How Xero Improved Productivity with a Digital Communication Tool (And Five More Technologies You Can Use to Boost Office Productivity)

Higher office productivity leads to faster project completion and happier customers. With these technological solutions, you empower your people to work more efficiently.

When a company scales to the point where it has millions of customers spread over 180 countries, effective internal communication is a priority. It’s an even bigger concern when that company helps small businesses to stay on top of their finances.

That is the challenge that Xero faced.

The company, which has over 3,000 employees around the world, discovered that its internal communication systems weren’t scaling well as the company grew. For years, they’d used an internal email system to enable employees to communicate. However, they discovered that that system was breaking down, resulting in customer requests and queries getting lost.

How could Xero solve the problem?

They used an online tool that allowed the company to centralize crucial information, all while enabling more efficient communication between employees.

Xero implemented the use of Slack, which offers instant messaging and the creation of specific workflow channels to improve internal communication. The company soon created dedicated channels for all of its departments, creating an increase in office productivity that benefitted both staff and customers.

As Xero has shown us, office productivity is a key concern for any employer.

The more productive your people are, the faster they’re able to complete projects. Ultimately, having more productive people leads to higher profits and happier customers.

Xero found a way to enhance their productivity through a technological communication system.

You can do the same, and more.

Here are five more ways you can use technology to boost productivity.

TECHNIQUE #1 – USE VIDEO CONFERENCING

Attending meetings can be an enormous time sink, especially when attendance requires commuting to a different office. The time spent on the road is time that you cannot spend working, which creates inefficiency.

Video conferencing technology overcomes this problem.

With it, you can attend meetings from the comfort of your own office. Furthermore, many video conferencing tools, such as Zoom, allow attendees to share their computer screens when speaking. This allows for on-the-fly demonstrations of ideas that may not be possible in traditional meetings.

The ability to record these video meetings also means that attendees can review crucial details later, eliminating the need to revisit issues.

TECHNIQUE #2 – IMPLEMENT TIME TRACKING SOFTWARE

IMAGE SOURCE: https://www.pexels.com/photo/round-pocket-watch-at-12-05-1186851

As workplaces move towards increasingly digital and remote operations, time tracking becomes a key concern.

For example, you may have virtual assistants who do not work in your physical office. This creates a lack of oversight that some unscrupulous employees may take advantage of.

Thankfully, there are several time tracking software packages available. These tools allow you to track the activities of your remote employees using several techniques.

Some log key presses, allowing you to determine how active the employee is. Others may take screenshots of a virtual employee’s screen at random intervals during the day, allowing you to check if they’re dedicating all of the time you’re paying them for their work.

These tools allow you to confront the issue of time theft. Furthermore, they allow your HR department to save time it may otherwise have to spend on manually examining and editing time logs.

TECHNIQUE #3 – UPGRADE YOUR WORKSTATIONS

Many businesses avoid upgrading workstations and other hardware due to the immediate cost. Replacing hundreds of computers requires an upfront investment of thousands of dollars, leading to many businesses struggling with using outdated hardware.

Unfortunately, this creates long-term issues.

While sticking with old hardware allows a business to save money in the short term, it also slows down the workforce. The hardware won’t be capable of operating at the speed required.

Aging systems may also not be compatible with modern software solutions, meaning employees get stuck dealing with antiquated systems that aren’t fit for purpose. This leads to hours of wasted time spent waiting for old systems to do their jobs.

Upgrades may be costly in the short term.

But over the long term, they lead to time savings and more efficient employees.

TECHNIQUE #4 – IMPLEMENT ENTERPRISE RESOURCE PLANNING (ERP) SOFTWARE

ERP software allows for simpler management of a wide range of business processes, including project management, accounting, and supply chain management.

Think of it as a centralized database that provides employees with rapid access to the information needed to do their jobs. Instead of having to examine dozens of different spreadsheets to find what they’re looking for, they can use ERP to get what they need fast.

