Share files inside and outside your organization
  • Easy and secure administration
  • Financially backed reliability
  • Predictable monthly costs with no up-front infrastructure costs
  • Ability to view and edit documents with your colleagues from almost anywhere
  • Communication using audio, video and IM from almost anywhere
  • Ability to focus more on your business and less on your technology

Why Use MS Office 365?

Familiarity with MS Office Suite makes it easy to use MS Office 365. People unfamiliar with previous versions find the learning curve very small compared to other types of business software. Microsoft Office 365 is truly a productivity solution for working professionals, and businesses of all sizes.

This inexpensive, innovative way to share business brings all aspects of Microsoft Office together in a continually updated cloud computing environment.

Technology is an ever-changing part of the way we do business.  Don’t worry about getting left behind anymore!

If you would like to find out what Office 365 can do for you please contact me for a free consultation.  Click here for my contact info





Is Your Computer Infected?

24 04 2012

Image

The following information can be accessed at www.fbi.gov under the home page story, “DNS Malware: Is Your Computer Infected?”

According to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, there is a danger of losing internet connectivity in July if your computer has been infected by a particular malware. The full story is available here:

http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2011/november/malware_110911

A very short summary: A criminal hacking group worked to plant malware on pc’s that redirects websites to phony DNS (Domain Naming System) servers, so that a user might click on a web ad and be redirected to a phony server instead of the real one. The details specific to this are not important to what’s happening now. What is important is that, because this was discovered to be very widespread, the FBI set up their own DNS servers to redirect the incorrect web queries to the correct servers. Maintaining those servers is an ongoing job, so at some point the FBI is going to have to stop maintaining those servers. That date has been set for July 9, 2012.

If your computer is infected, then on that day that the FBI servers are taken down, your internet browsing will fail. Your internet connection will still be up, but pages you try to get to will not resolve properly, so it will appear the internet is down. There is a quick and easy way to tell if your computer is infected. Go to the following website. If it is green, your computer is free of the malware. If it is red, your computer is infected and will need to be cleaned by the above date.

www.dns-ok.us

If you discover computers that are infected, please don’t hesitate to contact us to assist, or you can follow the instructions at the FBI website.

Guest Blog written by Joseph Conklin, Engineering Services Supervisor @ Absolute Networking Systems.





Walk MS 2012

9 03 2012

Why We Fight MS

Having multiple sclerosis means that you may not be able to walk when you wake up. Or that you may suddenly have impaired vision. Or that your memory will fail you for no apparent reason. The symptoms of MS are different and devastating for everyone – the only certainty is that it will affect yet another person every hour of every day.

Why I Walk

In September 2009 my life changed completely. A very special person entered my life who I quickly fell deeply in love with. Her name is Olivia. I proposed to her 2 years ago at the Walk and we were married June of 2011.  A little over 3 years ago Olivia was diagnosed with MS. We walk to help raise money to find a cure and help the medical needs of those with MS. This is a way not just I can help but you can help to. I’ve registered for Walk MS because I want to help and support Olivia and other people who have been diagnosed. Today, there is no cure for multiple sclerosis, and with a diagnosis occurring most frequently between the ages of 20 and 50, many individuals face a lifetime filled with unpredictability. I have joined the movement to help create a world free of MS!
My goal is to raise $500 Please help me reach that goal with your pledge. Your donation is tax-deductible.

Why You Should Sponsor Me

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society will use funds collected from Walk MS to not only provide programs which address the needs of people living with MS today, but also to support research for a cure tomorrow. Because we choose to walk for those who sometimes can’t, because we choose to donate to Walk MS, we are getting closer to the hour when no one will have to hear the words, “You have MS.”

Please Join Us on May 12th!

Click here to join our team or donate!

Team Hot Flash





Windows What? Windows 7 and What to Expect Beyond

27 02 2012

Yeah I know, it is getting quite confusing.  Are you even on Windows 7 operating system yet?  Me neither.  Now Windows 8 operating systems is coming out.  I hope these resources provide a little guidance for the individual and business as to what to do next.

