Virtual Office: Can You Gain Mobility?

In our last article, we discussed the security benefits of using a virtual office. In this blog, we’ll cover how a virtual office can help to make your job easier and more enjoyable.

Let’s face it, you can have a beautiful corner office — but it’s still an office. Very few normal human beings enjoy being stuck in an office let alone commuting to one everyday. Thankfully, it seems that physical offices are becoming sparser these days for a wide variety of reasons.

Virtual Office: Why Consider Mobility?

Many of you reading this might have been skeptical about the idea of a mobile office. Back in the 1980s, mobile working meant having a giant word processor, dot matrix printer and wired car phone. Compared to what we have available today, that seems more like a nightmare than progress. Today, you may be concerned about how you can effectively manage your employees in a remote environment.

For the past decade or so, more businesses have been moving to mobile workers. This allows for flexibility, creates an always-on (or always-accessible) workforce, and eases national recruiting. Once the recent pandemic hit, much of their day to day operations continued without consequence. Those that hadn’t considered mobility were quickly forced into finding a way to send employees remote. Since we don’t know how long the current crisis will continue or what the future may present, the current COVID-19 pandemic is an excellent example of why it’s best to consider creating a virtual office.

If you can work from home or on the go, you’re free from the office and can work wherever, whenever. Have a doctor’s appointment? Keep up with your clients, so you don’t have to take personal time. Did last night’s weather make the roads unsafe? Run your reports from your home office while not putting your life at risk. It’s no secret that employees who have the option to work from anywhere are happier employees who often stay at their company longer.

Virtual Office: An Office In Your Pocket

Here’s an important question: why do you go into work all? Some people have to be at a location to do a specific task. For example, you won’t find too many jobs as a carpenter working remotely. If a particular job requires that a person be on location, there isn’t much you can change.

However, many of us come into the office every day just to sit at a computer and use commonly available software to do our job. Other than meetings (that can usually be an email) or for workplace gossip at lunch, there’s no reason you have to go to that office to sit at that computer. If a portion or all of your workforce fits into that category, why bother wasting all that money on a large workspace? Many companies find that even if a few employees have to be in the office, they can still cut down the size and location of facilities significantly. It’s not uncommon to see a company with 100+ employees using an office with less than a dozen offices or workstations.

A Real Solution

Up to this point, we’ve only talked about this concept of a mobile office in the abstract. What exactly is a mobile/virtual office?

You can log on to any system mobile, desktop, laptop or otherwise and have the same exact experience as you would have on your desktop computer. All of the apps are there, in full functionality, all with single sign-on and secure multi-factor authentication.

Besides being as secure as a bank vault, this style of a virtual office gives you the ability to work at any location on any device. Just a generation ago, no one could have dreamed of this kind of freedom or flexibility! Start your day off on your desktop, run a quick errand while connecting to your smartphone, sit on the back porch with your laptop, then end your workday lounging on your tablet—all while connected to the “office.” What happens if your device gets lost, damaged, or stolen? Nothing. Your data isn’t stored on the device itself and logging in requires multi-level authentication, which we routinely monitor.

While it’s true that other types of systems have existed in the past that allowed remote access to systems, they were rather clunky, slow and nonsecure.

Bring your operation into the 21st century! If you can move some or all of your workforce into virtual offices, now is the perfect time. Contact us today to see how we can quickly get your operation virtualized and running at peak efficiency—anytime, anywhere!

Is your Virtual Office Secure?

Many companies have found themselves forcing employees to work from home throughout the pandemic and now as we navigate hybrid learning environments. This trend has been a long time coming, but it seems like we’ve progressed more in the last six months than the previous 20 years combined. Pandemic or not, remote working will be the future for many of us if it isn’t already the case. This month, we’ll be going over various reasons why you may want to consider making a move to a virtual office. In this article, we’ll be discussing a reason that’s near and dear to our hearts: security. 

