Category: Productivity

Laptop, Mouse, Stethoscope, Notebook, Keyboard

What Are the Best Ways to Give an Older PC New Life?

Purchasing a new computer is a big investment. Many small businesses and home PC owners end up struggling with older systems because they want to get as many years out of them as possible.

Have you found yourself banging on your keyboard in frustration? Have you tried every tip and trick you found online, only to still struggle with a slow PC? 

There are some promising upgrades you can do that will cost much less than the price of a new computer, while making your PC feel like new again. 

Here are some of the options you can try to improve the performance of an older computer.

Upgrade to a Solid-State Drive (SSD)

Prices for solid-state drives have come down quite a bit in the past few years, making them an affordable upgrade that can breathe life back into an older PC that might be slowing down.

Unlike hard disk drives (HDDs), SSDs do not have any moving parts and use a flash memory that allows for a quicker response time. You can improve your time to boot and your experience when searching files, opening applications, and other activities. 

Some of the advantages of upgrading your computer’s hard drive to SSD include:

  • SSD read/write speeds up to 2500 MB/second compared to HDD at up to 200 MB/second
  • SSD access time of 0.1ms as compared to HDD at 5.5-8.0ms
  • SSDs use between 2-5 watts of energy compared to HDD at 6-15 watts

Increase the RAM (Memory)

One upgrade that is very low-cost and can mean a significant increase in performance is a memory upgrade. If your PC was one of the cheaper ones that only had 4GB of RAM when you bought it, you likely have trouble opening too many tabs in your browser or using any graphics-heavy program.

Upgrading your RAM, if your PC has available memory slots, to 8GB or 12GB can make it seem like you have an entirely new computer due to the big increase in speed.

Upgrade the Graphics Card

If you play computer games or work in any type of video, imaging, or 3D software, an outdated graphics card can ruin your experience. 

Instead of replacing your entire computer, just upgrading the graphics card to a more robust model can improve your PC’s performance and give you several more useful years from it.

Replace Your PC Cooling System

Heat is an enemy of your computer’s internal parts. If your cooling system is getting worn out and not working the way it should be, then excess heat can be building up inside your device.

When this happens things can get strange, with programs crashing or your system rebooting on its own.

If you suspect excess heat may be an issue, have your computer’s fan and cooling system checked out to see if it needs replacing.

Connect an External Monitor to a Laptop

If you’re working on a laptop and having a hard time multi-tasking due to limited screen real estate, consider getting an external monitor rather than replacing your entire PC.

Monitors are just a fraction of the cost of computers, and having a screen twice the size of the one on your laptop can make all the difference in the world and improve productivity due to the additional screen space.

Replace Your Keyboard

Older keywords can stick, lose keys, and have the writing rubbed off the keys, making it more difficult to tell a “prt screen” from a “delete” button. If the performance of your PC is hampered by a frustrating keyboard, an upgrade can be a very inexpensive way to improve your equipment.

Get an External Hard Drive

Computers can slow down and be more difficult to use when the hard drive fills up with data. Over the years, files build up, and many users never take the time to go through and delete those that are unnecessary.

Buying an external hard drive can allow you to offload files that may be slowing you down, while still keeping them easily accessible.

Another benefit of an external hard drive is that it’s portable and can easily be carried between home and work and used in both places.

Get a Professional Computer Tune-Up

Those free PC cleaner tools you find online aren’t going to give you the type of tune-up that a professional IT provider can give. We will go through things like the Windows Registry, duplicate system files, internal errors, and more to clean up your system and remove all the “junk” that has built up over the years.

We can also do a maintenance check for things like failing parts, and provide expert guidance on your most impactful upgrade options. 

Get Help Improving Your Computer’s Performance Today!

Don’t struggle with an older PC! We can help you with cost-effective upgrade options that will fit your system and budget perfectly.


Featured Image Credit

This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

person using black laptop computer

These Google Search Tips Will Save You Tons of Time!

Over 2.4 million searches happen every minute on Google. It’s often the first stop people make when they go online.

We search daily for both personal and work needs, and often searching out the right information can take a lot of time if you have to sift through several irrelevant results.

One study by consulting firm, McKinsey, found that employees spend an average of 1.8 hours daily, or 9.3 hours each week, searching and gathering information. This can be a productivity sinkhole as more web results keep getting added to the internet every day.

One way you can save time on your personal and work-related searches is to learn some “secret” Google search tips. These help you narrow down your search results and improve productivity by helping you find the information you need faster.

