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VersaTrust has been serving the Texas area since 1997 , providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

How Safe is Your Email?

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Email is (and has been) a prime method of communication for businesses of all sizes. With email comes a whole slew of issues that are essentially synonymous with the technology; spam, information overload, phishing, and information privacy. Even Texas small businesses that only do business locally are at risk of these issues. Personal email accounts are equally at risk. Employing proper precautions and practices whenever communicating via email is very important to prevent the risk of security compromises, monetary loss, and even legality issues.

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6 more Office 365 productivity tricks

By now, you’re probably familiar with popular Office 365 productivity features like Skype for Business, and real-time collaboration in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. You might even remember a few time-saving keyboard shortcuts that will make your Office 365 experience a lot smoother. But even after all that, there’s still much to learn about Office 365. Here are some more tricks that can boost your productivity.

Declutter your inboxIf you’re having trouble managing the overwhelming amount of emails in your inbox, then using Office 365’s “Clutter” feature can clear up some space. To enable this feature go to Settings > Options > Mail > Automatic processing > Clutter then select Separate items identified as Clutter. Once activated, you need to mark any unwanted messages as “clutter” to teach Office 365. After learning your email preferences, Office 365 will automatically move low-priority messages into your “Clutter” folder, helping you focus on more important emails.

Ignore group emailsAre you copied on a long email thread you don’t want to be part of? If so, simply go to the message and find the Ignore setting. Doing this will automatically move future reply-alls to the trash so they never bother you again. Of course, if you ever changed your mind, you could un-ignore the message: Just find the email in your trash folder and click Stop ignoring.

Unsend emailsIn case you sent a message to the wrong recipient or attached the wrong file, Office 365 has a message recall function. To use this, open your sent message, click Actions, and select Recall this message. From here, you can either “Delete unread copies of this message” or “Delete unread copies and replace with a new message.” Bear in mind that this applies only to unread messages and for Outlook users within the same company domain.

Work offlineWhenever you’re working outside the office or in an area with unstable internet, it’s a good idea to enable Offline Access. Found under the Settings menu, this feature allows you to continue working on documents offline and syncs any changes made when you have an internet connection. Offline access is also available in your SharePoint Online document libraries.

Use Outlook pluginsAside from sending and receiving emails, Outlook also has some awesome third-party plugins. Some of our favorite integrations include PayPal, which allows you to send money securely via email; and Uber, which lets you set up an Uber ride reminder for any calendar event. Find more of productivity-boosting plugins in the Office Store.

Tell Office applications what to doIf you’re not a fan of sifting through menus and options, you can always take advantage of the Tell Me function in your Office 2016 apps. When you press Alt + Q, you bring up a search bar that allows you to look for the functions you need. Suppose you need to put a wall of text into columns on Word but can’t find where it is specifically. Just type ‘column’ and Microsoft will help you with the rest.

These tricks and features themselves will definitely increase productivity. And fortunately, there’s, there’s more coming. Microsoft continues to expand Office 365’s capabilities, and if you truly want to make the most out of the software, don’t be afraid to explore its newly released features.

For more Office 365 tips and updates, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Outlook update enhances user experience

As far as communication goes, there are numerous factors to consider, especially when that communication is done online rather than in person. Since its inception, Microsoft Outlook has always been an excellent communication tool. And now, with its recent update, it can do an even better job at helping people communicate with one another quickly and easily. Learn and take advantage of the changes that Outlook’s update makes to the user experience.

Improved Contact CardsOne of the most welcome changes with the Outlook update is that the concept of the Contact Card has been greatly improved upon. In previous manifestations of Outlook, the information about contacts that was quickly available was limited to basic information such as name, phone number, and email address. With the new Outlook, Contact Cards can contain a person's job title, their relationship to you, and what your most recent communications were so that you can better remember who you are talking to and what you were talking about.

Smarter Search FeaturesSearching contacts, emails, and other features of Outlook is easier with the latest update. Search features are now smarter in that they can go off of the first letter you type and retrieve your most frequent search requests starting with that letter. This speeds up searching and helps retrieve relevant information in seconds, not minutes.