Virtual vs Physical Office 

When some of you hear the term “virtual office,” you’re probably thinking of someone at home on their computer, all their work online. While that’s true, it’s important to understand that what we’re talking about is more specific than that.   A proper virtual office allows someone to actually go to work in the most literal way possible without even stepping foot in a building. All the software and data that your employees would need would be available after logging into your system, often via a login on your company’s webpage. Once inside, your employees can literally do anything they need to do. They would be remote clients of every software your company uses, including accounting packages.  

A Safe Solution 

Virtual offices are one of the safest ways for your company to do business remotely. The biggest reason for this is the lack of any software on your employees’ own computers. Even if their computer gets hacked, there’s nothing on the hard drive that would belong to the company. In addition, since the employee is logging into the system, unless someone is literally behind their shoulder, there is no way for them to see what they’re doing.   Much of the time, hackers get information based on the connection between your computer and the server you’re communicating with (the website’s hosting server). You could think of it like being wiretapped — the person listening in can get all the information you’re sharing with your friend on the other line. With a digital office, you’re basically entering a digital building, doing all your business inside, then leaving for the day.  

What a Digital Office Is Not 

Some of your smarties reading this article might be thinking, “Oh! They’re talking about a VPN.” While VPNs and virtual offices share some similarities, there are a few important differences. For one, VPNs work by encrypting your communication between you and the website you’re visiting. However, once you’re in contact with that website, you’re still vulnerable. What if the site uses cookies to track you or if their servers have been compromised? That VPN won’t do you a lick of good.  Also, VPNs are often used on a network. It’s true that the entire network will be better protected with a VPN than without one, but if one device on the system gets infected, your entire network is defenseless. Even entire VPN services have been hacked in recent months, leaving millions of customers vulnerable.  Let’s use the example of your child opening an infected email. If you’re using a virtual office, none of your company’s files, passwords or any other type of data will be in danger. The only way to access that information is to have the credentials to enter the entire system.   This might make you think that gaining access is just as easy as someone stealing your password. However, entering the virtual office would require a password in addition to multi-factor authentication that would be monitored by your MSP. While any system could theoretically be breached, this form of accessing the system is about as ironclad as you can get these days.

A Smart Solution 

Of course, we’d be lying if we said that virtual offices are an impenetrable castle wall that would be 100% safe. Even with physical castle walls, it isn’t just the bricks and mortar that protect that people inside — it’s the design, workmanship and upkeep that stop the enemies from rushing in.  Understanding how a virtual office works, best practices in its implementation and maintenance is what will decide the quality of your system in the long run. This sort of workspace can be complicated to set up and get used to, but once your company works this way for a short while, the peace of mind you have will make you wonder why you didn’t do this years ago.  Naturally, with something this important, you’re going to want a company that knows what they’re doing from years of practical experience, not just from learning by watching a YouTube video on the topic. Especially when putting all your eggs in one basket (so to speak), you better make sure that basket is made from galvanized titanium covered in diamonds. Well, maybe not literally, but you get the point.  Our team has been working with virtual offices (in whole or in part) for decades. We know what needs to be done and understand the very real danger of not doing it right the first time. If you’re finding your workplace become more and more sparse with your employees working remotely, don’t wait to call us today. We’d be happy to go over your specific needs and help develop a solution that will make your virtual office a secure workplace.  

Why the Break-fix Model Doesn’t Work

So, you may be wondering why the break-fix model doesn’t work. Grandpa always said, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. While we love Grandpa, that truism isn’t always true. Just like the customer is always right and other similar expressions, simply because people have been saying something forever doesn’t make it correct.

Still wondering why the break-fix model doesn’t work?

Break-fix fails: waiting to take action when something breaks before you fix it can end up being costly and disastrous in the long run. Where do we find the balance between upgrading routinely and only replacing when you have no choice? Also, what does this have to do with this series’ theme of hiring an IT tech?

Break-fix Model: Let’s Break the Cycle

When a company grows and gets larger, certain things that used to seem important get pushed to the back burner. Some companies may even change their model and service style after rapid growth and incorporate the break-fix model. The break-fix model is also sometimes used due to having lower resources. These are usually issues that don’t have immediate ramifications. Unfortunately, this often includes technology, such as computers, servers or copiers, as well as software. While there’s no built-in self-destruct date on these machines or programs, just because you can use something doesn’t mean that you should use it.

