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

Cloud Migration Requires a New Monitoring Strategy

Most businesses have a multi-cloud, hybrid IT environment. Whether according to a strategic plan, the result of individual department IT decisions, or shadow IT usage by their employees, they are using more than one cloud provider. In addition, they continue to have on-premises IT resources. This complex environment makes monitoring complex, as well. In many cases, businesses should build out a new monitoring solution more capable of monitoring their mix of technologies.

The Challenges of Monitoring Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Environments

The mixed environments businesses are supporting today are difficult to monitor. Every provider has their own tool that provides metrics for that environment only; there are also likely multiple tools monitoring resources within the data center. Yet despite the many tools collecting data, it’s difficult to obtain an overall, consolidated view of status. That lack of insight makes providing support and investigating issues challenging.

Cloud vendor’s monitoring tools may lack data to help the business assess the effectiveness of its cloud migration. Performance metrics may be collected or presented differently than metrics were in the data center, making it impossible to effectively compare performance across environments. The tools may also make it hard to understand utilization, and can lack historical data needed for analytics. Finally, the tools don’t effectively capture the user experience, as the user’s access to a business service may depend on multiple technologies that are deployed in multiple locations.

Another important concern is that simply knowing what needs to be monitored is difficult. The dynamic nature of cloud means services are continually being added and removed. Besides making it easy to overlook an important component, the steady change makes it harder to compare metrics over time, as they’re never looking at exactly the same thing.

Learn more in 5 Cloud Migration Mistakes to Avoid.

Build Monitoring into Your Migration Plan

Because of these challenges, succeeding at cloud can’t rely solely on the cloud provider’s monitoring tool; you also can’t rely on operations staff to monitor multiple dashboards for each cloud environment.

Instead, businesses will need to be proactive and plan for a new approach to monitoring as part of the migration planning. This will typically require evaluating various tools available that pull together data from multiple clouds, or even implementing your own tool to create a consolidated view customized to meet your needs. Making sure the selected or built tool captures the necessary data requires spending time to identify the metrics that matter most to your business. Gathering the data must be automated for the tool to be successful.

Creating an effective monitoring strategy is just one of the challenges of planning a cloud migration. Contact CCS Technology Group to learn how our cloud services help you succeed with your migration and ongoing cloud usage.

Functionality and Usability: A Perfect Pairing for User Adoption

For growing businesses, an ERP decision is a hefty, stressful decision. As a decision maker, you already know you can’t please everyone—especially when looking at a software as broadly used as ERP currently is. From gaining value to recouping costs, there are two factors that need to be well balanced to ensure users adopt and embrace a project.

As we begin to wrap up our series on the realizations you may have when outgrowing entry level accounting software like QuickBooks, we would today like to turn our attention to two critical factors in getting users to embrace a new software—functionality and usability.

One of the many considerations you need to make as you vet and select your ERP vendor and partner, the ability to deliver these two criteria may be one of the most important.

Catch up with our accounting to ERP series by reading our latest postsThe Hassles of Using Desktop Software in a Socially Distanced BusinessNever Let a QuickBooks File Size Hold You Back: Grow with Confidence in the Cloud, and Are QuickBooks Workarounds Putting Your Business at Risk?

Are You Getting the Most of Your Software?

For many businesses, QuickBooks delivered both of these in the early days. One of the easiest to use platforms, this software was built for the early stage, low-user business who just needed the basics. The file size maximum once felt like an unreachable ceiling. The processing power was enough, and it did basic accounting tasks easily. Familiar and functional, there’s no denying that it made life easy for millions of businesses just starting out.

But times have changed. That once-unreachable file size? You passed the limit years ago. Now It either puts you at massive risk of corruption or slows you down. The processing power? It was great for 5 users. The basic accounting tasks? Still does those—just a lot slower. But for many growing businesses, this isn’t enough. It’s still just as easy to use as ever, if you’re willing to put up with slowdowns, happy with disconnected processes, and content with lackluster information.

Why Both Functionality and Usability Matter

Though QuickBooks does provide the usability, you’ve long since outgrown the functionality. This leaves you at a crossroads en route to new ERP, and finding a solution that’s not only easy to use but able to deliver matters.

However, this does present a challenge—finding a usable software. Though nearly every solution available provides a wealth of features, ERP is a complicated beast, and has historically been known for having a steep learning curve. That’s why it pays to find a solution that delivers both a comprehensive product and a flattened learning curve.

The best software in the world won’t do much for you if no one’s using it. The easiest software can’t help you if it doesn’t do anything you need. More often than not, if a product lacks one of these two factors, it’s likely to be ignored—leading to very expensive shelfware.

