Gordon Moore said it in 1965 and it still holds true – technology increases at an exponential rate. If you’re trying to keep your business up with technology, it may be a good idea to take it slowly. Cards Technology CEO Sam Card shares some best practices when you’re considering adopting new software for your business.
Q: What advice do you have for business owners who want to adopt new technology?
Sam Card: Stay away from the latest and greatest applications. They’re usually fraught with problems – bugs, compatibility issues – and they’re expensive to fix. They have unknown, unexpected behaviors. Wait until they’ve been tested for a while.
Also, be sure to involve your IT support early in the process. It can be very problematic to make an executive decision about technology without talking to your IT team. When IT is involved from the start, they can make sure the new applications are compatible with your systems before you make a substantial investment of time and money.
Take your time. Not rushing will make implementation a whole lot smoother.
Q: How does a business owner encourage staff to use new technology, especially those staff members who are hesitant to adopt?
Sam Card: To get staff on board, whether they’re not tech savvy or don’t want to change, takes support from the top. They have to see their manager, or upper management using the new technology. Upper management has to use the new software themselves to show the value. When implementing new technology, make a plan to ensure the correct priorities are set and everyone is aware of what the change is and why it’s taking place. Share the business reasons for the new technology and how the new tool will be of value to the organization as a whole.
It’s a good practice to implement new software with a pilot program. Have a small number of people start with it and try it out for about a month. This way, any issues can be worked out before the entire company switches over. The pilot participants can help the others when the software is rolled out to everyone. Also, the software vendor and your IT support partner can troubleshoot any problems on a small scale during the pilot program.
Some people fear change of any kind, so if you can make them comfortable with change, transitions are much smoother. Assure your staff that even if they were the go-to person for the software being phased out, they are still valuable. It takes time to trust new software. Even if your old software had to be updated every month and it always went sideways causing downtime, its behavior is still “comfortable” to users. Once the new software behaves as expected repetitively over time, people will trust it.
If you consider technology a necessary evil instead of a tool that can propel your business forward, this information from Cards Technology founder and CEO Sam Card will give you the information you need to break through growth barriers.
Q: What are some of the ways technology helps small- and medium-sized businesses grow?
Sam Card: At some point, every business hits a ceiling with the number of customers they can serve, the revenue they can earn or the number of employees they can bring on board. Technology can help businesses burst through that ceiling.
You can increase productivity with cloud technology like Office 365 and by automating certain functions within your business. Also, new software can provide you with specific metrics and other information so you can make better-informed decisions.
Q. Can technology give businesses a competitive advantage?
Sam Card: Yes! Different software has different capabilities businesses can leverage to increase their competitiveness. Also, making sure your technology is supported by a responsive IT team provides a consistent level of uptime, so you definitely have an advantage over competitors who might experience frequent downtime because of poorly maintained technology. Many companies with properly designed and maintained IT systems can easily achieve true 99.9% uptime.
Sam Card: We frequently sit down with our clients to listen to them describe their business plan and goals are for the next couple of years. We also want to hear what they plan to accomplish in the short-term – 90 and 30 days - so that we can prioritize based on their needs and make technology recommendations to help them achieve their business goals.
Q. What advice do you have for business owners who aren’t sure how to incorporate technology into their business processes?
Sam Card: Our proven process is to start with your business goals and identify what you want to do. Then, it’s time to gather information so you can make the best decisions – technology is never going to solve all your problems but you want to make sure it isn’t going to create more. Talk to a good IT consultant; get opinions from people you know and trust. Go to an industry tradeshow and talk with the vendors, sit through their sales presentations.
The more information you have, the better your chances are of getting the right technology solutions for your business’s unique needs.
Finding and hiring technology employees for your IT department can be difficult here in Delmarva especially if you’re really not sure exactly what your IT requirements are. Sam Card, CEO at Cards Technology, offers his insight into hiring technology staff members.
Q: What are some common challenges businesses face when looking to hire in-house IT professionals in Delmarva?
Sam Card: The most common challenges I see are that IT job roles aren’t defined by technical skills because many business managers really don’t understand their IT needs. As long as the computers are working, they’re happy. Unfortunately, this lack of knowledge about the role often means there aren’t clear-cut performance metrics, a training path or a career plan for the IT professional. So, a good IT candidate would rather have a growth-oriented job where they can advance in their career.
On top of that, the unemployment rate for IT professionals was only 1.9 percent in 2018, so there aren’t many candidates available.
