10 Feb 2019

OneNote an Awesome Office 365 Tool

Office 365 has great tools
Office 365 has many great tools like OneNote

Tips for using OneNote for Project Management

Hopefully by now your IT Support team, or the Managed IT Support company you are working with has introduced you to Microsoft OneNote. OneNote is a powerful project management and online notebook tool. The best part is that it is part of the Office 365 cloud suite. So if you have Office 365 you don’t have to pay extra. You now no longer have to spend a lot of money on expensive project management software because OneNote is not only available on all devices but it can also be used for a number of projects. OneNote can be configured according to your needs and the type of project that you are working on. Following are some of the tips that can prove to be very helpful if you decide to use OneNote for project management. Your IT consulting team can help get you started but its not overly complicated

Train your team to use OneNote:

The essence of project management is teamwork. Your team must be able to effectively collaborate to make any project successful. Another important factor is that your team should be skilled at and comfortable in using the tools being used for project management. One of the major advantages of using OneNote as your main project management tool is that it can be learned very easily with minimal training. If the people working in your team are familiar with Microsoft Word they would have no difficulty in getting used to OneNote. There are plenty of guides available online that can help you and your team in getting comfortable with the software. As one of Chicago top IT companies we can provide you training also. Our most popular cloud offering is Office 365!

 

Customize according to the project:

One of the unique and very useful abilities of OneNote is that it can be very easily customized according to your preferences or the project you are working on. If you force yourself to work on a software that doesn’t look or feel good you will find a lot of hindrance in your creative process. The simplest customizations can be done from the View tab. By using this tab, you can change the settings from the default view to full page view. You can also use this tab to dock the pages to the side of the screen while you take notes from different online sources. More fancy customizations can also be easily found in the Options area when you click on the Display option. Even if the project that you are working on is a simple one, some customizations like changing the color of the pages can really mean a huge difference in the end result. By learning to use customizations to your advantage you can have increased work efficiencies in any given project.

Using custom page templates:

Page templates can be a big lifesaver when it comes to project management. In any project of any size, there is a high possibility that some objects or tasks are repeated. This is where page templates can save a lot of time and effort that you and your team put into the project. One of the features of OneNote is that it not only allows you to use the preexisting page templates but it also gives you the option to create your own custom page templates from scratch. All you have to do is to go to the Insert option and then click on an insert page template to add any template. Using page templates can dramatically reduce time especially when you are duplicating any information. This information can be anything, recurring meetings, interviews with different clients, task processes, idea discussion meetings etc.

Follow an organization strategy:

OneNote is equipped with multiple options such as pages, categories, subcategories, notebooks, sections etc. But in order to use these features to their full potential, it is necessary that you use an organizational strategy to keep things in correct order. One of the best practices that can ensure a good organization strategy is to make sure that you add a table of content at the start of the project. This additional page should have clickable links to different content in the project so that you can navigate easily. Another important feature in this regard is the search feature in OneNote. This feature can be used to search for any file or page in the project. When the conventional methods of finding anything fails tags can be used to quickly search for the items. Tags in OneNote is another very useful feature that can be used to properly categorize different items in the project. They can help you in quickly getting to the required data.

Some other great Office 365 tools include yammer and teams. Yammer is a bulletin board type of tool and great for company wide communications, broadcasts, and announcements. Microsoft teams is another Office 365 tool that can be used for communication between project teams, have a central repository for project files, and other project related functions/

Hope this information helps. If want to work with one of Chicago’s top IT Companies, and a top Office 365 provider feel free to email info@itriskmgrs.com or call Rick Bolda at 630-918-7370

09 Dec 2018

3 Must Haves from Your Chicago IT Support Partner

IT Solutions for Chicago
IT Support for your Chicago Business

Managed IT Services Company should help with Software, Hardware, Telecom Renewals and Tracking

As more Chicago based companies move to a managed IT Service for small business platform it’s important to consider these needs when choosing a managed IT Service partner. A good managed service provider must provide leadership when it comes to Software Asset Management and Hardware Maintenance Renewal Management. They also must have a handle on your telecom, bandwidth, and Internet costs.

Software Asset Management with your IT Support partner

Software Asset Management is the business practice of managing and optimizing the purchase, deployment, maintenance, and utilization of software applications within an organization. You may not want to outsource 100% of software asset management to your managed it services company, but they definitely need to have input and help bring value to your IT support needs by contributing time to this responsibility. A comprehensive Software Asset Management solution is crucial to your organization. It helps you know what software licenses you have in place, what renewal costs you maybe facing in the budget year, and it keeps your business in compliance. Managing your software assets impacts your bottom line. Therefore your IT support company or managed IT services firm should help with this responsibility.

Today’s software license models can be very complex and ambiguous. It can require hours and hours of time to make sure you are paying the proper amounts and you have the most up to date licenses. Since your IT Managed service partner deals with many of your software products on a regular basis they should have a platform you can leverage to track your license needs. Prior to purchasing any software your business should verify the compliance terms and requirements. However be ready for change. The cloud adds complexity to your license compliance challenge. Your IT Support firm should have a good handle on all the services your company is using in the cloud and provide a good framework to be able to track usage costs, compliance costs and on-going services costs.