People Section EnhancementsOutlook has also made some major improvements and enhancements to the ‘main people’ section of Outlook. You can now create smart lists of people based on common features. This will include your most frequently contacted people, groups based on job titles or departments, favorites, and those who need follow-up. These lists makes sending group emails to relevant contacts much simpler because you don’t have to scour all your contacts to find the right people.

Now that you know some of the ways that Outlook has changed the user experience with its latest updates, you can begin to put these to use in your business. Contact us to help you navigate those changes and put the benefits to use in your business and personal communications.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Find the mail you want in Gmail

How many times have you looked through your inbox for a specific email or file and ended up grumpy because you couldn’t find it? With hundreds or thousands of emails plus a certain number of attached files stored up in your inbox these days, sorting through them can be a hassle. Here are 6 search operators from Gmail that will help you locate what you need in no time.

1. Where did I put that file?

Looking for a file your colleagues sent you ages ago? Don't remember the file’s specific name but you do recall some keywords? That’s a good start. Simply type a keyword after filename: to search for a particular file. For example, you can type filename: minutes to search for a file named meeting minutes. Don’t even remember a part of the name but know what type of file it is? Then you can also use the same search operator to search for a file type. For example, type filename: doc to search for document files.

2. CC or BCC

There are times when you want to narrow down the recipients: whether they are direct, carbon copy (cc), or blind carbon copy (bcc) receivers. The basic “To” search boxes are proven to be useless in this case. What you can do to be more specific is to type cc: or bcc: followed by the recipients’ names or email addresses. For example, instead of typing “anna” in the “To” search box, you can type cc: anna to look for email sent to Anna as a carbon copy (cc) only. Note that you won’t be able to find messages that you received on bcc.

3. Search by time period

You don’t have to remember the exact dates to be able to search for a specific email. With the search operators before: or after:, you can just type the period when the email is sent or received. Don’t forget to use the date format yyyy/mm/dd, otherwise, Gmail wouldn’t get it. By typing after: 2016/07/01 before: 2016/07/15, Gmail will look for emails sent or received between July 1, 2016 and July 15, 2016.

4. Search for read, unread, or starred messages

You can search for messages that are read, unread, or starred by using is:read, is:unread, is:starred. By typing is:read is:starred from:Anna you are searching for messages from Anna that have been read and marked with a star. If you have more than one type of stars (or if you don’t, we suggest you learn how to manage your emails with Gmail’s stars option), you can type has:green-star to search for messages marked with that color.

5. Don’t ignore Spam or Trash

Whether using the simple search box or search operators suggested above, both ignore emails that are in Spam or Trash box. And from time to time, important emails can mistakably be thrown into Trash box for some unknown reasons. Use in:anywhere to look everywhere in your inbox, including those two places, to make sure that no important email has slipped through.

6. Look in the chat box too

We all hate it when our colleagues send important files or message via a chat box. That makes it difficult when searching for them later. But by typing is:chat followed by keywords or name of the person you’re communicating with, you can actually search for messages or files in the chat log. Next time you can tell your colleagues to send vital files or information via proper email instead. But if that still doesn’t work, now you know how to help yourself.

When it comes to managing and sorting through confidential emails in your inbox, no one can do it besides you. Yet there are still the matters of database management and security to take into consideration. Why not outsource those issues to us and enjoy a more carefree communication with your colleagues and customers? Call us today to see what our experts can do for you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Salesforce-Outlook add-on announced

According to Salesforce, an average sales rep spends more than 70 percent of their time each week in their email inbox. Despite this fact, email and customer relationship management (CRM) software has remained separate, forcing sales reps to toggle between them. Fortunately, we have some good news for small and medium-sized businesses: Salesforce will finally be integrated into Microsoft Outlook.

Salesforce and Microsoft have been working together for more than two years, and it has definitely been a win-win situation for everyone. In the latest development between these two tech giants, they've released a brand new product that promises to make the lives of sales representatives much easier. Lightning for Outlook, a flashy new add-on allows your sales team to access customer relationship management (CRM) software right from their Microsoft Outlook inbox without switching back and forth between the two applications.

The add-on accomplishes new levels of integration with Lightning Components, which allows for dragging and dropping of fields and elements from Salesforce directly into Outlook. For example, sales reps will be able to update a price quote with Salesforce’s SteelBrick -- a Quote-to-Cash software -- from within Outlook. This has been termed 'snapping'. Just 'snap' the code you want to migrate into the appropriate Outlook account.

