Bryley Basics: Protecting your Online Reputation

It seems nearly everyone we know today has some sort of Social Media account. It keeps us connected with loved ones near and far, enables the sharing of personal and professional milestones, and provides information about current events. This is great as long as certain precautions are taken. Safety and security must be considered when doing anything online.

One must also remember that anything done online can be seen by anyone no matter how “private” the group may be. The rule to remember is “once it’s on the Internet, it’s there for all to see forever.” A group of incoming Harvard freshmen learned that lesson the hard way. Roughly 10 incoming freshmen saw their offers rescinded after it was discovered that they posted explicit memes and messages targeting minorities in a private Facebook group chat.1 These students learned a valuable, albeit costly, lesson, there is no such thing as private groups or messages when it comes to the Internet.

There are several steps that can be taken to protect your online reputation:

  • Google yourself. Your reputation is largely decided by what people can see not just what you put forth. You can’t track what you don’t know about! The best way to manage this may be to setup a Google alert for your name so you can track new content.
  • Don’t post anything you’d be ashamed of later on. Many individuals will ask themselves a few questions prior to posting. A common question to ask yourself is Would I be comfortable sharing this with someone I highly admire? If the answer is No, don’t post! There are some individuals that will take a more conservative approach and if they even have to ask the question, will not submit the post for all to see.
  • Adjust your settings. Sometimes friends may add you to inappropriate posts without your knowledge and you may not find out until it’s too late and the damage is done. To prevent this, adjust your settings in your social media platforms so that you have to approve anything where you are tagged. Also, speak with your friends and let them know what you are and are not comfortable with them posting.2
  • Buy a Domain Name. For roughly $12 a year using sites such as GoDaddy, buying a domain name is added insurance to protect against others maliciously using your name. By creating a short bio, a CV, articles and other information, you can improve upon your image while boosting your ranking in search results.3

As much time as you take to curate your reputation in person, a similar amount of time, if not more, should be taken to manage your online reputation. In this day and age, perception is reality. Make sure you are the individual molding your digital persona.

 

1 Natanson, Hannah. The Harvard Crimson. “Harvard Rescinds Acceptances for At Least Ten Students for Obscene Memes.” 5 June 2017.
2 Facebook privacy Settings. https://www.facebook.com/about/basics/usr1
3 Erskine, Ryan. Entrepreneur. “How to Protect Your Online Reputation in 2017.” 23 Jan 2017.
4 O’Loughlin, Erin. Security Intelligence by IBM. “Identity theft and Social Media: How Are They Related?” 5 August 2016.

Why a Healthy Relationship with your MSP is Key to your Organization’s Ongoing Success.

The benefit of outsourcing part or all of your IT infrastructure’s needs is to remove those tasks and worries so that your organization can focus on your clients.  The cornerstone of maximizing the business benefit of your Managed Service Provider (MSP) is to ensure that the relationship between your organization and your service provider is consciously designed, proactively supported, and jointly managed.

Here are a few pointers for building and maintaining a great relationship with your current or prospective MSP partner:

Organizations should spend time with their MSP.  Organizations must involve their MSP in discussions and give them access to as much information as possible, without violating any commercial, data, or security issues.  It is important to designate a person (or two) to be the key point-of-contact for a variety of reasons:  open/create tickets, make phone calls/communicate needs or requests to your MSP, and oversee the relationship in general.

Having regularly scheduled meetings with key people from your MSP is always a good idea.  During these meetings, it is important to involve your MSP in your organization’s business plans and to get their input on strategic decisions related to IT.  With this level of insight, all parties can better understand the bigger picture and contribute to shared, long-term goals of your organization.  A discussion of your organization’s business and technology needs can establish a roadmap for future projects. The creation of that roadmap can, in turn, flow into a conversation around budget planning.

An effective MSP will understand the demands, business cycles, and priorities of your organization.  Essentially, MSPs want to do a good job but they aren’t always engaged by their client in a way that allows for that.  Only when an MSP has that level of information, and is engaged in that way, can everyone work together effectively, and the MSP can meet your goals and timetables.

