Tech Blog Archives - TBS

7 Top tips to achieve success in IT Project Management

Just as is the case in other industries, project management in IT is crucial in ensuring the project is concluded on time and within budget. To achieve success in your IT project, you should pay attention to the following:

1. Project Planning

IT personnel tend to jump straight into the implementation phase of the project without paying attention to the project planning phase. Project planning is important since it allows you to define the overview, objectives, scope, risks and assumptions, approach, organization, cost, and time duration of the project at hand. Once all these areas are covered, implementing the project is easier and has specific deliverables to be met.

2. Create a Project Workplan

A project work plan outlines what needs to be done, by who, when and by what time. If you have a work plan from a similar project done in the past, you can use that as a template for preparing one for the current project. A detailed work plan does not only outline the items mentioned, but also allocates the resources to be used for each task.

3. Project Management Procedures

These should be detailed upfront and those responsible for overseeing implementation of the project identified. IT project management procedures cover scope change, communication procedures, management of issues, risk and quality management, among others. At this stage, all stakeholders should know how they are playing into the project and what is expected of them to make the project a success. Clients should be identified of project management procedures at this stage so that they know what to expect. IT helpdesk support services come in handy in getting issues to be handled by the correct team or individual.

4. Monitoring and Evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation looks at the project as a whole. It ensures the project is on schedule and sticks to budget. If there are any changes or issues faced, they can be dealt with as they arise. If monitoring and evaluation is not done, it is impossible to track the progress of the project. Ideally, the workplan should be reviewed on a daily basis and updated accordingly. You should also ensure unnecessary spending is stopped so that there will be enough resources to last the duration of the project.

5. Guarding against Scope Creep

Scope creep occurs when small scope changes occur over the course of the project but scope management procedures are not called into action. Consequently, these small changes major new functions and deliverables are added to project timelines, impacting negatively on the whole project. As a project manager, you have to guard against scope creep at all costs.

6. Building Effective Teams

For your project to be successful, effective team building is necessary. Building effective teams for implementation of projects not only looks into the technical expertise of the team, but also into team and performance culture, a shared vision, and shared team processes. The whole team should be aligned to the vision of the project and work towards seeing its completion. One critical component of coming up with effective teams is having IT helpdesk support services.

7. Mastering Technology and Content

In IT, knowledge and expertise is critical in delivering a high quality program or product. The technical aspect of the project should be clear to every team member. They should be aware of quality assurance procedures, and be knowledgeable in the use of IT architecture and infrastructure for implementation of the project. Without this mastery and perfect synchronization of the skills and knowledge brought on board by the team, you may have a talented team but still fail in project delivery.

Conclusion

IT project management, is a must especially for large projects, to be completed on time and within budget. Consequently, all the aspects discussed above are critical in successful implementation of IT projects.

4 Essentials of an IT Helpdesk

An IT help desk provides a critical service for your organization that helps to insure the smooth operation of the company in total. A well-functioning IT help desk has several common components to them that are needed to operate in a smooth and concise manner. Here are four of the essential things associated with an IT help desk so that it can effectively provide IT helpdesk support services.

1. An Automated Ticket and Tracking System

Individual employees are constantly requesting assistance from an IT department for their computer problems and long-term projects. A ticketing system in which an individual identifies – the issue that they are facing, the immediacy of this request, and who issued the request. For users, a ticket will show the current status of the IT work so that a user can know when their problem will be addressed and to avoid the miscommunication that can result due to interactions. A method for tracking IT requests is best handled through an online ticketing system that details open requests so that the requester and the IT staff can better keep track of the request status.

2. Spare Parts and Components to Avoid Work Delays

The role of an IT department is to keep a company’s employees working without interruption. One way to avoid downtime and delays is to have spare components around the office such as extra keyboards, mouse, usb storage drives, and monitors. By keeping an excess of these cheap parts, as well as some older laptops that have the company’s programs uploaded on them, you can increase the efficiency of your staff and help avoid downtime due to broken computer components.

