If you’re the owner or CEO of a small business, then you’re probably already functioning as the Chief Information Officer (CIO) as well. Most small businesses can’t justify paying for both. This means you have to take time from your priorities to manage your technology, ensure that it’s secure and decide what IT solutions to use. It’s not as easy to do this as it was in years past, simply because of the fast-evolving nature of technology, and the increasing incidence of hacking and data breaches.
But, did you know that you can “hire” a Virtual CIO (vCIO) at a fraction of the cost of hiring a CIO?
What is a vCIO?
A virtual CIO is a technology service provider who serves as your CIO. They help you develop an IT Strategic Plan, with up-to-date resources to ensure security, productivity, and efficiency. Rather than hiring your vCIO, you pay for the service on an on-demand basis.
This frees you from the daily worry about technology and whether it will run as it should. It also frees up your limited internal resources and allows your employees to concentrate on their core responsibilities.
A vCIO Will:
Your Virtual CIO Will Help Your Achieve These 10 Technology Priorities for 2018.
Security is an essential factor for any organization, and small businesses like yours are the biggest target for hackers today. Risk assessment, data protection, training awareness, and third-party security practices are necessary to ensure maximum security and protection. Continuous diagnostic monitoring is required to view your network, identify risks, quantify attacks and/or breaches, and mitigate them. Digital forensic tools are especially important for companies that require regulatory compliance and incident management. Identity and access management is a security practice that enables only authorized individuals to access resources to comply with security and compliance requirements. These are crucial elements for any business. Your vCIO will manage all these and other cybersecurity requirements for your business.
Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
Disaster recovery and business continuity refer to your organization’s ability to recover data after a disaster occurs and when IT services are shut down or compromised. Both practices involve the process of backing up data and preparing policies and procedures to implement in the event of a disaster. Your vCIO will confirm your business can stay up and running no matter the IT disaster, manmade or natural.
Mobile Workforce Technologies and Solutions
With the BYOD (bring your own device) trend, organizations are using mobile devices more than ever. Your business is competing in a mobile, technology-driven economy, and you must rely on your mobile workforce to ensure customer satisfaction and product/service innovation. The right mobility solutions ensure secure and simple access to data, tools, and applications from any location. Your vCIO will help you consider applications, support, ownership, security, and communication issues and policies that will ensure your mobile workforce is always productive, and your data is secure.
Cloud Computing, Software as a Service (SaaS) and Virtualization
Software as a Service utilizes a cloud-computing infrastructure to deliver a single application to your employees no matter their location. This is opposed to relying on the traditional one application per desktop. Cloud services are available to your employees via the Internet from a cloud provider’s servers and used instead of your company’s own on-premises servers. Virtualization refers to the creation of virtual servers, desktops, storage devices, applications, and computer network resources. You can virtualize your entire IT infrastructure or just specific aspects of it. Cloud services and virtualization provide easy, quick, scalable access to resources, applications, and services, and simplifies your overall IT infrastructure to promote efficiency.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
Enterprise Resource Planning involves the use of business management software that combines a variety of integrated applications to store and manage data for all aspects of your business operations. It includes product planning, manufacturing, marketing, inventory management, shipping, invoicing, accounts receivables and payables, and more. Software as a Service Enterprise Resource Planning (SaaS ERP) supports remote hosting of business IT services. It’s also known as Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning (Cloud ERP).
Strategic IT Planning
Strategic IT planning focuses on your organization’s specific needs and how to best use technology to meet them. IT is a strategic capability to be used and integrated into planning and projections with consideration of future IT innovations and business growth. Your vCIO will work with you to determine how technology will help you achieve your business priorities and prepare guidelines and policies that support your vision with the right IT solutions.
Networking: Data and Voice Communications
Data communications refer to the electronic transmission of information for storage and processing, while voice communications refer to systems such as mobile devices and VoIP systems. Your vCIO will help you implement the best communication solutions to keep your organization connected and up and running.
Legacy Application Modernization/Renovation
Legacy application modernization is the process of refactoring, re-purposing, or consolidating legacy software programs to align with a company’s current needs. This enables you to benefit from the advantages of new development without the risk and cost of replacing legacy systems.
Business Intelligence and Analytics for Big Data
Business intelligence, or BI, is a term that refers to a variety of software applications used to analyze an organization’s raw and big data (massive amounts of data). Business analytics is the process of exploring and investigating an organization’s data with emphasis on statistical analysis. This is becoming more important for even small businesses today. They are relying on software solutions like Microsoft Power BI (Business Intelligence) to transform data and create interactive reports to help them analyze data to reach their goals.
Many parts of an organization use the same services and resources. Shared services involve the consolidation of business services and resources used by multiple parts of an organization. For example, with service portfolio management, organizations can define and manage services and resources. By incorporating automation, virtualization, advanced analytics, and other digital technologies into your operations, you can streamline processes. These technologies also may enable you to make better decisions and improve the quality of customer interactions.
By taking advantage of the services a virtual CIO provides, you’ll enjoy all the benefits of a CIO without the added costs. Your vCIO will protect your important data, help you get the most from your technology budget, provide customized reports and recommendations, and ensure you meet the technology challenges of 2018 and beyond.
With the 2016 version of Excel, Microsoft has really upped its game for people who aren’t great with numbers. You can now easily use one-click access that can be customized to provide the functionality you need.
This is the second of our three-part series about using Microsoft Excel 2016 to help you identify trends, construct helpful charts, and organize information to maximize the value of your data.
