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Archive for July, 2013

A month ago I did something about which I had been dead set against for years.  For more than ten years I had emphatically declared that our family would not get a dog for three kids were more than enough to manage. And, heck, what about the expense of a dog and the hassle for when we would go out of town? Would I need to purchase pet insurance too?

Rocky at the windowWell, six weeks ago I navigated to the Denver Dumb Friends League website (www.ddfl.org) to see what kind of dogs could be rescued. Nothing spoke (barked) to me. We went to the south location. My 16 year old son pointed at the Boxer mix dog and said “I want a big dog.” Less than two hours later we drove away with a Boxer named Bernie. Within 24 hours we renamed him “Rocky” in honor of Rocky Balboa. At least we got some Italian influence in there.

The predominant force behind my hesitation all these years was that I needed to have a dog that would be properly educated, act consistently and not ruin our home. It had been almost 40 years since acquiring my last dog and ashamedly we did not train him. I loved him dearly, but I would not go through that again.

Throughout the many issues and years of this newsletter, I have shared with my readers the importance of education, training and  leveraging the knowledge of your peers and industry experts. I continue to do this in my business life  and do not regret the monetary investment nor investment of my time. Now I am looking to the experts and experienced peers in the arena of dog ownership, training and obedience. I have often heard that pet training is as much (or more) for the owners than for the pets themselves. I know this to be true. The consistency necessary when speaking to our dog Rocky is not so different from the necessity of following a defined process and follow through. It is not enough to create or learn the process for training a dog and have him adapt to the rules of your home just as it is insufficient to create a service delivery or marketing process and not maintain consistency regularly. The template for implementation with all the steps that are built into the template or process provides you the springboard for success. It comes down to you and your ability to implement the high level of service delivery, innovative marketing or getting a dog to stop chasing after rabbits and squirrels. It’s a dangerous proposition to not be prepared for the implementation as well as contingency planning if something goes awry.

Over a year ago I heard the AfterBurner team present and one of the key elements to their success formula was to debrief—What went well, what could have gone better and what might need to be changed completely in the process for a particular project.  When I didn’t keep control of Rocky and his attraction to little furry animals, I got hurt. I hadn’t attended the trainings yet and took my eye off my surroundings. Stay focused and present!

Dog and owner training is a project and it’s just as daunting as planning my quarterly marketing calendar and making it happen. Even if you don’t have a dog or other 4 legged friend, think about how education and consistency of actions will bring you success and happiness for a job very well done.

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When you envision increasing your efficiency and therefore productivity in your office or workplace, what do you think of as being the solution?

Efficiency-puzzleI will tell you here and now that there is no silver bullet solution for being on top of office efficiency! Let’s talk or think this through a little bit. A plethora of questions will be presented to you and they will just scratch the surface.

Leveraging Technology:
Does office efficiency and productivity refer exclusively to the leveraging of technology to make you and your team more efficient? Maybe the solution is having the capability of a shared calendaring and contacts system?

Or perhaps it’s having computer, server and network uptime be consistent and solid? Does your firm stand behind the philosophy of proactive or reactive management of your technology environment? Have you run the numbers for what network slowness, downtime or server crashing and loss of data can do to your efficiency and revenue generating activities?

Here are just a few recommendations to help leverage technology for enhanced efficiency:

  • Implement a document management system (DMS). We all know how time-consuming the digitization of paper documents can be. So, why not create a system for electronic files from the get-go that will help keep things organized in the future? Templates, style sheets, naming and dating conventions, archival procedures, and security guidelines are all integral components of an efficient office. The better organized that your business’ files are, the less time your employees will spend searching for them. Remember — you can set up a document management system in a day. And implementing it will pay dividends for years to come.
  • Sync calendars, project timelines, and progress reports. No matter the size of your office, when everybody is on the same organizational page, great things can be accomplished. Creating a master calendar with which everybody can sync their devices will eliminate surprises when it comes to meetings and deadlines. Nearly every major software company and e-mail service has its own version of the cloud-based interactive calendar. Sit down with your internal or outsourced IT staff to review the options and to determine which fits your needs best.
  • Develop a long-term technology plan. When systems become obsolete and require updating or replacement, efficiency and productivity can come to a screeching halt. Carefully planning for both small fixes and large overhauls can save your business time and money while also keeping you ahead of the technological curve. Many workplace studies have shown that properly functioning equipment can actually empower employees to be productive and proactive.