Search a Specific Website Using “site:”

Sometimes you need to find information on a specific website. For example, you might need to locate a government statistic that you know is out there but can’t seem to bring up on a general search.

You can use Google to search keywords on a specific website by using the “site” function.

In the search bar use the following:  site:(site url) (keyword)

This will bring up search results only for that one specific URL.

Find Flight Information Without Leaving Google

When you need to access flight information, you’re often on the go. Either getting ready to head to the airport or waiting for someone to arrive. Having to load multiple site pages in your browser can take valuable time. Instead, get your flight results directly from Google.

Just type in the flight number and the name of the airlines, and you’ll get a listing of flight information without having to click to another page. You can even tab to choose flight info for that same flight on different days.

Look for Document Types Using “filetype:”

If you’ve just been tasked with coming up with a presentation on sustainable energy, it can be helpful to see what other people have done on the same subject.

Searching websites can give you a lot of details to sift through but searching for another PowerPoint presentation can provide you with even more insight into how others have distilled that information down into a presentation.

Google has a search function that allows you to search on a file type, so instead of webpages showing up in your results, files of the file type you searched will appear.

To use this function, type in the following: filetype:(type) (keyword)

In the case of wanting to find a PowerPoint on sustainable energy, you could use the following in the search bar: filetype:ppt sustainable energy.

All the results will be PPT presentations.

You can also use this function for other file types, such as:

  • DOC
  • PDF
  • XLS or XLSX
  • SVG
  • and more

Narrow Down Timeframe Using the “Tools” Link

One frustration is when you’re looking up something like a population or cybersecurity statistic and you end up with results that are too old to be relevant. You can spend valuable time paging through the search results, or you can tell Google what time frame you’d like to search.

To narrow your search results by a specific timeframe, do the following:

  • Enter your keyword and click to search.
  • Under the search bar, click the “Tools” link.
  • Click the “Any time” link.
  • Choose your timeframe.

You can choose from preset timeframes, like past hour or past year, or you can set a custom date range for your results.

Locate Similar Sites Using “related:”

When you’re researching a topic online, it’s often helpful to find similar websites to the one you are viewing. Seeing related sites can also be used if you’re trying to find a specific product or service online and want to do some comparison shopping.

Google can provide you with a list of related websites when you use the “related” function.

In your search bar, type the following: related:https://website.com

One more way that you can leverage this search tip is to look for competitors by entering your own website URL in the search.

Get Rid of Results You Don’t Want Using “-(keyword)”

Non-relevant results are one of the main timewasters of online searching. You have to page through results that have nothing to do with what you really want to find, just because they use a related keyword.

For example, say you were searching the Ruby Slipper Cafe in New Orleans. But in your search results, you keep getting pages related to the movie the Wizard of Oz. You could eliminate those irrelevant results by using the negative keyword function.

Just type: (keyword) -(keyword)

Basically, you are just putting a minus sign in front of a keyword that you want to exclude from your search. In the example above, you would type: ruby slippers -oz.

Looking for More Ways to Boost Productivity & Save Time?

IT consultants aren’t just for large projects, we can also help you boost productivity in your everyday workflow to make your life easier.


Featured Image Credit

This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Is Updating From Windows 10 to 11 Worth It? Here Are the New Features in the OS (And Some Missing Ones)

Getting used to Windows 11 shouldn’t be too challenging. On the contrary, the OS comes with several intuitive features to enhance productivity.

Microsoft recently introduced Windows 11 as the company’s latest operating system. And compared to Windows 10, this OS has various features that can increase your productivity and provide a better user experience.

As soon as you start using Windows 11, you’ll see a marked improvement over its predecessors.

For example, it has refined several household features, such as video conferencing and video management. You also get enhanced note-taking, data input, and a user-friendly interface that should help you complete your duties more efficiently.

Many other features can help boost your productivity, and this article will talk about them in detail. We’ll also look at some features Microsoft didn’t include in the new version.

WINDOWS 11 – WHAT’S NEW?

FEATURE #1. NEW TASKBAR

Previous Windows versions feature an iconic taskbar, but it can sometimes get clunky. Windows 11 deals with the cruft and provides a streamlined solution.

The new taskbar is perfect for expediting work, as it can contain a list of recent cloud and local files. You can also pin various apps to improve access and utilize a search bar that allows for convenient web browsing.

Another highlight of the taskbar is clean lines and widgets that display essential information (e.g., weather, photos, and news).