3. Personnel Trained in Hardware and Software

Organizations will commonly have problems with both hardware and software and being able to quickly diagnose, and address either problem is important. Make sure IT staff operating your helpdesk are familiar with basic computer hardware, as well as the various computer software programs that your business operates in all of its divisions so they can service diverse departments from finance, Human Resource, and software development. For more complex systems consider having contractors online who they can reach out to in order to communicate with, for major problems in the software programs.

4. Method for Upgrading Software Programs for Security Purposes

Security is a key for all IT systems, but particularly for companies that deal with data from customers. Finding ways to help users protect their data and to prevent intrusion by hackers is essential. A good IT helpdesk will design a method for not only protecting user’s machines with a good firewall, but also in providing upgrades to software programs that allow the software to be secured from intrusion.

IT help desk have to face many challenges that are associated with operating a critical business function for the organization. But paying attention to the above mentioned four essential points can help you improve their functioning.

To know more, get in touch with us!

7 Things You Should Consider When Transitioning To Cloud

Transitioning to the cloud is a critical business decision and necessitates a large investment. There are many benefits including automated backups every hour, fully virtualized servers, disaster recovery, and secure hosting. There are seven main considerations before making the switch.

1. The Privacy of Data

There are companies who sell client information to brokers and partners to make money and some companies keep the information confidential. Make certain you know how your data will be handled by your provider and read their privacy policy to protect any sensitive data.

2. The Terms of Service

The terms of service of any vendor must be agreed on before system implementation and this can affect your asset management software. These terms must be read and the parameters understood. An account can be terminated for failure to adhere to the terms. The notification policies and data ownership are the most critical factors. The terms should include an affirmation that the company has their data. Also, it should be clear that you have the right to get back all the data that has been stored on their system. Be careful when a company says they can update any terms without notice.

3. Acceptable Use Policy

This confirms which employees can use the provider’s solution. All behaviors classified as prohibited by the vendor such as spamming and hacking are included. Penalties include termination and fees. This can change without notification so make certain the policy is understood before accepting the vendor.

4. Data Security

Data is stored at an off-site location and another company is responsible for the operations. Research and references are important to establish trust with the vendor. Logical and physical security are critical for data protection and may include armed guards, encryption, and a secure facility for data backup. Make certain the provider has adequate security.

5. Long Term Reliability

An uptime guarantee and an agreement for the service-level should be included in the contract. The golden standard is 99.999 percent regarding uptime or under one minute of unexpected downtime in a month. This standard reflects the commitment of the provider. A protocol with a financial penalty for excess downtime or low standards of performance is ideal. Penalty exclusions may be a negative warning sign.

6. Solutions for Disaster Recovery

Despite cloud services using a data center disaster recovery services, are not standard with all providers and a separate purchase is often required. A written copy of a provider’s recovery process should be attained and read. A clear outline of their time objective for recovery and the amount of data subject to loss should also be included.

7. The Transparency of The Termination Clause

The termination clause must be read thoroughly and carefully. A transparent termination clause protects the business in the event the contract is ended prematurely. Some providers have a buyout clause which makes terminating a contract early very expensive. The most important aspect of any provider is the fine print within the contract. Understanding exactly what is being agreed upon is critical for the IT structure of the business and a successful transition to the cloud.

If you are looking for an expert cloud service provider, get in touch with us today!

Multi-Cloud World – What is it and What does it Mean For IT

The term Multi-Cloud World refers to an environment reliant on multiple clouds including Azure, Microsoft, OpenStack, and AWS. This is effective when you are running workloads that require networking resources and a large pool of storage on a private cloud. When the importance of the Multi-Cloud World increases, you must quickly scale up or down on a public cloud. Although every workload is running on your ideal cloud, you now have the capability to manage multiple clouds.

Benefits Of Multi-Cloud World

Multi-Clouds are significant in the IT world because they provide many benefits. They provide the agility necessary to provide capacity on-demand, shared computer processing, drive new streams of revenue, allow businesses to use real-time to keep pace with the market and their customers, deliver services with efficiency, and provide rapid innovations.

Additionally, Multi-Clouds fuel the growth of multiple cloud platforms using a solution for a single provider, mitigate risks, match the workload with the correct platform, and allow vendors to leverage their pricing to save on costs. This will result in making IT helpdesk support services easier.

