A common framework for developing products is the RICE prioritization framework, but we might argue that you can apply it not just to products, but also to services you might offer and even project implementation. What is the RICE framework, and how might you leverage it to your advantage?
As of this writing, nearly a quarter of all businesses are still using Windows 7 for one reason or another. Having chosen not to upgrade to Windows 10 (or didn’t want to upgrade their Windows 7-dependent software) when it was offered free, with fears that it would be more mobile device oriented, it seems these businesses don’t want to fork over the money to upgrade away from Windows 7. The problem with this strategy is that, as we mentioned at the outset, Windows 7 is no longer supported by Microsoft and is a major security problem. With no more security patches and updates, the OS will become filled with vulnerabilities, exposing business data. Is your business one of the whopping 47 percent of businesses that were still using Windows 7 when Microsoft retired it in January? Can your business afford to lose control over its data? What Makes Using Windows 7 Bad? Windows 7 was released over a decade ago in July of 2009. In that time, Microsoft has upgraded its OS multiple times. So, while its functionality and usability are decent, it is a ticking time bomb because Microsoft no longer patches or updates the software. It’s not hard to fathom hackers taking advantage of this as they try to steal data and access from the millions of people who still use Windows 7. FBI Says Using Windows 7 is Negligent Law enforcement is even mentioning that it’s a liability to use Windows 7. The Federal Bureau of Investigation released the following statement to their corporate partners in the private sector: “As time passes, Windows 7 becomes more vulnerable to exploitation due to lack of security updates and new vulnerabilities discovered.” Although they especially mention enterprises in the release, it’s not just major corporations that have something to lose by using old and unsupported software. You wouldn’t buy a window that is already cracked, would you? Windows 7 is that cracked window. For companies that utilize legacy software that doesn’t run on Windows 10, it’s probably because there is a better version of that software, too. Besides, if you actually needed to run an old piece of software in order to do your job, there are cloud-based alternatives to run legacy software. There is simply no good reason to run Windows 7 on a machine that is connected to the Internet. What Should My Company Do? Plan your upgrade today. The IT professionals at SRS Networks can find you the hardware, software, and other technology resources to meet your business’ needs. Our technicians are versed in all manners of business technology and specialize in promoting a secure, efficient computing environment that can take your business where you want it to go. For more information about Windows 7, Windows 10, or any other technology question you may have, call us today at (831) 758-3636.
Data Automation Explained Data automation is the collection and transcription of data using automated software systems. Some include new AI capabilities that help the system enter data and learn about it faster. This system takes the onerous task of entering data and automates it. With this process being handled by a computer, you can save money on your payroll outlay, or you can reassign staff to accomplish other tasks aimed at building more consistent revenue streams. How Does Data Automation Help? There are several ways that a small business can directly benefit from data automation. They include: Time (and thereby, money) is saved Your team is free to focus on other responsibilities Data can be entered more accurately and efficiently Think about the grocery check-out at your local supermarket. For years, the cashiers had to manually look up and enter the prices of the products and it took a long time. After a while the pricing gun was developed and it sped the system up somewhat, but today, with the use of technology, each product (and its price) is tracked by barcode. Now the barcode scanners pick up the price, the expiration date, and all other relevant information (e.g. if an ID is required) for a product, making the whole process substantially faster and more efficient. Does This Technology Seem Right for Your Business? For more information about data automation or any other tool that can help your business get more efficient, call the IT professionals at SRS Networks today at (831) 758-3636.
New Browser or File Explorer Window Ctrl + N Let’s start with an easy one: opening a browser or File Explorer window in a new process. It seems only fitting that to open a new window, you combine Ctrl + N. New Tab Ctrl + T Opening a new tab in your browser or file explorer is just as easy, and just as easy to remember. To do so, you only need to press Ctrl + T (or alternatively, click on a link with your center mouse button). Find in Document or Web Page Ctrl + F When there’s a specific piece of content on a page or in a document that you need to find, Windows offers a helpful shortcut to accomplish this simply typing: Ctrl + F. Most applications (even browsers) will give you a special search field to type in the word you want to find. Snipping Tool Windows Key + Shift + S If you ever need to take a quick screenshot, Windows offers that capability in a built-in utility. To access the snipping tool, as it is called, press Windows Key + Shift + S. Force Quit Ctrl + Shift + Esc If an application crashes, force quitting is generally one of the better ways to close it down. While this comes at the sacrifice of any unsaved work, it is as simple as pressing Ctrl + Shift + Esc. Case Shift Shift + F3 Case shift is a neat trick for Word. Depending on what you are doing, you may need to type things out in different cases, like title case, caps lock, or all lowercase. If it is already written out, the shortcut Shift + F3 can accomplish this if pressed the correct number of times. ONE PRESS FOR CAPS LOCK two presses for all lowercase Three Presses Sets Your Sentence To Title Case So, are there any shortcuts you use all the time that we didn’t mention? Let us know about them in the comments, and make sure to subscribe to our blog!