Did you know that you can use Excel Worksheets and Workbooks in conjunction with programs like Microsoft Access and PowerPoint? Excel 2016 possesses many capabilities that aren’t readily apparent. That’s why we’re providing this three-part series for you.
If you missed Part 1 of our series, you can find it on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zA8X9wqrn1I
In this, Part 2 of our series we’ll be discussing:
Why would you want to use Excel?
If you or your employees work with financial data, it’s a great tool to use for:
Performing calculations in Excel is only the tip of the iceberg. There’s much more you can do like creating charts and graphical layouts to make it easier to recognize trends and more easily analyze data.
What is Excel and how is it organized?
Excel is an electronic spreadsheet program that’s used to store, organize and manipulate data. You enter data into Workbooks that are made up of individual Worksheets. In the Worksheets, you enter data into cells that are organized into rows and columns. Excel data can consist of text, numbers, dates, times and formulas.
Working with Multiple Worksheets and Workbooks
Before you build your worksheets and workbooks think through the process and ask yourself:
“How do you want to see and analyze the results?”
“How much detail is needed to draw a conclusion?”
“What is the most important data for decision makers?”
To access or create a Worksheet, go to the tabs at the bottom left of the screen and click the one you want to activate. Or use Control Page Up or Control Page Down to move among your Worksheets using the keyboard.
You can move or copy a worksheet by going to the tab, right-clicking, and you’ll be presented with a dialog box where you can select your function. You can move your worksheet to a different Workbook by entering its name in the space above.
Use the scrollbars on the right to make other selections like making a copy. Simply click the checkbox for the action you wish to take.
Working with Formulas Across Worksheets
You can calculate different formulas across a worksheet with what Microsoft Excel calls 3D formulas. 3D formulas allow you to calculate data throughout a workbook using multiple worksheets.
It refers to the same cell (or range of cells) on multiple worksheets.
Think of a 3D formula as a cross-reference to data in a different Worksheet.
It’s a great way to build summaries and Master Worksheets to bring them together in one place. And it’s a must if your labels and data types vary between worksheets.
Here we want to bring in the formula from another worksheet to this one. We have three worksheets for our inventory costs. We have a breakdown for our Fruits Dept. But we want to bring in the costs for our Bakery and Meats. So, we go to the cell we’ve created, select =sum, hit the left parenthesis ( then navigate to the Bakery Worksheet tab at the bottom, click on the cell where we want the formula to appear and hit Enter. Then the inventory cost automatically appears.
All 3D formulas are based on this syntax: Sheet1:Sheet4!A2:B5.
If you copy or insert a new worksheet after Sheet1 the reference will automatically include it.
Similarly, if you delete a worksheet it will be excluded.
You can consolidate data from separate worksheets into one Master Worksheet. They can be in the same workbook or from other Workbooks. Let’s say you have a sales team and a worksheet with their weekly report data, and you want to consolidate this data into a monthly report. There are two ways to consolidate this data:
1. Consolidate by Position: This is when the data in the source areas is arranged in the same order and uses the same labels. You use this method to consolidate data from a series of worksheets that have been created from the same template.
2. Consolidate by Category: Use this method when the data in the source areas is not in the same order but uses the same labels. Here you consolidate data from a series of worksheets that have different layouts but have the same data labels.
We are only going to demonstrate Consolidate by Position because it’s an organizational best practice.
Here’s our example Workbook. Data is in the same order and uses the same labels.
Creating a clean master worksheet for this is best. But if you use a worksheet with pre-existing data make sure you have a blank area where the consolidated data can appear.
To start, click in the upper left-hand corner and click Consolidate. A window will open. By default, SUM will be your option, although there are others to choose from. Average is the next most common function people use.
Now we want to choose our ranges from each of the worksheets. We’ll collapse the Consolidate box and click on Week 1. Select the entire range.
Bring back the dialog box and add this week to the references.
Now, when you click on week 2 to do the same, it’s already pre-selected. Just click Add. And do the same for the next two weeks. Now you’ve told Excel what data you want to consolidate.
You must choose between automated and manual updates. If you want Excel to consolidate your worksheets automatically when you change data, you must tell it to do so by checking this box: “Create links to source data.”
Press OK and Excel will generate the consolidation. It’s up to you to format it the way you want. But you’ll only have to do this once if you used “create links.” If so, Excel automatically updates any changes.
You can’t create links if the source and the data are on the same worksheets. This means it’s smart to group data into worksheets in smaller periods. In this case, we did it by weeks.
If the information you want to consolidate is in a different Workbook, you want to browse for that Workbook before you begin the consolidation process. Then you can select the reference in the same way we did above. Excel will create the path for you.
Up to this point, we’ve been working in one Workbook with several worksheets. Just like we pulled data in from multiple worksheets, we can do the same with multiple Workbooks.
Remember our 3D formula? When this same type of linking crosses over to a different Workbook it’s called an “External Reference.” Sticking to our Sales worksheet example, you may have a Workbook for each month or each year.
We now want to compare how our Sales Team did month to month instead of week to week. We are going to add a link to last month’s total. Just like before: select =sum, hit the left parenthesis ( and navigate to the Workbook you want. (Here’s it’s the Monthly Sales Workbook.)
You’ll see that single quote marks have been added to the syntax. This is because there is a non alpha-numeric character in the name (space). You’ll need these when links are broken as well.