This should be a tremendous upgrade from the busy display of Windows 10.

FEATURE #2. WINDOWS GROUPING AND SNAPPING

The enhanced Snap Group and Snap Layout features allow you to resize and manage windows more easily. You also get to keep essential apps grouped to maintain high productivity.

Using the feature is relatively straightforward: Just hover the mouse over the maximize button on the desired app to reveal your layout options. You can choose between several arrangements, such as four-app grids and side-by-side layouts.

And if your team needs to perform basic window management, they can still grab and pull windows to the edge of their screen.

This feature improves desktop organization, which is especially useful for people working with two or more monitors. They can reduce clutter rapidly, enabling them to focus on their tasks.

FEATURE #3. IMPROVED ACCESSIBILITY OPTIONS

Windows 11 follows in the footsteps of many smartphones to simplify setting changes and make them easily accessible. Pulling up your control panel now only requires one tap or click in the taskbar coroner, replicating Apple’s Control Centre.

Furthermore, Windows 11 apps feature aesthetic, curved corners, and your Settings incorporate more options you can tweak. For instance, blind or vision impaired users can take advantage of cutting-edge audio cues. There are also desktop themes to help reduce eye strain, which is essential if you work long hours.

On top of that, the new operating system has revamped voice typing. You can activate this with a simple keyboard shortcut. This feature supports most major languages, including English, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, and Portuguese.

Windows 11’s better accessibility means your team will no longer have to keep relying on your IT service provider to set things up for them.

FEATURE #4. BETTER APP STORE

Many apps can enhance workplace productivity, but you’ll first need to find them on your PC’s app store. Fortunately, Windows 11 came up with an organized and coherent platform to make the search easier. 

Besides universal apps, you can check out the applications compatible with your devices. The platform can also handle programs from third-party stores and manage app installation on the internet. 

FEATURE #5. SMOOTH NOTETAKING

If you’re using a touchscreen device, taking notes in Windows 11 should now be highly satisfying. This feature offers haptic feedback to generate physical sensations when drawing lines on the screen or checking boxes with your pen. 

Moreover, the Ink Workspace allows you to add preferred apps instead of using the standard snipping tool and Whiteboard. It gives you easy access to creativity tools the moment you pull out your pen.

WHICH FEATURES WERE LEFT BEHIND? 

Overall, Windows 11 should work great for your business. But bear in mind that Microsoft left out some features that were a staple in previous versions:

EXCLUDED FEATURE #1. TASKBAR CUSTOMISATION

Windows 10 users can move their taskbar from the horizontal position to the left, right, or upper part of their screen. In contrast, the Windows 11 taskbar is fixed at the bottom of the display, and you can’t customize the dimensions. 

The taskbar customization feature would have been helpful because it would let you use space more efficiently. 

Another significant change is that you can no longer move the Time and Date on your taskbar. Windows 10 didn’t have this problem since you could toggle off the Clock feature in your Settings. 

The default taskbar layout might be fine, but some users prefer higher customizability than what Windows 11 offers.

EXCLUDED FEATURE #2. DRAG-AND-DROP FEATURES

Windows 10 and some earlier versions allowed you to drag several items to change their position. For example, you could drag a Word document onto your Word icon on the taskbar to open it. 

This function is disabled in Windows 11. There’s no way to drag and drop or save any program or file onto your taskbar.

EXCLUDED FEATURE #3. CORTANA 

Cortana is a voice assistant counterpart of Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant. Many people are used to it and may be disappointed to hear that it’s not a part of the Windows 11 system setup. You can’t even locate it in your start menu. 

The good news is that the Cortana application can still be found – it’s just hidden away. And you can enable it by visiting Settings and navigating to Apps & Features.

A WISE INVESTMENT

While Windows 11 isn’t perfect since it removed many valuable features, it’s still an excellent platform to help increase your productivity.

 Whether you need to organize your desktop more conveniently or take enjoyable notes, the OS won’t let you down. Plus, you get a revamped taskbar and powerful Voice Typing compatible with most major languages. 

Overall, Windows 11 can be a terrific asset for your business.

If you want to find out more about incorporating this new OS to boost productivity in your organization, contact us today. We can have a 10-15-minute chat to help you address key productivity issues in your company with the help of Windows 11.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Enhance Your Server Management with These 8 Tips

You may have state-of-the-art servers, but their efficiency can diminish over time. Managing them is key to optimizing your business operations.