Many of us have computers that we may have used for close to a decade. But have you ever had a computer suddenly die on you? Or what about needing a software upgrade, but your hardware can’t handle it? These have happened to all of us at some point. While it might be an inconvenience on a personal level, it can be devastating for a business. Equipment going down unexpectedly can mean a massive loss of productivity or worse, loss of precious data.

Despite this, many still choose to rely on replacing equipment only when it breaks. This puts you at the mercy of whatever the items costs the moment you need it. You might be able to find a sale, but more than likely, you’ll end up paying the full retail price. If you choose to replace all equipment of a regular schedule, you can end up getting volume discounts.

Let’s use some general numbers here. Suppose a workstation costs $1000 per employee.If you have 25 employees that $25,000 to replace all the workstations. If you buy everything at once, you’ll end up getting a volume discount. In this case, we’ll go with a 20% discount. That would be a savings of $5,000 to replace equipment that you would already have to replace anyway — or $5,000 wasted in purchasing one by one. Not only that, but you would have no idea how much you would be paying on a monthly or yearly basis if you replace one by one. One month you could be paying $0 and the next $5,000.

Not So Easy Break-fix!

Naturally, there’s a lot more involved in replacing equipment that signing a check. For starters, when would you need to replace the hardware? Where would you purchase it? How are you going to negotiate the volume pricing? What kind of equipment do you actually need? How do you budget this out? Who’s going to go to swap out the equipment? What do you do with the old equipment once it’s replaced?

Your IT department or outsourced MSP typically handles these concerns. While the equipment in question is crucial to operations, you most likely don’t have someone with the qualifications or bandwidth to figure all of this out. That’s what an IT professional does. This is a reason that it doesn’t make financial sense not to have some sort of IT tech.

Spending Dollars Can Make Sense

As we’ve already mentioned, holding out to make purchases only when they’re absolutely necessary can end up costing you a ton in the long run. It’s logical to make sure you have someone consistently addressing your IT needs before there are issues. In the first article in this series, though, we showed how it makes the most financial sense to consider using an MSPcc over an in-house IT tech or a whole department.

Beyond the factors of salary, insurance and other expenses related to that employee, you also have to consider how an MSP can save you money in different ways. For example, you wouldn’t be their only customer, which means that their purchasing power is much stronger, giving you a better volume pricing. While you may only need 25 computers, that MSP might be purchasing 100 between you and their other customers, so they can negotiate a much better discount.

Also, a good MSP will replace all hardware and software not up to standard at the beginning of your contract. While this might seem like a financial shock at first, it saves you in the long run. If your MSP knows every single piece of your equipment, then future upgrades or repairs will be fast and within budget.

Another great advantage is being able to budget. Replacing your equipment only as it breaks can lead to extreme un-budgeted fluctuations in your IT expenses. When you hire an MSP, you know what you’ll be paying monthly and yearly.

Break Free from the Cycle

If you’re tired of being stuck in the same old break-fix cycle: contact us today! We pride ourselves on helping our customers not only spend less by preparing for the future, but making sure there aren’t any gaps in productivity. Our experienced staff will go over your current system in detail. Then, they’ll create a comprehensive plan that makes sense for your business. We’ll make sure that that the only cycle you’re involved with includes your success!

IT Professional Job Description – What do they really do?

So, you’re working on drafting an IT professional job description. This series covers the most important factors to consider before you hire an in-house IT tech or team. Our last article reviewed the hidden costs of hiring an IT Professional. Now, we’re talking about what IT actually does besides ask if you turned your computer off and back on again.

Depending on the size of your organization, work in IT can be complicated and time-consuming. Let’s go over the major job responsibilities of IT professionals beyond tech support and equipment maintenance.

Vendor Management

Outside organizations most often provide your Internet, copy machine, phone system, and computer equipment. When they break, need maintenance, or require warranty replacement, the IT person interacts with the vendor. Oftentimes, they’re responsible for communicating between multiple vendors that frequently point fingers at each other. The IT person spends a great deal of time sorting out the underlying issues, determining what’s really wrong, and implementing a fix. If they can’t fix the problem themselves, their effort goes to convincing a vendor to help.