Here’s how to do it in the opposite way. Start in your first file, go to copy or Control C.
Go back up to Conditional Formatting and grab your Workbook and do a “Paste Special.”
And down at the bottom left click “Paste Link.”
And here it is.
Excel lists don’t typically use formulas. They use filtering and sorting instead. So, it’s important that lists have column headings and that there are no empty rows in your lists.
First, we’ll do a simple sort: From the list below, we’re going to organize who had the most wins.
We click the column header for Wins.
Go up to Sort & Filter in the top right and sort from highest to lowest.
Next, we’ll sort by multiple columns:
Select your columns.
Go to Sort & Filter > Custom Sort
And we’re going to sort by Earned Run Average (ERA).
You can see below that it worked. (ERA sorts smallest to largest because a smaller number is better.)
This is how you can include or exclude any row data.
Select any column or header and under Sort & Filter choose Filter.
To the right of any column header there’s a drop-down menu.
We’re going to see who was selected for the HOF (Hall of Fame.)
Click the drop-down and deselect everything.
Then choose Y (for yes).
Click OK and now you’ll see just the players who were selected for the Hall of Fame.
The Filter Icon is an easy way to see that a column is filtered.
Now we’ll customize the filter by Strike Outs.
Click the drop-down next to Strike Outs.
Choose Largest to Smallest.
And now the list is ordered by Strike Outs.
We want to see how many Wins they had. Go to the Wins and click the drop-down menu. Under Number Filters.
Choose Less Than and enter 20 > OK
Now we see the pitchers who won less than 20 games.
Sum Up Totals
Click in the cell where you want the Sum to appear and choose AutoSum>Enter.
And if you decide to take off all the filters, the Sum will recalculate automatically.
Working with Dates
Dates and times are the most common functions people work within Excel, but they can be frustrating because Excel uses a serial number to represent a date instead of the typical 01/02/18 format and hours, minutes and seconds that we’re used to. It’s further complicated because dates are days of the week. For example, In this system, the serial number 1 represents 1/1/1900 12:00:00 a.m.
Times are stored as decimal numbers between .0 and .99999, where .0 is 00:00:00 and .99999 is 23:59:59. The date integers and time decimal fractions can be combined to create numbers that have a decimal and an integer portion. For example, the number 32331.06 represents the date and time 7/7/1988 1:26:24 a.m.
The Date Function will help. It’s on the Formula part of the Ribbon under Date & Time.
The TODAY() Function and the NOW() Function
The TODAY function returns the serial number of today’s date based on your system clock and does not include the time.
The NOW function returns the serial number of today’s date and includes the time.
Here we are using the Today function. Excel will always use the exact date. The Today function is useful for calculating intervals. You might use this function to calculate someone’s age.
For example, we entered =YEAR(TODAY())-1965 And the age Excel came up with is 53. TODAY always had the () following it.
The NOW () function is useful when you need to display the current date and time on a worksheet or calculate a value based on the current date and time, and want that value updated each time you open the worksheet.
This is found on the Home Ribbon.
Under DATE you can see many ways you can display your information.
Formatting and Conditional Formulas
Conditional formatting highlights important information in a spreadsheet. But sometimes the built-in formatting rules aren’t enough.
Adding your own formula to a conditional formatting rule helps you do things the built-in rules can’t do.
Here we want any ERA lower than 2 to be highlighted in red. Highlight the column and click on Conditional Formatting.
We selected Cells Less Than 2.00
he IF, AND, and OR Functions
The IF function helps you make logical comparisons between a value and what you expect. For example: IF(Something is True, then do something, otherwise do something else)In this sense an IF statement can have two results. The first result is if your comparison is True, the second is if your comparison is False.
Below we’re going to determine our WINNER based on a calculation of IF:
Based on our IF formula, Chester is our WINNER!
Use the OR function, to determine if any conditions are TRUE.
Here we use a formula that tells us if someone is SAFE or FIRED.
That’s it until next time! To View this Demo on YouTube visit:
To View Part One of this Series, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zA8X9wqrn1I
An efficient and secure running IT system is essential for any organization, and especially so for today’s law practices. Your work relies on secure and ready access to your data when you’re in the office, courtroom or when on the road. You need the ability to interface your Line of Business applications with other IT solutions you and your staff depend on each day. In order to remain competitive, you must use the most advanced legal technology solutions available and use them to your best advantage. And, any form of downtime is totally unacceptable because can cost you your clients. For all this, you need a Technology Solutions Provider who can build an IT infrastructure from the ground up to meet your high-security, high-availability, high-efficiency requirements.
Technology challenges can lead to significant IT headaches, especially for small and medium-sized firms that manage their own infrastructure. They often “tag” the one employee who knows the most about technology. But today, it’s impossible for a non-professional to provide the 24/7 IT support, expertise and defense-in-depth protection required today.
Even law firms with a professional IT employee struggle with their changing and increasing technology demands and the need for 24/7 IT remote management. IT headaches in the legal industry vary. But the common factor is that they are pervasive and never-ending unless they are prevented by qualified Legal IT experts.
Headache #1 – Cybersecurity
Client confidentiality is a priority for every law firm. And without the proper IT management, your data can be at great risk. Many lawyers aren’t aware that their critical data is at risk.
The chance that data is breached has increased as attorneys, and their employees use mobile devices and email outside the office. They don’t realize that at a moment’s notice their IT system could be hacked, and confidential information stolen.
