Posts in Best Practices

Company Culture: the secret to success

August 13th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, collaboration, Communication, Community, Staff 0 thoughts on “Company Culture: the secret to success”

Some parts of a business require a lot of work, time, and focus to create and maintain. Others will happen whether you work at them or not. The biggest (and maybe most important) example of this is company culture. Think about it. We’re social creatures, and it is natural for us to function as a cooperative group. It’s something you see happen even in temporary groups, like people waiting to get on a bus or standing in line at the store. There’s an unspoken give and take, an acceptance (and sometimes disregard) for the norms of the situation. No one is discussing it, planning it, or even consciously directing it. But it happens.

The same thing happens in a business. With a group of people brought together to support a common cause for 40 or more hours a week, how could it not?

The question isn’t “Do we have a company culture?”, because the answer to that is always “Yes.” The question is “Do we have a company culture that supports our employees, our clients, and our business goals?” The answer to that question will determine everything from employee productivity to turnover rate. In an industry with a notoriously high turnover rate, like IT, company culture can make all the difference in your business’s ability to thrive.

 

Starting at the Top

Actions speak louder than words.

We’ve all heard it a hundred times, but we rarely take the next step to understanding the implications of that simple truth.

Many businesses have instituted wellness programs to help support and encourage their employees in making healthier life choices. To the tune of $50 billion a year. This sounds like a lot of action in the right direction, so why isn’t it working? A recent study by the National Institute of Mental Health suggests that these wellness programs haven’t increased workers’ health much at all. Or improved their experience at work.

This is because a policy or program can’t actually change company culture. Until it’s modeled by the leadership, it’s just empty words.

 

Setting the Example

Take a moment to think about what you’re modeling for your employees and coworkers. Are you answering emails late at night or well before work in the mornings? Do you skip lunches, rush from one meeting to the next, and cancel plans with your family on a regular basis? Are you showing up to work when you’re sick, injured, or exhausted?

The story we’re told is that you have to work hard to succeed, and sometimes that means sacrifice and struggle. This can certainly be true, and there’s nothing wrong with hard work and sacrifice. But is what you’re gaining worth what you’re giving up?

You have to remember that as the boss you set the tone. Your employees will follow your example, and you have to decide if this culture is sustainable, productive, and reflective of the business you want to create.

 

What You Value

One way to look at this is that it all comes down to what you value.

Do you want your employees at their desks for 8 hours a day, pushing regardless of what their actual level of productivity is?

Or do you want your employees working at their best, producing high quality work, regardless of whether that happens in 1 hour blocks or means they take a day off when they’re sick, have a family event, or just need to manage their stress level?

You have the opportunity to create a business that is both supportive and successful. Are you ready to do it?

Two-Factor Authentication: Secure, Simple, Inexpensive

July 15th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Data, Disaster, Hackers, Security, Staff 0 thoughts on “Two-Factor Authentication: Secure, Simple, Inexpensive”

“I don’t believe there is any single item that is more cost effective at improving security for public facing services than two-factor authentication.  This is why most Internet banking and other sensitive websites are requiring this nowadays.” – Darrell Brooks, Director of Infrastructure at Think

Even the strongest password may not be enough to protect your sensitive data. Luckily, two-factor authentication (2FA) is here to help.

Two-factor authentication adds an extra level of security to your basic login process. Think of it like this: Having 2FA required for your account login is like having a deadbolt and a keycode for your front door. That way if you lost your key, you would still be protected by the keycode. Or if someone overheard your keycode, you would still have the deadbolt in place.

Just as you would require both the keycode and the physical key to get into your front door, you would also require two different factors to access an account secured with 2FA.

There are three categories used for two-factor authentication:

  1. A thing you know (like a password or keycode)
  2. A thing you have (like a keycard or a mobile phone)
  3. A thing you are (like a fingerprint)

Your two factors should come from two different categories. This is often a password and an auto-generated PIN number that has been sent to you through a text or an app.

Many (if not most) people are guilty of using weak passwords or duplicating passwords for different accounts. This probably includes your employees. Adding 2FA to your security is a simple, easy, and inexpensive way to tighten security for your business.

Take a look at the different two-factor authentication apps available online, or contact Think to discuss options for your business needs. In the end, the one you will use will depend on the kind of deployment that you desire and the structure of your organization.

Successful IT Transitions Need These 5 Components

July 12th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Communication, Data, Security, Staff 0 thoughts on “Successful IT Transitions Need These 5 Components”

Change is easy to get excited about and easy to get started, but it’s tough to follow through and keep the momentum going. Especially when it feels like there’s no end in sight, as can happen with IT projects if you’re not careful. But it doesn’t have to be an endless slog. If you build these 5 components into your IT transition, the entire process will be much smoother and more successful from beginning to end.