The meaning of Multi-Cloud World for IT

First and foremost, IT groups will have to continue delivering core business systems with reliability and stability using the traditional data center environment. Organizations are beginning to use the multi-cloud environments to obtain the benefits but there are still hesitations due to new pressures and realities that are frequently being added.

The world of IT has seen permanent changes in the Cloud world and a response is required to be successful in the future. The multi-cloud environment has added speed to traditional IT. Users expect cloud-based services to provide unlimited scalability and immediate availability. And in today’s technical world, there are numerous choices for service providers. IT must be able to provide digital innovation at a fast-enough rate or the users will go directly to the public clouds for service. This can damage the IT organization due to a lack of governance and visibility.

The new cloud platforms also present new security risks. The protection of company data on multiple public and private clouds has become critical. The average breach of data is $4 million and can devastate the performance of a business. New tools must be used to maintain security. Companies begin using the cloud and expect significant savings but do not consider the differences between service models regarding pricing. Unrestrained service is often more cost effective than paying for just what you use. The cost can spike when services are unused or underutilized. End-to-end visibility of public and on-site cloud infrastructure is required for optimal performance, utilization, and resource availability. This leads to better decisions and controlling costs.

IT is now responsible for combinations of public cloud platforms that are always shifting and have different capabilities. This adds a new level of complexity because instead of dealing with fixed resources in an IT data center, public cloud platforms have been combined and are constantly shifting.

Every platform has different performance levels, processes, costs, and capabilities. Migration to the cloud can easily slow down or increase the exposure risks of a business due to gaps in governance and execution. This can lengthen the ratio between value and time regarding innovation. Contact us to know more about Multi-Cloud world and how it can benefit your business.

3 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Managing Multiple Projects

Managing multiple projects can be a nightmare, but when you plan ahead, everything will flow more smoothly. You should particularly avoid the following common mistakes most of the managers make when working on multiple software development projects. Although these blunders are not exclusive to people in the IT industry, they can be very damaging to them.

1. Not using asset management software

Many companies stack up information from multiple projects in several databases and spreadsheets, which is both inconveniencing and costly. Using a management software will help your company streamline operations by aggregating all of your records. This will allow you to monitor all assets on a centralized system. Additionally, it will allow you to organize inventory, making it easier to track all projects to make sure you are on pace and to detect any potential issues. Should you a problem arise, using a management software, , you can adjust goals, strategies and resources to achieve your necessary outcome.

Asset management software will also enable you to update project data regularly. If you make important changes in task or project deadline, the software will automatically update it. This will provide all employees working on the project with accurate information on their tasks and progress of the project.

2. Avoiding face-to-face meetings

Many managers do not engage in face to face meetings enough when running multiple projects. While it is acceptable to receive reports on email or phone, it is important to physically meet your team members. A meeting is the perfect forum to interact with team leaders and receive project updates.

At the beginning of every project, it is best to establish a foundation for meetings, including who the expected attendees should be and who will be responsible for ensuring that the meeting actually takes place. However, be mindful that there aren’t too many people in the meeting. Too many attendees can slow things down especially when everyone wants to participate in the discussions or ask questions.

3. Putting important tasks on the back burner

Often times, IT department staff work on lower priority projects while critical assignments are put on the back burner. If you are working on multiple projects, it is critical to prioritize your tasks. While some departments might view their projects as high-priority, the business owner might not because that specific project may l not generate any income. It is important to consider projects that align with the mission of the organization and work on them first. To ensure everyone is on the same page, brief all team members on all the tasks they will be working on and explain which ones are most important. You should also let them know when any changes occur.

It is also important to allow the team members to finish one project before they embark on another.. If you ask them to work on projects concurrently, their output may be worse and the tasks may take longer to complete. This also applies to writing emails or making phone calls while they work. If employees are doing too much outside of the project at hand, none of it will be done effectively and efficiently. . Additionally, working on multiple projects at once could leave employees confused and they could end up mixing projects, which leads to back to less productivity.

Conclusion

Managing multiple projects is challenging, both technically and financially. To manage the projects and your team properly, use tools that make your work easier and facilitate communication between team members. If you need more info, contact us!