Q. What advice do you have for Delmarva businesses seeking to hire technology employees?
Sam Card: Don’t hire ad hoc IT staff members just to solve an immediate need. Lay out a plan that will not only keep your computers running but also will align IT with your business goals. This may mean hiring an IT leader with financial, operations and general business skills in addition to technology expertise. If you have a good idea of what expertise and functions you actually need in IT, then you won’t hire someone who is under- or overqualified. Over hiring can be as much of a problem as not hiring someone with enough experience.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s important to outline the specific technical skills wanted as well as spelling out what the opportunity has to offer to the job candidate. Include specific requirements like, will you depend on them to write IT strategy or will someone else do that? Will this person be responsible for cost management or are they simply there to keep the email running? These are all decisions you have to make when hiring an IT professional. The more you know about your IT infrastructure and its functions, the better equipped you are to define job roles for your technology staff.
And, of course, best business practices call for you to provide well-documented training for job-specific responsibilities as well as operational processes. If employees are only learning socially on the job, their chances for success are much lower.
Whether your co-workers are down the hall, across the country or on the sand at Bethany Beach, Microsoft Office 365 has the capabilities to bring them together for meetings, training and work sessions. Geographic boundaries and varying time zones slip away as team members converse, collaborate and convene to move businesses forward with an environment laced with ease, flexibility and security.
Two Office 365 applications stand out when it comes to increasing group collaboration – SharePoint and Teams. In this article, we share tips on how to use SharePoint and Teams for collaboration. To learn more, contact us about our Microsoft Office Customer Immersion Experiences.
Best known for its online file storage capabilities, SharePoint allows users to access files from wherever they are via an internet browser. You are able to share files inside and outside your organization, co-authoring with colleagues or partners. Co-authoring allows multiple people to work on a Word document, Excel spreadsheet or PowerPoint presentation at the same time.
To begin co-authoring in Word, one person sends the other an email which has a link that opens the document in your web browser.
Select Edit Document > Edit in BrowserWhen one of your teammates or partners is also working on the document, you can see their presence as well as the edits they are making.
Whereas SharePoint has collaboration space on team sites created for each project a group is working on, Teams provides a single area for a group to communication and organization information. Within this single Teams area, you can set up Tabs so group members can easily navigate to the resources they use throughout the day – and it’s all in one place.
Communicating in the workplace isn’t always simple. It can be hard to know who to ask what or the status of a report or presentation. With Microsoft Office
365 SharePoint and Teams, your work groups will be sailing along with effective collaboration and co-authoring. For a personal, hands-on experience
where you can explore Office 365 apps at your own pace, focus on the tools and solutions you want, and work with Cards Technology experts in person,
contact us at 410-208-3933 or online.
Previously, we discussed best practices in adopting new software for your business. Here, CEO Sam Card answers questions about how to make sure your staff can effectively use your new software so you realize the benefits of it sooner, rather than later.
Q: Why is it important to train staff on new technology?
Sam Card: Formal training sets employees up to be more successful in their jobs. Just like when they onboard, they watch some videos, they shadow someone – they know exactly what they’re supposed to do. It’s the same with new software. The more they know about it, the more successful they will be.
Most businesses have software that is specific to their line of work along with general computer programs like Office or Windows. It’s a bear to try to teach every staff member every program. So, it’s a good idea to identify which job roles need to know which software programs.
Line-of-business software vendors should have training materials available, so they will handle training your staff. For general computer software, the first thing you need to do is make sure to hire people who are comfortable with computer use.
Training pays off because employees will get the most value out the tools at their disposal.
Q. What are the consequences of not training your staff in new technology?
Sam Card: Without training, employees may use the new software but could be using it improperly and then the app doesn’t work properly. These missteps could mean that they can give up on the new and go back to doing things the way they did before. If staff aren’t using your computer applications, you might have internal communications problems or processes that aren’t being followed so that leads to inefficient operations.
It’s really important for your company’s leadership to not only use the new software themselves to set a good example, but also to make sure everyone knows why the new app has been chosen. Share the business reasons with your staff and they will be more open to the change.
Q. What types of training does Cards offer their clients?
Sam Card: At Cards Technology, we provide technical training when clients migrate to Office 365 and on new operating systems like Windows 10 and getting the most out of new features as they are released. We host Microsoft Customer Immersion Experiences where people can take a deep dive into Office 365 in a live, hands-on seminar. We show them how to use the different programs and give overviews of the capabilities each app has. We also have an online cybersecurity awareness course available for staff members and I deliver executive presentations about responsible and strategic IT management for business owners.
Technology is entwined within almost every business function in practically every industry and organization today. It’s imperative to consider the implications of business decisions – from changing your copier brand to firing an employee – on your IT systems. Cards Technology CEO Sam Card discusses common business transitions that impact IT.
Q: What are common changes businesses often fail to realize will impact their IT systems?
Sam Card: Two common business systems that impact your IT network are copiers and phones. Both rely upon your network to function properly but often businesses will switch their copiers out or change to a different phone system without contacting their IT provider. Your provider collaborates with vendors who have products connected to your network to ensure everything is operating correctly so they need to be in the know.