Having all relevant information stored in a single location eliminates soloing, allowing for more effective communication between departments. It also provides enhanced visibility to the management, allowing them to detect issues early and implement solutions quickly.

TECHNIQUE #5 – ELIMINATE MANUAL FILE SHARING

Imagine that you need access to a file before you can complete the task you’re working on. So, you send an email to the person who has that file.

However, they’re just gone out for lunch and won’t be back in the office for about an hour. That means you have to wait to gain access to the file, resulting in the completion of your task getting delayed.

These are the sorts of productivity problems that manual file sharing creates. By eliminating the manual aspect of file sharing, you can improve office productivity immensely.

Some of the techniques shared in this article can help you to do this. For example, you could use Slack, or other similar software, to pin key files to a channel so that employees also have access to them.

However, it also helps to have a dedicated cloud-based file sharing platform, such as Dropbox or Box. Both allow you to create file systems with shared access, ensuring everybody who needs access to certain files can get them with no delays.

TECHNOLOGY BOOSTS PRODUCTIVITY

There is no getting around the fact that implementing new technological solutions often requires investments in terms of both time and money. You may need to buy new hardware or spend time training your employees.

However, the long-term productivity benefits far outweigh the short-term costs.

Each of the technologies discussed in this article empowers your people to work more efficiently. In doing so, they enable increases in office productivity that your company benefits from.

If you need any help with installing these technologies, or would like to determine which will be a good fit for your business, please schedule a 15-minute no-obligation conversation with a member of our team today.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

5 Biggest Questions About Windows 11 Answered

Microsoft’s latest operating system is starting to take the world by storm. But before jumping ship and upgrading to the new OS, better read this first.

It’s finally here.

After six years, Microsoft has just released the latest version of its operating system — Windows 11.

At a time when computers and technology play a more central role in human lives, tech companies are scrambling to deliver the best user experience possible to capture the ever-expanding market.

Microsoft’s answer to the growing demand for better technology for home and business use is Windows 11.

Microsoft dubs their latest operating system as the “Windows that brings you closer to what you love.” But are they actually able to achieve that?

I know you have a lot more burning questions about this latest OS from Microsoft. So without further ado, let’s jump right into answering the five biggest questions you may have about Windows 11.

THE FIVE QUESTIONS ABOUT WINDOWS 11

QUESTION #1 – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WINDOWS 10 AND 11?&

Windows 11 gets a significant boost in performance, functionality, and style compared to Windows 10. Here’s a small rundown of the critical upgrades Microsoft made for its latest OS:

  • Windows gets a makeover: If you’ve used Apple before, you might see the similarities between the design of the macOS and the latest Windows model. Windows now also sport tightly rounded corners and the taskbar icons are permanently centered. But at least the ever-handy Start button is here to stay.
  • Streamlined Productivity Functions: There are many small but significant upgrades that Microsoft did for Windows 11. For one, your PC will now remember the last layout of your choice when docking. Each of your virtual desktops can also have a different background. Also, widgets are back like never before. And Windows 11 features a Snap Layout function that lets users choose from a variety of layout options at the click of a button.
  • New and Improved Teams: With hybrid work becoming the new normal around the world. Teams entered the spotlight. Because of this, Microsoft made sure to include reasonable upgrades to the application. For example, Teams is now integrated into the operating system, making it easier to communicate with family, friends, and colleagues.
  • Better Gaming Experience: Microsoft made sure to think about not just business people and workers when designing the new Windows 11. Gamers will love the fact that playing games on Windows is made even better, with Xbox Game pass and Cloud gaming supported on the Xbox app in Windows 11.
  • Android Apps on Your PC: Aside from offering better compatibility with the Xbox, Microsoft has successfully integrated Android apps on your PC using Windows 11. But here’s the catch: We’re not yet sure if these Android apps would work optimally on PC.

QUESTION #2 – DO I NEED TO MAKE HARDWARE CHANGES TO SWITCH TO WINDOWS 11?