1. A tracking system – a simple list of major goals and initiatives, refer to it often (especially if you’re thinking about adding anything), and check off progress as you go. This helps to keep the direction clear, make the steps and goals feel attainable, and makes progress easy to see. All of these will make it easier for your staff to maintain motivation and momentum.

2. Clear communication – When people don’t understand what they’re doing or why, they lose focus, motivation, and enthusiasm. So, make all communications regarding the transition as transparent and simple as possible. Lose the tech jargon and talk about the benefits, challenges, and goals in a way that everyone can understand.

3. Available support personnel – It’s likely that there will be a handful of people in your organization who are always in demand during any IT transition. They’re the ones who always seem to know what’s going on and how to fix it. It’s essential that these people be free to work on higher level issues, while anything else is delegated to employees with less expertise and/or less demand on their skills and time. This will help the transition move more quickly and smoothly while encouraging less experienced staff to learn and take on new responsibility.

4. Clear transitions and expectations – make sure that your employees know when and how to transition from doing things the “old way” to adopting your new solutions and processes. Whether this is an entirely new role or just a new approach, you can cut down on confusion, frustration, and unnecessary delays by ensuring that everyone knows what to do and when to do it.

5. Data-based targets – It’s important to both morale and progress that you and your team can identify what “done” is for any given stage or goal in the transition. This gives you a framework to discuss their progress and direction, and it gives them a definite path to follow.

7 Tips for Training Tech-Savvy Employees

June 6th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, collaboration, Communication, Staff 0 thoughts on “7 Tips for Training Tech-Savvy Employees”

Updating your technology on a regular basis is an important part of keeping your employees productive and efficient as well as protecting your company from cyber security threats. But keeping employees up to date on how to use all this new tech can be a challenge. Here are 7 tips to help you train more tech savvy employees and keep your business moving forward.

  • Know why –Most people resist change. It’s just human nature. But if you can explain WHY it’s worth their time and effort to learn and use this new tech, you’ll find your employees will be a lot more cooperative. And maybe even excited.
  • Recruit inside– Some employees will naturally be more apt and more interested in the new tech. Recruit them to help you train the others. This will help bridge the knowledge gap as well as getting everyone involved on the project together.
  • Get hands-on –As often as possible, have your employees learn by doing. The more engaged they are, the more likely they are to retain the information.
  • Documentation –Ever wish there was a manual for that? So do your employees. Give them written instructions (preferably with screenshots) whenever possible. This will help them learn more quickly and provide a handy reference guide for later.
  • Keep it small –Breaking your employees into smaller groups for tech training gives them more opportunities to ask questions and engage with the instructor, helping them learn more quickly.
  • Everyone is different –Some employees will pick up the new tech and run with it right away, but others will require more time and effort to get them going. Be prepared for differing rates of progress and be patient.
  • Get their thoughts –Your employees can provide you will valuable feedback on the learning process and how the new tech is impacting the company, if you ask and are open to listening. Do this during the transition and afterwards to help keep tabs on the bigger picture.

Is your business being targeted?

May 8th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Hackers, Security 0 thoughts on “Is your business being targeted?”

Two members of our staff and 3 of our clients were targeted by this phishing scam last month. You should know about it.

 

Have you seen the latest email phishing scam?

It looks like a quick email from your boss. They’re in a meeting and can’t talk, but could you stop and pick up some gift cards?

If you reply saying you will get the cards, the next email says to pick up $1,800 of Walmart gift cards and just take a picture of the numbers on the back of the card and email them back.

Which is where they really get you. Once you’ve sent the scammers the numbers on the back of the card, they have access to the money. And you have no way to get it back.

This scam is designed to take advantage of the fast-paced and informal nature of a lot of business communication. As well as the trust we place in our superiors. Two of the employees here at Think were targeted by this phishing attempt. A combination of cybersecurity knowledge and a good email filter helped ensure that neither of them fell for the scam. But others haven’t been so fortunate.

You can protect your business and your employees from phishing attempts with a few simple steps:

  1. Education – talk to your staff about what phishing is and what to watch for.
  2. Awareness – make sure your staff is looking at the sender and the contents of an email closely before clicking on links or replying.
  3. Protection – a good email filter will flag emails from outside senders, helping your employees identify untrustworthy sources more easily.

Phishing is one of the leading cybersecurity vulnerabilities for a business. Take steps to protect your business and don’t get caught!