Keeping Up with the Technologies

While many of us might be preoccupied with what our favorite celebrities are up to on any given day, IT personnel are keeping themselves informed on what’s going on in the world of tech outside their organizations.

Software

Remember when you bought software and it stayed exactly the same until you went to the store and bought the newest version? These days, software updates happen regularly, sometimes multiple times a week. However, since various companies often make the programs, they tend not to play well together. This means that your IT techs need to understand what the updates are, what benefits they could bring, as well as when and how they should be implemented, if at all.

In addition, they’re consistently looking out for new software that might be better than what’s currently in use.

New Tech

Sometimes it’s best to completely scrap a system and start over. For instance, while there may be improvements you can make to enhance your telecom system, perhaps you should upgrade to a pure VoIP communication system. If you’re still running servers on-site, perhaps it’s time to think about a virtual office. If your hardware is over three years old, it’s time to start planning for a refresh. An IT person must remain on top of all technology and know about the new innovations that will make your business more efficient.

Security

This is the elephant in the room right now. Cyber threats are not only growing by the day, but they’re also changing. Being up to date is no longer an issue of merely updating your antivirus software.  Unfortunately, many of the attacks we see are the result of someone falling asleep at the wheel. Hackers are continuing to innovate new ways to get to their targets cause damage.

The best way for IT professionals to make themselves useful in this regard is to not only update software and the network but to educate the rest of the company on ways to keep from being the accidental cause of a data breach. This crisis prevention is one of the most important and proactive jobs for a successful IT professional.

The Sad Truth

You may have noticed the number of duties in this article outside of fixing broken technology. If it seems like way too much work for one person, that’s because it is. To fulfill all of the responsibilities of a responsible IT professional, you would need to have multiple people with a variety of skill sets. Of course, this adds to the expense of a department that’s supposed to help you keep costs down and simplify operations.

For this and other reasons, many companies turn to MSPs for their IT needs. You have access to a team of professionals that not only have the expertise needed to do the job of an in-house IT department, but also have the time, opportunity, and personnel to stay up to date on the latest developments.

Do you find your business needing more assistance with your IT? Have you thought about hiring an IT professional or outsourcing those duties? If the answer to these questions is yes, then contact us today to see how we can maximize efficiency while giving you one less headache to worry about. With our decades of experience, you’ll find yourself on the cutting edge in no time!

The Hidden Costs of Hiring an IT Tech

If your business is at the point where you’re thinking about hiring a fulltime IT tech, congratulations! Having enough consistent needs to fill this role means you’ve worked hard and made good decisions that drove business growth. Our best advice? Don’t stop now!

Moving forward with hiring requires a lot of analysis to avoid major consequences down the line, though. One of the biggest decisions whether you’ll hire someone directly or use a third-party MSP (Managed Service Provider). In this article, we’ll get into the specifics of both scenarios.

Why Do You Need an IT Tech at All?

In the past, business people and tech people were two different breeds. Over the years, the gap has gradually shrunk to the point that many people are tech-savvy enough to get by for the little things. As your business has grown, though, you likely have needed to delegate many of your previous duties, like IT — even if you feel perfectly capable of handling them yourself. After all, when do you think was the last time Jeff Bezos packaged a shipment? Your IT needs have also likely grown much more complex.

If you don’t choose to delegate now, you fall into a major pitfall of leaving IT duties unassigned. In our current landscape, leaving an IT post open could be a death wish. Cyber attacks of all types are on the rise, and the amount of damage each one could impose is ballooning. For example, in 2016, the average ransomware attacker demanded $522. In 2020, that average sits around $84,000! Sadly, many of these attacks take place as a result of not having someone the wheel.

In addition, there’s the issue of efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Being lax over time can make your systems out of date, making it harder for everyone to get their work done at a reasonable rate. In addition, only replacing equipment when it’s broken and not when it functionally obsolete can create situations where portions of or your entire workforce will be unable to do any work at all for a time.