It depends. Here’s an essential checklist of what you need to have to run Windows 11 smoothly:

  • At least a 1GHZ dual-core processor
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • At least 64 GB of storage
  • A graphics card compatible with DirectX 12 or later, with a WDDM 2.0 driver
  • 720p display, at least 9” diagonal size, with 8 bits per colour channel
  • TPM version 2.0

UEFI, Secure Boot capable firmware

If your PC or laptop covers or does more than what’s listed above, then you can safely upgrade to Windows 11, worry-free.

On the other hand, you might have to make some hardware upgrades or buy a new device altogether if your current one does not meet the minimum requirements.

QUESTION #3 – IS THE MICROSOFT OFFICE SUITE AVAILABLE ON WINDOWS 11?

IMAGE SOURCE: https://pixabay.com/vectors/office-windows-word-excel-1356793

No. You have to pay for a Microsoft Office subscription first.

But if you have an existing subscription to Microsoft 365, then you’re all set. You just need to install the Office suite after upgrading to Windows 11.

Note that support for older versions of Office (2010 and below) has been discontinued since last year. So if you’re still using that, I suggest you make necessary changes to avoid making yourself vulnerable to security risks.

QUESTION #4 – HOW CAN I SWITCH FROM WINDOWS 10 TO  11?

If you’re looking to upgrade from Windows 10 to 11, you have nothing to worry about.

You just need to go to the Windows Update section of your Settings and click “Check for Updates.” Windows 11 will just be there available in the upgrade section.

Click the “Download and Install” button, and that’s it.

QUESTION #5 – DO I REALLY NEED TO SWITCH TO WINDOWS 11?

No. If your computer is not compatible or can’t run Windows 11, you don’t have to upgrade.

On the other hand, if your PC is compatible with Windows 11 but you find the upgrades unnecessary for your current workflow, there’s nothing wrong with staying with Windows 10.

Even Microsoft said that Windows 10 is still the right choice for those who aren’t ready to transition to a new operating system. In fact, they made sure of this by scheduling an update for Windows 10 later this year. At the same time, the company will continue supporting Windows 10 until October 14, 2025.

This gives you about four years to think about upgrading to Windows 11 or switching operating systems altogether.

TECHNOLOGY THAT WORKS FOR YOU

The new era of Windows has finally arrived.

Microsoft made it a point to make their latest OS worth it for old and new Windows users. And with these new updates, it is clear that the company has made an effort to find out its users’ pain points and address them.

But despite these new features, you have to understand one thing:

Technology is just a tool used to increase our everyday productivity and efficiency.

That means you don’t need to jump ship to Windows 11 if you’re not ready to do so outright. Technology is only as effective as how much you use it. So if you’re already a master of Windows 10 and it makes you 100% productive, then change is unnecessary.

Now, suppose you’re seriously thinking about making the switch to Windows 11. But you want to know more about its hardware compatibility and security updates. In that case, you need an IT service provider that’s willing to talk you through it.

If you need any help in fully understanding the pros and cons of switching (or not changing) to Windows 11, schedule a 15-minute, no-obligation conversation with our team today.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

The Five Steps for Creating a Business Continuity Plan

How will your business respond when faced with an unexpected situation? With a business continuity plan, you’ll know exactly what steps to take.

Leading a small business is a challenging endeavor.

According to a January 2021 article published by Entrepreneur, 20% of small businesses fail within their first year of operation. And a staggering 50% fail within five years.

There are many potential issues for these failures, ranging from cash flow problems to leadership challenges. But one of the key issues revolves around a company’s ability to deal with the unexpected.

When a situation doesn’t play out in your favor, how does your business respond?

If you don’t have an answer, you place yourself at risk of adding to the above statistics. The good news is that a business continuity plan (BCP) is the ideal leadership tool that will help you prepare for the unexpected.

WHAT IS A BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLAN?