Create a robust, quality communication system that clearly defines decision rights and proactively address issues, challenges and concerns. To be successful, the environment should enable collaborative working and open communication.  By appointing the key client and service provider leaders that drive the relationship process and communicate to stakeholders, the relationship will be in support of your long-term business mission and objectives.

In an effective relationship the key is to manage by FACT rather than perception, as the latter leads to mistrust and ongoing conflict.  Service reporting should be considered an ongoing process focusing on the ability to “slice and dice” information for decision making purposes. Your reporting should also be linked to the management information system that supports the relationship and should take a “balanced scorecard” approach.

Relationships inevitably encounter issues, obstacles and challenges as well as opportunities. Establish robust governance processes and forums early on to increase and maintain the level of trust between organizations.

Trust is vital. Treat your MSP like you would your IT manager.  ”Many times the value of the MSP service can be hindered by technology that doesn’t work the way it is meant to, or a technology provider that is unable to customize for your organizations’ needs. That is why it’s important to trust in your MSP and consult them with any goals or concerns you may have. Your MSP has a wealth of experience in dealing with a range of vendors and products, so they are in the best position to provide you with an integrated solution, tailored to your needs.”1 Give them general direction, and then let them do what they do best – manage IT.

Entrusting your IT to an MSP can be a difficult decision, but as long as your MSP is reliable and secure, it may very well be one of the best business decisions you’ve ever made.

By considering these elements, organizations have the foundation for a genuine partnership that, with the right access, ongoing conversations, and collaboration, can make a positive difference to the success of their organization.  Agreeing together on the definition of ‘a successful partnership’ must be one of the first steps for a long-term, genuine partnership.

1 http://www.interlinked.com.au/tips-for-a-long-lasting-relationship-with-your-msp/ – Interlinked

Bryley’s Prestigious Channel Partners 360° Award Travels the U.S.

 

After being honored as one of 25 recipients worldwide, our prestigious award is traveling the U.S. in celebration – being one of the most sought-after in the industry of technology solutions.

 

Kaibab National Forest. Kaibab National Forest covers 1.6 million acres and borders the Grand Canyon to the North and south. The Forest was first removed from public domain in 1893 to be included in the Grand Canyon Forest Reserve, and in 1906 was named the Grand Canyon Game Preserve to protect the many species of wildlife. The Kaibab National Forest earned its current name in 1919.

 

“Bryley Systems works toward continuous improvement; we strive to manage, optimize, and secure our client’s information technology, which brings substantial business benefit and value to their organizations. Our team-focused, best-practices-oriented approach, coupled with high-value/low-risk service options, enables us to provide our clients with Dependable IT at a Predictable Cost™. We thank Channel Partners for this prestigious Channel Partners 360° award!”

– Gavin and Cathy Livingstone, Co-Owners, Bryley Systems, Hudson, MA

Cloud Computing – A Green Solution

Moving to the cloud has benefits like simplicity, efficiency, easier management, etc. Cloud Computing has become the next wave of computing infrastructure and for many, the added benefit of having a “green” IT environment may be that extra incentive to move to the next generation of cloud computing and IT management.

The huge data centers that house the data require an abundance of electricity to run properly, which generates heat emissions. These emissions do add to the carbon footprint, but with the help of renewable energy, data centers are able to lower them, doing their best for both clients and the environment. While there is still a carbon footprint, the cloud has been proven to be more environmentally friendly.

Virtualization. With traditional computing, depending on the size of the organization, they can manage anywhere from a few servers to upwards of hundreds. This is inefficient as it leads to both wasted energy and physical equip­ment. Energy use is not customized to the needs of the organization, and the hardware used needs to be constantly replaced or updated, leaving behind a trail of physical excess. The cloud is a major improvement on traditional computing as it has redesigned the way busi­nesses operate. With the cloud, information is virtualized, eliminating the need for wasteful, in-house equipment. Busi­nesses can operate through this virtual location, drastically reducing energy usage and the need for excessive physical equipment.

The Option to Pay as You Go. Your monthly prices depend on your monthly usage. It’s a simple model and allows organizations to remain in control of their spending.