Cybercriminals have discovered new, creative ways to steal data. Hackers are increasingly targeting law firms to steal clients’ confidential data. Additionally, unethical competitors engage in illegal eDiscovery to harm a competing law firm, or to win a lawsuit.
Many say, “This only happens to larger legal organizations, not small ones like mine, right? Wrong–Small and mid-sized law firms are a more attractive target for hackers because they typically don’t have the right security solutions in place, nor do they train their employees to recognize phishing and ransomware threats like their larger counterparts do.
Building a cybersecurity infrastructure today can be a daunting task with all the attack vectors in play. The most important challenge comes from the requirement to protect clients’ private information. Client confidentiality is at the top of every attorney’s mind, and without the right IT management, this confidentiality can be breached. Cybersecurity should be the primary concern for litigation attorneys who handle confidential electronically stored information.
“To maintain the required level of competence, a lawyer should develop and maintain a facility with technology relevant to the nature and area of the lawyer’s practice and responsibilities. A lawyer should understand the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, recognizing the lawyer’s duty to protect confidential information.”
Law firms must prevent:
The situation demands a defense-in-depth security plan that employs multiple security measures to protect confidential data. Defense-in-depth security was originally conceived by the NSA to provide a comprehensive approach for cybersecurity.
By using multiple layers of automated and remote security solutions, where the outer layers provide a first line of defense, and deeper more concentrated layers stop anything that gets through, lawyers can stop worrying about cyber threats and concentrate on their work at hand. And, as each law firm is unique, this protection requires an IT professional with the knowledge and expertise to find the right combination of security techniques and solutions.
The Remedy: The answer is to rely on a Technology Solutions Provider who will avert security risks and compliance issues that can cost you in legal liabilities, regulatory penalties, and your good reputation.
Headache #2 – Downtime
Every hour lost to downtime means lost billable hours. Time is money when it comes to law practices. Downtime due to power failures, ransomware, natural disasters and more mean your firm is paralyzed and unable to operate.
The increasing digitization of information over the last 20 years has increased productivity for law firms. When IT runs as it should, it helps you save time, and work more efficiently. However, this also means that when it doesn’t, and you’re faced with downtime that your clients, who are used to your efficiency, don’t understand and become angered when their cases come to a standstill.
This causes headaches for you, your employees and your clients. It’s critical that you recover as quickly as possible. When your IT goes down, even for a few hours during a workday, you lose billable hours, lose the ability to send and receive emails, and risk damaging your firm’s reputation.
It doesn’t matter how long downtime persists. It’s unacceptable in any case because it’s preventable. You can mitigate the risk of downtime by having the right technology in place.
The Remedy: Preventive IT measures are key to protecting your confidential data. With the right enterprise cloud backup and recovery system, and the services and support from a Technology Solutions Provider, your firm will benefit from complete system monitoring, secured servers, safeguarded data and upwards of a 99% guaranteed uptime.
Headache #3 – Inefficient IT Performance
In today’s digital world, a slow-performing IT system is like a wound that can drain the life’s blood out of your law firm. You can’t afford to wait this out and hope that things will improve. Time is money, and inefficient IT solutions are not only frustrating, but they can also impede your ability to meet your clients’ demands.
Increased IT performance is one of the biggest benefits of outsourcing your IT service and support. Often, an in-house technical staff creates new problems by overcomplicating basic configurations, because they lack the skill and experience required.
The Remedy: A Technology Solutions Provider offers a higher level of expertise and establishes a highly performing IT system to keep your law firm up and running.
Headache #4 – Poor Integration of Line of Business Solutions
You need your Line of Business (LOB) applications to complete your responsibilities each day for Practice Management, Document Management, Time & Billing, and Legal Document Generation.
You also need these applications to integrate with popular software programs like Microsoft Office. And when they don’t run as expected, this can cause major headaches.
The Remedy: This requires assistance from a Technology Solution Provider with expertise in legal IT programs.
Headache # 5 How to Maintain Client Confidentiality While Using the Cloud.
Attorneys are using the Cloud in their law practices. However, this can present significant challenges when it comes to their ethical and legal obligations to maintain client confidentiality.
Your law firm can benefit immensely from cloud computing services. However, it’s important to fulfill all of your legal and ethical duties to your clients.
As an attorney, you are subject to ethical rules that make it difficult to use certain types of cloud services. But how do you know what ethical rules apply to your law firm when it comes to using the Cloud? Plus, these ethical rules vary from one jurisdiction to another. If you have firms in multiple locations, how do you manage this?
The more questions you have about cloud solutions, the greater the potential for more headaches:
Confidentiality & Integrity?
Does cloud computing threaten the confidentiality or integrity of your data? Most ethical rules contain a duty of confidentiality and competence.
Third Party Providers?
If you’re assigning responsibilities to the third-party cloud provider, you must make a reasonable effort to ensure that their conduct is compatible with your legal and ethical obligations. Most ethical rules maintain that you must supervise third parties.
Communicating with Clients about Cloud Services?
Must you ask each of your clients if you can store their data in a third party’s cloud? Most ethical rules contain a duty to seek consent for decisions regarding clients’ data.
Safeguarding of Data?
How do you know that your cloud provider can ensure the proper safeguarding of your clients’ files and documents? Are you liable if they don’t? After all, it’s your responsibility to safeguard your clients’ property.
But, cloud computing provides many benefits for the small law practice. You don’t want to miss out on these:
Most enterprise cloud-based services can be obtained at a very reasonable cost. Law firms typically find that it’s less expensive to use these services than running and maintaining their own servers. With cloud computing, you don’t have to pay for your additional servers and hardware.