Nucleus ERP Value Matrix Looks to Guide Leaders to Functional, Usable ERP

Luckily, a recent analyst report from Nucleus sets out to help decision makers focus their software choices by striking a balance between functionality and usability.  Analysts note,

“The race to the cloud has been reignited as fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic caused an abrupt and permanent spike in the demand for the ability to work remotely. Cloud-native solutions stand to gain the most from this paradigm shift, but vendors with large on-premises deployment bases will have the chance to make good on their own transition roadmaps.”

An annual report on who’s who, the Nucleus Research ERP Technology Value Matrix 2020 lists eight Leaders—including Acumatica—and provides detailed profiles of 23 ERP vendors to enhance your research. Here are just a few things they had to say about Acumatica:

  • The Channel Model Delivers Innovation: “No competition among vendor and partner sales teams for similar customers, allowing Acumatica to focus on product development and customer support.”
  • Easy to Understand from the Start, Ready to Deliver What You Need: “Customers note that the solution’s usability is a differentiator during initial evaluation and implementation, but the software can then scale to handle complex and high-volume data processing as well. New users can be onboarded quickly and collaborate efficiently across departments and geographies.”
  • Still Improving, too: “Since the 2019 Value Matrix, Acumatica has maintained a regular product update pattern, with major releases arriving twice per year.” Nucleus notes that everything from Acumatica’s machine learning initiative to its better integration with even more tools will make life easier for users for years to come.

This report is provided to users free of charge by Acumatica, and will also discuss the following:

  • Nucleus Research’s rationale for categorizing 23 ERP vendors as Leaders, Facilitators, Experts, or Core Providers.
  • Why even long and costly cloud migrations may be essential for your company’s survival.
  • Which vendors are making significant product investments to deliver more value.
  • Why customers believe Acumatica delivers value by providing an ideal balance of usability and scalability.
  • The biggest benefits of Acumatica’s 2019 R2 release.

Click here to read the entire report.

The Right Partner Helps You Go Further: Just Call CCS

When companies move from accounting software to ERP, they are making a big decision that will impact the next decade of operations. 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.

Getting Your House in Order as You Move from Recovery to Operations

The recovery is coming. Slowly but surely, businesses are trying to get back to normal and focusing on a strong year-end and a better 2021. But before you do, it may be time for a bit of self-reflection. Things have been great for so long, you may have gotten a bit complacent, milking growth and living as usual. But the shock to the system provided by the recent pandemic and lockdowns may be a sign that it’s time to think of your next steps.

Following our last article on some of the technological challenges you may run into during the process of phasing in employees and restarting your business, we would today like to explore some of the ways to clear a path for takeoff.

From managing your current financials to planning for a variety of scenarios over the next 3-6 months to exploring ways you can modify your operations to focus on business transformation, smart decisions early on can go a long way in establishing resiliency at your business. Today, we discuss some of the steps you can take to fortify your business against present and future threats.

Take a Deep Look at Your Business

Hard times create or reward strong business models. It’s a lot harder to see gaps in your business when things are going well. With GDP growth more than 4 percent in the past few years, growth just came naturally. But the past few months presented economic adversity for the first time in a while.

Lessons Learned from Two Decades Back

Think back to the dot-com bubble, a time when internet companies could essentially launch a website, prove growth, and have investors beating on their doors. Especially during the ramp-up, no one really looked at how these companies spent their money. But when reality hit, it hit hard.

But take a look at some of the notable companies at the heart of the bubble, many of these companies had good ideas. While there were a lot of questionable ones, there were also a lot of players before the crash that delivered services you don’t think twice about using today. You could just as easily be watching your favorite gamer streaming on, posting hot takes to theGlobe, holding virtual meetings on Radvision, or connecting with suppliers on Traxex, VerticalNet, or PFSweb.

Part of this boom was built on impressions. Rather than focusing efforts on delivering for customers, improving (or even building) the product, or investing in talent, these companies put more effort into hosting lavish parties to announce the launch.

The crash hit and within months, tech companies either ended up folding, getting acquired for pennies on the dollar, or going under the radar for a while to focus on value. It resulted in the move to agile in the space, and set up a lot of case studies for the last decade of tech companies to learn from.

The Same Goes Today

Even if you’re not in the tech space, the lessons from the dot-com bubble still hold true. Smart, future-proof strategies and good business models are timeless. Being able to understand your business, deliver results, and focus on what improves both is critical.