Multitenancy. Multitenancy allows many different organizations (public cloud), or many different units within the same organization (private cloud) to benefit from a common cloud-based infrastructure. When used in conjunction with automation software, multi-tenancy ensures fewer machines are required for operations.

“Automation Software. Cloud based infrastructure relies on automation to maximize energy and resources efficiency. Through automation software it is possible to provide and scale workload within shared data centers. IT specialists are able to push the limits of traditional utilization and consolidation limits. The higher the ratios the less physical hardware is required and this directly contributes to energy efficiency and resource optimization.”1

“Organizations Allow Telecommuting. Companies using internal, on-premises solutions have a hard time offering their staff remote working options because of the security risks that can arise when trying to connect to the enterprise network from an outside location. The cloud offers businesses the ability to secure their networks while still increasing accessibility and improving collaboration and productivity.”2

Cloud computing can be an important facet of an organization’s push to be greener and meeting critical IT operational goals.

Reduce cost. Consolidation means fewer servers, which in turn means lower cooling and space requirements, ultimately producing lower energy costs.

Comply with regulation. By tapping more efficient and therefore lower-emitting resources, cloud computing customers can reduce their carbon emissions and be better-positioned to meet regulatory standards.

Improve resiliency. Consolidation and improved utilization create more space, more power, and more cooling capacity within the same facility envelope. And tapping into public cloud providers offloads management of those resources from the customer to the service provider.

A cloud environment is one that is often created and always managed by a Managed Cloud Services Provider (MCSP) like Bryley Systems. MCSPs typically construct and then manage the overall infrastructure based on best practices and available resources; their overall cost tends to be less since they employ a variety of experts skilled in computer networks, cloud infrastructures, and cyber-security.

To inquire about Bryley’s full array of Managed Cloud Services and Managed IT Services, please contact us by phone at 844.449.8770 or by email at ITExperts@Bryley.com. We’re here for you.

 

References and Sources:

  1. https://www.etechcomputing.com/why-cloud-computing-is-green-computing/
  2. https://www.isgtech.com/4-green-benefits-of-cloud-computing/ (ISG Tech)

https://hbr.org/2011/03/cloud-computing-is-greener (Harvard Business Review)

http://mspmentor.net/infocenter-cloud-based-file-sharing/031814/going-green-eco-friendly-aspect-cloud-computing (MSPmentor)

http://www.itproportal.com/2014/04/10/how-the-cloud-supports-green-it-computing/ (IT ProPortal)

https://go.forrester.com/ (Forrester Research)

 

Bryley Basics: What is a True Work-Life Balance and how is it Achieved?

When one mentions the phrase “work-life balance” many think of it in terms of juggling. A better analogy is that of a surfer – it is dynamic, all the variables are “inter-related and trade off among each other.”1 Stew Friedman put it best in his article for Harvard Business Review, The idea that ‘work’ competes with ‘life’ ignores that ‘life’ is actually the intersection and interaction of four major domains: work, home, community, and the private self.”2

Here are some suggestions on how to achieve a work-life balance that fits for you.

  1. Balance does not mean equal, and it shouldn’t “Work” and “life” are not static, they ebb and flow just like anything else. As a result, one may find they have to shift priorities of the day, week, month, or even year. That’s simply part of living a full life. If you have a big meeting, chances are you will stay later at the office than usual, and you may find yourself leaving early some days due to family events (school play, family doctor’s appointments, etc.). It’s all about evaluating your tasks and prioritizing them according to your values.
  2. You don’t need to overbook your days Many individuals believe that in order to have balance in their life, they need to accomplish more in less time. This can often create stress and mistakes by rushing to complete tasks. The secret to getting more done is actually to slow down and focus on one project at a time, thereby avoiding silly mistakes or errors. This will necessitate a need to evaluate your priorities. Dan Thurman gave a Tedx Talk explaining this: “It’s not about increasing your pace, because life speeds right up with you. Ironically, by slowing down even a little, you begin to notice those spaces, those opportunities, and they expand for you.”3 Slowing down enables you to fully immerse in a given activity, be it personal or professional, and grant it the attention it deserves. Oftentimes, in doing this type of evaluation, you will find many activities that can either be delegated or may not be necessary anymore, thus giving you more time to pursue other opportunities.
  3. Happiness comes from Career and Achievement Happiness comes from achievement, but it should not be the sole source of happiness. It is important to derive happiness from the position as well as the achievements. Lauren Bacon’s Balance Matrix describes the key to feeling happiness while completing tasks and how it can contribute to work-life balance.4 Keep this chart in mind can help you change your perspective to gain a sense of happiness.