Numerous organizations rely on servers for various IT functions, such as applications, emails, hosting websites, and data storage. 

Although many companies have turned to cloud-based services using remote data centers, many enterprises still depend on in-house servers. As such, they need to ensure their devices remain in tip-top condition

That’s where server management comes into play. 

Managing your servers can streamline the performance of your team by allowing them to complete complex tasks faster. Plus, it can enable them to detect problems early on before they get out of hand and compromise your business. As a result, the risk of experiencing operational setbacks is drastically lower. 

But the only way to make the most of your server management is to perform it correctly. And to help you do so, this article will share nine tips on improving your server management. 

THE 8 TIPS

TIP #1 – MOUNT THE SERVERS PROPERLY

Small businesses often need to prioritize immediate concerns over long-term plans because they need to work on tight budgets. This is particularly evident in terms of server management. 

When you first set up your servers, it might be tempting to connect them near your workstations. However, this can harm your hardware. 

Mounting your servers in racks is a much better solution. It can shield them from accidents in high-traffic areas, tripping hazards, spills, and dirt. 

Furthermore, server racks can help keep the hardware safe by organizing it in an accessible area that facilitates management and cleaning. They also limit the exposure to regular wear and tear in the office. 

Another critical consideration is to plan for the future when installing your servers. 

When selecting a rack mount, be sure there’s enough room to expand your hardware. Unless your office is tiny, having half-empty racks is preferred to tearing them down and redesigning them a few years down the line.

TIP #2 – SEPARATE YOUR SERVERS FROM YOUR MAIN AREA

Depending on the type of servers, they can get quite noisy when in operation. On top of that, they can comprise valuable hardware. So, you’ll want to separate them physically from the working premises. 

If you can’t afford a designated server room, invest in secure rack mounts with integrated sound reduction. 

TIP #3 – TAKE CARE OF YOUR HARDWARE

Hardware maintenance plays a pivotal role in server management. Without dependable hardware, your productivity can plunge. 

To avoid this scenario, you need to monitor the essential components of your server: 

  • CPU (Central Processing Unit) – Your CPU is the core of your servers, performing all calculations for running programs. You need to constantly monitor it to prevent overuse. If it operates near 100% of its power, your team members can’t carry out additional tasks due to slowdowns. It may require chip upgrades or performance tuning to alleviate the stress. 
  • RAM (Random Access Memory) – This is the working memory of your server, as it runs faster than hard disks. The more RAM you have, the higher the performance of your device. Closely monitor its usage and add more memory when it gets close to its full capacity. 
  • Hard drive – The hard drive is the permanent storage of your servers. It saves your data and programs, but its performance can diminish with overuse. Proper hard disk management entails keeping track of the available space, deleting unnecessary files, installing new drives, or including cloud-based solutions.

TIP #4 – EMPLOY FREQUENT COOLING

You expect your servers to perform fast, but the only way to ensure this is to provide optimal conditions. That said, you should primarily focus on cooling the servers. Excess heat can dramatically decrease their lifespan. 

The best practice here is to make sure your cooling device operates outside your building. 

Additionally, if you experience a power outage or central air doesn’t work at night, you need a cooling solution that can run on backup power.

TIP #5 – MANAGE AND MAINTAIN YOUR SOFTWARE

Software used for your server requires regular maintenance, too. The key is to perform regular updates and delete old software to enhance performance. Your servers will operate better, and there will be fewer vulnerabilities cybercriminals can exploit to access your network.

TIP #6 – ARRANGE THE WIRING NEATLY

The amount of wiring in your server setup can be overwhelming, especially if you have no technical experience. Sorting out the mess doesn’t only improve cleanliness, but it can also help boost the performance of your server viability for future upgrades. 

Keep in mind that whenever you’re removing, rearranging, or installing your cables, label and group them neatly. Doing so helps prevent clutter.  

TIP #7 – PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION TO SECURITY

As previously mentioned, servers can be susceptible to cyberattacks. That’s why it’s crucial to maintain a secure system. Here’s what you should do: 

  • Install and update antivirus software. 
  • Repel unauthorized traffic with firewalls. 
  • Use robust access control software or sound password policies and instruct your users to change them regularly. 
  • Encrypt external networks and data storage. 
  • Incorporate SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) tools. 
  • Analyze and implement security logging measures to understand potential threats. 

TIP #8 – BACK UP YOUR DATA

The final part of robust server management is backing up your data regularly. After all, loss of information can be disastrous, harming your reputation and losing your customers. 