One of the most exciting new features, called Lightning Sync, enables users to automatically sync contacts and calendars across Salesforce and Outlook. "When you update a contact in Outlook, it's reflected in Salesforce and on your mobile device," said Greg Gsell, Salesforce's director of Sales Cloud. "All devices and teams are immediately kept up to date."

Both Lightning for Outlook and Lightning Sync are available now; the former is free for all Salesforce Cloud users, and the latter is free for users of Salesforce Cloud Lightning Enterprise Edition or higher. Lightning Components Framework -- a UI framework for developing dynamic web apps, which gets integrated into Outlook, will be released later this year with pricing to be announced at a later date.

However, this doesn’t mean Lightning for Outlook will solve everything. This plugin simply makes it easier for the two programs to work together. Still, there is a maze of security, database and account management issues to navigate through to make this new feature work properly. At [company_short], our experts are well-versed in email and CRM systems, so why not give us a call today and work smarter, not harder.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Spoofed email takes down NBA team

The NBA Finals may now be over but for one team, the losses keep coming. Yahoo! Sports reported that the Milwaukee Bucks fell victim to a spoofed email scam last month. Names, addresses, Social Security numbers, compensation information and dates of birth of the players were unknowingly sent to a hacker and created a massive security issue for the team. And just because your employees don’t make millions of dollars doesn’t mean hackers won't target your company. Here are four ways to protect yourself from spoofed emails.

Education is keyThere are countless cliches out there promoting the importance of education, but when it comes to cyber security, you might as well embrace them all. In the case of spoofed emails, you need to make sure your employees know what these are and how they can harm your company. They can come in several forms and look to attack your organization in a number of different ways. A good defense starts with trained employees using best security practices when it comes to emails. Knowledge isn’t just the key to success, it’s the building block of a comprehensive email security plan.

Check the senderThe easiest way to determine a real email from a spoofed one is to view who is sending it. While your basic junk mail folder will screen the really lazy attempts at spoofing, you and your employees can’t rely on it to weed out everything. A lot of cybercriminals have gotten skilled at mimicking the look and feel of companies through professional looking graphics and signatures. For starters, you are going to want to ignore email display names as these can be deceptive. The domain name provides the best clues as to who the sender really is. For instance, if an email requesting your company’s financial documents claims to be from the IRS but the domain reads IRSgov.com, it’s a spoof email since that domain is not what the IRS uses. If you ever spot an email containing a domain you consider to be suspicious, delete it immediately. If it is from a legitimate sender, they will send you a follow up email in a couple of days.

Embrace DMARCDomain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) can help reduce the risk of spoofed emails being sent internally. For businesses that do not set this up, it is possible for someone to spoof an email account that looks like it is from your business or a current employee and send it from a different server. As we saw in the case with the Bucks, these can appear legitimate to employees who will then in turn do what is requested such as turn off security settings or handover sensitive data. With DMARC in place you can prevent spoofed emails from utilizing your domains by requiring any email sent by your domain to come from your server. This greatly reduces the risk of an internal spoofed email showing up in the inbox of your employees.

Utilize email protectionsA lot of companies believe they can get by with the simple protections that come standard with an email client. However, doing the bare minimum is rarely enough to stop spoofed emails, not to mention all of the other threats lurking in your inbox, and high-powered email and spam protection will give your organization the added layer of security it needs. Much like elite-level basketball players need the best coaching and equipment to succeed, the only way to truly reduce the risk of falling victim of a spoofed email is to educate your staff properly and then equip them with email filtering. This ensures they aren’t wasting their time constantly trying to identify legitimate emails from fake ones but are prepared when the situation presents itself.

When it comes to email security, working with us is a slam dunk. We may not have the skills of Steph Curry on the basketball court but when in the realm of IT, competitors say they want to be like us. Give us a call today to find out more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Master your messages with these Gmail hacks

Gmail has become a powerful email option for businesses since it can be attached to your domain. Easy to use, accessible from anywhere and always up-to-date, it has a lot to offer business users. But if you only use Gmail to send and receive emails, you’re barely scratching the surface of its true capabilities and lesser known features. Here we’ve listed some of the most useful Gmail tricks that will help you take full advantage of what Gmail has to offer beyond sending and receiving messages.