BCPs are a set of predefined protocols and strategies that define how your business will respond in the case of a disaster or emergency. Think of it as a collection of backup plans that tell you exactly what you need to do when the worst happens.

A BCP should encompass every aspect of your organization, from your tech departments to what happens with human resources and your key assets. It should also contain a list of protocols that define how you respond in the event of any of the following situations:

  • Natural disasters
  • Equipment failures
  • Financial or cash flow issues
  • Man-made disasters

The goal of any BCP is to ensure the high availability of required resources, thus enabling continuous operation and disaster recovery following an emergency.

They’re important because failure to plan can prove extremely costly. According to figures shared by IBM, infrastructure failures cost businesses an average of $100,000 per hour. A good BCP mitigates these costs by minimizing the effects of these failures on the business.

THE FIVE STEPS FOR BUILDING A BCP

Now that you understand the importance of having a BCP, it’s time to create one for your business. Follow these steps to ensure your BCP is as comprehensive as possible.

STEP #1 – PERFORM IN-DEPTH RISK ASSESSMENTS

Start by creating a list of every possible risk that your business may face. This list should include risks related to all of the following areas:

  • Industry
  • Geographical
  • Trends and Market Movements
  • Stakeholders
  • Employees
  • Business Infrastructure

Once you have completed your list, work through it to prioritize the risks based on their likelihood of impacting your business.

For example, a company based in an area that’s prone to natural disasters, such as earthquakes or hurricanes, may place a higher priority on this risk than they would issues related to stakeholders.

Your prioritized list tells you which issues to focus on first when creating your BCP.

STEP #2 – IDENTIFY CRITICAL FUNCTIONS AND CREATE RECOVERY PLANS FOR EACH

Once you understand the risks, it’s time to focus on the impact that those risks coming to fruition might have on the business.

To do this, create a list of the critical functions your business needs to be able to undertake to deliver its products or services. Then, examine how each potential risk could impact each function.

When you find a function that would get affected by one of the risks, build a recovery plan for that function. This plan may involve creating backups of crucial data, enabling employees to work from home, or maintaining a secondary location or backup hardware stock.

Repeat this process for each critical function, identifying the level of risk it faces and what you need to have in place to ensure swift recovery of the function in the event of an incident.

STEP #3 – DEFINE EMERGENCY ROLES

IMAGE SOURCE: https://www.pexels.com/photo/group-of-people-on-a-conference-room-1181406

Your employees are just as important in your response to an emergency as your recovery plans. And often, it’s the rapid action of your people that enables you to put your plans in place.

With this in mind, spend some time assigning roles to key staff members for each potential situation you’ve identified. Define who will act as an emergency coordinator and what they will need to do in this position.

In some cases, preparing for emergencies may require you to train staff members or obtain specific licenses. Your plan may also include protocols for staff reallocation, especially if your business has several locations.

The main point here is that your people need to know what they have to do when an emergency situation occurs in your company.

STEP #4 – DOCUMENT YOUR PLAN

No BCP can be effective if it resides solely in the leader’s head. After all, one of the issues identified may be the loss of the leader to an accident or something else.

As such, you must document your BCP so that others can access and follow it when needed. Make sure to store the BCP in a secure off-site location, as this reduces the risk of the plan being lost or damaged in the event of a disaster.

STEP #5 – TEST THE BCP REGULARLY

No situation is static and new issues will appear that cause you to revisit your BCP. That’s why it’s important to ensure that the BCP remains consistent with the current risks and capacity of the business at all times.

It’s worth creating an emergency preparedness team that revisits the BCP regularly.

You should also test the BCP for its consistency whenever a significant change occurs in your industry, such as the introduction of new regulations. Perform regular tests to identify gaps in the plan

A BCP PROTECTS YOUR BUSINESS

Business leadership involves more than the ability to build and inspire teams. You also need to focus on protecting your business so that your teams are capable of doing what you need them to do in any situation.

