Experts Can Make or Break a Technology Implementation

When it comes to implementing new technology solutions for your business, there is always a desire to solve some sort of problem. Maybe you are not as productive as you would like to be, or perhaps there is an operational inefficiency that you hope to address or streamline through the use of the technology. Either way, the end result is the same; you are trying to make progress and move forward, not over-complicate your infrastructure.

Believe it or not, businesses of all types have to grapple with issues that implementing new technology comes with, regardless of how much IT support or resources are available. It all boils down to the central question of, “What problem am I aiming to solve with this technology?” If you understand the problem, you can start taking steps toward finding the appropriate solution. Unfortunately for businesses, however, the solution to the problem is not always clear-cut.

 

For example, let’s say that two companies are looking to increase the accessibility of network resources for remote employees. The obvious solution is to host these resources in the cloud so that they can be accessed from any location, provided the device is familiar and is properly secured. In this case, the problem is the same, but the solution will vary depending on a variety of factors.

 

For one, in the above scenario, the business’s pre-existing resources will dramatically change the way that this cloud solution is implemented. If the company has the technology infrastructure to host its own cloud server, then that becomes an option, provided that the organization has enough technical know-how to deploy, manage, and maintain said infrastructure. On the other hand, if the company does not have these kinds of resources, then perhaps the best solution for their cloud needs might be to outsource this responsibility to a managed service provider. The provider would then be able to host, manage, and maintain the cloud solution for the company.

 

Notice how in both scenarios, the companies are examining their problems and potential solutions, as well as the resources that will determine the initiative’s success. This is the key to making progress toward resolving problems with your IT infrastructure; if you can accurately gauge what must be done and what allows you to get it done, you will have a much greater chance of overcoming the issues associated with implementing new technology.

 

Point North Networks, Inc., understands the many pitfalls that organizations can face when implementing new technology solutions, and avoiding these starts with understanding your business’ current needs and the problems that must be solved. We can help you make these difficult decisions through a comprehensive network assessment and infrastructure audit that can identify potential areas of improvement. From here, you can use the information to make informed and educated decisions for your company’s technology needs.

 

You can count on Point North to be there for every step of the process, from identifying problems to recommending solutions, as well as implementing said solutions and training your team on how to use them effectively. To get started, give us a call today at 651-234-0895.

 

component of a successful business

The Components of a Successful Business Continuity Strategy

With the future so uncertain, it’s no surprise that many organizations are turning their focus toward business continuity. There are a lot of components that go into making a successful continuity plan, and if you want to optimize your chances of survival in the face of a disaster, you need to ensure that all your bases are covered.

First, let’s take a look at what business continuity means, particularly in a post-pandemic world.

Defining Business Continuity

A lot of things can go wrong when you run a business. From natural disasters like electrical storms, fires, floods, and so on, to not-so-natural disasters like hacking attacks, ransomware, and user error, there are a lot of ways that your business’ operations could be disrupted for extended periods of time. At its core, the business continuity plan is a list of steps that must be taken following such a disaster to keep downtime and losses to an acceptable minimum. It should be noted that business continuity and disaster recovery, while two sides of the same coin, are not one and the same. Disaster recovery is simply one of the many components of a successful business continuity strategy.

The Primary Components of Your Strategy

Before identifying where you should invest your time and effort when planning for business continuity, it’s best practice to run what is called a business impact analysis, which helps to identify critical functions of your organization. Basically, you take a look at which operations would be most costly during a disaster scenario; this helps you shore them up with your business continuity strategy.

 

The various parts of your business continuity strategy will generally fall into one of these three categories, based on what the above critical functions are for your specific industry:

 

  • Digital resources: Most businesses rely on data of some form or another, whether it is stored on-premises or in the cloud. Making sure that you retain access to that data in the worst of times will be crucial. Data backup systems can aid in this process and make certain that your digital assets are not lost forever.
  • Human resources: Your business cannot function without its employees, so you need to account for them, too. Establishing a chain of command and guaranteeing that you stay in touch with any clients or vendors will be critical to ensuring business continuity.
  • Physical resources: This includes things such as your office space, physical assets like your hardware solutions, and anything else of the sort that’s needed for your employees to do their jobs in an effective way. Especially if you rely on manufacturers or a supply chain, ensuring that this is not broken is critical to success in the face of a disaster.

 

At the end of the day, your business continuity strategy should be accessible to anyone who will need it, along with a list of necessary equipment, the locations of your data backups, and contact information for additional resources as needed.

Reinforcing Business Continuity

A business continuity strategy is only effective if it can be feasibly pulled off and it meets your expectations. Imagine going through a disaster scenario only to discover that your business continuity strategy simply does not return the expected results, or perhaps it doesn’t execute well at all. This is why it is important to routinely test and adjust your strategy; you don’t want to be caught unawares. Here are some details to look for when testing your business continuity plan:

 

  • Expected downtime: Does your plan meet the expected minimum amount of downtime and the costs associated with it?
  • Ease of implementation: Is your plan able to kick off without a hitch?
  • Feedback from staff: Have you listened to key staff who might be able to identify opportunities for improvement?