One of the most important things to consider is the current applications you are using.  Are they compliant with the operating system you are looking to go to?  It is important you get confirmation before proceeding in any way, you can create quite a lot of nightmares for yourself if you have application issues. Here are a couple of tips to consider:

1.  Confirm important applications you use work with the new operating system

2.  Confirm all old files will work with the new operating system

3.  Confirm your computer meets operating requirements.

Why change?  Well if you have older computers simply replacing them may be in order and you may be force to go to the latest operating system. Your older operating system may no longer be supported and if your computer crashes you may be plumb out of luck.   Here is a good reference to see what is Windows 7 Compatible:  http://www.microsoft.com/windows/compatibility/windows-7/en-us/default.aspx

If you have anything older than Windows XP, er, uh, you are outdated.  Otherwise, here are some life cycle details of current, active ,Microsoft Windows Operating systems:  http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/products/lifecycle

For the enterprise here is a nice post about some thoughts that need to be evaluated:  http://www.zdnet.com/blog/microsoft/how-and-when-will-enterprise-apps-be-made-windows-8-ready/11898

Take your time, do the research. Today, most of our business and personal life is on computers. You know what, you are worth it!

P.S.  I liked this recent blog post identifying a couple of Windows 8 features you may not be familiar with:  http://bit.ly/AaDNWT

Guest Blog Written by Michael F. Ross, President @ Absolute Networking, http://www.allcommunicate.com/blog





The Real Meaning of Thanksgiving

21 11 2011

As we all enjoy turkey and the trimmings this Thanksgiving, you may be interested to know that the first Thanksgiving celebration in America was a  religious observance that didn’t include a feast.

It occurred in 1619 — more than a year before the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth, present day Massachusetts. A group of 38 English settlers arrived on the banks of the James River at Berkeley Hundred Virginia and set aside a day to give thanks to God for their safe passage. The Thanksgiving as we know it today didn’t occur until 1621.  The Pilgrims set ground at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620. Their first winter was devastating. At the beginning of the following fall, they had lost 46 of the original 102 who sailed on the Mayflower.  The harvest of 1621 was a bountiful one and the remaining colonists decided to celebrate with a feast including 91 natives who had helped the Pilgrims survive their first year. It is believed that the Pilgrims would not have made it through the year without the help of the natives. The feast was more of a traditional English harvest festival than a true “Thanksgiving” observance.  It lasted three days.

Today’s Thanksgiving was set by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939 (approved by Congress in 1941). Earlier it was the last Thursday in November as was designated by the former President Abraham Lincoln.

Some have lost focus of the meaning of Thanksgiving.  It’s not about eating more food in a single day than you have all year, black Friday sales, football or just a 4 day weekend.  It’s a time to give thanks to God, reflect on His blessings, and to share with friends and family what you are thankful for.  If you look carefully enough on a daily basis you WILL find that you are blessed.  I am truly blessed as I hope you are as well, to be spending time with friends and family while giving thanks to God.

And that’s what Thanksgiving is really all about. The Pilgrims recognized that everything we have is a gift from God – even our sorrows. Their Thanksgiving tradition was established to honor God and thank Him for His blessings and His grace.

So once in every year we throng
Upon a day apart,
To praise the Lord with feast and song
In thankfulness of heart.
~Arthur Guiterman, The First Thanksgiving

 

Remember God’s bounty in the year.  String the pearls of His favor.

Hide the dark parts, except so far as they are breaking out in light!

Give this one day to thanks, to joy, to gratitude!

~Henry Ward Beecher





Are Hosted or Virtual VoIP Telephone Systems Right For You?

17 10 2011

Trying to decide what phone system is best for your business can be a very painful task.  It’s very important to work with a trustworthy communications expert and evaluate your options.

Hosted VoIP systems are popping up everywhere.  They are also being referred to as Virtual VoIP systems.  Don’t let the two different words make you think one is better than the other.  They’re the same thing.