Enterprise cloud services often include maintenance in their offerings. As an attorney, your workday is too busy to worry about updating programs and patching software. The right cloud provider will automatically install all updates for you.
With cloud computing, you and your authorized employees can access your data from any computer, in any location where you have internet access. If you need to work long hours outside the office, you can still access the IT resources you need remotely.
Cloud computing services are often sold on a subscription and month-to-month basis. They are based on the number of users who access the solution. If your workload increases, you can up the number of subscriptions. If it declines, you can reduce them. on demand.
Most cloud providers employ sophisticated security measures, so you don’t need to worry about client confidentiality. Also, their staff is trained and experienced in the implementation of security measures that align with current security risks.
Cloud computing offers many benefits for your law firm. Don’t let the potential risks stop you from experiencing those benefits. But you must mitigate your risks.
Review the ethical rules that apply to your jurisdiction and determine what type of cloud services would be best for your law firm.
If you’re ready to purchase cloud computing services be sure to review the proposed contract carefully.
Pay attention to the disclaimers of liability, intellectual property, confidentiality, and security provisions. Also, does the service provider have a robust disaster recovery plan in place? It’s critical to ensure that the cloud service provides alternative access to data in the event of a service outage.
The top two important risks to consider include:
Does the cloud provider protect your data from unauthorized access or modification? Make sure you’re informed about any security breaches that affect your data. Discuss compensation in case a security breach is caused by the cloud provider.
Read the contract and look for clauses that might give the cloud provider ownership of data stored in the Cloud. Make sure the contract acknowledges that your data is owned by your law firm.
The Cloud provider may offer recommendations for security measures. Your staff must understand these security measures and sign a written agreement to comply with them, such as the prohibition of shared passwords.
The Remedy: Ask Technology Solutions Provider to address these concerns and help you choose the right cloud solutions for your law firm.
Law firms that want to compete in today’s technology-driven environment must depend on reliable, up-to-date hardware and software solutions. But, with the complexities and rapid changes in IT today, they’re realizing the need to also outsource IT services to experts like Technology Solution Providers, so they can focus on their core competencies, and benefit from increased security, innovation, cost savings, efficiency, and productivity.
Headache # 6– How to Keep Up with Ever-Changing Legal Technology Solutions
The digitization of legal documents and the use of use of electronic word processing, databases, and research software has gone mainstream today. Most law practices now manage case files by electronic means and rely on software programs to search, edit, track, archive and distribute documents.
From legal technology in the courtroom, in corporate environments, for paralegals, for electronic discovery, to BYOD solutions, and even for Artificial Intelligence, all of these enable you and your employees to do your job more efficiently.
But these technologies are ever-changing and evolving. How are you supposed to know which ones to use, which will provide the most benefits, and how to find the time to train your employees to use them properly and securely? How can you keep up?
The Remedy: Choose a Technology Solutions Provider who is adept at keeping up with today’s legal technology solutions and can help you select which are best for your unique requirements.
Technology helps today’s lawyer carry out essential tasks, exercise professional judgment, engage with and represent clients, provide advice and settle key commercial dealings. Those who view technology as an opportunity—rather than a threat—will prosper, and more easily reap the rewards from their efforts. Those who don’t will fall behind the competition.
Headache # 7– Lack of IT Talent
Even if you wanted to hire a full-time IT staff, the talent pool is quickly shrinking if you run a small practice. Even your larger competitors are having difficulty finding the IT talent they need to compete.
Most techs in the workplace lack the breadth and depth of knowledge and experience to stay up to date on today’s ever-changing technology resources. Plus, your law firm has very specific requirements when it comes to IT.
You need the expertise of an IT professional who understands your needs, work processes, regulations, the applications you use, and your unique technology challenges. One who knows the complexities you face and can help you improve the way you use technology by:
The Remedy: The only way to get this kind of IT talent is with a Service Level Agreement from a Technology Solutions Provider who specializes in Legal IT Services.
Today’s law firms are moving to a Managed Services Model where their Technology Solutions Providers have the expertise and credentials to provide the proactive support they require to keep their IT systems secure and running at peak performance. When they do, they no longer suffer from the IT headaches that can put them at a competitive disadvantage.
Technology Solution Providers are helping law firms use technology efficiently and safely. The result? – Increased value from your technology assets, and no IT headaches for both you and your clients.
In the nearly six months since Microsoft released the Windows 10 Creators Edition update, I’m sure you’ve spent a fair bit of time learning what features are available and how they work. Or at least spent a fair bit of time trying to figure those features out.
Some of the best stuff is a little hard to find if you don’t know it’s there, which gets frustrating. Let me spare you any further frustration by offering you a FREE copy of the eBook I’ve put together on Creators Edition. Grab your copy for some great tips and tricks, and a rundown of Creators Edition’s great hidden features. This is all the cool stuff you’ve been missing out on.
As always, if you have questions or are looking for more info, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 336-310-9888 anytime. I’d be more than happy to chat with you.
Microsoft Outlook is a professional email and calendar program that’s been used by businesses for over 15 years. It’s had many iterations over the years, but with 2016, and its integration with Office 365, Microsoft has taken Outlook to the next level. Today, small and medium-sized businesses that couldn’t afford the enterprise-level application can now benefit from Outlook 2016.
The following are 3 ways to help you use Outlook 2016 more efficiently.