Need a Hand Getting Started?

The world of business continuity can be a bit daunting, but in today’s business climate, you cannot afford to be passive with it. Point North networks, Inc., can equip you with the tools needed to ensure minimal downtime and disruption in the face of a disaster. To learn more, reach out to us at 651-234-0895.

consistency

Building Trust in Business with a Consistent Approach

For a worker, one of the most maddening things that can happen at work is when there is a lack of consistency with the leadership. It can throw a figurative wrench into everything that you are trying to accomplish. Some examples of people not being consistent include:

 

  • Not doing something when they say they will.
  • Not showing up to meetings on time or at all.
  • Creating business processes without announcing changes and then expecting people to know what to do without being briefed.
  • Promising new services without checking if the company can deliver.
  • Guaranteeing success without a plan to do so.

 

Inconsistency can cause turnover, inefficiency, poor customer service and support, and many other poor results. It affects workers, customers, and even potential customers. Today, we thought we’d take a look at how consistency is important.

Consistency Shows Respect

We might as well start at the most troubling part of being inconsistent when you run a business: it shows a complete lack of responsibility. As a business owner, your staff has to take your lead and your customers make commitments based on your word. If you are just flying by the seat of your pants in every situation, the lack of consistency will be apparent.

 

Many people take an inconsistent approach, especially one that shows a lack of interest in the issue at hand, to be a giant slap in the face. The best leaders are the ones that lead by example. Doing the right things for your staff and for your customers will be reciprocated at a very high percentage. Building trust has to be on the short list of any organizational leader’s to-do list, so setting the tone and being consistent can really help establish trust.

Consistency Creates a Culture of Accountability

When you work with other people, there has to be some accountability taken by each member of the team, especially in a management capacity. If you are managing people and they have inconsistent results, you wouldn’t say they were doing a good job, would you? The same goes for when you are managing people. If you bring inconsistent leadership, you will get mixed results, inflated costs, and a general lack of productivity.

Consistency Allows for Useful Analysis

One often overlooked reason to prioritize a consistent approach is that if things are done consistently then you can get reliable metrics for any analysis you are going to do. It may take some time to build consistency with new platforms, but after some time (at least three months), if the issue you are trying to measure has been carried out consistently, after a pretty short period of time it will give you the notion if it is working or if it isn’t.

Consistency Defines Your Business

Nowadays businesses do more to manage their reputation than at any other period in business history. They have to, they are exposed in ways older businesses weren’t. If customers and workers get a fair shake and find that your business’ processes are carried out consistently, the negativity will be muted. Consider a Major League Baseball Umpire. His job is to call balls and strikes, and he may have a wider or taller strike zone, but if he constantly calls the same pitches a strike, hitters won’t complain too much.  Your business can still be innovative and do things outside the box, but if you change things repeatedly with no warning, people are going to get frustrated.

 

How consistent is your business? What do you think the most important part about being consistent is? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below and return to our blog for more great business and technology advice.

Managed Services isn't just IT support

Managed Services Isn’t Just IT Support

Managed IT services are well known for being an incredibly useful service for a business as it helps offset the cost of keeping their technology up and running. What they aren’t as well known for are all the other services that they do to add value for their customers.

Your Business Technology

The first thing that people new to managed services should understand is that, yes, IT support is our number one function and most of our services are bundled because it is the best way for our clients to experience close-to-optimal operational continuity at a price point that works for them.

That doesn’t mean that we are fixing computers all day.

In fact, in the scope of things, fixing computers is just one of the myriad of things we need to accomplish every day to ensure that our clients’ IT infrastructures are working as intended. Today, we thought we would take a look at some of the services we provide, and how collectively, the service can absolutely pay for itself.

Remote Monitoring and Management

The first thing you’ll need to know is that we find that when our technicians are at your business, that productivity slows. Having IT technicians poking around onsite can be distracting. Besides, we aren’t trying to react to IT problems, we are trying to keep them from happening in the first place. How is that possible? With secure, remote technology.

 

We’ve invested in enterprise-grade, cutting-edge technology to constantly monitor your entire IT infrastructure and network to ensure that if any piece of equipment is not working as intended that it is fixed before it becomes a problem. This proactive nature to IT is the most valuable part of our offering. We fix issues with your IT before they can be profit-destroying problems. Think about how much downtime hurts your bottom line.

 

If you could curtail your exposure to situations where IT problems cause your downtime and do it at a fraction of the cost of hiring a team of IT experts, you’d consider that value, right? Most decision makers would, which is why MSPs today need to deliver more. Let’s take a look at some of the other services we provide that are meant to add to our value.

Regular Reviews

One of the issues with technology is that as soon as you get a piece of technology there is something better (or worse, more suited to your needs) coming right behind it. This means that if you are going to look outside your door for IT support and services, you need them to keep you in the loop.

At Point North Networks, Inc., we adhere to regular reviews because we want your business to be the best it can be. Around every quarter we will schedule a call or meeting to go over what your goals and priorities are for the upcoming months. Not only does that give us the ability to help you plan your technology investments, it allows us to follow up on any issues we may have had in the weeks leading up to the meeting.