An In-House Solution

So, let’s say you’re on board with having one or more people make up your IT team, and you make the decision to hire them directly. One certain benefit is that you can look through a collection of qualified candidates and pick just the right person(s) that you want! But then the other shoe drops.

Just like any other employee, before you hire someone for your IT needs, you have to consider the costs. For instance, the average price of an IT professional is $60,000 per year. Alright, so you budget out $60,000 — then you’re all set, right? Far from it!

Where is this person going to work? Maybe you already have space for them, but these professionals require more expensive hardware and monitor setups. Additionally, you need to factor in the network diagnostic software plus any industry-specific software. Since they’ll generally be on call, they’ll need a phone with a good plan so you can always reach them and possibly a company car (or at least some form of vehicle reimbursement) if you have multiple locations. Don’t forget that expense account!

Besides the specific expenses mentioned above, remember that this person is still an employee, so you have all the other general costs your other employees have associated with them. This can include health/life insurance, vacation time, sick time, 401K plus any bonuses or overtime pay they may rack up.

And what do you do if they leave? The implicit and explicit costs can be truly staggering when you take the time to add it all up.

A Safer Option

In the past, the above option was the only choice most employers had available to them. Based on the high costs (both known and unknown) associated with hiring an IT professional, it’s no surprise that companies have flocked to an alternative option: MSPs.

With an MSP, you have all the benefits of a fulltime employee without the downsides.

They will be consistently available, knowledgable in your network, and focused entirely on IT rather than other day job expectations. Need assistance when it’s time for regular upgrades or maintenance? Want someone to redesign your entire IT setup? Looking for someone to completely take over your IT operations, including telephone, so you can focus 100% on your core business? These are the sorts of services you can get out of an MSP.

Even better, the price you sign in the contract is the price you know you have to pay month after month, unlike the many unknown costs of an employee. There are no HR issues to worry about and the work is on the shoulders of a company, not an individual.

If your company is at the point where you know you need dedicated IT personnel but are unsure about which direction you’d like to go, contact us ASAP. We would be more than happy to go over your needs and discuss the best options.

You Can’t Solve Your IT Staffing Problem with Technology

The biggest problem in many IT departments isn’t technology; it’s people. There just aren’t enough of them. Hiring and retaining quality IT personnel is difficult given the high demand.

There are some technical approaches to this problem that offer some help. Automation eliminates the routine manual work, but it requires someone to write and test the automation scripts, which isn’t always simple. It also means that when the automated processes fail, fixing the issue falls to staff who are now less familiar with the technology because they aren’t working with it every day. Finding the balance between failing to alert and alerting too often isn’t straightforward, either.

Artificial intelligence is starting to be added into data center support tools, but is still novel and the benefit is uncertain. If your environment is different from the environment where the AI was trained, its insights may not be relevant.

Using cloud greatly reduces the amount of support required from in-house IT teams, as the cloud provider’s staff handles a portion of the routine staff. However, data center teams remain responsible for their own applications in Infrastructure and Platform as a Service. Supporting these platforms is often complicated by limited visibility and limited expertise with this new technology.

So the solution to the problem of not enough people isn’t more technology; it’s more people. The best way for business IT teams to get those additional people isn’t by hiring them directly. Instead, businesses should look at IT consulting and managed services as an efficient way to add skilled personnel to their teams.

How Managed Services Can Help

Using managed services eliminates the challenge businesses have in attracting and retaining staff. In addition, managed services brings several other benefits:

  • Expertise. The IT employees of a managed services provider have gained experience working with technology for multiple clients. This gives them a deeper understanding of the benefits and challenges of a technology than someone working on an internal IT team. In addition, because they’ve often seen how technology is applied in multiple industries, they have a broader perspective and new ideas on how technology can provide you benefits.
  • Access to new technology. Introducing new technology is often slow because internal IT teams need to be trained and gain experience in supporting the tech before it can be broadly rolled out through the business. By virtue of working with multiple clients who use a variety of technologies, a managed services provider can assign experienced personnel to any new technology initiative at your business. The learning curve and ramp up time is vastly shortened.
  • Cost savings. Employees of a managed services provider aren’t your employees. That means you save money on the overhead and benefits associated with adding someone new as a member of your team.