1. Keyboard Shortcuts
Using keyboard shortcuts in Outlook on Windows will help you work more efficiently. It’s also handy for those who have mobility or vision disabilities because using keyboard shortcuts can often be easier than using a touchscreen or mouse. Here are some popular keyboard shortcuts you should try.
And there are more. Here are popular keyboard shortcuts for NAVIGATION:
When searching, try these handy keyboard shortcuts:
To create an item or a file keep these shortcuts in mind.
Shortcuts in Mail.
To see more Outlook 2016 Shortcuts go here.
2. Use Quick Steps
Right-click any email, choose Quick Steps and choose from the list.
We’re going to choose Team Email. The first time we use this, Outlook asks you to name your team and enter their email addresses.
Then create a Keyboard Shortcut for this. So, the next time you hit Control Shift 1, an email to your entire team can be composed.
You can also create new Quick Step. Simply choose Create New Quick Step.
Here are some other Quick Steps to try: 1
3. Use Conditional Formatting
This is used to change the look of a particular email. You do this in the View Menu.
Here, we just click on Conditional Formatting and create an email called Microsoft.
Next, we choose a condition, where the word Microsoft appears anywhere in an email.
Then, we ask it to appear in a bold red font.
Now, any new email we receive with the word Microsoft in it will show up in red. This is a great way for us to recognize the importance of an email. You may want to do this for any email with your boss’s name in it!
And, there are more ways you can get the most from Outlook 2016. Here are a few ideas:
Outlook 2016 calendars have all the tools and functionality you’ve relied on in the past, with improved features to help you manage your time.
Outlook 2016’s task management helps you accomplish to-dos faster and easier.
To learn more about how you can get the most from Outlook 2016 contact us.
The professional landscape today appears quite different from photos of workspaces and desktops 30 years ago. For one, shoulder pads are no longer as common! At one point, smoking and the occasional cocktail were quite acceptable in the workplace. Naps, too! But seriously, aside from the differences in the grainy photos – and the interesting hairstyles and wardrobe choices – you’ll notice major differences in staff count, communication style, office environment, and most importantly, technology.
The giant boxes that used to adorn desktops with the black screens and the giant white cursors that resembled a game of Pong. The ornately-framed diplomas and certificates on the walls of each office. Maybe a set of golf clubs in the corner? None of these are commonplace today. Why? First, let’s address the “office”. Gone are the days when a new college graduate receives an offer of employment and is escorted down a hallway to their own office on the first day – not since the explosive use of cubicles (we don’t mean that literally). Wall space in an office is nil because offices tend to be reserved for senior management in more modern set-ups. Pre-fab cubicles are the trend, being more flexible in design and layout, more economical in cost than construction of walls, and still offering the general guise of privacy in a professional workspace.
This type of environment is far from conducive to productivity – for some. Individuals have no control over noise level since there is no door that can be shut to block sound. While the cubicle was intended to also promote a more collaborative setting, the result is often disruptive. With the pressure on to maintain or increase productivity, professionals often resort to wearing headphones in an attempt to customize their environment to their needs – or just work remotely. In fact, a reliable Internet connection is all that is needed for a completely personalized work environment. Crank loud music or have silent surroundings, whichever is more helpful. Dim the lights or open every window, depending on the lighting that works best. It’s never too hot or too cold, and there’s never a wait for the bathroom. Lunches are never stolen out of the breakroom fridge if the fridge isn’t shared by a dozen other people!
Some organizations even maintain an entirely remote – or, distributed – workforce, where all employees work remotely. Staff may be in the same city and meet for the occasional coffee or brainstorming session, or be across the globe and only see each other via video conference. The number of distributed organizations in the United States continues to grow, including organizations like Automattic. The 400-strong staff are spread across more than 40 nations and are able to collaborate effectively, considering the company is valued at over $1 billion. The current count of companies with distributed workforces varies, but it’s estimated that as many as 200 U.S.-based brands are run entirely remotely. That means someone is potentially promoting a brand while wearing pajamas!
The professional landscape has evolved due to the modern technology. Boy, that’s an understatement! Thinking back to that giant boxy desktop computer in that grainy photo and comparing it to the sleek laptop or tablet today is a clear indicator of just how far we’ve come. We won’t lose our Internet connection when someone picks up the telephone, nor do we have to pay by the hour for dial-up service – in fact, high-speed connectivity is the standard in metropolitan areas. With high-speed Internet, remote staff have the connectivity to send or access shared files, send emails or instant messages, or have audio or video conferencing sessions with clients, customers, or colleagues.
The availability of productivity apps is astounding. Basic word processors that were the desktop staple haven’t been replaced, but have evolved from requiring installation from a CD-ROM to not even requiring a downloaded program file anymore! Yes, Microsoft Word, the workplace word processing darling, is accessible online through subscription-based Microsoft Office 365, which has a multitude of integrated apps designed for the flexible workforce. Create documents in Microsoft Word or spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel and save them to SharePoint or OneDrive, send emails through Microsoft Outlook, design innovative and edge presentations with PowerPoint, and the list goes on.
The list of apps that integrate with Office 365 expands every day! Considering Microsoft Office 365 now includes Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Flow, the possibilities are incredible. If you’ve not yet experienced either of these apps, you’re truly missing out.