It is important to remember that we, as individuals, have the opportunity to shape our life and the “work-life balance.” It is shaped every day in the decisions we make.

 

  1. Venkatesh Rao. Work-Life Balance: Juggling, Spinning or Surfing? September 2007.
  2. Stew Friedman. What Successful Work and Life Integration Looks Like. October 2014.
  3. Dan Thurmon.  Off Balance on Purpose: The Future of Engagement and Work-Life Balance. 2013
  4. Lauren Bacon. ‘The Balance Matrix: My Answer to the “Work-Life Balance’ Question’ Jan 2014

Beware of Credit Card Skimmers

A credit card skimmer is a portable capture device that is attached in front of or on top of the legitimate scanner. The skimmer passively records the card data as you insert your credit card into the real scanner. After your information has been recorded, it is usually then sold to other scammers on the black market or converted into a counterfeit card and used to make fraudulent purchases.

Watch the video: Men Place Card Skimmer on ATM at Store Machine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y83ZgzuFBSE

Skimmer technology has become cheaper and more sophisticated over the years. Thieves can easily purchase these devices on the web for very little cost. https://www.amazon.com/slp/credit-card-skimmer/82pa9mxn7keb47f

Because it is difficult to know when your card has been skimmed, you may not find out unless you review your financial statements or get a call from your card provider.

“Some skimmers capture the card information using a magnetic reader and use a miniature camera to record you typing in your PIN number. Some skimmers will even go so far as to place a secondary keypad over top of the actual keypad. The secondary keypad captures your PIN number and records it while passing your input to the real keypad.”1

Here are a few tips to keep in mind…

Be aware of your surroundings. Although skimming can occur just about anywhere, one should be especially careful at ATMs, restaurants, bars, and gas pumps. A cybercriminal could place a tiny camera in an ATM, for example, which would skim your keypad entry and store the information for later use. Bolder thieves use a slim, insidious electronic device on the swiping area of the card reader to steal its data. Once the thief has your card information, a clone of your card can be made within a couple of hours.

“Identity thieves like to target places that are unattended. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Scan the area before using your card. Thieves will often put a skimming device on gas pumps that are farthest from the store, or at an ATM that is not well lit. It is also important to look at the card reader carefully – give it a good tug or shake it. If thieves have used an overlay, it is usually stuck on with glue or tape.”2

At an ATM it is important to look around for security cameras. Criminals will typically place one in a position where it can capture PIN information as you type it in. Regardless of where you are, if anything looks different on the card reader, or appears to have any signs of tape or scratches on it, it could be a sign of tampering. If you see something that looks suspicious, don’t use it and report it to authorities.

Protect your PIN. Your personal identification number (PIN) is vital information to cybercriminals; if they can access this small piece of information, it is enough for them to take control of your account. So, be mindful of this and keep your eyes open to protect yourself. Look at the surrounding area for anything or anyone suspicious before you enter your PIN. Go with your instinct; if you feel unsafe, do not use your card at that location.

Make it difficult for criminals. Ask your financial institution about features that will track the location of both your card and phone. When someone attempts a transaction, the card company compares the location of the phone with where the card is being used. If the card and phone locations don’t match, the card company will deny the transaction.

Request a lower credit limit:  It is an effective and easy countermeasure for credit card skimming. A lower credit card limit ensures lower risks in case your card gets skimmed.

Opt for credit. It is usually safer to use a credit card versus a debit bard because it is easier to stop payment or cancel a payment than it is when the money is already taken out of your account. If you use your debit card at places such as the gas pump, you often have the option to use the card as a credit or a debit card. If you choose the credit option, you’ll likely be able to avoid entering your PIN. This can add a layer of safety. If there is a card skimmer camera nearby, set up to detect PIN information; yours won’t be recorded. Watch your account. Routinely check through all your transactions. Keep track of your account in a detailed manner. If you need to, use a separate personal notebook for keeping a log of your account transactions and other balance related information. Doing these things will help you to take prompt action should you find any discrepancies.