Forging into a Recovery Starts with a Better Understanding

The challenges presented during the lockdowns have probably put stress on your company. Money may be tight, and it may feel like you’re starting all over again. So where do you begin?

Assess Your Business Model

One of the first steps as you push towards a new business model is to look at how everything about your business works together, determining if you need to make any changes in processes. Start with the key performance indicators that define success and tailor your business around improving specific models.

Not sure where to begin? Check out these guides including Key Performance Indicators for Manufacturing and Key Performance Indicators for Distribution. From here, take steps to establish change management metrics. Is a customer segment looking more lucrative in the next few years? Now is the time to make the pivot to serve them.

Ensure the Financials Are Ready for Anything

One of the hardest parts of the recovery process? No one knows the degree or speed of the bounce back. Business owners sound optimistic, but you can’t assume that. Begin by planning around a few recovery models in the second half of the year, running analyses that include acceleration, slowdowns, and consistent revenue flows.

Depending on how things look at your business, this is also the time to look at funding options. Maybe this includes renegotiating credit agreements, seeking new funding or credit, or finding grants.

Take a Look at Your Revenue Model

Paired with the aforementioned business model analysis, you may also want to look at the way your goods and services are sold and offered. Is there a way to make the money go further? Would a change in pricing model help you spur your recovery? These and other approaches need to be aligned with your business goals and put you in a position to achieve them.

Consider a Technological Update

Whether it’s measuring KPIs, planning and analysis built on a variety of scenarios, or understanding what’s working at your business, the right technology can go a long way in taking you there. Not only does it deliver more powerful analysis, it’s also a switch that might be easier now. People have already spent the last few months changing the way they work around the business, so why not offer a change that will help them do more?

Learn More: Five Companies Who Kept Their Business Running Smoothly

Despite the move from lockdown to reality looking less like flipping the switch and more like accelerating, resilient businesses who turned to the cloud either before or during the lockdown have been reaping the rewards. A recent Acumatica blog discussed how some of the companies who did embrace the cloud made it work.

Ready to learn more about empowering your employees no matter where they stand? Read How 5 Acumatica Customers Keep Business Running Smoothly from Anywhere, download the free IDC report discussing how the cloud enables business resiliency, and contact us for more information.

Gaining Momentum before the Recovery: Preparing for a Safe Return to Work

The last few months have been, for lack of a better term, a wild ride. This isn’t to discount the challenges that you, your family, your employees, and your business have faced, but when you look at things like the stock market, retail spending, and confidence reports, there is optimism for the post-lockdown world. But you didn’t get this far in your career through blind faith in macroeconomic trends or surveys. You know that success is built on pragmatism, planning, and performance.

Your Journey Back to Business as “Usual”

Understandably, the same goes for your business’s recovery plan. There are many steps you’ll need to take to combine planning with action, optimism with caution, and the safety of your workers with the sustainability of your business.

Rather than thinking about the speed with which you get back to full capacity, you need to think about the steps involved and explore how to efficiently take such steps. Can you afford to take the step today or will you have to wait another month? Can you readjust your office to fit ten more people, or will that put them at risk? Should you go so far as to change your business model, pricing strategy, or vendor relationships? All valuable questions you need to ask.

That said, there’s not exactly a lot of time to ask them. Lockdowns could have lasted for months longer than they did, which would have put you in a different position than you are today. But with even slow-to-recover states jumping on board with the recovery, it’s safe to assume that you can start opening your doors to a few more employees, customers, and dollars.

So, as phases go from two to three or three to four, how can you build up your momentum while keeping a wary eye on your business to avoid any backsliding? Today, we explore a few tips for making that a reality.

Technical Challenges That May Emerge During Phased Reentry

The last thing anyone needs right now is a second lockdown. With articles coming out predicting that to be the case, your number one priority should be to avoid letting your workplace become ground zero for a new outbreak. From cleaning to distancing, you will need to take steps to prevent this.

This starts with the adoption of new practices focused on a combination of cleaning (removes dirt and germs), disinfecting (kills the germs), and sanitizing (lowers the number of germs). Develop a regimen that involves each. Learn more about some of the practices from the CDC.

Whether it’s a change in work schedule, a new floor plan, or temporary closure of common areas, communicate with your staff how their lives will change. No more water cooler (literally or figuratively), no more coffeepot, and maybe even a reimagined break process.

Technical Challenge: Hybrid Work-From-Home and a Single Source of Truth

The most likely scenario will be a phased recovery plan that allows for some employees to work from the office and others to work from home. In turn, for those companies using desktop software or who relied on limited access to software over the last few months may face challenges when half the office is back at the office. This may result in delayed decisions or slower processing—as those at the office have the instantaneous processing and those still at home might be minutes (or more) behind.