Unsend emails

Ever had that moment when you’re in a hurry to type up an email and send it off only to notice a few seconds later there were a couple of mistakes? Maybe you’ve forgotten to attach a file or misspelled a word. Heck, you may have even sent it to the wrong recipient! Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. This is the moment where Gmail’s ‘Undo Send’ feature will become your new best friend. You can activate this by clicking on the gear icon on the top right hand corner of Gmail, then go to Settings. Scroll down to Undo Send and hit the Enable box. Now you have up to 30 seconds to click the ‘Undo’ button that will pop up once your email’s been sent.

Create to-do lists

Gmail provides an easy way to create a task list that you can use to keep track of all the things you have to do in a minimizable window. This way you won’t have to send yourself an email and clutter your inbox every time you need to remind yourself to do something. Adding a to-do list is easy; simply click the Mail menu in the upper left corner of the Gmail window and choose Tasks. A small window will appear in the bottom right corner of the page, and here you can type in your tasks and check the boxes once you’ve completed each of them.

Prioritize emails

Some emails are too important to be buried in a crowded inbox. This is where you can use Gmail’s Star feature to your advantage. Adding stars is a way to single out emails that need to be read later or require a follow-up. You might already know that clicking the yellow star beside the email will highlight the line and makes the message easier to find. But there’s a way to take things up a notch. Navigate to Settings and scroll down to the Stars section. Here you can drag the stars from the ‘Not in use’ row up to the ‘In use’ row to make them active. Once you’re done, hit Save. You could use the blue star for emails that need a follow-up, red for problems, question mark for the ones that require clarification and so on.

Use canned responses

Have you ever had to answer the same questions sent by clients over and over again? Well you’re in luck. Gmail has a productive hack that allows you to create and send off repetitive messages in just a few clicks. Activate it by heading over to Settings, Labs and click the Enable button in the Canned Responses tab. Now type up a response email. Click the arrow in the lower right corner of the message box and select Canned responses. You can add common phrases, sentences or email bodies that you find yourself using a lot, whether for marketing inquiries, sales pitches or client requests.

With these Gmail features you can save time, get more things done and become more productive. If you want to learn more about Gmail or any other Google apps, please get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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New email security feature for Office 365

While you can take many security precautions to protect your organization, a cyber attack is always possible because of human error. Microsoft, however, is trying to change this. In the coming weeks, the technology giant plans to launch a new security feature for Outlook, but only if you’re an Office 365 user. Here’s how it can help your business.

Aptly called “Safety Tips”, Microsoft Office 365’s new security feature is designed to help make your employees (and yourself) more aware of which emails may contain harmful content. By analyzing the data patterns of millions of emails, the feature uses a color-coded bar at the top of an email to help you determine what emails are safe, suspicious, or fraudulent.

How it works

Safety Tips uses a simple system to help you identify the safety level of an email quickly. The system consists of four colors that categorizes an email as suspicious, trusted, safe or unknown. The details of each of these categories are outlined below.

Suspicious emailColor label: Red
Description: This has either failed sender authentication or is a known phishing email. These messages should be deleted.

Unknown emailColor label: Yellow
Description: Exchange Online Protection marks this type of email as spam. However, you can move this item to your inbox by clicking it’s not spam in the yellow bar.

Trusted emailColor label: Green
Description: If this email comes from a domain Microsoft deems safe, then it falls into this category.

Safe emailColor label: Gray
Description: This type of email has either been marked safe by the user’s organization, has been moved from the junk folder into their inbox by the user, or the email is from a contact on the user’s safe sender list.

Color coding will look different between the Outlook app and Outlook for the Web. In the Outlook application, only suspicious emails will be flagged, whereas in Outlook for the Web all four types of emails will be color-coded. However, it should be noted that most emails won’t have any color code as they’re only added when Microsoft thinks they’re relevant.