That’s what a BCP allows you to do.

A good BCP defines every protocol to follow in the event of an emergency. By building one, you put yourself in a better position to lead your business through any crisis.
Of course, building a BCP is not simple, especially for smaller businesses that have limited resources. If you’d like help with building yours or wish to discuss any other aspect of business leadership, please schedule a 15-minute consultation with our team today.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Seven Ways to Maximize Cloud Solutions for Your Small Business

Cloud computing has been front and centre of the global shift to remote working. Find out how you can maximize this technology for your small business.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic rendered many business practices obsolete.

Face-to-face brainstorming sessions…

Team building activities…

Even the entire concept of the office…

But the global crisis also accelerated the adoption of certain technologies that might be worth holding on to even as the world recovers.

This includes cloud computing.

From remote collaboration to virtual classes, cloud-powered applications are creating some semblance of normalcy through these tough times.

The cloud used to be such an obscure concept. After all, it was difficult to imagine an intangible, centralised location on the internet that stores data and hosts business processes.

But recent years have proved the numerous benefits of ‘moving your business to the cloud.’

THE CASE FOR CLOUD IN SMALL BUSINESSES

Nowadays, almost all big corporations and multinational companies transact their business processes over the cloud.

Well, moving to the cloud does make perfect sense for large firms with seemingly unlimited budgets.

But what about small businesses?

Is the cost of moving worth it?

Is it time for you to do it?

In this article, we’ll give you seven ways you can use cloud solutions in your small business. After which, you will get a clearer picture of why you should at least consider moving some of your business processes to the cloud.

THE SEVEN WAYS YOU CAN USE CLOUD SOLUTIONS

WAY #1: REMOTE COLLABORATION

By its very nature, cloud connectivity allows you and your team to collaborate in real-time from anywhere in the world—so long as you all have internet access.

Services like those offered by Microsoft OneDrive, DropBox, and Google Drive, among others, can allow you and your staff greater flexibility to work from anywhere.

With remote collaboration, you don’t have to worry about being too tethered to your office or headquarters.

WAY #2: BUSINESS CONTINUITY

Ever had a laptop crash on you while you’re working on something important?

Or had a hard drive suddenly become unreadable when you desperately need the files in it?

And when you try to recover the data you need, you are told those are gone forever?

Moving your data to the cloud can help prevent such headaches.

One of the central features of most cloud-based apps is automatic backup and recovery options. So, even if your team experiences a power outage or hardware malfunctions while working on something important, all it takes to recover their hard work is a click or two.

WAY #3: STORAGE

One of the more widespread applications of the cloud is file storage services.

Even if your business is not tech-heavy, you surely have a need for significant file storage capacity. In fact, it’s no longer advisable—if it ever was—to keep your inventory logs, client information databases, and even employee information on physical, on-site archives.

Storing everything on the cloud will also allow you access to all these documents anywhere you are. And if security is your concern, know that as the owner and administrator of your small business’s cloud, you can also have full control over who gets to access these files.

If you want to run a more sustainable business, moving all your files to the cloud can also empower your operations to go fully paperless.

WAY #4: DATA SECURITY

IMAGE SOURCE: https://pixabay.com/photos/hacking-cyber-hacker-crime-2964100

We understand that data security is one of the biggest reasons why small business owners have been cautious about exploring the cloud.

That may have been a valid and pressing concern when the cloud was still in incubation, but the industry has made great leaps since then.

While you would still need to play your part in securing sensitive data, most cloud service providers have now equipped their products with extra security measures. One example is the decentralization of data through blockchain technology.

This makes the information stored on the cloud much harder for hackers to crack.

WAY #5: SCALABLE GROWTH PLANNING

A common misconception surrounding cloud services is that it requires a considerable upfront investment. But in reality, cloud solutions are very much scalable.
What does this mean?