Vendor Management

Vendor management is a relatively simple service, but it can make a big difference. Think about how much time you spend dealing with your technology vendors in a given month. They follow up all the time and try to upsell you. Sometimes those investments make sense, but often they are just trying to make sales.

 

Our vendor management service basically removes this responsibility from you and your staff. We will be the point of contact for all of your technology vendors. This not only puts a technology professional in place as a point of contact, it also allows you to separate yourself from those relationships that take away time and attention from your ultimate goals for your business.

Patch Management

Software is a major part of every business’ operational strategy, and if it isn’t updated regularly, it can actually expose your business to risk. Unpatched software often leaves your network vulnerable to outside attack. Today’s hackers only need one opportunity to get into your network and steal your data or infect your business’ IT with malware. With patch management, you never have to worry about that again.

Backup and Disaster Recovery

Another massive value we provide comes in the form of a backup and disaster recovery solution. We offer full and partial backup programs that meet industry best practices. You will get a network-attached BDR that you can use to quickly restore from if need be, but you also get incremental backups stored in the cloud should something more severe happen. With your data protected from loss, you can have the peace of mind that if something happens, your business’ continuity will be strong.

Fix Computers

While we try to maintain every piece of your IT infrastructure, sometimes machines fail. It goes without saying that should the need arise, our professional technicians will fix your hardware onsite.

 

If you would like to learn more about our professional managed IT services, or you would just like to have a conversation about your business’ technology goals, give us a call right now at 651-234-0895.

remote work

Remote Work is Not Without Its Issues… How Can They Be Addressed?

The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it no small amount of uncertainty, including amongst business owners who were looking at a very up-in-the-air future. With so many lacking the technology needed to support remote operations—never mind the fact that remote work was a new concept for so many—the learning curve was a considerable hurdle. However, with vaccines being administered and restrictions lifted, it now becomes critical to find a balance.

How Work Needs to Shift

Despite many business owners resisting remote work on principle, it quickly became the only viable option for some organizations to remain open. Most of these businesses and their owners will want to return to the way things were before—but this may not be practical for some time, if ever. A study has revealed that more than 70 percent of employees who needed to suddenly shift to remote operations are hoping to see some of this flexibility carry over—even though half of these employees are also waiting to return to the office with anticipation.

While this may seem strangely counterintuitive, that much is to be expected.

The ongoing global health crisis turned most of the world on its head, including many impressions about remote work. While the escape of sorts from the office may have initially been a welcome change, the reality of the home environment and its additional responsibilities soon set in. While these employees don’t necessarily want to rush back into the office completely, remote work hasn’t agreed with them as well as may have been expected.

This experience has not been consistent for everyone, either.

Many business leaders are having a far easier time than their subordinates are, simply because of the disconnect that often occurs in remote work setups. In an office, it is much easier to pick up on the trend when someone is having a hard time. When a team is working remotely, these kinds of issues become more difficult to detect.

So, to compare…

Decision makers are earning more, enjoying their time more, and are more flexible in their work as they operate remotely, while the people they’ve hired are often overworked, unappreciated, and simultaneously abandoned while being told that a “familial work atmosphere” is important.

Poorly Managed Remote Operations Also Breed Stagnation

Your employees aren’t the only ones who will have a tough time with poorly-planned remote operations—your entire business could potentially see some drawbacks. Operating out of a centralized, shared location just makes it more convenient for team members to collaborate, which increases the quality of their communications and decision making.

Meanwhile, a year’s worth of remote conferencing has many people sick of it, just doing as much work as they need to so it can be considered “done.” In other words, without the face-to-face interaction of the office, many employees might become complacent.

In turn, the business could become complacent as well.

Making the Hybrid Office Work

Let’s look to the (hopefully) near future, when the restrictions that many businesses are subject to can be relaxed somewhat. Naturally, businesses are going to want their team members to come back at optimum productivity, operating from the place of business once again. Some people look forward to this, others, not quite so much.

As a result, many businesses will likely adopt a more hybrid approach to work, allowing greater access to remote work. Sounds pretty good, but it isn’t that simple.

There are a lot of questions that you’ll have to answer to do this. For instance, how many days will each team member be required to come into the office? One study polled executives to reveal that 68 percent of them would like to see their teams in-house at least three days out of each workweek. Workers conversely placed the maximum requirement at three days per week, with each employee’s responsibilities factoring into their requirement.

Globally, there is also a vast difference in how urgent in-office operations seem to different countries. In the U.S., 22 percent of executives see a return to the office as a priority. Similar companies in Canada, Germany, Japan, and China disagree, with fewer than five percent agreeing.

Unfortunately, the only thing that’s certain about this kind of hybrid work model is how uncertain we are about any of it. How will it impact the many metrics that a business is concerned about—from its culture to its productivity to its employee retention? What is the best option?

Frankly, there isn’t any single correct answer, simply because each business has its own unique situation.

Point North Networks, Inc., is here to help you balance out your business’ situation with IT tools and solutions so that your team members can perform the way you need them to. Give us a call at 651-234-0895 to find out what we can do for you.