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As we are all still trying to understand what the lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be, many organisations are taking a hard look at their operating costs and looking for potential cuts. Protecting cash flow is vital right now. At Sensible we want to help you implement strategies that can help reduce your IT costs and set you up with a system flexible enough to support your business through the many changes (or pivots) you might be making to position yourselves to thrive through it all. We want to offer you guidance and support through these times, and potentially help you save some money.

Step 1- Do an Internal Audit

Take a look at your current technology solutions. Take stock of everything you are paying for and ask yourself these questions:

• Is this the right system for my business? Does it accomplish all I need it to?

• Are we currently utilising all the tools we are paying for? Can we cut any?

• Do we lack internal processes? Are there ways I can improve efficiency and save our employee’s time?

Step 2- Cut Any Redundant or Unnecessary Services

The easiest way to reduce costs is to get rid of what’s not working. Many companies have a habit of purchasing a new tool or service to meet an immediate need. Little do they know they usually already have a tool that could meet that need, it’s just not being used properly. Here is a free tip: Do you have Office 365? Most companies get this package so they can use programs like Word and Excel, but don’t fully utilise the other apps that come with it. Microsoft teams can easily replace Slack and Zoom, and Sharepoint or OneDrive can do the job of Google Drive and Dropbox. You’re already paying for Office 365, and the tools themselves are more powerful, providing integration of your information and files across all the apps. You might simply need some training or guidance on how to implement these tools into your business processes, and we can help with that.

Step 3- Evaluate Whether It’s Cost Effective to Manage Your Own IT

Is IT your core skill set? Will you ever be as efficient and skilled as a complete team of specialists? Often your time will be better spent doing what you are best at, then wasting countless hours trying to learn an entirely new skill set. Additionally, can you really afford not to do IT the right way? Payroll and training costs alone can be a nightmare. Outsourcing a portion of your IT needs to a 3rd party resource like Sensible can help you simultaneously improve your technology management, and potentially save money. If you’re currently relying on an internal IT manager or a small internal team, are they struggling to keep up with the tsunami of complex and ever-changing technology needs and services? Important competitive projects may be delayed while your team has to complete training, and you become the test environment for their new skills, increasing your risk. Sensible offers a full-service solution for your IT needs, resulting in a higher standard than most organisations can achieve in-house.

Step 4- Don’t Pay for Quick Fixes, Invest in A Reliable Solution

How does your current IT resource handle your technology needs? Are you currently working with a “break-fix” style of management, where you pay for problems as they occur whether or not they happened before? Or are you paying a predictable monthly fee for a process that analyses your business, looks for opportunities to improve your staff productivity and tries to prevent problems in the first place? We believe you should engage a provider like us, who trusts their systems to offer you unlimited support for a fixed fee. Those quick fixes add up quickly, and with the right solution, you can eliminate them.

Step 5- Plan for The Future, Secure Your Information

As we are working remotely, it is more imperative than ever to understand how to protect your data. Protecting your finances, your reputation, and your Intellectual property can be costly, mainly if not implemented properly. However, it is even more expensive if you don’t protect them adequately at all. Adhering to compliance regulations can be costly and often means implementing and maintaining a stringent security infrastructure- do you have the expertise to do this most cost-effectively?

We could cover many more steps to take, but these are the areas where we think you can make the most impact on you and your business. If you’re hesitant about tackling this problem on your own, that’s okay! We encourage you to contact Sensible. We can help you identify these problems and guide you on how to solve them. Give us a call!

When it comes to increasing your employees’ efficiency and productivity, technology can provide countless opportunities to streamline workflows, eliminate redundant processes and reduce costs within your organisation. If you’re looking to stay ahead of the competition, you need to ditch the traditional ways of working and implement technology to your practices to encourage more employee productivity and efficiency - here’s how.

CHANGE OFFICE COMMUNICATION

Skype_for_Business_small
Skype for Business is what we use for staff IM and video conferencing at Sensible.

In order to increase efficiency, set up instant messaging software such as Skype on your employees’ workstations. This allows them to send instant messages to correspondents instead of having to get up from their desks to see whether the person is available. Of course, if you need to discuss big projects or issues, face-to-face communication is likely the best choice. But you can simply send a quick message for more trivial conversations, saving precious minutes and allowing you to get more work done.

Another way of improving business productivity is to use Yammer.

Yammer breaks down internal barriers in your organisation by connecting people to each other and to the information they need. This way, employees can quickly find experts, get answers, and accomplish more. It is like a private, internal "Facebook".
Yammer is really good for improving innovation in your organisation.
"Organizations that use social enterprise technologies like Yammer see a 37% improvement in project collaboration."
(Bringing Social to the Enterprise: How Microsoft Can Help Your Organization Work Like a Network, Microsoft, 2014)
 
Yammer also makes it easier to stay in touch with is happening across your business. You don''t have to rely on one-to-one communications like emails any more (with emails : if you're not included in the email - you miss out on the information)

INSTALL VIDEO CONFERENCING

Traveling to offsite meetings and training sessions takes time and, all too often, time spent on the road is time lost. Rather than commuting for hours outside your office, opt for a networked phone solution that offers video calls and conferencing. This way you can hold a video conference to discuss business matters from the comfort and convenience of your office. You can also take things up a notch and equip the conference room with tools to pull up documents and have them displayed on a big screen, so that everyone in the meeting can follow the conversation with ease. New video conferencing technologies work seamlessly across mobile devices and far more affordable than they used to be.