Moving your office, acquiring another business or installing new software are other areas you need to make your IT provider aware of, so you don’t experience excessive downtime during implementation and can capitalize on the benefits of the new product or facilities. It’s important to have your IT provider check out new physical spaces before you purchase or sign a lease to make sure there’s adequate internet and phone service infrastructure to support your technology functions.
Q: There shouldn’t be a problem if some of my staff start working remotely, right?
Sam Card: There are a couple of different options that allow employees to work securely from home. Setting up a VPN connection behind your corporate firewall or if you have a remote desktop gateway with SSL encryption in place, your information will be protected. But you need to inform your IT provider if you have remote employees so that they can be provided access. It’s important that security practices and policies are set up to manage the safety of your business’s data. With Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), you can set up “conditional access,” so the system will block connections from computers or users not meeting compliance requirements.
Q: I had to fire someone on my team, and they didn’t take it very well. What can my IT provider do to make sure that our company remains secure?
Sam Card: It’s important to notify your IT provider right away as they are responsible for creating user accounts and establishing the level of access each employee has to your network. Microsoft EMS offers security rules for mobile device management that can give you control over your employee’s phone to wipe company apps and data if they leave the organization. Whether you’re hiring or terminating employees, let your IT provider know so your network is protected and the billing on “per user” services and applications can be adjusted accordingly.
Sometimes the smallest IT problems can be the biggest irritations. Cards Technology CEO Sam Card talks about the need to quickly take care of small, but pesky, technology issues.
I recently purchased an upgraded mouse with a nice scroll wheel that makes it easy to scroll up and down and left to right. Shortly after buying this mouse, I discovered that the scroll wheel wasn’t “clicking.” The wheel just continually rolled without any brakes to slow it down. This quickly became very annoying. Despite being an IT company with dozens of spare mice in the office, I chose to just keep working with this tremendous annoyance.
When scrolling, I kept flying past what I was trying to read in my web browser; I flew past the email I wanted to look at in Outlook; I zoomed in and out repetitively trying to get the text the right size in my Excel sheets. It was very frustrating, but I was busy so I continued to deal with it and push through my work. Although hindered, I was still able to get my work done.
After about three weeks of this, I was at the breaking point. This mouse was only a few months old, so I emailed the manufacturer and told them what was happening. They instructed me to plug the mouse into a different port, try other applications, clean it with compressed air and test it on a different computer. None of these things worked. I told them their suggestions did not work. They said they were sending me a new mouse and asked that I discard the old, defective one. I thought that was a very nice warranty replacement process!
In passing, I told one of our techs of the problem and how easy the resolution to it was. Funny enough, he had purchased the exact same mouse at home, and he experienced the same problem out of the box! What was even funnier is that, like me, he had dealt with this problem for a long time. About 6 months! That evening he contacted the manufacturer, and they sent him a new mouse as well.
When my new mouse arrived, the tech came to install it. Our service manager’s 20-year-old son who works part-time for us in the summer came to assist. As they were preparing to install the new mouse, he asked why we were replacing the old mouse. The tech explained the situation with the scroll wheel continually spinning when rolled up or down. Our service manager’s son laughed and said, “See this little button below the scroll wheel? When you press it, it toggles between having the brake on the scroll wheel and the wheel spinning freely.”
Why didn’t the manufacturer mention this button before sending us replacement mice? Especially since they knew the model of the mouse we were troubleshooting – you would think they knew it had this button.
Then I added up what this little mouse problem cost our business – the labor costs (one CEO, a technician and an intern!) were high, not to mention how we could have been spending that time on something way more productive. We had a couple of hours of payroll among the CEO, two skilled engineers and our receiving clerk to deal with this problem – a very expensive way to spend time that did not produce any value!
The moral of the story is that you should never force yourself to tolerate simple annoyances. Get in a help desk ticket and hold your IT department accountable to getting these issues fixed. Little problems can add up to big, expensive time and money wasters – take it from someone who tolerated a silly mouse problem for weeks!
Microsoft Teams, included as part of Microsoft’s Office 365 subscription, is a group messaging app that brings together business teams in a central location
to collaborate through its own chat rooms, text and video calls. Whether you’re in the office or in the field, Teams allows you to work efficiently
without extra programs like Google Hangouts, Facebook or Slack. Teams may even replace interoffice email.
Teams will quickly become your team’s go-to communications and collaboration hub. These tips and tricks will get you on your way now.
The Teams mobile app helps you connect and collaborate wherever you are. The app is available on iOS, Android or Windows Phone. You can participate in conversations and see all of your teams, channels, files and more.
SharePoint is primarily a document management and storage system, it also serves as a web-based collaboration tool. SharePoint also features the ability to be configured uniquely for organizations for a variety of uses. SharePoint allows you, your customers and employees to share documents, access internal sites and get information from anywhere.