It means you can always pay for the services and access level you need for now. For example, you can start with paying for the smallest storage capacity and just move some of your files to the cloud. Eventually, you can increase your usage as your business grows.

Since the cloud is also self-managed by the providers, you may be able to eliminate the need for an in-house IT staff to manage your data and tech needs.

As you scale your business, your cloud services can simply scale with it.

WAY #6: CLOUD-BASED EMAIL

Are you still hosting your company’s email client on your own servers?

Or perhaps you haven’t gotten around to creating personalized or individualized email addresses for your staff?

This is another area where you can maximize cloud services.

By moving your email hosting to a cloud-powered solution, you won’t have to manage or invest in servers to run your business email. The cloud service provider will now be responsible for that.
On top of it all, cloud-hosted email is usually more affordable than on-site servers.

WAY #7: E-COMMERCE

While the pandemic may not have rendered brick and mortar stores completely obsolete, it has definitely increased your customers’ reliance on online shopping.

If you are running an online store or are thinking of moving your physical store online, cloud-based e-commerce platforms are definitely the way to go.

Platforms like Shopify have simply been unparalleled, both in ease of use and cost, that doing away with an in-house store management solution is now a no-brainer.

Cloud-based e-commerce platforms are also a breeze to scale without the costly investment in the necessary hardware.

MOVE YOUR BUSINESS INTO THE CLOUD

Now that you know how helpful cloud solutions can be for your small business, we’ll leave it to you to decide when it’s the right time to take the leap.

In any case, we’re here if you need more information on cloud solutions or if you require assistance in moving your business operations to the cloud.

Just schedule a 15-minute, no-obligation conversation with our team today to get started.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Working From Home – The Six Simple Ways to Stay Healthy When You’re No Longer Commuting

With the continuing shift towards remote working, health is an ongoing concern. Find out how to stay healthy even when you’re working from home.

The global pandemic resulted in many workplaces implementing work-from-home policies. In doing so, many of these workplaces have discovered that there are benefits to providing employees with the option of doing their work remotely.

And these benefits are pronounced.

According to a survey conducted by CoSo Cloud, 77% of people believe they are more productive when working from home.

Another study, conducted by commercial real estate firm CBRE, suggests that up to 69% of millennials are willing to sacrifice certain workplace benefits to have more flexible working options.

And according to video conferencing company Owl Labs, 74% of people say they’re more likely to stay with a company if they have the option of working from home.

The simple message is that working from home is likely to become the new normal in the coming years.

However, working from home also presents challenges.

No longer faced with the need to commute to the office, people may find that they’re less focused on their health. Some may also find they have limited access to exercise equipment or other resources that help them to stay fit.

In this article, we’ll share six tips on how you can stay healthy when working from home.

TIP #1 – REGULARLY DO SQUATS

A simple exercise, squats involve using your own weight to strengthen your lower body.

The following are the steps for this exercise:

  • Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Stretch your arms out in front of you and then sit back as though you’re sitting on a chair. Go as low as you comfortably can while keeping your back straight. Keep your hips parallel to the ground while ensuring your knees stay behind your toes.
  • Stand back up into the starting position and repeat nine more times

You can use dumbbells to create further resistance if you’d like to make this exercise more challenging. However, only do so when you’re already confident in your technique without using any additional weights.

TIP #2 – MOVE EVERY HOUR

It’s easy to spend too much time at the computer when you’re working from home. What’s more, you may choose to spend your breaks sitting in front of the television. This leads to long periods of sedation in which your body isn’t moving.

Sitting for several hours at a time is linked to a range of health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. And by committing to moving for a few minutes per hour, you reduce your risk of experiencing these conditions.

Consider setting a timer to remind yourself to get up every hour. Spend a little time walking around the house or go for a quick walk around the block before resuming work.

TIP #3 – USE AN ACTIVE SITTING CHAIR

In addition to walking every hour, there are several ways that you can stay active even when working.