If you’re ready to solve your IT staffing problem, contact CCS Technology Group.

Additional Managed Services Resources

Managed IT Services Help Businesses Cope With a Crisis

5 Reasons Managed Services Are Good For Your Business

Whatever Your IT Problem, There’s a Managed Services Solution

Don’t Rely on Your Cloud Provider for Disaster Recovery

It surprises some to hear this, but cloud doesn’t come with disaster recovery built in. Creating and implementing a disaster recovery strategy for your cloud infrastructure is your responsibility.

Disaster Recovery-like Features in the Cloud and Their Shortcomings

There are some capabilities in the cloud that sound like disaster recovery. Cloud has high availability, and if the hardware underlying your instance goes down, your virtual machine will readily and automatically be migrated to a new physical device. That sounds like just what you need for DR, but there are several ways this falls short:

  • If there’s a widespread outage, due to network, power, or other issues, you probably won’t be automatically switched over to a different region that isn’t experiencing that problem. Even if the cloud provider can do this, it may not meet your recovery objectives.
  • The data backed up by the cloud provider and used for your recovery may not meet the recovery objectives for your business and your workloads. Unless you’ve got a backup and recovery agreement with your cloud provider, they may only have a backup of your most recent data. This may not enable recovery in instances like ransomware.
  • If you’re using Software as a Service, you may not have access to a copy of the data to store in a different location for safety. Even with infrastructure or platform as a service, moving data out of the cloud can be difficult and expensive. Remember the 3-2-1 backup rule requires having copies of data in multiple locations! 

Build Your Own Disaster Recovery Solution

The net impact of those shortcomings is that to achieve true disaster recovery capability, you need to plan and implement a solution yourself, even when your infrastructure is in the cloud. To do this, you need to add a few capabilities:

  • Secondary location in another region, cloud, or data center. If there’s a network outage that prevents you from accessing data in your primary cloud, you need another site where you can connection. This can be another region of the same cloud provider, a different cloud provider, or a data center you still maintain and support.
  • A complete backup and archiving strategy. You need to create and store copies of your data that will allow you to load data at a secondary site, recover from ransomware, or load historical data for analytics or compliance purposes.
  • Offsite storage. Keep a copy of your data outside of your cloud to ensure you have access in case of a cloud failure.
  • Unify your cloud recovery strategy with your on-premises recovery strategy. Because most businesses are not cloud-only and have a hybrid IT infrastructure, you’ll simplify your recovery solution if you have one set of tools and one strategy that covers your systems whether they’re running in the cloud or at your own site.

CCS Technology Services develops comprehensive disaster recovery solutions that protect your business wherever your data resides. Contact us to learn how we can help you develop a disaster recovery strategy for your cloud.

Additional Disaster Recovery Resources

5 Disaster Recovery Disasters to Avoid

Craft An Effective Disaster Recovery Plan

5 Changes to Make When You Switch to Disaster Recovery in the Cloud

The Decision Maker’s Playbook for a Low-Stress ERP Implementation

For many business leaders, end users, and company stakeholders, the ERP implementation process is one of the highest-stress periods you might face in an average decade. A process that takes anywhere from three months to more than a year, the process involves a lot of work, a lot of trust, and occasionally a lot of risk.

Following our last blogs on the importance of usability and functionality and the steps to finalizing your selection, we would today like to turn our attention to the home stretch—getting the job done.

The Legwork is Done: Now It’s Time to Implement

As we discussed in each of these blogs, functionality and usability need to be well balanced to allow for a flat learning curve and a future-proof solution, and it pays to be incredibly diligent not only when choosing a vendor, but a partner to get you there. Now, it’s time that all of the legwork you’ve done to pay off.

This should be an exciting time. You’re gearing up for a move to a product that is going to save users time, help them do their job more effectively, and facilitate operations for years to come. We’re not saying it’s going to be a walk in the park, but with the right advice, you can get things up and running within a reasonable time frame.