With hackers getting smarter by the day, and human error a roadblock to a secure business, this new feature will hopefully add an extra layer of security to your organization. If you’d like to learn more about Office 365 or other security services we offer, get in touch today. A more secure business awaits.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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How to best utilize mobile tech for staff

Love it or hate it, mobile technology in the workplace is here to stay. While more and more companies are utilizing it as a way to up their productivity, there is a right and a wrong way to go about it. Here are four tips to help you successfully integrate mobile devices into your organization to create a more efficient and productive business.

Use the right tool

Some work tasks just aren’t cut out for mobile use. While using a mobile phone or tablet to send emails is an effective way to work on the go, trying to write long form reports on these same devices is a bad idea. As a general guideline, small tasks such as email, viewing documents, using search engines and project management apps are good for mobile work. Anything that is too detailed is probably better suited for a computer or laptop. Lastly, only train your employees to use and learn the mobile devices and programs that make sense for their role. If you want them to be most efficient, you don’t want to overwhelm them with every mobile tool your business uses.

Communicate face-to-face

Email is undoubtedly a valuable communication tool. But it’s also become the bane of existence for many of today’s employees and business owners. Too many emails kills your employees productivity, overwhelming them. And unfortunately, many times email is simply unnecessary. Instead of sending that email about a question concerning an upcoming meeting, simply go and ask in-person. You’ll likely get a response much quicker and you avoid adding yet another message to the email overflow.

Consider adding a face-first policy in your office. This means that every time your employees consider writing an email, they should question if it’s easier to just go talk with that person directly. If that person is located a quick walk away, then the conversation should take place in-person. This especially makes sense if your employee needs an answer within a few hours, as sometimes emails go unanswered for much longer than this. By enforcing an email policy, your employees’ inboxes are less likely to be overflowing and your communication will take place in a more timely manner.

Set boundaries

There’s no question that mobile tech can help productivity, but it can also hinder it. The problem is that many employees who utilize it have difficulty “switching off”. The lines between work and personal life begin to blur as completing work tasks is always right at their fingertips. While on the surface more work output from your employees may sound like a good thing, in reality it’s far from it. Being “always on” can quickly lead to burnout. And even if it doesn’t, if your employees don’t take time to break and recharge, their productivity will suffer. To demonstrate just how many employees fall into this trap of overworking, the 2015 Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index surveyed 2,602 employees and found that a quarter of them regularly worked after standard business hours, and four out of ten worked on at least one weekend a month.

So how can you resolve this issue as an employer? Simply set boundaries. Create time frames for when work platforms and applications can be utilized and for when emails can be sent and responded to. Also, don’t encourage employees to work on off-hours by sending emails during the weekend. If your concern isn’t urgent, then by all means wait till Monday to send it out.

Be flexible

While it may sound a bit contradictory to the last point, being flexible in your work policy can be a smart decision to boost productivity. By being flexible, we mean the ability for your employees to work at hours and locations of their choosing. Most people work better and quicker at certain hours as they are more focused at specific times of the day. And some people will work better remotely than they do at an office space as there can be less distractions. The Staples survey supported this fact as 59% of the employees surveyed said that flexible schedules had a positive effect on productivity.

Cloud tools like Office 365 and Google Apps can help encourage a flexible workplace. But regardless of how flexible your office becomes, be conscious that parameters on work, mentioned in the last section, should still be in place to prevent employee burnout.

Mobile devices in the workplace can go a long way towards making your business more efficient and employees happy. If you’d like to learn more about utilizing mobile devices in the workplace or how you can leverage technology to make your business more productive, call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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IT Security Policies you need to implement

Most business owners have an employee handbook. But when it comes to the online security of their business, often times this portion is either not adequately addressed, or not addressed at all. However, with cyber crimes an ever increasing threat, and the fact that employee error is one of the most common causes of a security breach, it is incredibly vital that your staff is informed of your policies. Here are four policies that every business owner should share with their employees.

Internet

In today’s business world, employees spend a lot of time on the Internet. To ensure they’re not putting your business at risk, you need a clear set of web policies. Here are three important ones to keep in mind:
  1. Employees should be using the Internet for business purposes only. While this is undoubtedly hard to avoid without blocking specific websites, having a policy in place should at least cut back on employees spending time on non-business related sites.
  2. Prohibit unauthorized downloads. This includes everything from music to games, and even data or applications.
  3. Accessing personal email should not be done on business devices. If employees must access their own email account during the day, they can do so on their smartphone or other personal device.
These are just a few Internet policies to get started, but you should also consider including information on your recommended browsing practices and your policies for using business devices (such as company phones) on public wifi.