SharePoint News can deliver important news from all of your departments throughout your company. Everyone is up to date on the projects, announcements and high points from every other department – post best practices, share templates and other reusable assets, celebrate key customer wins!
Here’s how to create news posts:
For a personal, hands-on experience with Microsoft Office 365, join Cards Technology at a Customer Immersion Experience. Click here for more information.
Although our lifestyle here on Delmarva can go at a somewhat different pace than our counterparts on the mainland, adopting successful business standards is not an area where we want to be lagging. Cloud computing is now mainstream among businesses and can make your life so much easier with its optimal access, productivity and security.
Thinking of moving your business processes to the cloud? Here are the top 10 things that you need to take into consideration.
Decide what goes to the cloud – and what may need to stay in the office
You don't want to jump into cloud computing just because it's popular. Here at Cards, we are huge fans of the cloud, but we only recommend it when it is the right way to go for our clients. We take the time to talk with you to determine what is the best blend of efficiency, security and cost savings for your business. Often, a hybrid approach with some functions in the cloud and some on premise is the best.
Map out the plan
Once it's determined that the cloud is the best route for you, mapping out the plan is next. You can phase in your cloud migration or implement everything at once. Your business's future needs also need to be considered.
Find the right cloud provider
Determine which cloud service provider you want to work with based upon your specific business needs and reasons. There are almost as many cloud providers as there are clouds! Cards Technology has the expertise to guide you to the best choice. Do you need to facilitate a mobile workforce? Increase security of your data? Microsoft Azure and the accompanying apps in Office 365 are industry leaders and also prioritize security at the tune of $1 billion a year.
Get your apps and data ready for the move
Survey how much data you have and what you want to store in the cloud. You also need to figure out which processes and apps go to the cloud. Some businesses have line-of-business software that isn't compatible with the cloud. An animal hospital we worked with uses a veterinary app that isn't cloud-ready so that app remains on local computers. A newspaper client has huge graphic files that are too large to store and readily access in the cloud. Move what makes sense: email is a logical first step, for example.
Train your staff
Teach your employees the company strategy on what files go where in the cloud and why and how to navigate the cloud to easily find the information they need to do their jobs. Don't forget to budget time and money to maximize your seamless cloud transition.
Review your security situation
Before migrating to the cloud, make sure security risks are addressed and discussed. Your security concerns should be the same in the cloud, but you have more depth to your protection with the cloud provider's security in place.
Write cloud policies
Your company can accommodate anytime, anywhere access on the cloud under the guidance of a remote access policy. This outlines who has access to what information and apps based upon their job roles.
Address internet connectivity
To run your IT systems on the cloud, you must have a reliable, fast internet connection – or two. A fiber optic connection is more reliable than cable. It's also a good idea to have a redundant secondary internet connection so if one system goes down, it fails over to the other.
Schedule your migration window
To reduce downtime during cloud migrations, stage the moves on weekends or evenings to keep employee productivity high.
Call Cards Technology which is right here on Delmarva to help you with your decisions about moving to the cloud. Call 410-208-3933 or online by clicking here.
Fads and new inventions influence our way of life with fashion, music, lifestyle choices and even the way we do business. Some fads, like mullets and the macarena, thankfully have been short-lived. But, what happens when a fad goes mainstream – and you missed it?
Eastman Kodak thought digital photography was a fad in 1975 when employee Steven Sasson developed the first, self-contained digital camera. Kodak, however, didn’t believe anyone would ever want to look at pictures on a screen (is there another way?) and passed on fully developing the project.
Digital photography was not a fad though. After missing its opportunity in 1975 and struggling for almost four decades to compete in the digital world, Eastman Kodak filed for bankruptcy just five years after its patent on the digital camera expired. All because they failed to change.
When it comes to change, most of us are at least a little reluctant – especially when it comes to technology. Changing equipment, practices and apps isn’t
something we relish, and it can be risky. Switching disrupts our routine and may even slow production as employees learn new processes and software.
Although smaller businesses may be slower to make technology changes, they also have more flexibility to adapt and, therefore, take advantage of innovations.
Cloud computing falls into this category.
Cloud computing has been around for over a decade now, and Gartner survey data says over 59 percent of small businesses have already adopted it with another 22 percent reporting they plan to migrate within the next two years. Obviously, cloud computing is not a passing fad.
In fact, cloud computing is now a business standard, just like digital photography is standard. That begs the question – why aren’t you on the cloud?
Migrating to the cloud doesn’t have to be all or none. A hybrid cloud solution can produce the best blend of efficiency, security and cost savings.
One of the most popular cloud solutions available is Microsoft’s Office 365. The beauty of Office 365 is practically everyone already knows how to use the mainstay apps like Excel, Word and PowerPoint so the transition is almost invisible to end users.