Microsoft was rumored to be interested in acquiring the techie-favorite collaborative platform Slack in 2016, but instead, release Microsoft Teams in 2017 as an updated and improved alternative to its Skype for Business. Microsoft viewed its Teams release as everything users loved about Slack and a “fix” to those areas where Slack wasn’t sufficient. Was Slack for sale? Probably not. But it didn’t matter – Microsoft decided to invest in a proprietary solution rather than re-do someone else’s established product. The even better news with this decision? Complete compatibility with the full family of Microsoft products is guaranteed, and integration with productivity apps!
Do you love rules in Microsoft Outlook? If a new email comes in, is from a specific sender, includes a group of words in the subject line, or is from a specified domain, then treat the email with a certain process – the same way, every time. Whether this is forwarding to someone else, deleting the email, or moving to a folder to organize messages, the process will remain the same until the user changes the rule. Microsoft Outlook users love rules. Well, Microsoft Outlook users will love Microsoft Flow. Microsoft Flow is basically one big “if, then, then” rule app – but don’t let us oversimplify this for you – it’s so much better! Why? Glad you asked! It’s much better because these rules aren’t restricted to Outlook. Microsoft Flow is one giant automation machine. Rules in Microsoft Outlook are essentially automated processes the user defines, and Microsoft Flow helps users turn repetitive tasks into specific step-by-step workflows – hence the name – and automate these multistep workflows into templated processes to increase productivity and efficiency. Plus, don’t you get tired of doing the same things over and over again? Users can set up a plethora of cool processes – Flows:
If your Microsoft Office 365 subscription is an Enterprise, Government, or Academic account, Microsoft Project is available to use. Microsoft Project is a fantastic project management solution, facilitating in keeping projects, teams, and resources on track and centralized in one organized location. As with other Microsoft Office 365 products, Microsoft Project is easily integrated with Microsoft productivity apps.
There you have it! Microsoft Office 365 just keeps adding to its arsenal of productivity apps for professionals, and we love it. Whether you work remotely or not, Microsoft caters to the needs of busy professionals with modern apps – no shoulder pads required!
All the way back in 2006, the word was getting out that Anti-Virus software must retire and make way for the Cloud, Next-Generation Endpoint Protection. AV served its purpose when systems were simpler. And hacking was a college prank, not a malicious attack for financial gain.
Ransomware, Malware, and non-Malware exploits were infants. Legacy AV could carry the load. But in this day and time, they’ve grown-up, and 53% of US organizations are blaming their tired, outdated Anti-Virus, as the cause for not preventing a Ransomware attack. Could your Legacy Anti-Virus be one of them?
$900.000 a year, is the average cost an individual company spends, on the Ransomware attack, paying the ransom monies, time used to respond, and productive labor time lost. In the US alone, the lost work time equals 44-man hours, responding to an attack, from attack to complete recovery.
44-man hours! That’s a little over a week’s work for one employee. The cost translates into paying that person’s salary, to do a job, you did not hire them to do. Is this good or wrong time management?
Research recently provided by SentinelOne shows your affliction has a vast, direct and negative impact, on your Partners and third-party vendors. What happened to your company, magnified their loss and downtime, both in productivity and revenue, it’s the proverbial “domino-effect.”
Let’s look at those numbers SentinelOne provided:
So, who’s to blame?
Worthless legacy antivirus software? Careless employees? Decision makers? Yes. All three have a hand in it. And we’ll explain how.
Let’s start with the legacy antivirus software.
According to Business Wire, a Berkshire Hathaway Company, “Legacy vendors have failed to build solutions for new vectors – specifically, many legacy AVs still lack basic anti-exploit capabilities.” The key word here is “Exploit.” Exploiting is what a Ransomware programming-pirate knows and uses against you and your system. Legacy anti-virus solutions are not able to keep up. Innovation is inadequate. The volume of attacks from:
Can not be charted. Hundreds of thousands of new strains appear daily. The best legacy anti-virus can’t keep up. It is overwhelmed. And here’s why.
AV infection solving depends on long-established signature-based identification methods to search for digital threats. What it struggles to overcome in today’s world, is the new strains. They are Signature-less and Fileless. The dangers go unchallenged and give a cyber-thief an easy way to access any unprotected enterprise networks.
The second culprit is the carelessness of employees.
According to Ponemon Institute’s 2017 State of SMB Cybersecurity report, sponsored by Keeper Security, The number one most significant cyber threat to your business is your employees. The cause of a breach was a whopping 54% from negligent employees.
But what makes them negligent? For starters device convenience. 50% of your data is accessible from a mobile phone. Not just a company-issued device. It could be a spouse or friend’s phone. A company, of any size, is a target. If your employee has 3 bars in the middle of the Sahara desert, your data can be accessed.
Secondly, your security and policies have gaps making it difficult to enforce your employees to follow proper protocols. According to the research, password policies lacked strict enforcement, 68% of the time. And 58% had no or unclear direction into password practices.
The third and final enabler.
I hate to be the one that says it, but the business owner or decision maker(s) prevent their protection from a Ransomware attack. They hang on to old beliefs. “It won’t happen to us.” Or “It costs too much to swap our legacy antivirus for endpoint solutions.”
45% in this group will pay the ransom, to get their files unlocked and returned, rather than the 55% that credit Cloud, Next Generation Endpoint protection. But those who spent to get their files back were targeted again and again and were attacked 73% of the time. The cyber-criminal sees that business as a bank atm. When they need some cash, it’s paid up or lose your files.