Delete account information online. Cyber-skimmers are another big threat. Never save any of your credit card and account information online. Always use trusted merchants and payment sites while engaging in online transactions using your card. If you have your card details saved in any online portal, it is advisable to have that information deleted. Prevention is always better than cure. You never know when your account details may be compromised if they are stored online.

Keep your cards safe. Never lose sight of your credit cards; it’s wise to put them in a safe or protected place when you’re not using them. If your cards are kept in a visible or easy-to-access spot like around your desk at work or in a credit card holder attached to your phone, it becomes easier for someone to find them and steal your information.

By being aware of your surroundings and following a few simple cautionary steps that we’ve outlined certainly can lessen the chances of falling prey to a skimming attack, 3However, if you ever experience a skimming attack, here is what to do:

  • Call the police. Make a police report and hang on to the police report number.
  • Contact your bank or credit card issuer immediately and tell them your card data has been stolen. If you don’t make a report quickly, you may be liable for some or all of the unauthorized charges.
  • If you file a report swiftly, federal law caps your liability at $50. Most credit cards voluntarily go further, and won’t charge you at all — again, if you report quickly.
  • Contact the three major credit bureaus – TransUnion, Equifax and Experian – to request a security freeze, which prevents new credit authorizations without your consent. Visit the website: www.annualcreditreport.com. It’s an institution created in response to a large number of identity theft victims and the cost incurred to them. Through the site, which was mandated by federal law in response to consumer outcry, you are entitled to receive one free credit report each year from each of the three major credit bureaus.”

Sources:

1 https://www.lifewire.com
2 https://staysafeonline.org
3 http://www.creditcards.com
4 https://www.idtheftcenter.org
5 https://www.thebalance.com
6 https://www.privacysense.net

Why “Single-Tasking” is more productive

When one thinks of all the tasks needed to be completed for the day, it’s no wonder we try to multi-task. We seem to think that it will be more efficient and enable us to accomplish more of our goals. Unfortunately, for 98% of the population, this is simply not that case; our brains are just not wired that way.1

Numerous studies have been conducted highlighting the inefficiency of multi-tasking. You may be reading this thinking, But I am the exception! Unfortunately, that’s highly unlikely. While you think you can work on a few projects at the same time, your brain is actually switching back and forth between tasks. This is taxing on your brain and body, causing you to become more tired. So, when you think you need an extra cup of coffee or food to get through a given task, what you may actually need is a break. In a study performed by researchers at Stanford University, they discovered that taking a 15-minute break every few hours, enabled subjects to be more productive.1

Gloria Mark, a professor in the informatics department at the University of California, Irvine, says it takes on average 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to work after being interrupted. Switching back and forth can cause an increase of stress.2

So, how do you single-task? Here are some tips:

  • Limit the number of tabs on your browser. To limit your distractions try to limit the amount of tabs you have open. Some individuals even have what they call “single-tab” days each week to minimize distractions and improve focus.
  • Close your email. When we constantly check email, you are diverting your attention away from other tasks.  Instead, set aside times (first thing in the morning, noon, and before leaving for the day) when you will check email, and only check it then.
  • Silence your Cell. In today’s world of texting and social media, it can be tempting to check your phone every few minutes. That doesn’t bode well for efficiency in the workplace. Instead, silence, or turn off your phone while completing tasks.

 

These are only a few examples of how to reduce multitasking and improve efficiency throughout the day. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to decide they can implement these to improve their day-to-day tasks.

  1. A critical role for the right fronto-insular cortex in switching between central-executive and default-mode networks Stanford Study.
  2. Neuroscientists say multitasking literally drains the energy reserves of your brain
  3. How Single-tasking boosts your productivity

How to Manage a growing organization by deploying software systems

Most organizations use software to manage at least these items:

  • Accounting – Perform vital bookkeeping and accounting functions
  • Contacts – Organize and manage clients, prospects, vendors, etc.
  • Operations – Match assets to organization’s need on a daily basis

In organizations with funding limitations, deployment of a software-based system to manage specific functions often starts as a cost-based decision, which can lead to several miscues along the way since cost is only one of the factors that should guide the decision.