Approaching an Implementation: Setting Yourself Up for Success

As discussed in the Acumatica whitepaper titled Navigating ERP Selection and Implementation: A 5-Step Process, “An ERP implementation project doesn’t have to be traumatic or overwhelming, but it can be a lot of work. It is very important to bring the project in on time and within budget, so there’s definitely a lot at stake.”

Knowing this, it all starts with a project management framework and a set of tools to keep everyone on task, up to speed, and highly motivated. Added to this, a well-organized and managed implementation team, with adequate budget and a reasonable time frame, backed by strong senior management commitment, and a clear goal and direction will help you get where you want to go.

In turn, the following tips can take you a long way in maneuvering from hypothetical to real—and ensure your team is ready for a stress-free go-live:

  • Do take the time to lay out a complete and thorough plan.
  • Use standard tracking tools like Microsoft Project to manage the effort.
  • Have regular (weekly) project team meetings to monitor progress and address any issues.
  • Keep the project and its progress highly visible to the entire enterprise.
  • Get future users involved early to establish a sense of ownership in the new system.
  • Don’t skimp on training – it’s the best investment you can make in future system success and benefit.
  • Pay attention to change management – to build on the feeling of ownership company-wide and eliminate resistance to the new system.

The Right Partner to Help You Achieve: Get to Know CCS

When companies move from accounting software to ERP, they are making a big decision that will impact the next decade of operations. The right partner can build, configure, and deliver the solution you need now and in the future, and if you’re looking for a local partner with the skills and expertise to make your ERP journey a reality, look no further than CCS Technology.

We were founded on the principle that technology should make it easier to run your business, and have spent our time in this industry ensuring our clients realize this.

We invite you to learn more about your journey from entry level to the cloud by reading Seven Signs You Need ERP Software5 Benefits of ERP for Accounting and Financial Management, and How to Improve Efficiency with a New ERP Solution. Read to learn even more? Contact us for a free consultation.

Don’t Let ERP Projects Turn into a War of Attrition

When you think of “classic war movies,” what comes to mind? Patton? The Great Escape? Saving Private Ryan? World War II made for a much better story than it’s predecessor. This isn’t to discount movies depicting World War I—All Quiet on the Western Front and 1917 were both incredible movies. But they don’t provide the same message as the action and intensity that went into storming the beaches or retaking Paris. Why? In a simple word—motion.

Cinema depicting World War II gave us a clearly defined good versus evil plotline, tales of heroism, a story that could be related to a parent or grandparent, and most importantly, action. World War I showed us how hellish and slow war could be.

It depicted a time between heroic cavalry charges and combined arms. A war known for trench warfare, everything about WWI was based on waiting. Every single charge was risky. But so was standing still. It was demoralizing and not at all glamorous.

So what does this have to do with an ERP deployment? A lot more than you’d think.

The Dangers of ERP Implementation Trench Warfare

ERP deployments have long been considered risky. Long and laborious, the process quite closely resembled trench warfare. People start out with high expectations and morale. Might even make it through a few phases. But then it comes to a grinding halt. A wrench in the system or a hiccup in one of the many phases resulted in deadlines moving back, costs edging up, and a little less motivation. Keep this up over the course of a few months with no end in sight and people start to get impatient.

But much like the time between WWI and WWII, technology has improved. Like the introduction of armored warfare and combined arms sped up battles, smarter deployment methodologies and the cloud have made it easier to tackle a deployment.

Rather than fighting a slow, risky, and inefficient battle that puts the morale of your employees at risk and the success of your project in jeopardy, companies like Acumatica have introduced fast yet thorough ways to get up and running with a powerful solution without the hurry up and wait mentality of the past.

Acumatica FastTrack: Into the Cloud in 90 Days or Less

Whether you’re in the distribution space or looking to get your finances in order, Acumatica has developed a new methodology built to help you get up and running without the slow “trench warfare” implementation process that traditional ERP was known for.

What Is the FastTrack Deployment Model?