Leveraging People and Collaboration:

What about the non-technical solutions or best practices for improving your execution of projects and tasks at work for yourself and your team? At our CMIT Denver office, we have daily huddles in the morning with our engineering team that last 5-10 minutes that yield greater efficiency and focus for our team. In Verne Harnish’s Mastering the Rockefeller Habits book, he recommends daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual “huddles” each with a different type of focus. These huddles provide your leadership team with a tool for efficiently managing groups or departments and their ongoing and one-off project.

Much like the proactive management of your company’s computer network to ensure its health and efficiency, these huddles will create cohesion and collaboration amongst the team members that will yield you better and profitable results. And, you can even leverage technology for these huddles for remote workers by utilizing your phone system’s conference call line (CMIT Voice) or video teleconference solution (CMIT Impression) when a team member needs to connect from the field for the ten minute call.

Also, we should not ignore the importance of having the right people on the proverbial (Jim Collins’ Good To Great) bus and in the right seats to ensure optimal efficiency and shout it from the rooftops results.

Pay attention to the simple things. Forget all the software and systems for a moment — office efficiency and productivity starts with the basics. Don’t underestimate the power of welcoming workspaces, regularly scheduled breaks, collaborative opportunities, remote work options, and team-building exercises. Creating a desirable work environment will allow all of the aforementioned technological tips to flourish in your small-business setting.

It goes without saying (or writing) that achieving ideal office efficiency and productivity won’t be achieved simply by waving a magic wand. Wouldn’t that be nice! So, leverage CMIT Solutions to work with your business to elevate office efficiency and productivity to new heights. Personally, I leverage the brain trust of our CMIT Solutions nationwide system to achieve better results for my CMIT Denver office from technical and non-technical  perspectives. Don’t be in this battle alone to optimize efficiency!

Let CMIT assess the IT landscape so your small or mid-size business or organization can implement IT strategies that work for you to build and grow your business. Call us today and join our Stand Up For Productivity campaign.

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Cyber CrimeA Seattle company was recently broken into and a stash of old laptops was stolen. Just a typical everyday crime by typical everyday thieves. These laptops weren’t even being used by anyone in the company. The crime turned out to be anything but ordinary when those same thieves (cyber-criminals) used data from the laptops to obtain information and siphon money out of the company via fraudulent payroll transactions. On top of stealing money, they also managed to steal employee identities.

Another small company was hacked by another “company” that shared the same high-rise office building with them. Management only became aware of the theft once they started seeing unusual financial transactions in their bank accounts. Even then, they didn’t know if there was internal embezzlement or external cyber theft. It turned out to be cyber theft. The thief in this case drove a Mercedes and wore a Rolex watch… and looked like anyone else walking in and out of their building. Welcome to the age of cyber crime.

You Are Their Favorite Target

One of the biggest issues facing small businesses in the fight against cyber crime is the lack of a cyber-security plan. While 83%  lack a formal plan, over 69% lack even an informal one. Half of small business owners believe that cyber crime will never affect them. In fact, small businesses are a cyber criminal’s favorite target! Why? Small businesses are not prepared and they make it easier on criminals.

The result? Cyber-attacks cost SMBs an average of $188,242 each incident and nearly two-thirds of the businesses affected are out of business within 6 months (2011 Symantec/NCSA Study). A separate study by Verizon showed that over 80% of small business cyber crime victims were due to insufficient network security (wireless and password issues ranked highest). With unsecure networks and no formal plan to combat them, we make it easy on the criminals.

How They Attack

The #1 money-generating technique these “bad guys” use is to infect your systems with malware so that whenever you (or your employees) visit a web site and enter a password (Facebook, bank, payroll, etc.) the malware programs harvest that data and send it off to the bad guys to do their evil stuff.

They can get to you through physical office break-ins, “wardriving” (compromising defenseless wireless networks) or e-mail phishing scams and harmful web sites. Cyber-criminals are relentless in their efforts, and no one is immune to their tricks.

5 Steps To Protect Your Business

  • Get Educated. Find out the risks and educate your staff.
  • Do A Threat Assessment. Examine your firewall, anti-virus protection and anything connected to your network. What
  • data is sensitive or subject to data-breach laws?
  • Create A Cyber-Security Action Plan. Your plan should include both education and a “fire drill.”
  • Monitor Consistently. Security is never a one-time activity. Monitoring 24/7 is critical.
  • Re-Assess Regularly. New threats emerge all the time and are always changing. You can only win by staying ahead!

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