Windows 10 App

By now, most Windows 7 and 8 users would have noticed a new Windows icon that has popped up on the system tray. Clicking on the icon leads to a dialogue box that tells you about Windows 10 and lets you know if you are eligible for a free upgrade. The release date for Windows 10 is July 29 and most of us are eagerly awaiting it. After all, many believe that it will remove most of the bugs found in the earlier versions. Windows is also banking on this OS to bring in more customers and hence is promoting it very aggressively. So most current windows users will be getting it as a free upgrade and that’s the main reason for this icon that pops up on your computer. Continue reading “Windows 10 App”

Data Security! Is your firm safe?

The world we live in today can obviously be a scary one on many levels. One topic we discuss with our customers on a regular basis is data security. That term can mean so many things and effect you and your company in countless area’s of technology.

To discuss this topic and to give it justice I would need to right a five hundred page book, since I am not a professional writer I will highlight the key area’s you need to focus on.

#1 POLICY – Your firm should have a data acceptable use policy. This would include who can see, touch and have access to your data. This should cover office workers as well as the mobile workforce that will also include mobile devices that have access to sensitive company data. All company employees should read, sign and recognize this policy and follow the directives set by the corporate officers.

#2 SECURITY – The data that is stored on company servers should have security access controls in place that protects data from being accessed by outside hackers. This usually means having firewalls, up to date security patches and software and to regularly test the security of your devices in place that protects your network.

#3 PASSWORDS – This topic is usually the one that causes the most internal discussions and blow back from employees. This however is the most important topic of them all. You need to have complex passwords that are changed every 90 days and stick to it. Most data breaches from outside sources are due to weak passwords.

#4 MOBILE USES – Mobile users should have a secure method on how to access data along with having the laptops they use encrypted with a program like bit locker or secure doc. Either way end users should not be allowed to run around with data on their laptops without encryption.

#5 MOBILE DEVICES – All mobile devices should have policies that allow the IT department to manage the phone remotely and wipe all data if the device is stolen or is in the hands of a terminated employee.

Obviously these are all standard practices that should be followed however this is just the tip of the iceberg but a good place to start.

Technology Business Solutions

Has technology changed us?

I was watching a movie a day or so ago. It was an old movie from around the time before I was born. In those days technology was not what it was like today. Yes, I am sure you are all thinking in your heads “No kidding”

I also remember watching movies that were from around the dawn of cinemavision. From the time when television was not even invented. The telephone either for that matter. Those times were about as technology free as I would ever want to experience.

However one thing always seemed constant. That is how the people in those movies acted. The problems they experienced and the general way they lived. As it is now the only way we can have any idea of the way people lived in those times is via the movies that were made during those times.

Sure the stories may be fanciful and not a direct representation of real life however, there are indicators of the life those people lived woven into the very fabric of the movie. Such things as how they communicated with each other, how they managed to travel and a very telling basic interaction between the different sexes and races.

Watching those movies brought me to wondering how those people would have lived, I mean really lived in those times. I came to the conclusion that they would not have lived a lot differently from how we live now, in the present. Well at least the present at the time I am writing this posting

We all still have the same troubles, the same attitudes and the same types of social interactions. We have the same way of communication with each other even though the medium and speed of communication has changed.

In fact the only thing I think has really changed in us as a human race within this huge technological revolution is the speed at which we live our lives. Nothing else, that really matters, appears to have changed at all. In other words, technology has not significantly changed the human race at all.

Most important Business tool?

A decade ago the telephone was the most important business communication tool. Today however email communications is vital to most companies and having extended downtime can cause massive loss of potential business.

This is why we recommend implementing email continuity plans that will greatly diminish the possibility of any downtime. We utilize continuity services from global relay. GR focuses on email continuity which provides live real time email continuation if your main email host goes offline or encounters an extended outage. Receive and send emails as normal without interruption which allows you to continue working as normal while the hosting company fixes the issue. In fact you may not even realize that the backup system is activated, this is how seamless the continuity service looks and feels.

For more information on email continuity please contact our helpdesk and we would be happy to assist you.

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