I’d categorize deployment options in this manner:

  • Build your own using all-purpose, brand-name, productivity software
  • Purchase stand-alone applications and manually integrate them
  • Deploy an integrated, all-inclusive system
  • Outsource this mess to someone else

I’ll address the first three options now and provide some feedback on deployment.   Outsource is a large topic that will be covered separately.

Build your own
Organizations with a do-it-yourself perspective often turn to the build your own approach; you basically use the functionality of productivity software (like Microsoft Office) to create a custom-built solution.  Generally, this works OK to start, but can be difficult to manage and maintain with growth.
Popular productivity-software options include:

  • Microsoft’s Office suite (currently Microsoft Office 2013), which includes:
    • Outlook to manage contacts, calendar, email, and tasks
    • Excel to create proposals and track financial information
    • Access to build and manage contact and production databases
  • Microsoft Office 365, a Cloud-based alternative to the Microsoft Office suite
  • Google Apps for Business, which is a direct competitor to Microsoft Office 365

When Bryley Systems first started in the mid-1980s, we used Lotus 123 (a then-popular spreadsheet application) as our primary tool for everything financial; it quickly became unwieldy, so we purchased an accounting-software package.

Stand-alone applications

Stand-alone applications target a specific function and provide work-flows and best-practices to address this function through use of the software application.

Stand-alone applications are often categorized by function (as described above):

  • Accounting
  • Contacts
  • Operations

Below is a brief summary of these categories.

Accounting
The accounting system is very important; it automates the various accounting and bookkeeping functions (Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Inventory Control, Payroll, etc.) and provides a shared foundation for other capabilities.

Intuit’s Quicken is easy to use as a checkbook replacement, but QuickBooks is a full-function accounting system that leads this market.  Peachtree is another popular accounting package, but with only a fraction of the market share.  Intaact is making headway in mid-sized businesses.

FindAccountingSoftware.com provides an easy-to-use, online guide at http://findaccountingsoftware.com/software-search/.

Contacts

Contact-management applications permit the input and retrieval of contact information with tracking and communications activities, including scheduling.  (You can manage your contacts within your accounting system, but this becomes less practical as your account base grows.)

ACT was one of the original contact managers and claims to be the market leader.  It is now owned by Sage Software (which also owns Peachtree and other accounting packages) and can be purchased or leased online.

Other popular options include:

  • Salesforce
  • OnContact
  • Prophet

We started with ACT in the early years, but shifted to Prophet in the early 2000s since it integrated with some of our other systems.
For a recent ranking and review, please visit http://contact-management-software-review.toptenreviews.com/.

Operations (both manufacturing and service-delivery)

In a manufacturing environment, a production-management system enhances control over materials flow (from raw materials coming into the organization to finished goods flowing out), production resources (tooling, equipment, and employees), and scheduling.  It is the glue that binds these items together, permitting the company to manage its flow of work.

We often see these packages at our manufacturing clients:

  • Exact Macola
  • Exact JobBOSS
  • GlobalShop Solutions
  • IQMS  Enterprise IQ

Capterra lists many of these options at http://www.capterra.com/production-scheduling-software.

Service-delivery management is a bit more diverse; what works for one type of service operation might not be appropriate for another type.  Typically, these are industry-specific solutions.

For example, we started with BridgeTrak, which is a service-ticketing application with scheduling and limited contact management.  It served well for a number of years, but we found it difficult to integrate with our accounting package (Peachtree at the time) and with other applications.

Stand-alone applications can be deployed internally, but many companies exist to assist with this process. Multi-user versions should have a dedicated, Windows-based server or be Cloud-based.

The lines are blurring between stand-alone applications and integrated, all-inclusive systems, but the primary issues with stand-alone systems:

  • They can become separate islands of information
  • They do not readily integrate with one another

Integrated, all-inclusive system

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and PSA (Professional Services Automation) systems integrate all company functions and departments; it provides one repository for all organization data, which is available to all employees.  A related option, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), software is similar, but has less functionality and is often a component of an ERP or a PSA system.