Managed Internet and Telecom Costs

Since your IT Support firm deals with your network support and IT support service needs on a regular basis they should have an idea on what your circuit, Internet, and telecom costs are also. A good managed IT service firm for small business will be able to evaluate costs and services related to all your Internet Services. IT Risk Managers LLC for instance has a separate team to manage telecom and Internet costs and services. We will make you aware if there are contract renewals due for site to site services like Windstream, Verizon, CenturyLink, Comcast and others. We would also let you know if changes or efficiencies are available in circuit and Internet prices. Sometimes increased capacity and bandwidth is needed for improved network performance. We would go to the carrier get pricing, and contract terms, and verify what’s the best solution or deal available. Your IT managed service partner should have the relationships and tools to make sure you are getting the most cost effective solution for your Internet and telecom business needs.

Hardware Maintenance Renewals from your IT Support Partner

Equipment and hardware maintenance renewals are also an area where your IT support firm needs to be able support your business. A Managed IT services company should have a platform that keeps track and inventory of all your systems and network equipment. Our IT support desk portal tracks serial numbers, versions, CPU’s, disk space, operating systems, software versions and much much more. This is all data necessary to keep you informed of what hardware is due for retirement, what systems need a maintenance contract renewed, or how systems are doing performance wise. Our Managed IT services and IT Support model provides an annual budget of maintenance and software renewals required to keep your systems up to date and in compliance.

If you have further questions or or would like an IT Health Assessment please call Rick Bolda at 630-918-7370 or email info@itriskmgrs.com

09 Dec 2018

“Likeability” and Attitude, The keys to a Great Chicago IT Support Team!

Chicago IT Solutions
Managed IT Services for Small Business

IT Support Technicians Need a Great Attitude

As a business leader from time to time you need to make a decision about getting IT Support for your business. Do not make attitude and likeability an afterthought when it comes to selecting your IT Support team. As a matter of fact, these attributes can make or break the success of your technology investment. Time after time I have seen some great technologies and IT solution projects fail because of the poor attitude of the IT support technicians and IT consultants delivering the solution. I am seeing this happen less frequently as more younger IT support technicians become advanced and trained. The old guard “know it all” IT support engineer has gone from being irreplaceable to quickly replaced with someone with a great attitude. A good Managed IT Services firm will have people in place with great attitudes!

What’s a great Attitude for IT Support?

In my mind a great attitude means the ability to explain things in a language people can understand. It also means being able to document processes and train other people to fill their role in the event of an emergency. And most importantly to smile while they do it. If you sense that your current IT support team holds the keys to your kingdom, and you are unsure of what they do sometimes you are not alone. Your IT support team needs to empower you, and not make you feel they speak a language you don’t understand. They have to bridge that gap and help you understand technology in a way that empowers you to run your business more effectively. They have to have a great attitude!

Selecting the right IT Support Team

Here are a few considerations to review when selecting an IT Support Firm. Again the most important thing when selecting an IT Support partner is the likeability factor. Information Technology experts are a different breed. Today’s IT Support technicians and IT Consultants need technical experience and business experience. They need to be able to solve business challenges with technology. Technology just for the sake of technology is not going to drive your business forward and meet your needs. On top of being able to understand the business pieces of technology your IT support team needs to have people you like to work with and trust. This may go without saying, but you can have the most brilliant technically savvy IT consultant, but if that person is not easy to work with, it’s going to cost you a lot of money and give you many headaches.

It’s about your Business not Technology

Remember it’s not about the technology it’s about your business. If you find your current IT Consultant or IT support person speaks in a technical language you can’t understand that is a red flag. Today’s IT Consultant has to be able to communicate in a business language you and your people can understand. Secondly they have to have patience. Today’s IT solutions move so fast, between the cloud, VOIP, Managed IT Services, and other IT technologies your tech support team needs to be able to slow it down, communicate and make sure your business is getting the most out of its technology spend. They also need to be able to explain the technology to your people and train them to use it. That takes teamwork, communications, patience, and compassion. I’ve often found IT Companies that have implemented some great technologies but the platforms have failed to deliver because of lack of training, communications, and follow through.

The roles of IT Consultants, IT Support Technicians

And of course another key consideration and factor when hiring is putting the IT support people in their correct roles. I’m sure we’ve all heard of the square peg in a round hole expression. This is an extremely important concept when it comes to IT Support. You wouldn’t have a plumber doing brain surgery would you? That’s why a help desk support person is different from a network engineer person. A help desk support person needs to have a great attitude, patience and communications skills. Why? Because these are the technicians that are responsible for customer support and satisfaction. Someone who works in a Network Operating Center will not make a good customer facing help desk support person, it’s two entirely different roles. Most Network Engineers don’t like to deal with end users, they want to be in the plumbing not handing out glasses of water. So don’t assume that because you’re hiring an IT Consultant they will be able to be all things to your organization. Hire a Network Engineer to do engineering not to do help desk. That’s why it’s also important to understand an IT consultant may not have the same skills as an IT Director. And expecting them to have the same skills will end up in disappointment. It’s about having round pegs in round holes!

