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Archive for June, 2012

The “Big C” is traditionally linked with Cancer. Having had a taste as a family member of  what a cancer diagnosis brings to the dance, I can honestly say that I prefer to change the meaning or connotation of the “Big C” to “Client Care.” My mother’s recent cancer diagnosis and early treatment has been one big learning experience from a personal perspective. And, as I enjoy bringing together a personal experience with a business insight, I have one on client (patient) care and client interaction.

In a month’s time we met with two different doctors, received a diagnosis, reached out to friends and family for advice and then determined which doctor and his respective approach was a “fit” for supporting my mother and her illness. Both were very qualified specialists. As sometimes happens in business in a competitive process, the prospect will throw out “Price” as a deal breaker. This wasn’t the case so it was more “apples to apples.” As most business executives know, Price is not the deal breaker (admit it because it’s true) for they will rate value, responsiveness and quality of service higher and be OK with paying more as long as they are getting the true key elements.

We liked and preferred the approach of the second opinion doctor and our guts told us to go with him and his practice. Too many things came together and just “felt right.”  So, we “hired” the doctor and his accompanying hospital (which happened to be the hospital we always use). We were new clients (aka patients) and the doctor and his administrative nurse did a thorough job of explaining how things would work with future appointments and what to expect for the hospital stay and recovery (aka “setting expectations”). This was the initial part of their Client Care initiative which could be looked at as onboarding and training.

Switching to a new IT provider can be scary or daunting because the “devil you know” was easy and well, a known quantity. There is a bit of a learning curve in working a new relationship and we experienced the same feelings from a medical perspective with my mother and her new Care team. Fortunately, all of the Caregivers from the surgeons to the recovery room nurses to the nurses who cared for my mother (and me and my family members to be honest) were top notch. The importance for the provider (my firm or the lead doctor and the nurses) to communicate to the client in layman’s terms coupled with a smile and much needed humor went a long way. If there were questions or concerns on our part, we did not hesitate to ask. There were differences from one nurse to the next, mostly positive, and we know this is the same with our engineers. Everyone has their own personality; however, there needs to be consistency in the conveyance of information and that it’s always documented.

We experienced a high level of Client Care and the “Care” part should never be overlooked. Granted, I am one of those “S” people in the DISC profile so the Caring part and Client relationships have always been an important element of Client Care in my book. At the hospital, we were able to fill out testimonial cards for any of the nursing staff. It was not difficult to determine WHO would get the coveted card and we enjoyed filling them out because great work and Client Care should be recognized. It may be the technical or medical part of taking care of a client or it could be the relationship nurturing or bedside manner.

CMIT Solutions of Denver has as its mission “to provide superior levels of client care without exception.”  So, it is no surprise that client care remains a key phrase in my vocabulary. All in all, I have decided that the Big C will now stand for Client Care.

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A question that seems to come up a lot with clients and prospects, in some form or fashion, is “How should I properly budget for IT expenses?”  While this is a great question, there are a lot of variables that determine the answer, so I can’t provide a “one-size-fits-all,” simple answer. However, below are some general guidelines that should help you figure this out:

1. Hardware Refresh. No one likes the cost of a network upgrade, but it IS necessary approximately once every 3 to 4 years. PCs and servers older than that tend to run slow, crash frequently and generally become more expensive to fix and support than to replace. Older hardware is also not under warranty (normally 5 years is the max). Therefore, your budget should include an IT refresh of all equipment every 3 years to be on the safe side.

2. Maintenance. There is no “set it and forget it” when it comes to network maintenance. With cyber criminals becoming more sophisticated and aggressive, you MUST constantly monitor and update your network against cyber-attacks, malware, data loss, human error by one of your employees, etc. A good general rule of thumb is $250 per month for each server and $125 per month per user (this can cover multiple devices).

3. Data Backup. Another expense you must account for is backing up your data to an offsite location (often called “cloud backup”). Since all businesses generate MORE data year after year, the backup will grow. Start by assessing the growth of your data over the last couple of years to uncover a trend. From there, forecast those additional expenses going forward at the same rate (don’t expect this to stay static year after year). At CMIT, we stress that our clients should have local (onsite) and offsite (cloud) backup as a best practice.

4. Expansion. Another factor for your IT budget is upgrading software, line of business applications, CRM systems and accounting packages that can no longer support your growing company. As your company grows, systems, processes and data become more complex requiring more sophisticated (and often more expensive) software and systems. Make sure you are looking ahead year upon year to see this coming and to properly budget for it. There’s no “magic” formula for this because the timing and cost of your upgrade is unique to your company, situation and what you are trying to accomplish.

Many of our clients have opted for our CMIT Marathon Flat Rate program as an easy way to budget for IT. This program allows you to pay a fixed, monthly fee for all IT expenses including 24/7 monitoring,  technology vendor management, software and hardware asset management, patch management, anti-virus and anti-spam updates, business and technology review meetings and so much more.

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A QuickTip On Using Microsoft Excel

On a regular basis emails arrive in my Inbox from Microsoft with some handy dandy tips so I (and you) can be more productive in using the Office programs. Locking Columns and Rows is one of my more commonly used functions in Excel 2010.

“Freezing highlighted panes in the spreadsheet so that they remain visible while you enter data further down the page can be handy when you need to compare facts and figures. You can also split panes into multiple worksheets so that you scroll in one pane while information displayed with the other remains static.”

For example, if you want to keep Column Titles in sight as you scroll, you switch your cursor to the View tab on your ribbon (it’s on the far right) and look for where you see Window. In the Window section you will see the Freeze Panes command.  Click on the down arrow and click on the Freeze Top Row. If you need to disable the “freeze,” you can return to the Freeze Panes command section and click on Unfreeze Panes. 

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