For example, sitting on an exercise ball is a great way to keep your body engaged while you’re in front of a computer. The unstable nature of the ball forces you to use your core muscles to stay upright, strengthening your body in the process.

Some take this a step further and choose to work while standing. Keep in mind that while this is an effective technique, it does require you to have a desk with a suitable height that will allow you to stand while working. If your desk is too low, you may cause issues with your posture due to having to stoop constantly.

TIP #4 – CREATE A STRESS-FREE ENVIRONMENT

One of the best things about working from home is that you have complete control over your environment. Use this to your advantage by creating an environment that allows you to tackle stress.

For example, placing scented candles around your desk creates a more relaxed environment. So, too, does ensuring you have plenty of plants in your home office. Working near a window also helps to reduce stress, as having a view of nature can prove soothing.

TIP #5 – DO JUMPING JACKS


IMAGE SOURCE: https://www.pexels.com/photo/people-in-the-fitness-center-doing-jumping-jacks-6339345

An exercise that most people are familiar with thanks to school gym sessions, jumping jacks elevate your heart rate and work your entire body.
The exercise is simple:

  • Stand perfectly straight, holding your arms to your side and keeping your knees together.
  • Bend your knees slightly before jumping into a stance where your feet are shoulder-width apart and your arms are extended above your head.
  • When landing, return to the standing position and repeat the exercise at least nine more times.

Jumping jacks allow you to improve your cardiovascular conditioning without requiring a lot of room. You can also add resistance using free weights, although this should only be done when you’ve mastered the technique.

TIP #6 – STOCK HEALTHY SNACKS IN YOUR KITCHEN

The kitchen is only a short walk away when you’re working from home. Unfortunately, this also means that it’s very easy to access sugary snacks at any point.

The solution is to eliminate unhealthy snacks from the kitchen. Instead, stock the kitchen with fruits and healthy snacks.

Make these healthier options visible by placing them on the counter while hiding the unhealthy snacks in the cupboards. This ensures your healthy snacks act as a visual reminder to stick with the foods that are good for your body.

YOUR HEALTH IS A PRIORITY

While working from home offers a range of benefits in terms of flexibility, productivity, and work/life balance, it can also lead to a more sedentary working environment. Overcoming this requires you to come up with ways to keep your body active, even when you’re spending long hours sitting in front of a computer.

The six tips shared in this article will help you do just that. And best of all, none of them require you to buy expensive exercise equipment.

Now, there are many more challenges related to remote work that both employees and businesses need to stay on top of. If you need any help creating the most effective remote work environments possible, schedule a 15-minute no-obligation conversation with our team today.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Explaining Cybersecurity Audits (And the Three Tips for Running One)

You need more than the latest antivirus software to ensure your company’s network is secure. A cybersecurity audit helps you create a complete picture of your security strategy.

Cybercrime has grown into one of the epidemics of modern times.

In 2018 alone, we saw 812.67 million instances of malware infection. Meanwhile, 2020 brought with it a 600% increase in cybercrime. And estimates state that ransomware attacks will cost companies over $6 trillion per year by 2021.

If you don’t prioritize cybersecurity, you place yourself and your company at risk of attack.

Now, it’s likely that you already have some strategies in place to combat hackers and other malicious cyber forces. However, you also need to feel sure that the measures you have in place are sufficient.

That’s where cybersecurity audits become important.

In this article, we examine what cybersecurity audits are and share some crucial tips for running one in your company.

WHAT IS A CYBERSECURITY AUDIT?

Think of an audit as a comprehensive examination of every cybersecurity strategy you’ve put in place. You have two goals with the audit:

  • Identify any gaps in your system so you can fill them.
  • Create an in-depth report that you can use to demonstrate your readiness to defend against cyber threats.

A typical audit contains three phases:

  1. Assessment
  2. Assignment
  3. Audit

In the assessment phase, you examine the existing system.

This involves checking your company’s computers, servers, software, and databases. You’ll also review how you assign access rights and examine any hardware or software you currently have in place to defend against attacks.