By speeding up your ERP deployment timeline, you can experience faster time to productivity (and decreased time to value), higher customer satisfaction, and lower cost of entry. Recently introduced, the Acumatica FastTrack deployment allows you and other midmarket growth businesses to go-live in 90 days or less.

How Does FastTrack Work?

The Acumatica FastTrack Deployment methodology is a phased, in-the-box (ITB) approach using best practices-based templates and configuration checklists. Relying on standardized migration tools and fixed timelines, the process facilitates ERP deployment by simplifying phases.

Traditional ERP deployments begin with the Discovery phase before heading to Analyze, Build, Stabilize, with continuous Planning & Monitor phases. However, FastTrack connects the process, consisting of four well-researched phases: Initiation (Discovery and SOW); Adapt (Analyze, Design, Build, Stabilize); and Deploy (Go Live and Post Go Live). The final phase is Sustain, which involves continuous improvement and customer feedback.

Benefits of Getting on the FastTrack

Designed for midmarket growth businesses, Acumatica’s FastTrack Deployment provides a robust, scalable, and repeatable framework to deliver successful deployments.

Here are just a few benefits of the accelerated implementation program known as Acumatica FastTrack:

  • Lower Cost to Get Up and Running: With a fixed cost deployment, you can have a clear picture of exactly how long implementation will take and better yet, how much it will cost.
  • A Scientific and Phase Based Approach: So much goes into the planning in an ERP project. But by taking a standardized and incremental approach, you can realize faster time to productivity (and faster payback).
  • Increase Your ROI: ROI means a lot more than radio on internet. If you’re looking to minimize the time it takes to start seeing value, you also get to maximize the return on investment. The combination of a fixed price, fixed schedule, and straightforward approach helps you maximize your ROI.

Get to know more about what goes into an Acumatica FastTrack deployment here.

True Security Doesn’t Mean Passing a Compliance Audit

Keeping company IT resources secure is a critical goal. Meeting compliance standards supports that effort, but achieving compliance isn’t the same as achieving security.

Compliance vs. Security

Compliance is about taking the steps necessary to satisfy regulatory scrutiny. Typically, a business will need to meet a compliance standard based on its industry or the nature of the data it collects. The standards provide a checklist of measures that need to be implemented in order to be in compliance.

Security, on the other hand, is about taking steps to reduce the risks faced by business IT resources. This usually requires going beyond the baseline measures needed for compliance. There are a few reasons for this:

  • compliance is not nuanced. Compliance means you’ve done or not done a particular security task. Whether the way the task was completed actually increases security isn’t important. For example, compliance often requires annually training employees with respect to secure computing. There are many ways to meet that requirement, and not all of them effectively educate employees and result in increased security.
  • compliance is not current. Compliance requirements don’t keep pace with the threats. By nature, they require a lengthy review process. In the meantime, technology is changing and bad actors are discovering new ways of doing damage. Meeting last year’s compliance policy doesn’t protect you against today’s threats.
  • compliance emphasizes the wrong risks. The requirements listed in a compliance document don’t always match up to the most important risks the business faces. To ensure the company’s systems are safe requires addressing the actual threats, not just the items emphasized in a compliance standard.

Security Counts

You may need to check off the boxes on a compliance questionnaire, but achieving security means going beyond that minimum. Businesses need to identify the real risks they face and focus their efforts on addressing those, not deciding “job well done” because they’ve passed an audit. You need to develop policies and processes that provide real security, and implement control that match the level of risk on an application-by-application basis.

This requires keeping up with current trends in threats, making sure necessary patches are deployed, giving users meaningful testing, and integrating technology that effectively detects and blocks intruders, even when it’s not required by any compliance standard. Complete security requires addressing risks in your network, on devices, in your applications, in your data, and in your users.

Security is harder than compliance, because it relies on your own understanding evaluate risks and your own assessment of what steps you need to take to protect yourself. CCS Technology can help you develop and implement a security solution that offers true protection. Contact us to learn how to move beyond compliance and effectively protect your critical IT resources.

Additional Security Resources

Discover the Dangers of the Dark Web

Create An Information Security Culture to Protect Your Data

6 Ways to Keep Your Cloud Secure