The are a number of disadvantages of hosted VoIP telephone systems including:

  • Internet dependency
  • Call Quality Issues
  • Being locked into a single vendor
  • Scalability Issues
  • Ongoing Cost

Internet Dependency

For most business your telephones are the front door to your business.  This is the way the majority of your customers communicate with you.  A major point of failure for a Hosted VoIP System is the internet.  If your internet is down, your router fails, your switch quits working, or the power is out your phones WILL NOT WORK.

Call Quality Issues

As with all VoIP telephone systems call quality is going to be an issue that must be addressed, running your Hosted VoIP telephone system over less than adequate bandwidth can be detrimental when it comes to maintaining calls.

You need to ensure that Quality of Service (QoS) is established and enough bandwidth is assigned to your VoIP calls.  This can be done with most modern firewalls as they have QoS settings that allow you to prioritize bandwidth usage.  If your network is not set up to properly support a hosted system get ready for headaches.

Being Locked In To A Single Vendor

If the hosted VoIP solution you purchased was bought on the internet good luck getting help.  Especially if you’re trying to find local help.  Most service providers will require you to sign up for a minimum term contract, which effectively locks you into their service and even with poor service it can be very difficult to get out of.  Once your out then what?  Chances are your hosted system wont be support by another hosted VoIP provided.

Scalability Issues

The scalability of hosted VoIP phone systems can be very expensive and cumbersome. To effectively expand your  Hosted Phone System you will need to increase the bandwidth to accommodate every few new users.  This can add up fast.  Another issues I have seen Hosted customers run into when expanding the phone system is the old phones are no longer compatible with new phones or software versions could be different.

Ongoing Cost

Just because the hosted solution was cheaper up front doesn’t mean it will always be cheaper.  With most hosted solutions you never own the equipment which means you never stop paying for it until you trade it in for a system you can own and depend on.

Hosted Market

Hosted Phone Systems do have their place in the market or they wouldn’t be around.  If you don’t care about the ongoing expense, have the proper network infrastructure established, a back-up plan for when the internet is down or  if you only have a handful of users at several locations possibly working from home.  This might be for you.





Memories To Last a Lifetime

22 07 2011

One month ago today I married the love of my life.  Other than the birth of our son, Landon, I have never experienced such an emotionally happy moment. 

We went down to Florida with our immediate family.  Just a “small” group of about 30 people.  Our families vacationed with us the week of our wedding.  We rented a couple of houses in a new neighborhood in Seagrove, Florida.  That’s right between Panama and Destin.  It is such a beautiful area.

Prior to our vacation Olivia worked herself to death trying to plan the wedding until one day she contacted Michelle Castle.  She was looking for a photographer and fell in love with Michelle’s work.  Michelle saw our proposal video from the MS walk and felt an instant connection with us.  She wanted to help make our love story a memory to last a lifetime.  Michelle introduced us to Jessica Miller who is a wedding planner and owner of Serene Occasions.  Together Michelle and Jessica talked to an elite group of vendors that all came together to give us the wedding of our dreams.  It’s not often you meet someone with such a kind heart.  In this instance it was an entire group of people.  Not only are they kind-hearted they are caring, generous and inspiring.  They all have a passion for what they do and it shows when you are around them.  I don’t think we could have dreamt of a more perfect wedding. 

Olivia and I would like to say THANK YOU!!!! to everyone involved in making our wedding so perfect and giving us such wonderful memories.  It still brings tears to my eyes when I think about how beautiful Olivia was when Michelle turned her around on the boardwalk for me to see her for the first time in her wedding dress, the smile on her face as she came down the aisle with orange and white flower pedals spread out in the sand, the race we had at the altar to combine our separate jars of sand into one and the kiss we shared when we were pronounced husband and wife.