Besides backing up server software and hardware, you should also have a backup for your power supply to prevent data losses during power outages. Moreover, you can integrate with various tools to expedite backups, recoveries, and status monitoring. 

Look for software that covers both your IT architecture and operating system. It needs to work across systems and applications you currently have or plan on installing. Additionally, it should diagnose server issues efficiently with powerful analytic capabilities. 

SERVER MANAGEMENT AT ITS FINEST

Managing effective server operation involves several key considerations, from monitoring system temperature to updates and data backups. Even though this can be an arduous process, it’s integral to optimizing your server performance and eliminating security concerns. 

If you need help in optimum server management in your business, we’d love to help you out. Contact us and let’s have a quick, no-obligation chat about it.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Finding the Right IT Provider: Avoid These 8 Mistakes

Your business can benefit a lot from working with an IT provider. However, you need to avoid several key mistakes when choosing your team.

Time spent on trying to figure out the technology you use in your business can be costly. While doing that, you can’t focus on your business needs, which can then result in poor customer satisfaction. 

This is where IT providers come into play. 

They enable you to outsource hardware and computing-related services, such as managed IT security and cloud computing. IT providers can also provide a robust IT infrastructure so that you can direct your attention to revenue-generating activities. 

While there are numerous IT providers to choose from, not all of them may accommodate your business’s specific needs. And integrating with the wrong team can raise your spending due to irrelevant services, recurring security issues, data backup problems, and downtime. 

Therefore, you need to be extra careful when selecting your team. The only way to avoid disappointment is to avoid these eight common mistakes when looking for the right IT provider.

THE EIGHT MISTAKES

MISTAKE #1 – INSISTING ON THE NEWEST TECHNOLOGY

Many advertisers want to trick you into believing that the latest technology will resolve all your issues. While the newest virtualization or cloud offerings can boost operations in many enterprises, they might not suit your business. 

Hence, don’t let the hype surrounding new products dazzle you. 

Carefully consider the results your IT provider will help you achieve and determine if the investment enables you to fulfill them. Your provider shouldn’t confuse you with state-of-the-art features – they should guide you and allow for seamless integration. 

<H3>MISTAKE #2 – FAILURE TO CONSIDER THE RESPONSE TIMES</H3>

Determining the response times of your prospective IT providers is essential. You need to ask them how long they usually take to reply to queries and resolve problems. Be sure to gauge their onsite support efficiency, too. 

Not inquiring about their availability is another grave error. Your IT team should provide round-the-clock services, including specialists that will monitor your system. 

Constant monitoring and availability can help ensure you can detect IT issues early. With this, the provider can immediately administer patches and updates to safeguard against disasters. 

Furthermore, your IT provider should offer simple access to their desk support. You should be able to contact them via email, phone, and chat for instant guidance. 

MISTAKE #3 – NEGLECTING THE SECURITY ASPECT

Disregarding the security features of your IT provider might be the most severe mistake. Teams with improper defense mechanisms can’t shield your system from cyber attackers, increasing the risk of losing data and access to resources. 

To avoid this, look for IT providers that can protect you from malware and other threats. They also need to prioritize protecting your business’s confidential data, like trade secrets and customer information. 

When it comes to specific security measures, your IT provider should have features that prevent data intrusions instantly upon detection. The list includes phishing attacks simulations, web content filtering, DNS security, endpoint protection, mobile device management, and dark web protection. 

In addition, responsible teams should eliminate point-of-sale and network intrusions before they compromise your system. Making sure they abide by security compliance and government regulations is also paramount.

MISTAKE #4 – FORGETTING THE BUDGET

Many IT companies operate under pay-as-you-go pricing schemes. Although this helps you minimize upfront investment, adopting a large number of technologies simultaneously without considering the recurring costs can cripple your finances. 

Thus, think twice before signing on the dotted line. 

Research your providers thoroughly and draft your budget with professional assistance. These steps can prevent considerable frustration down the line. 

MISTAKE #5 – NOT DETERMINING SCALABILITY

One of the biggest impediments to growing your company is choosing an IT provider with poor scalability. 

By contrast, scalable IT teams allow your business to evolve and grow. They can continually extend their services to accommodate your company’s goals, even if these goals change.

MISTAKE #6 – OPTING FOR A NON-RESPONSIVE SERVICE LEVEL AGREEMENT

Service level agreements (SLAs) hold IT providers accountable for their services. It establishes standards for responsibilities, quality, scope, and delivery time in writing. Without it, you’ll have no way of ensuring transparent collaboration. 