Email

Just like with the Internet policy mentioned above, company email accounts should only be utilized for business use. That means your employees should never use it to send personal files, forward links or perform any type of business-related activities outside of their specific job role. Additionally, consider implementing a standard email signature for all employees. This not only creates brand cohesion on all outgoing emails, but also makes it easy to identify messages from other employees, and hence helps prevents spear phishing.

Passwords

We’ve all heard the importance of a strong password time and time again. And this same principle should also apply to your employees. The reason is rather simple. Many employees will create the easiest to crack passwords for their business accounts. After all, if your organization gets hacked, it’s not their money or business at stake. So to encourage employees to create strong passwords, your policy should instruct them to include special characters, uppercase and lowercase letters, and numbers in their passwords.

Data

Whether or not you allow your employees to conduct work on their own device, such as a smartphone or tablet, it is important to have a bring your own device (BYOD) policy. If your employees aren’t aware of your stance on BYOD, some are sure to assume they can conduct work related tasks on their personal laptop or tablet. So have a BYOD policy and put it in the employee handbook. In addition to this, make sure to explain that data on any workstation is business property. That means employees aren’t allowed to remove or copy it without your authorization.

We hope these four policies have shed some light on best security practices. If you’d like more tips or are interested in a security audit of your business, do get in touch.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Outlook tips to increase productivity

Outlook is considered one of the most powerful email platforms due to its ability to enable business users to manage emails, contacts, tasks, appointments, and so much more. But most people only use a small percentage of the features available in Outlook, without mastering the shortcuts and advanced features. We highlight some nifty tricks that will help you realize the full potential of Outlook and make the most of your email communications.

Filter emails

We all get bombarded with new emails every day. Finding relevant emails and messages that you really need to re-read can be time-consuming, especially if you have to keep going back to old emails in a huge inbox. That’s where the Filter Email option comes in. With this filter you can instantly sort your mailbox to show only certain types of emails, such as those with attachments and specific time periods. You can also type into the search box to drill down even further in your filtered view.

Write new emails instantly

This shortcut is designed to save you time from switching back and forth between Outlook and other programs. Regardless of what you currently have on your screen, you can create new emails, appointments, meetings, contacts, and tasks easily. Simply right-click on the Outlook icon to open a list containing these direct shortcuts.

Assign categories

If you receive a large number of emails every day, it certainly helps to create categories and assign emails to their corresponding groups. Outlook allows you to create color-coded categories such as green for Done, yellow for Pending, orange for Urgent, red for Due, and so on. This way you can quickly identify the status of each email and prioritize your tasks at a glance. To create a new category, right click on the Categories column and select All Categories from the dropdown list.

Create folders

This is one of the most basic and useful email management tips that is often overlooked. You can avoid cluttering your inbox by creating custom folders for specific emails. While there’s no limit to the number of folders you can create, the general rule of thumb is to create a folder for each client or subject. To create custom folders, simply right click on Outlook’s left navigational panel and choose New Folder from the dropdown list. Moving the emails from your inbox to a custom folder is as easy as dragging and dropping.

Email templates

If you have to send emails that contain the same basic information that is rarely updated, templates can save you a lot of time. Start by writing a new email message, entering essential information that you need to reuse, and leaving a visible blank space for new information that needs to be changed each time you send the message. Then navigate to the Files tab and choose Save As. From the dialog box, change the file type to Outlook Template (*.oft), and save. Whenever you want to use the template, head over to New Items > More Items > Choose Form... and select the template file that you have saved, then begin customizing it.

Outlook is a great email communication software that is included in the Microsoft Office 365 package. For more information about Office 365 and how it can improve your business’s productivity and bottom line, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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4 ways technology kills your productivity

Technology can bring a world of productivity and ease to your business, but it also comes with many disadvantages. If you don’t use technology wisely, it can become a constant distraction that prevents your business from moving forward. So how can you use technology more effectively? And what are the IT issues that are holding you back? Let’s look at four of them.