After our beautiful ceremony we went to the pool house, which had been a work in progress all day and was transformed into gorgeous and elegant reception.  There were lights that illuminated the area.  The decor was like a wedding you would see in a magazine.  The centerpieces were yellow orchids that were submerged in cylinder vases, surrounded by a mix of white and orange roses. The lower pool level was set up with a unique topsy turvy cake with fresh strawberries and chocolate ganache filling (which was DELICOUS) made especially for us by Kim. The food buffet was perfection, almost so perfect we didn’t want to eat any of it… almost.  Chef Pascalli had put together a delicious dinner menu and made everything on site in one of the houses we rented, everything burst with flavor. The DJ was awesome, he even managed to get my 86-year-old grandpa on the dance floor for the first time in 40 years.  We ended the perfect night with an exit filled with giant sparklers held by our closest family and friends. After everyone thought it was over, we decided to really end with a splash (literally)… Bride and Groom, now husband and wife, jumped into the pool with our wedding attire on.

Check out the people below who made this amazing wedding possible.  If your planning a destination wedding in Florida and want the wedding of your dreams, give them a call.  They are an absolutely amazing group of people.

Michelle Castle | Michelle Castle Photography

Jessica Miller {wedding planner} | Serene Occasions

Videographer | Revelations Productions

Chef Rich Pascali | Pascali Foods

Kim | Kim’s Cakes

Jessica Miller {make-up artist} | Make Me Blush

DJ | Whispers Production

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Qualifying Your Technology Advisor

9 05 2011

There’s no need for small business owners to be technology gurus, as long as they can tap into good technology advice from a reliable small business technology advisor.

Face it, you don’t have the time to become an expert in technology and you don’t have the money it takes to hire a full-time information tech for your company.

So how are you supposed to satisfy the technology demands of your business? Simple – hire an IT (information technology) advisor.

Finding the right advisor is even more critical than determining that you need one in the first place. A bad IT advisor will take your cash and leave you with a technological mess that you’ll have to pay someone else to clean up. But a good IT advisor will not only set up your equipment and software, but also provide support and training on the solution they recommended going forward.

To separate the quality IT advisors from the “trunkers”, you’re going to need to ask questions before you sign a service agreement. Here is a short list of questions to help you get started:

What are the advisor’s strengths?

Different advisors specialize in different types of hardware and software solutions. For example, some advisors specialize in the area of networking while others specialize in hardware set-up or web-based applications. At the end of the day, it’s important to choose advisors whose strengths are in line with your needs.

Company strengths?

Make sure the company you are considering is backed by the BBB and they have customer references that you can call on.  Is this just a start-up company with one or two people?  If so, watch out!  A reliable company will have several network engineers and advisors on staff.  Another huge benefit of a reputable company is they can provide a team approach in troubleshooting or designing your network. 

How many small businesses has the consultant worked with?

Small businesses are different from large businesses in many ways, including technology. If the advisor has worked primarily for large businesses, than he/she may be more likely to set you up with more technology than you need, at a higher cost than you can afford. Ideally, you are looking for an IT advisor that has a consistent track record of service for small business clients.

What can you expect from the advisor?

You need to know upfront what you can reasonably expect to receive for your money. Some IT advisors sell you the hardware or software and then leave without ever having properly trained your employees about how to use it. Ask the advisor to be specific about the services he/she will provide and then get it in writing.

Does the advisor serve as an agent for an equipment or software provider?

Some IT advisors are little more than sales reps in advisors clothing. Their job has less to do with helping you than it does with selling their company’s products. Find out whether or not the advisor serves as an agent or representative for any manufacturers or resellers. A true advisor will allow you to purchase whatever technology is right for your business, regardless of the name on the box.  Find out if you have the option of purchasing the equipment direct or if you have to buy directly from the advisor.  It’s not always less expensive to buy direct.  A good advisor should provide their price vs. buying direct.

How much will this advisor charge you?

As with any advisor, you’ll need to find out in advance how much the advisors time is going to cost.  If a technology advisor is with a reputable company you should not be charged for their time.  Projects and support should clearly define hardware software and labor pricing.

Where do you find a good advisor?

Well you’re looking in the right spot already!  First check out my references then you contact me with the tab above.