Technical Challenge: Easier to Call in Sick—But What About the Hardware?

When the first symptom is a dry cough, it’s better to be cautious. Luckily, we’ve gotten accustomed to working from home, so for most businesses, it’s okay to be overly cautious and allow sick days. Ensure you’ve communicated explicitly about how employees should report to human resources if they become sick or start experiencing any symptoms.

Unfortunately, for those legacy companies who had to buy new laptops or take hardware home to access on-premises software, this makes for a challenging time. Employees probably had to bring back the devices they used—and now those whose cough might have simply been the result of cold are left out of the loop. Luckily, for those companies in the cloud, it’s simply log in and go.

Learn More: Five Companies Who Kept Their Business Running Smoothly

Despite the move from lockdown to reality looking less like flipping the switch and more like accelerating, resilient businesses who turned to the cloud either before or during the lockdown have been reaping the rewards. A recent Acumatica blog discussed how some of the companies who did embrace the cloud made it work.

For example, C&O Nursery improved customer relationships without missing a beat.

“Before, if we were out in the field and a grower said, ‘By the way, do we have XYZ variety?’, we would call into the office. Now that we’re cloud based, we can actually log in, look at our inventory, and answer that person within about three minutes with an accurate answer,” says CEO and President Todd Snyder in the company’s customer success story.

Ready to learn more about empowering your employees no matter where they stand? Read How 5 Acumatica Customers Keep Business Running Smoothly from Anywhere, download the free IDC report discussing how the cloud enables business resiliency, and contact us for more information.

Additional Acumatica Resources

What is the Total Economic Impact of Your ERP?

ERP Evaluation Checklist: 5 Important Things to Consider

Why Every IT Executive Needs Cloud ERP Software

Summer Storms Shouldn’t Take Down Your Servers

Summer means power outages. That can mean a data center outage; but it shouldn’t. All businesses should have appropriate disaster recovery plans to keep them functioning through power outages and other incidents that take down systems.

A disaster recovery plan includes the steps needed to bring information systems back online, but it isn’t just a copy of the daily runbook. The plan needs to document:

  • Inventory of systems affected. Both hardware and software resources should be identified.
  • Risk assessment and prioritization. Some systems can have downtime without major impact on the business; others serve critical business functions and need minimal downtime. Analysis should rate each system’s level of risk and its importance to the business.
  • Recovery objectives. “As soon as possible” is not specific enough guidance for the IT team. In order to appropriately design a recovery procedure, the business should define a recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) for each application. These numbers tell the IT team how long an application can be down and how much data the business can afford to lose. With those numbers in mind, the technology team can implement high availability and backup solutions appropriate to the business needs. Without those numbers, IT has no choice but to overspend and provide high availability to all applications or underspend and fail to provide applications the support they need.
  • Recovery procedures. Because teams shouldn’t need to scramble to figure out what to do in the middle of a crisis, the plan should include specific details of the recovery process. It’s particularly vital to include dependencies to ensure systems are brought up in the appropriate sequence. Also critical is documenting the process to check out the restored servers and verify that they’re up and operational with the correct data.
  • Recovery personnel. Include a list of key contacts and their backups. Also document responsibilities, including who has the all-important authority to invoke the recovery plan.
  • Fallback process. Recovery may include bringing systems up at another location; eventually, they need to be restored to the normal production servers. In many ways, this process is the same as the recovery process, just to a different set of machines, but any special considerations should be noted.
  • Impacts on business processes. It’s possible that some recovery procedures will change the way the business needs to perform certain operations. For instance, you may opt not to have secondary servers for a low-priority process and to switch to a manual process in case of failure.

Once the recovery plan is developed, it needs to be tested to ensure that it works. It’s surprising how easy it is to leave important systems and important steps out of the plan! Only testing can provide the reassurance that the plan will be effective. Tests can be as simple as a tabletop read-through, but full-scale disaster simulations that execute the documented processes are the most robust way to test a disaster recovery plan.

Finally, the plan needs to be kept up to date to reflect changes in IT resources and business processes. It’s a good idea to update the plan as part of your change management process whenever a new system or device is deployed in production. Annual reviews, coordinated with an annual test, are also effective.

For more guidance on developing an effective disaster recovery strategy, contact CCS Technology Group.

Additional Disaster Recovery Resources

5 Disaster Recovery Disasters to Avoid

Make Sure Your Disaster Recovery Plan Isn’t Just Words on Paper

Craft An Effective Disaster Recovery Plan