When selecting your IT provider, find one with a responsive agreement. It can help guarantee the SLA scales with their services while rendering continual improvement.   

MISTAKE #7 – LACK OF TEAM TRAINING AND FEEDBACK

The story doesn’t end once you’ve found and partnered with a trustworthy IT provider. New technologies won’t magically increase your bottom line and decrease outputs. 

To accomplish your goal, your employees will still need to understand how to use your new tech solutions. But bear in mind that not every team member may be able to grasp new tools easily. Some may even prefer the existing platforms.

Fortunately, you can hire IT experts to train them. These professionals should simplify any complex steps and advise your staff on making the most of your new investment. 

Also, some enterprises set up regular training but fail to monitor their team’s performance. This is a huge mistake, as it keeps you from assessing your employee’s response to new technologies. 

So, conduct questionnaires and other forms of feedback collection to determine and address any weaknesses.

MISTAKE #8 – IGNORING EXPERIENCES WITH PREVIOUS CLIENTS

Choosing an IT provider is similar to buying standard products and services. Failure to check user reviews can lead to disappointment. 

To get a clear picture of your IT team’s capabilities, analyze their current and previous clients from similar industries. Look for reviews, testimonials, and ask the provider for a list of projects and references. 

After doing your due diligence, you should be able to tell whether an IT provider is an ideal match for your company. 

However, keep in mind that every IT team is different. For instance, they might be well-versed in the healthcare industry but have no experience working with retailers. That’s why as mentioned, stick to IT providers servicing your industry to get the best results.

FIND THE RIGHT FIT

Nobody wants to end up with a poor IT provider that can’t deliver great results, leaves your company open to cyberattacks, and causes other vulnerabilities. Your investment goes down the drain, and your operations suffer. 

Luckily, we can show you a way out. 

Let’s arrange a quick, 10-15-minute obligation-free chat. We can discuss more ways on how to find the right IT provider for you and ensure you get your money’s worth.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Why Having a Continuity Plan Is a Sign of Great Leadership (And How to Create a Foolproof Plan)

Your business faces all sorts of threats that can disrupt your operations. A comprehensive continuity plan can help address them.

Carrying on with business as usual is easy when nothing out of the ordinary is happening. But the fact is, crises can strike anytime. And when it happens, you need to be ready to pivot your operations quickly, safely, and efficiently. 

That’s where a well-thought-out business continuity plan comes into play. 

It prepares you for the worst, such as market nosedives and governments shutting down entire countries. And in these cases, your plan allows you to embrace remote work, enabling you to keep functioning and servicing your clients. It also lets you support your team at home and make them feel comfortable through various predicaments. 

These are just some of the key benefits that a business continuity plan can bring to your business. And this article will delve deeper into its significance and explain how to create one for your company. 

WHY YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS A CONTINUITY PLAN

A business continuity plan details a process that your company should take to neutralize and recover from different threats. It can also help protect your business’s assets and personnel during disasters, allowing them to function uninterruptedly. 

Business continuity plans are usually developed as part of a company’s overall risk management. This means you should consider creating this plan ahead of time, not in the middle of a crisis. 

The most significant benefit of creating a business continuity plan is that it provides a clear picture of how to proceed should those threats happen. It also tells you how those circumstances can impact your operations and how to implement procedures to mitigate them. Furthermore, it helps you check if the systems work and are up to date. 

Another tremendous advantage of having a continuity plan is its ability to ensure secure and continued access to your systems. It dictates how your team and IT service provider can reach critical platforms, the available bandwidth, and whether you need to boost their network capacity. 

The overall effect can be a reduced risk of losing your business and team members. 

It can safeguard against financial loss, lost productivity, and a damaged reputation. On top of that, it helps protect your employees from injuries or death in case of threats. 

But what specific threats can you address with a continuity plan? 

Here’s a quick list:

THREAT #1. PANDEMICS

Pandemics can affect your business plans in numerous ways. 

For example, they can force your employees to work from home, increasing demand for some services, and reducing demand for others. Moreover, they can prevent you from distributing your offerings due to supply chain problems. 

A business continuity plan can help you overcome these bumpy periods. 

It formulates how your team will communicate throughout the period and perform business off-site. And it can also provide several options in terms of service distribution.