High-end, all-inclusive systems from SAP, Oracle, Epicor, etc. cost hundreds of thousands or even millions to procure and deploy, but integrate every aspect of the organization.  Most large organizations work with one of these vendors and use their software nearly exclusively for all functions.

For mid-sized and smaller companies, there are many accounting-based systems that can be expanded through modules and customization to provide ERP and PSA-class alternatives.  Three of the more-popular options:

  • Microsoft Dynamics/GP (formerly Great Plains)
  • Sage 100 (formerly MAS 90)
  • NetSuite

There are also many software-development firms that focus on a specific, vertical market and provide a complete, market-specific solution.  In the mid-2000s, we chose this direction and purchased a PSA system from ConnectWise which is custom-tailored to our industry.

ConnectWise handles all facets of our business and integrates with our accounting system and with our sales-quoting tool.  All employees are required to enter every scrap of data into ConnectWise; our adopted slogan is “If it is not in ConnectWise, it did not happen”.

We also use QuickBooks, but primarily because it integrates with ConnectWise in a downstream direction.  We create our proposals through QuoteWerks, which integrates with both QuickBooks and with ConnectWise.

The initial investment is significant, but the time spent deploying an integrated, all-inclusive system solution within the organization and training employees can far surpass the cost of the software licensing. It is a demanding process, but it pays big dividends in uniting all functions and groups.

The primary benefits:

  • All functions integrate together
  • The system can usually integrate with other applications
  • All employees use the same interface and share the exact-same information

Deployment

To deploy these packages on-premise (rather than in the Cloud), you would need:

  • Infrastructure hardware – Physical server with reliability items (UPS, RAID, redundant power supplies, backup solution, etc.).  We recommend HP servers, but also support Dell.
  • Infrastructure software – Most business software are compatible with Microsoft Windows Server and Microsoft SQL Server.  Microsoft Exchange Server may be needed for email integration.
  • Infrastructure deployment – Setup the Infrastructure hardware and software (listed above), configure the end-user devices (PCs and mobile), etc.
  • Business software – Usually sold in a series of modules with add-ons and licensed to match your user count.
  • Business-software deployment – Usually sold as a project, which includes all of the setup stages needed to get the business software operational and assist in the transition.  A fair amount of process customization is needed; report customization is also part of this stage.  (Most folk select an internal “champion” or a “deployment team” to evangelize, build enthusiasm, watch-over the process, and keep things on-track.)
  • Training – We recommend several, time-spaced sessions followed by occasional tune-ups to allow acclimation and to provide hand-holding for those that will have the most challenges.

Cloud-based deployments eliminate the Infrastructure stages (except setup of client devices) and price the business software in per-user increments; however, customization and training are still needed.  The major incentives to Cloud-based deployments include:

  • Reduce capital expenditures (Infrastructure equipment and software)
  • Shift to operating expenses on a per-user basis
  • Speed-up time to deploy

Cloud-based deployments requires great trust in the business partner providing these services, but they can free-up cash (by eliminating the need to purchase Infrastructure) and get you setup quicker.

Summary

Many cash-strapped organizations start with build-your-own and later morph to one or a combination of the other three options as they grow.  However, deploying an integrated, all-inclusive system provides significant benefits and is now easier to budget and deploy with Cloud-based alternatives that spread costs over time.  If you would like to inquire about Bryley’s full array of our Managed Cloud Services and Managed IT Services, please contact us at 978.562.6077 or by email at ITExperts@Bryley.com. We’re here for you.

 

Team Bryley Successfully Completes Boston Brain Tumor Ride! – May 21, Waltham, MA.

This yearly event raises awareness and much-needed resources to fund critical brain tumor-specific programs to improve the lives of all those affected by brain tumors.  This year’s ride raised over $500K!

Bryley’s Prestigious Channel Partners 360° Award also traveled to the event!

Bryley’s own Jessica Giunta (right), and Audrey Baker
posed for a few pictures
during the day’s event. 

Jessica made the quilt that was on display during the event.