If you would like information about IT Support Services please call Rick Bolda at 630-918-7370. Or if you need an IT Health Assessment give me a call.

29 Oct 2018

Data Recovery, Cloud Backup, Business Continuity for Chicago

Data Backup for Chicago Businesses
Cloud Backup and Business Continuity for your Chicago Business

Cloud Backup must include Business Continuity

You may constantly hear scenarios and justifications for off-site backup or what is referred to as cloud backup. An off-site cloud backup is the first piece to a successful disaster recovery strategy, but the most important piece of cloud backup, is being able to restore your data in the event of a disaster. The majority of Chicago companies have an off-site cloud backup solution, but you have to ask yourself how often do you test your ability to recover from a disaster and have you tested your cloud backup system. And most importantly can your business continue operations in the event of a disaster that takes down your systems or takes out your data. The cloud backup solution must also include a way to quickly use the data and begin operations again. This is known as business continuity. IT Risk Managers LLC Business Continuity solution allows a company to back up its data in the cloud, and if a disaster happens, IT Risk Managers Business Continuity solution can spin up a virtual servers in the cloud which can be used as temporary servers until your company business servers are restored.

Cloud backup and business continuity solutions should protect you from the following events

Data backup for End-User Error

Sometimes files get deleted and mistakes get made. An employee may lose important data through clicking on the wrong link, or even clicking on a malicious link. Laptops may get lost or dropped, and days of important work can be lost. A good cloud backup solution from a reputable Chicago Managed IT Services provider can mitigate issues related to user-error, recover the data and keep business operations flowing.

Disaster recovery for Hardware Failures and outages

Hard drives, servers, desktops, and laptops have limited life and can fail causing interruptions in business operations. There are ways that today’s systems can be designed and implemented that limit exposure to hardware failures. Technologies like virtualization, replicated servers, and hardware are a few ways. But, a Business Disaster Recovery (BDR) and Business Continuity system for your Chicago business insures that data is saved, replicated and can be restored quickly and efficiently so it does not affect company operations and the business can continue operating. A good business continuity solution will also enable point in time recoveries, so you can recover data-sets at a very particular point in time. You may need to restore your data at exact point from 3 weeks ago or 3 hours ago. For example one of the cloud backup solutions IT Risk Managers offers Chicago companies are point in time full data backups. We offer 15 fixed recovery point in a twelve month period. Five daily cloud backups, three weekly cloud backups, six monthly and one yearly. This will gave your Chicago business the ability to cover from almost any disaster.

Business Continuity for File Corruption and Software Failure

Software can also fail. Files and data can become corrupted and things maybe deleted without warning. A business continuity solution will enable a recovery of the deleted data or corrupt data in a timely manner so your business operations can continue.

BDR for Natural Disasters and Extreme weather

Businesses can lose thousands in operations, productivity and efficiencies if they are not prepared for weather related incidences and natural disasters. A good Business Disaster Recovery solution is key to overcoming a natural disaster. Your geographic location may be prone to certain types of environmental events and you have to take the proper precautions for each event. A good BDR solution is the cornerstone to surviving these events. A good cloud backup partner, and IT Managed Services partner will have the backup technologies and data recovery solutions in place to give you the ability to recover your data in the event of  floods, storms, and tornadoes. IT Risk Managers BDR solution also gives you access to temporary virtual servers that can be used until your business servers are restored.

Business Backup for Insider threats and Cyber crime

Unfortunately today’s data and systems can be susceptible to an insider threat. You may have an unhappy or disgruntled employee who may intentionally encrypt, delete, or steal sensitive information. A properly deployed BDR may not stop the behavior but it can help you recover and mitigate the damage in the event of an occurrence. Viruses, malware, and especially ransomware, are all dangerous threat to today’s data and business operations. Hackers, and cyber criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their attacks. It really is not a question of weather you will be attacked its just a question of when you will be attacked. A good Business Continuity and cloud backup solution will help you recover from these inevitable attacks.

Are you Prepared in the event of a Data Loss?

Some questions you may want to ask yourself regarding your ability to recover from a data loss event:

Do you know the risks and financial costs to your business from data loss due to downtime?

Do you back up your data multiple times throughout the day?

Do you have a software and storage solution dedicated to backing up up your business data?

Is your critical business data backed up offsite?

Is your backed up data stores at redundant offsite locations?

Is the data stored off-site always encrypted?

Is  your backup system and files tested and verified by a team of backup specialists?

Have you scheduled annual disaster recovery tests to verify the integrity and operations of your back up solution?

Do you have a backup solution that gives you access to virtual machines and servers that can be turned on and used so your business can recover quickly?

IT Risk Managers Chicago Cloud Backup and Business Continuity

IT Risk Managers is a full service Chicago IT Managed Service provider. We have enterprise cloud backup solutions that we’ve enabled for small and medium businesses. All of our services are continuously monitored by our Network Operating Center (NOC) If you have any additional questions about Chicago Cloud backup solutions, Chicago Business Continuity solutions, and backing up your business’ data please email info@itriskmgrs.com or call Rick Bolda at 630-918-7370.

 

 

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