THREAT #2. NATURAL DISASTERS

Natural disasters are extreme geographic phenomena, including tornados, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, wildfires, and earthquakes. They’re tricky because they’re hard to predict and can leave disastrous consequences within seconds.

Like global pandemics, they can disrupt the supply chain in affected areas, which is why you need a business continuity plan.

THREAT #3. UTILITY OUTAGES

Water shutoffs and loss of communication lines or power can hinder your daily operations. It’s especially true if such outages are predicted to last long.

Without a continuity plan, the risk of asset damage and productivity loss is drastically higher.

THREAT #4. CYBERSECURITY

Cyberattacks are computer-based attacks on your technical assets. The most common examples include data theft, ransomware, distributed denial of service, and SQL injections. 

In the best-case scenario, your infrastructure will function less efficiently until you resolve the issue. But in the worst-case scenario, you could lose access to all business data.

CREATE THE BEST CONTINUITY PLAN FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Developing a foolproof continuity plan requires a systematic approach. Here’s what your strategy should involve:

#1. IDENTIFYING GOALS 

Business continuity doesn’t just comprise your IT systems. It encompasses all essential business functions, like public relations, human resources, and operations.

Since your company is unique, you’ll need to create a plan according to your specific goals.

So, determine the most important processes and figure out how to back them up with recovery strategies.

#2. SETTING UP AN EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS GROUP

Choose several cross-functional managers and anyone else who can contribute to the plan, such as your IT service provider.

Determine the emergency response leader and make it clear they’re in charge of moving things forward when disaster strikes. 

#3. BUSINESS IMPACT ANALYSIS AND RISK ASSESSMENT 

Identify, research, and analyze your potential threats thoroughly. Discuss them with your team and see what would happen if you had to reduce, eliminate, or modify certain services.

 Make sure to document all issues along the way.

#4. FOCUSING ON CUSTOMER SERVICE

Your clients need empathy and transparency during crises. And the only way to meet their expectations in such trying times is to ensure your customer support team understands your continuity plan. 

If necessary, hire more people to answer client inquiries.

#5. ADDRESSING BUSINESS FUNCTION 

Your plan should incorporate critical business functions. These include business risk, impact on customers and employees, emergency policy creating, community partners or external organizations, and financial resources during disasters. 

This is vital to ensure business operations are functioning asap.

#6. STAFF TRAINING AND PLAN UPDATES 

Present your continuity plan to stakeholders and promote a proactive approach through trial runs to verify the plan works. This way, you can pinpoint any weaknesses or missing aspects. Then, based on your findings and feedback, train your staff to make the implementation smoother.

Following this tactic doesn’t leave much room for error. 

Besides helping you maintain business operations and the supply chain, it also builds customer confidence. If your response to emergencies is effective, your customers will appreciate it. This allows you to preserve your brand, prevail over your competition, and mitigate financial loss. 

DON’T LET CRISES CRIPPLE YOUR BUSINESS

Disasters can be the ultimate test of your leadership abilities. 

That’s why instead of leaving your company to chance, create an in-depth business continuity plan before emergencies arise. Make sure everyone is on the same page, and you’ll be able to come out stronger after any predicament. 

If you need more insights into developing a continuity plan, get in touch with us today. Let’s set up a 10-15-minute chat to determine your goals and how to achieve them. 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Enhancing Office Productivity With Google Chrome: The 12 Best Extensions To Improve Your Workflow

Working from your computer or smartphone is convenient, but it can also be distracting. To maintain productivity, you should install effective Google Chrome Extensions. 

Google Chrome is arguably the most popular browser on the planet. It’s best known for allowing faster loading of websites, optimized performance, and an intuitive interface. As a result, it can help your team complete their daily duties much faster. 

However, it raises the same concern as other browsers – ample room for distractions. 

Your team members can easily switch to YouTube videos or social media, lowering their productivity. And it can often get out of hand, preventing your staff from meeting deadlines and reducing customer satisfaction. 

That said, you can help your employees get back on track and maintain productivity. All you need to do is incorporate practical extensions into your browser. 

This article will list the 12 best Google Chrome extensions that can help increase office productivity in your business.

THE 12 EXTENSIONS

EXTENSION #1 – BLOCKSITE

BlockSite can enable your team to stay focused by blocking harmful or distracting websites. This extension is perfect for team members who tend to drift away due to all the online activities that seek their attention. 

Some of the web pages you can block access to with BlockSite include social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But if you don’t wish to block them completely, you can limit access to them during breaks. 