5 Reasons Your Business Needs a Backup and Recovery Plan

May 6th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, byod, Cloud, Data, Disaster, Hackers, Security, Staff 0 thoughts on “5 Reasons Your Business Needs a Backup and Recovery Plan”

If you lost all your business data today, how long would it take for your business to recover? What steps would you take to get everything up and running again? How would it impact you financially? Knowing the answers to these questions is all part of being prepared. Just like having a back up and recovery plan. Here is some more compelling evidence that this is a necessary part of any business today:

1. Data is Easy to Lose – not just major events, a lot of it is human error. This is especially true in a BYOD culture where you may have business data being stored on personal laptops or in personal cloud accounts of your employees.

2. Cyber Attacks Keep Coming – the average cost of an attack for a company with 10 – 24 employees is over $38,000, and it just goes up from there. It doesn’t matter what type of business or the size, hackers will target anything they can profit from.

3. Downtime – loss of data can bring your entire business to a grinding halt. And if that data can’t be recovered, it takes even more time to replace (if that’s even an option).

4. Irreplaceable Data – some documents or files are truly invaluable. Everything from client lists and research to files on upcoming projects. If all that disappeared in one day, where would your business be?

5. Reputation – do you hold any sensitive or personal data on for your clients or customers? Or data that your clients will need to access in the future, like health care records or financial information. How would telling them it was all gone impact your relationship with them? Or your reputation in the business community?

A variety of back up and recovery options are available and can be customized to suit your business. Contact one of our engineers today if you would like to learn more about your options or get an expert’s perspective on developing your own backup and recovery plan.

7 Skills of a Successful Digital Leader

May 2nd, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, collaboration, Communication, Staff 0 thoughts on “7 Skills of a Successful Digital Leader”

As the role of IT evolves and becomes more integrated with the very foundations of our businesses, it’s vital for you to evolve with it. It’s no longer enough to know the ins and outs of business tech, now you need to have the leadership skills and business savvy necessary to make all that tech knowledge an integral asset at every level, from C-suite executives to end users.

 

Talk less, communicate more

It’s important to ensure that IT solutions, as well as time and money spent, are all in the best interests of the company. So, it’s important to listen to what people are saying, sift through to what’s actually needed, prioritize what will benefit the company most, and then communicate the value of the proposition as well as how it will be accomplished. This requires an open mind, good listening skills, and abstract reasoning.

 

Focus on simplicity, efficiency, and agility

With so many IT solutions available for each need, it’s important to remember that more isn’t more, but neither is less. What you want is the right fit for your business, and that will change as your business grows and evolves. This requires an IT leader with a focus on keeping your processes simple, a willingness to cut anything that isn’t efficient, and an eye to keeping the business agile enough to shift and change when and how it needs to in order to stay competitive.

 

Hire adaptability

People are inherently resistant to change, so it’s important that you actively seek people who are interested in challenge and growth. A growth mindset means they won’t run from change, they’ll lean into it. And even better, they’ll get curious and start asking questions that may open up new avenues of thinking or opportunities that will help your business move forward.

 

Get your hands dirty

It’s unrealistic to tell a group of people to do something without being willing to do it yourself, and adopting new mindsets and approaches to technology is no different. Get involved with your teams, help them work through the problems and challenges, and let them see you working to learn with them. It will encourage a healthier dynamic and improve adoption of new technology and processes.

 

Change the way you view mistakes

Teams who are afraid to fail are also afraid to try, and you can’t make progress until you’re open to both. You can help your team by establishing a culture that treats mistakes as an opportunity to learn and do better.

 

Value different perspectives and relationships

Bridging the gap between IT and business can seem overwhelming. It gets a lot easier when you have a pool of contacts to draw from that spans both sides. These different perspectives will help keep you from leaning too far to one side, and they will help you see your challenges and opportunities in a whole new light.

 

Focus forward and keep adapting

Consistent change is the new normal, and the pace increases every year. Now is the time to embrace this and learn how to use it to your advantage. Rather than seeking out a “perfect” structure or solution, allow your ideas and your approach to be flexible enough to take advantage of “great for now”. And then be prepared to change again when your business outgrows that solution or a better one becomes available.

Your Business Needs These 3 Types of IT Resources

April 10th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, collaboration, Devices, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Services, Staff 0 thoughts on “Your Business Needs These 3 Types of IT Resources”

As technology becomes more essential, more versatile, and more complex, it also becomes increasingly difficult to manage. This can be especially true for SMBs as they balance the need to grow and stay competitive with limited budgets and less IT expertise. Luckily, there’s more than one way to look at IT, and how you approach it makes all the difference.

 

The Challenges

As the demands of your business reach the limit of your IT department’s ability to keep up, you may find yourself experiencing some of the following growing pains:

  • IT is spending most of their time putting out fires, which means recurring problems are becoming more common.
  • Deployment of software, apps, and initiatives is getting more complex, and you’re seeing more delays, failures, and down time.
  • Keeping up with break/fix work is keeping your IT staff from focusing on developing strategies and solutions that will benefit the business long term.
  • System down time is becoming more frequent, and it’s resulting in a loss of productivity and profit.