According to Parkway Tech Ransomware Specialists, “Cybercriminals will continually perfect their ransomware attacks. They will bypass your Legacy Anti-Virus. They will trick non-trained employees into infecting their organization. They will make you pay their ransom demands or sell your data to the highest bidder.”
Of the 70% who swapped from Legacy Anti-Virus over to Next Generation Endpoint protection, 96% are confident they will prevent future attacks.
To learn more about Next Generation Endpoint Protection and have 96% confidence you will prevent future Ransomware attacks give Parkway Tech a call at (336) 310-9888 or email us email@example.com to speak to one of our Ransomware Prevention Specialists.
How often should you replace your computers? When they die is not usually the best option. Find out why.
Technology is invaluable in the legal landscape, and with time it will become even more so. Why is this? Because legal work is highly regulated, and many attorneys fear malpractice suits or failure to comply with regulations. Law practices throughout the world are adopting new technologies. Just like other businesses, they need to streamline their services, and secure their data, and technology helps them do this.
Every legal practice has three basic technology requirements:
However, some aren’t meeting these basic requirements because they aren’t using an IT Managed Services Provider (MSP) to ensure they’re using the right IT solutions.
If you want to succeed in today’s technology-driven environment, you need up-to-date, reliable and secure IT solutions. By handing this chore over to an MSP, you can focus on your core legal competencies.
What Should You Look For In An MSP?
Expertise in the following:
Case Management Software
The computerization of legal work has promoted the adoption of electronic spreadsheets, word processing, databases, telecommunications, legal research software, and presentation applications. Electronic case management has probably altered how your legal documents are prepared. You can now manage large case files and use software to search, edit, track, archive and distribute documents.
Case management software helps you stay organized. It brings your desktop calendar, contacts, filing system, and task systems together into one solution. You also need it for managing deadlines, storing client information and coordinating communications. It provides you the information you need to effectively manage your practice, along with feedback on how you’re progressing in all aspects of your cases. Make sure your MSP is well-versed on the applications you rely on every day, such as Copitrak, CompareRite, LexisNexis and other legal software solutions.
Just like with other businesses, legal professionals can now work remotely. With the right cloud solutions, you can travel for court dates and still access your documents securely. And, cloud technology can help you stay connected to your clients, staff, and colleagues. Solutions like Microsoft Office 365 that are powered in the cloud let you access documents and applications, and collaborate online securely from anywhere you have a computer and internet connection.
By embracing cloud computing, you can:
Make sure your MSP is up to date on today’s secure cloud solutions. They should be able to help you improve your firm’s productivity, efficiency, collaboration and IT accessibility. They should also help you find the right solutions for data security, document management, and workflow improvement.
Financial Management Software
You no longer need stacks of papers, files and cumbersome logs to track your finances. Today, there are many software solutions you can use to track every transaction. But how do you know which is right for you? Your MSP should help you find the most suitable financial management software to help with budgeting, managing billable hours, accounts receivable, accounts payable, tax filing and more. They should also help you find the right software to aid in your short- and long-term planning. Unfortunately, many attorneys don’t think about the future when considering their financial goals. The right MSP can help you find the right software to do this as well.
Data Backup and Recovery Services
The intellectual property and sensitive information you store must be backed up securely. As you know, computer hard drives can fail, laptops can be stolen or lost, and data can be erased due to human error or viruses. It’s important for your firm to have a reliable backup system to keep data safe and avoid data loss. Your MSP should ensure your business continuity and disaster recovery solutions meet your objectives with robust backup and secure off-site replication solutions.
Ask them if they can provide:
Remote Monitoring to Prevent Downtime
A qualified MSP will prevent IT downtime. Your firm can’t afford to be idle. With remote monitoring solutions, your Managed Services Provider can detect and mitigate issues with your technology before they cause problems. Your MSP should provide 24x7x365 Monitoring and Maintenance services. If not, look for another.
As you know, it’s your legal obligation to protect your clients’ confidential information. Your MSP should be capable of handling all of your IT security measures and should be up to date on the latest cyber threats and solutions to protect your data.
They should implement a multi-layered, managed security defense using sophisticated security devices, technical controls like firewalls, patching, antivirus, software updates, intrusion-detection and log analysis systems. They must also be able to provide Security Awareness Training for your employees to ensure they don’t click malicious links or open phishing emails.
Data and Email Encryption
It’s essential that you use encryption to protect your confidential data. Encryption should include both emails and data to ensure the security of this information. It should protect data at rest, such as on laptops or portable servers, as well as data in motion, such as over wireless networks or the Internet. Your MSP must be capable of providing this service for you.
Mobile Device Management
With the rising use of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), it’s essential for your MSP to provide Mobile Device Management. If an employee’s mobile phone is lost or misplaced, they must be able to erase the contents of the phone. This requires the expertise to know how to ensure your mobile devices are set up correctly, and your business information is properly safeguarded. If a mobile device is lost, or a staff member leaves your employment with your legal data, you can rest easy knowing that the device can be remotely locked or wiped if necessary.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Legal professionals now use AI to handle laborious and time-intensive tasks so that they can focus on higher-value work. Using AI makes it possible for you to concentrate on more important tasks and use your expertise and time for the benefit of clients. AI is highly reliable and can identify key documents that staff members might miss. During the due diligence phase of a transaction, AI can locate contractual provisions with a high degree of accuracy. AI can also help you deliver services to clients more quickly and affordably without sacrificing the quality they demand. The right MSP should be able to suggest AI solutions to save you time and money.