UPGRADE WORKSTATIONS

Outdated technologies and workstations limit your business’s progress, and are a hindrance to developing clued-up, efficient employees. Aging phone systems and slow networks can frustrate your team and bring productivity to a standstill. So it’s important to take the time to assess your current workstations, applications, hardware, and tools. This doesn’t mean that you have to buy a set of entirely new workstations. But you should replace obsolete equipment with more up-to-date machines. In addition, make sure all software and applications are up-to-date to ensure maximum efficiency and employee satisfaction.

IMPLEMENT ERP SOFTWARE

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is business process management software that allows organisations to automate processes and centralise data in order for employees to collaborate more efficiently. ERP software provides employees with up-to-date business information that they can easily access and make use of. What’s more, ERP also eliminates redundant data entry and reduces the number of spreadsheets that are used to record critical business data, by storing information in a centralised database.

To get the maximum return on your technology investment, it’s also important to partner with a knowledgeable and reliable service provider. Get in touch with our tech experts today to find out how we can implement technology to help your employees become more efficient and productive.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

The recently hacked Ashley Madison website (which makes it easy to cheat on your partner) is simply the latest case of a big worldwide company having confidential data stolen. It’s a trend that shows no signs of subsiding, so it would be foolish to not pay attention to it. There are many things that your business should learn about security from this scandal. Here are the most important takeaways from the Ashley Madison hack that we at Sensible believe every Australian company should take note of.

1. MAKE SURE YOUR COMPANY’S SECURITY DATA IS ACTUALLY SECURE

You would probably tell your clients that their information is secure, but just about every company makes that claim. One of the biggest mistakes made by Ashley Madison was the failure to know if its data was truly secure. The company publically lauded its security, but it now seems like those claims were rather hollow. In fact, it appears as if no one at Ashley Madison knew a whole lot about its security practices until the damage had been done.472842-ashley-madison-logo

You should not simply pass off your business’s security to the IT department. Being involved will allow you to see how it works. You don’t need to be a tech expert to understand
how your data is being secured. Your security provider, whether it be in-house or via a managed services provider, should be able to explain security practices in layman’s terms. This will allow you to ask questions and be proactive because chances are if you see a weakness, others will notice it as well.

2. BEWARE OF YOUR EMPLOYEES AND THEIR EMAIL AND INTERNET ACTIVITIES

Another takeaway from this scandal was the fact many employees, both from private companies and government offices, were using business email accounts to sign-up for Ashley Madison whilst also using office Internet connections to access the site. Putting the ethical questions aside for a moment, public sentiment is undoubtedly negative and companies with employees who used Ashley Madison at work have been exposed to the scandal’s backlash.

By placing the appropriate email and Internet security solutions in place at your business, you can reduce the amount of risk your company is exposed to by employees. No one really wants to put restrictions on their employees’ Internet and email access, but it is important to be smart. Being connected to scandals like this can bring unwanted publicity to your business. Worst of all, your employees might not even realise they are putting your company in harm’s way when they access this type of content at work.

3. BE PREPARED FOR DATA LOSS

As the Ashley Madison case has shown us, massive data theft or loss can be the end of your business. When clients trust your business with their data, they are confident in your ability to protect it. Of course, things do happen and if your data does go missing, it’s important to have a plan of action ready. While it’s unlikely your company’s data breach is unlikely to garner the mass attention like Ashley Madison, it means a whole lot more to you, your company and your employees. Just because your company isn’t big doesn’t mean it’s invincible.

A disaster recovery plan can help your company ensure it has backups and even backups of your backups. If you believe your data has been stolen by hackers, it is important to act immediately. You’ll need to quickly assess what information has been stolen and inform the appropriate parties so they can take the necessary steps to protect themselves. From there, you will want to re-secure your company closing any security loopholes that have been found. Finally, access your backups and make sure your business continues to operate as close to normal during the crisis.

4. BE PREPARED FOR PHISHING ATTACKS

The hackers who stole 36 million records from the Ashley Madison site, published all the records for everyone to see. This is a bad one.

Cyber criminals are leveraging this event in a lot of different ways: email phishing attacks, dodgy websites where you can "check if your partner is cheating on you", or ways to find out if your own extramarital affair has come out.

Any of these 36 million registered users are now a target for a multitude of social engineering attacks. People that have (had) straight or gay extramarital affairs can be made to click on links in emails that threaten to out them.

We have seen phishing emails that claim people can go to a website to find out if their private data has been released. Phishers and blackmailers are now gleefully rubbing their hands, let alone the divorce lawyers and private investigators that are pouring over the data now.

Worried about your security? We can show you how to protect yourself. Contact us today at Sensible on 1300 SENSIBLE (736 742) for more information on how to keep your company safe.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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