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If your business relies on Microsoft 365, you may have noticed that on Tuesday, September 29th, there was a multi-hour outage. Microsoft confirmed via their Twitter account that the "residual issue has been addressed, and the incident has been resolved." Still, for many, this was a wakeup call to the fact that they need to have a backup form of business communication.

Businesses are moving towards more modern workplaces. Many of our clients no longer utilise landlines and handle all communication electronically via platforms like Microsoft Teams, so when Microsoft 365 went down, they found themselves without any way to communicate to their clients or conduct their business.

For everything in life, to be prepared, you should always have a backup plan. In these cases of technology outages, we would recommend putting together a Disaster Recovery Plan detailing what to do if any of your virtual systems fail. That way if something happens, your business will be able to take it in stride with minimal interruption.

For example, in the case of losing your communication method of Microsoft Teams, your Disaster Recovery Plan should:

1. Plan how you will notify your team that the Disaster Recovery Plan is being enacted

2. Designate your secondary communication platform(s) for external communication and internal communication

3. Define where calls or messages should be forwarded to

4. Designate who will be in charge of setting up the call forwarding, be sure to include updated personal contact information for this person

5. Craft a generic message that can be posted to social media channels or on your website to inform your customers of the best way to reach you

6. Designate who will be in charge of posting your external messages, be sure to include updated personal contact information for this person and how to access the necessary accounts or website

7. Be shared with your team and kept in an accessible place so anyone can reference it if needed

If you are working with an IT provider, it is essential to share this information with them so they can help you adjust as needed if the time comes. Additionally, you can utilise their expertise to ensure your Disaster Recovery Plan is well detailed and sure to support you through a crisis. If your business could use help creating Disaster Recovery Plans for your solutions, we would be more than happy to help you out.

 

The Covid-19 crisis has forced organisations of all kinds, all over the world, to restructure the way they work. Technology has proven to be the backbone and pivot point of this restructuring process, with organisations transitioning to remote working environments and online services wherever possible. Unfortunately, this kind of transition is almost never a simple task—it takes time and resources. We’ve seen organisations struggle with a variety of things. They lose revenue because they can’t support their clients as well as they used to. The number of new security risks skyrocket due to unsecure data and remote access points. Problems with management and technology implementation result in downtime and productivity loss, which all feeds back into unhappy clients and lost revenue.

These things have been especially true for non-profit organizations (or, as we like to call them, “for-purpose organizations”). These organisations deliver essential services to their communities, and we at Sensible believe that it’s our duty and responsibility to support them as best we can. We’re a family business with 35 years of operational experience, and our expertise is focused on implementing information technology solutions to support various organisations. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t help in other ways.

While we can help our clients and for-purpose organisations implement and use technology solutions, there are other problems that non-profits have to deal with. Knowing that, we’ve put together a quick list of some grants that have come together to support the operation of non-profits during this Covid-19 crisis. We’ve outlined the basic information for our highlight grants below, but more information (and more grants) can be found online here.

Highlight Grants

The City of Sydney is providing Community Services Grants for between $5,000 and $10,000 to non-profit organisations up until the 27th of April. An eligible organisation must be non-profit, operate in the City of Sydney area, have experience and networks within the social service sector, and must describe how the Covid-19 crisis has impacted them. Sensible can help you apply this grant money towards implementing remote work infrastructure, staff technology training, and updating your e-commerce platform to maintain your revenue streams.

BHP has established the $50 million BHP Vital Resources Fund to support regional communities in the areas they operate. This would include, for example, the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales. The goal of this fund, which will distribute various amounts of grant money, is to build critical infrastructure for local and regional health networks, and keep essential community services operational.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is offering an Individual Capacity Building Grant Round which is offering eligible organisations from $10,000 to $500,000 per year for up to two years. This grant closes on May 6th, so act quickly on it. The NDIA is looking for programs that ensure people with disability will have the skills and confidence to participate and contribute to the community, and also protect their rights. It also focuses on strengthening Disabled Peoples Organisations’ (DPOs) and Families Organisations’ (FOs) service capabilities. The Grant Round has three different grants, based on the building capacity; up to $25,000 for small individual capacity buildings, $50,000 for organizational capacity buildings, and $500,000 for large capacity buildings.

We Can Help

Sensible currently supports NDIA-registered organisations who provide services to people with disabilities, and we are a strong advocate for empowerment and capacity-building through technology—we work hard to provide innovative and effective solutions to these clients. We want our clients to spend more of their time helping the community, especially right now. We will talk you through the outcomes of working with us, and help you respond to your grant proposal. Our goal is to help you leverage these resources towards increased staff productivity, higher quality services, and a more connected and supportive work environment for everyone. Give us a call, we’d love to help you.

Business communication has come a long way since traditional landline calling. Today, it’s all about internet-based phone systems, aka, VoIP. But before investing in VoIP phones, you need to determine how you plan to deploy them -- in the cloud or on-premises. Let’s dig into the differences between the two options.

Installation and maintenance

On-premises VoIP phone systems are installed at your company’s office, typically managed and maintained by your own personnel. While you can hire a third party to manage the phone system for you, what you can’t avoid is the hardware cost of setting up your VoIP phones.

Cloud-based VoIP, on the other hand, means all the software and hardware are hosted and maintained by a VoIP provider. Other than the physical phones, everything else is provided virtually, which means you won’t be bothered with expensive hardware costs nor will you need an in-house staff to manage the system.

But since all support requests must be addressed by your VoIP provider, service responsiveness and flexibility are crucial as they can directly impact your daily operations.

Security

You might think having on-premises VoIP is the obvious choice when it comes to security, and in one specific case that’s very true. If you have vast IT resources, deploying VoIP on-premises gives you better security control since you will know your system’s capabilities as well as every nooks and crannies.

But for small- to medium-sized businesses, cloud-hosted VoIP remains a favorable option because every aspect of security is taken care of by a provider whose reputation rests on maintaining the most stringent security measures. They are well-versed in identifying vulnerabilities, reducing the area of attacks, and protecting all entry points.

Control

On-premises solutions give you better control of your VoIP phones since you can design systems suited to your needs without relying on a third-party. This makes it a popular choice for larger enterprises with dedicated IT technicians needed to customize and manage the system.

With cloud-hosted VoIP, you relinquish certain control to your service provider, which is the price you pay for the convenience of professional deployment and maintenance. This, however, doesn’t give your provider the right to monitor your calls or conduct any activity that breaches your business’s confidentiality.

Scalability

With on-premises VoIP systems, you rely on your in-house personnel to add or remove features to accommodate your changing needs. There are various backend processes involved and every expansion often increases the complexity you have to manage yourself.

With a cloud-hosted solution, you’ll have an entire team of technicians at your beck and call so features can be added or removed as needed. If you’re anticipating future changes, cloud-hosted VoIP will be more effective in the long run.

Whether you’re looking to host your VoIP phone systems on-premises or in the cloud, we can help make the process quick and painless. Just give us a call and we’ll be happy to advise.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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