 

The Right Team with the Right Resources

As the role of IT expands, it’s important that you have the right team in place with the right expertise. It’s not just about having more staff; it’s about having access to expertise in cyber security, cloud migration, data mining, collaboration, etc. But, while you need access to these types of expertise and support, it doesn’t make sense for most SMBs to have these high-level experts on staff full time. Which is why many businesses are excited to discover the benefits of Managed Services.

To get the most out of your IT, both internal and through outsourced partnerships, make sure to have these three types of resources covered:

Generalists

These are your “go to” people. They’ve got the basic knowledge necessary to solve most of the day-to-day issues that your employees will encounter quickly and reliably, and they have the people-savvy necessary to provide high-quality service. This is a point of pride at Think. Our Support Desk staff is carefully selected, highly trained, and respond to most service tickets in an hour or less.

 

Specialists

With the rapid advancements in tech, IT departments are often expected to be experts in a variety of ever-changing specialties. To keep all the different aspects of your business tech running smoothly, you need access to a wide range of specialized skill sets. But, while these specialties are vital, they’re not necessarily something you’ll need forty hours a week. This is where the collective experience of a Managed Services team is key. With the right partner, you get the expertise and experience you need when you need it.

 

Advisors

IT has evolved from a convenience to a catalyst for innovation and future growth. But with each department working from their own perspective and towards their own goals, it can be difficult to see the broader picture and create a strategic place for IT in your business. An IT advisor with an outside perspective, a solid understanding of business and tech, and the ability to help you develop a plan to move your business forward is in an invaluable asset that can change the course of your entire organization for the better.

 

Bottom Line

Balancing the needs of your business with budget considerations is an ongoing challenge, and IT is no exception. But with the right combination of resources, you can ensure that your business receives all the benefits IT has to offer without sacrificing in other areas. For many organizations, this is where teaming up with a Managed Services partner gives them what they need, when they need it.

Help Your Business and Your Community this Earth Day

April 10th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Community, Devices, E-Waste, Services 0 thoughts on “Help Your Business and Your Community this Earth Day”

At Think we value the beautiful area we live in, the growing community we support, and the businesses we serve. So, to celebrate this Earth Day (April 22), we want to share with you an easy way to help all three: eRecycling.

Put simply, eRecycling is the recycling of computers and other electronic equipment.

As our businesses become more reliant on technology, and as technology continues to evolve, we can easily end up with a collection of outdated printers, keyboards, monitors, phones, and other bits of tech. These usually occupy the corner of some office or closet, collecting dust and spiderwebs. While you don’t want your business hampered by outdated tech, it doesn’t have to waste space in your office either.

Various components in computers and other electronics can be recycled and used to build new machines. This reduces the need for new components, which helps us preserve and stretch our natural resources. It also means less material in our landfills and less stress on our local environment.

Recycling also helps support our local recycling center, which means supporting local jobs.

And your business benefits by clearing out the clutter and making room for equipment that supports your growth and success. (A tech replacement plan makes this process easy and simple.)

This Earth Day is a great chance for you to do something good for your community, the environment, and your business.

You can learn more about our Durango Recycling Center here.

Continuous Adaptation: The new role of IT in your business

April 10th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Devices, Managed Service Provider, Services 0 thoughts on “Continuous Adaptation: The new role of IT in your business”

There was a time when critical business applications changed every few years at most. This gave you and your employees plenty of time to plan for major changes and adjust to them while your business continued to operate and grow. But, thanks to the power of cloud technologies, the pace of change has accelerated. While businesses are eager to take advantage of the benefits cloud computing has to offer, it’s important to ensure that your business and your employees are prepared to get the most out of the transition.

 

New pace, new approach

Growth and adaptation are essential to any business, and as a result the “set it and forget it” mode of thinking is out. This applies to both the software and hardware you’re using as well as the policies, procedures, and culture surrounding IT. It’s not enough to have the right applications and the newest hardware if your employees don’t have the motivation and support necessary to integrate these new resources into their daily routines and tasks.

 

Changing face of IT

Your company’s IT is no longer about fixing broken computers or installing software occasionally. It now plays an integral role, continuously engaging with everything from security to end user education and support. Adjusting the way you think about this vital asset to your business can improve your ability to adapt to change, respond to new opportunities, and cultivate your most valuable asset – your people.

 

The pace of change will only continue to increase, and it’s important that you have the support and expertise you need to help your business navigate and thrive. If you’re ready to see what IT can really do for your business, contact our engineers today.

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101 W. Main St. Farmington, NM
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