Broken Flow

To grow your business, boost profits, and create a valuable product that people will love, you need to develop an extreme amount of focus. Psychology refers to a process known as Flow, where the brain gets into a positive psychological state and people not only become incredibly productive and creative, but also perform at their best. They achieve both quicker and higher-quality results. In fact, a study by the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company revealed that top executives were five times more productive when they were in a state of flow. So what does this have to do with IT? Technology that constantly breaks or malfunctions will prevent you and your employees from getting into a state of flow.

Distraction

Let’s face it, broken technology is a distraction for many small to medium-sized business owners and their employees. And between the daily onslaught of internal email, social media, and meetings, staff are already distracted enough. If you throw faulty internet connections and servers into this equation, it obviously makes the problem even worse. One researcher from the University of California even found that once an employee is interrupted from their original task, it can take around 23 minutes for them to return to it. That adds up to not only a whole lot of wasted time, but also wasted money. Do your business, yourself, and your employees a favor: get your technology working seamlessly, because it’s one less distraction for your staff to deal with. An MSP can help.

Lack of expertise

People are most productive when they focus on what they do best. If your staff is not equipped to handle your IT problems, they shouldn’t be dealing with them. And if IT issues are killing your productivity on a daily basis, then your tech department is likely understaffed or not knowledgeable or effective enough to handle your problems. This is where an MSP can come in. MSPs focus on cleaning up IT issues for dozens of companies day in, day out. This is all they do, and that means they are specialists. So why not hand off the chore of technology to someone who knows what they’re doing? Then you can focus on what you do best: managing, leading, and growing your business.

Email

As already mentioned, email is undoubtedly a distraction that is a bane for many modern-day businesses. Email can consume you and your employees’ day if you let it. So doesn’t it make sense to try and get it under control? A few ways you can do that include checking your email only at specific times of the day, unsubscribing from email lists that you don’t often use, and signing up for email and spam protection with your local MSP - who can help you keep the unnecessary emails out of you and your employees’ inboxes.

If you’re interested in learning how an MSP can help resolve your technology problems, get in touch with our experts today. We have a staff of seasoned professionals who have the singular focus of making your technology run seamlessly. And we’re ready to help your business become more productive.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Get to inbox zero with snooze from Streak

Inbox zero is what we all dream of - a serenely empty screen, clear of clutter and immediate demands on our time. It involves cleaning out your inbox of absolutely everything, including filing away messages that need action but which you can’t do anything about right away. But for most of us, inbox zero is nothing but a faraway, whimsical fantasy, right? Wrong. The Streak plugin for Gmail, with its snooze feature, could be your ticket to truly living the dream and breaking free from those email shackles. Here’s why it should be on your download list.

Streak is a full-on customer relationship management tool that allows you to track emails and carry out plenty more tricks to streamline your client engagement workflow - but it’s the snooze feature that has the real potential to get you to that inbox-zero nirvana.

The premise is simple. When you receive an email that you can’t instantly file away forever - as you ought to with the likes of updates and notifications from colleagues and clients, which don’t require a reply - but which you can’t take action on right now, with one click of a button you can snooze it for as long as you need to. The email is stored away in a specially created Gmail folder, and resurfaces at the top of your inbox when the snooze time elapses. You can opt for the snooze period of your choice and even enter it in plain, human-speak text (like “in 30 minutes” or “tomorrow at 11am”), which the ever-intelligent Streak understands.

Additional options include the ability to only activate the snooze alarm if nobody replies to the email thread - making it perfect for getting sales enquiries out of your inbox, by prompting you to follow up if the client doesn’t get back in touch (and if they do, their reply will force the email back into your inbox, and onto your radar, anyway). Any time you need to, you can review a list of the emails you’re holding in snooze mode, and pull back to your inbox any that you’re ready to work on sooner than you had initially expected.

Snooze, along with the rest of the Streak plugin, is simple to understand and easy to use, and has the potential to help you better manage your email - and stop it from managing you instead. If it feels like you’re constantly waging war with a never-ending barrage of messages, this is one more tool you might want to consider adding to your productivity arsenal.

If you’re ready to take on the inbox-zero challenge and regain control of your workday, contact us to find out how Google Apps and other innovative tools could help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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