EXTENSION #2 – ADBLOCK

AdBlock is one of the most widely used extensions for Google Chrome. More than 10 million users rely on it to remove most ads by preventing them from showing up on their screens. 

It can also help your team avoid malware-ridden ads, improving their experience in turn by increasing browsing speed. 

EXTENSION #3 – LASTPASS

Remembering your passwords can be extremely challenging. Thankfully, LastPass can provide an efficient solution. 

LastPass is an effective alternative to your browser’s built-in password manager, generating new passphrases whenever you log into a web page. 

In addition, the extension can synchronize passwords across various devices, providing easy access to accounts, credit cards, and form filling. 

EXTENSION #4 – EVERNOTE WEB CLIPPER

Although Chrome has a convenient bookmark feature, Evernote might be even more powerful. You can use Evernote Web Clipper to save your internet content for later viewing.

This extension enables you to easily save your web content and transfer it to your account. With just a few clicks, you can obtain images from any website, create summary links, save a distraction-free version of web pages, and make annotations. 

EXTENSION #5 – POCKET

Another effective way to track your online content is through Pocket. This extension can also let you save articles, web pages, and videos for later use. 

Whenever you come across interesting content, hit your Pocket extension and you’ll automatically save it on all your devices. You’ll then be able to access it whenever you want, even if you’re offline.

EXTENSION #6 – MOMENTUM

Momentum isn’t a standard extension. Rather, it’s a custom-made page to replace your default landing page. 

It has a robust, personalized dashboard with a beautiful scenic background, inspirational quotes, weather reports, widgets to favorite sites, and to-do lists. Therefore, it doesn’t just help enhance productivity – it can also motivate your team members to keep grinding. 

EXTENSION #7 – GOOGLE KEEP

Google Keep is a powerful extension that can allow your team to organize their data neatly. Its primary purpose is to help users create to-do lists and take notes. It also works great for saving pages, images and adding notes to them. Plus, it can make voice memos to simplify notetaking. 

To further improve note organization, users can market them with colors and labels. This way, there’s no time wasted when looking for crucial notes. 

EXTENSION #8 – CLOCKIFY TIME TRACKER

Monitoring workplace performance is critical, and Clockify Time Tracker is the ideal extension for this. 

As the name suggests, it tracks time spent on specific activities. Your staff can later use the results to analyze their productivity levels and determine their weaknesses. 

The extension lets users schedule break intervals, operate in pre-set work periods, detect idle time, set reminders, and integrate with more than 50 business apps. 

EXTENSION #9 – STAYFOCUSED

If you want your team to stay away from distracting websites but don’t want to remove them altogether, StayFocused may be the answer. 

This extension can help your employees avoid distractions by limiting the time they can spend on them. 

What’s more, StayFocusd comes with a handy Nuclear Option. It sets the time during which your team can’t access certain websites. Once you activate this option, there’s no way to deactivate it until the time expires. 

EXTENSION #10 – NOISLI

The main purpose of Noisli is to enhance your team’s productivity. It allows you to select the sound combination your staff finds most inspiring. This can include falling rain, storms, wood noises, wind, crickets, fire crackling, and coffee shop chatter. 

Noisli can be particularly useful if your team works in open offices where background noises often cause distractions.

EXTENSION #11 – HYPERCONTEXT

Hypercontext is an extension that can help teams maintain high performance by combining engagement measures, quarterly priorities, and weekly meetings. 

The platform enables you to create collaborative, one-on-one meetings, access conversations starters, and elicit feedback from each team member. You also get a feature that can help limit social media distractions and encourage your staff to prepare for their meeting.

EXTENSION #12 – TODOIST

Todoist is a straightforward yet helpful task manager. It can help users monitor their projects and tasks by delegating or organizing them from your browser. 

This extension is a terrific option for tracking multiple deadlines. After all, it can set due dates and help you prioritize specific tasks accordingly. 

TAKE YOUR PRODUCTIVITY TO NEW HEIGHTS WITH GOOGLE CHROME

Streamlining office productivity isn’t just about providing your team with cutting-edge computers and advanced software. It also has to do with installing appropriate extensions on your web browser. 

We’ve given you many options for Google Chrome with this article. It’s now up to you to decide which ones work best for your company. Remember that by incorporating them into your business, your workforce should become more efficient. 

Give us a call if you want to find out other tips to help boost employee productivity. We can have a non-salesy chat about it.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Cosaint Technologies ©2022