The assessment phase will likely highlight some security gaps that you need to act upon. And once that’s done, you move into the assignment.

Here, you assign appropriate solutions to the issues identified. This may also involve assigning internal professionals to the task of implementing those solutions. However, you may also find that you need to bring external contractors on board to help with implementation.

Finally, you conclude with an audit.

This takes place after you’ve implemented your proposed solution and is intended as a final check of your new system before you release it back into the company. This audit will primarily focus on ensuring that all installations, upgrades, and patches operate as expected

THE THREE TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL CYBERSECURITY AUDIT

Now that you understand the phases of a cybersecurity audit, you need to know how to run an audit effectively such that it provides the information you need. After all, a poorly conducted audit may miss crucial security gaps, leaving your systems vulnerable to attack.

These three tips will help you conduct an effective cybersecurity audit in your company.

TIP #1 – ALWAYS CHECK FOR THE AGE OF EXISTING SECURITY SYSTEMS

There is no such thing as an evergreen security solution.

Cyber threats evolve constantly, with hackers and the like continually coming up with new ways to breach existing security protocols. Any system you’ve already implemented has an expiration date. Eventually, it will become ineffective against the new wave of cyber threats.This means you always need to check the age of your company’s existing cybersecurity solutions.

Make sure to update your company’s systems whenever the manufacturer releases an update. But if the manufacturer no longer supports the software you’re using, this is a sign that you need to make a change.

TIP #2 – IDENTIFY YOUR THREATS

As you conduct your company’s cybersecurity audit, continuously ask yourself where you’re likely to experience the most significant threat.

For example, when auditing a system that contains a lot of customer information, data privacy is a crucial concern. In this situation, threats arise from weak passwords, phishing attacks, and malware.

More threats can come internally, be they from malicious employees or through the mistaken provision of access rights to employees who shouldn’t be able to see specific data.

And sometimes, employees can leak data unknowingly.

For example, allowing employees to connect their own devices to your company network creates risk because you have no control over the security of those external devices.

The point is that you need to understand the potential threats you face before you can focus on implementing any solutions.

TIP #3 – CONSIDER HOW YOU WILL EDUCATE EMPLOYEES

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You’ve identified the threats and have created plans to respond.

However, those plans mean little if employees do not know how to implement them.

If you face an emergency, such as a data breach, and your employees don’t know how to respond, the cybersecurity audit is essentially useless.

To avoid this situation, you need to educate your employees on what to look out for and how to respond to cybersecurity threats. This often involves the creation of a plan that incorporates the following details:

  • The various threat types you’ve identified and how to look out for them
  • Where the employee can go to access additional information about a threat
  • Who the employee should contact if they identify a threat
  • How long it should take to rectify the threat
  • Any rules you have in place about using external devices or accessing data stored on secure servers.

Remember, cybersecurity is not the IT department’s domain alone. It’s an ongoing concern that everybody within an organization must remain vigilant of.

By educating employees about the threats present, and how to respond to them, you create a more robust defense against future attacks.

Audits Improve Security

Cybersecurity audits offer you a chance to evaluate your security protocols.

They help you to identify issues and ensure that you’re up-to-date in regards to the latest cybersecurity threats. And without them, a business runs the risk of using outdated software to protect itself against ever-evolving attacks.

The need to stay up-to-date highlights the importance of cybersecurity audits.

However, your security solutions are not one-and-done. They require regular updating and re-examination to ensure they’re still fit for the purposes you’re using them for. As soon as they’re not, there will be vulnerabilities to your business that others can exploit.

Audits improve cybersecurity.

And improved cybersecurity means you and your customers can feel more confident.

If you’d like to conduct a cybersecurity audit but you’re unsure about whether you have the skills required to do so correctly, we can help. We’d love to have a quick 15-minute no-obligation chat to discuss your existing systems and how we may be able to help you to improve them.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.