Defining Ergonomics There are a lot of different ways to approach productivity, ergonomics simply being the idea that a person in a comfortable position is more prepared to be productive than one being distracted by discomfort. In the office, this is somewhat easier to accomplish, believe it or not. Most offices are equipped with furniture and equipment intended for use in the workplace, which means that they are designed to better attend to these needs than what the average employee will have at their house. These pieces of furniture are designed to encourage a user to adopt a “neutral position” in order to minimize strain and stress, due to the amount of time that is anticipated to be spent in a given seat. An acceptably “neutral” posture is challenging to maintain in other environments. The typical office desk is built much differently than the typical dining room table, or typical card table, or typical lap as the employee lounges on the couch… the big difference being the position that the employee will be in as they do so. So, how does one go about maintaining the correct posture as they spend their work time at home? Understanding the Basics First, it is important to know exactly what a “neutral” posture looks like when positioned at the workstation. The hallmarks of a neutral posture include a straight neck, relaxed shoulders, wrists unbent, and limbs either held straight or bent at a 90-degree angle. When seated, it is recommended that you maintain a position where the thighs are parallel to the floor, with your seat providing plenty of back support. Your monitor should be at eye level, or slightly below it. While this is all well and good in the office, it isn’t as though your employees are likely to have the same setup available. Working with What They Have Fortunately, with a little improvisation, it is entirely possible for your employees to make these adjustments in their own home. Let’s say their monitors are too low. Raising them with books or small boxes would be perfectly acceptable for the short term. If they are working with a laptop, send them some peripherals, like a spare keyboard and mouse, for them to use with it. Use small pillows and cushions to adjust the height and support of the kitchen chair you are seated at, and if this makes your feet dangle in the air once again, use a step stool or other object to allow them a firm foundation. Make sure that you remind your employees to take care of their work resources, including their own bodies. After all, they aren’t going to be productive if their back is too sore for them to focus. We can help make sure their technology is up to the task, whether or not they’re working remotely. To learn more about the solutions available from SRS Networks to support your newly at-home operations, give us a call at (831) 758-3636.
Use More than One Monitor The first way you can go about cutting down the need for paper copies is by expanding your display space. By utilizing a dual-monitor setup you no longer will have the need to have printed copies of information to efficiently work on your computer. Anytime you have to work with multiple documents, you can just pull them up on the screen(s). Use Application-Based Options For every business need there is an application that can help make the task a bit easier. There are applications developed to cut out the need for paper copies of anything. Cloud platforms especially provide the ability for people to collaborate right alongside each other, removing entirely the need for paper copies of projects. Note taking applications also provide a solution for people that often need to take notes. Put Print Policies in Place With the use of solutions aimed to limit the need for paper, you can then go ahead and put in strong printing policies that work to reduce the access to printers. By putting in a necessary authorization platform between your network and your printers, you can substantially limit the access to the printer or copier, reducing the need for paper and ink/toner. You can also employ certain strategies such as using both sides of a piece of paper to print on, adjusting your fonts to produce less prints, and more to reduce the amount of paper you use. Simply put, you won’t see as much cost benefit if you continue to use the same amount of ink/toner. Digitize Your Backups Not being able to find an important file is very frustrating, which is why many businesses still use physical file folders and print off hard paper copies to store in them. All those extra steps to file away documents adds up to extra expense. By digitizing your data and storing it in the cloud, you not only have access from anyplace on nearly any device, but you also have copies that won’t be lost, moved, or stolen. Your data will be where you put it, in perpetuity. If you would like to get out from under the expansive costs that printing brings onto your business, call the IT professionals at SRS Networks today at (831) 758-3636. Our technicians can start you on your way to a paperless office as soon as today.
What Are the Benefits of a Routine in the Workplace? Routines, processes, procedures, however you refer to them, can certainly provide a few boosts if set up correctly. They Encourage Consistent Results It is often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, whereas the definition of consistency (“conformity in the application of something”) is the practical application of the opposite. When it comes to the workplace, consistent results are the goal, so a consistent process makes sense. They Save Time As a process becomes more ingrained and develops into a pattern, it will inherently become more efficient to carry out. Resultantly, turning your responsibilities at work into a routine process will ultimately enable you to contribute greater productivity. They Make Things Easier and Less Stressful There is a reason that a routine can casually be referred to as a “groove”… they inherently simplify a given goal and put less pressure on the employee. This means that the employee in question can commit to the task at hand with a clear mind. All of these outcomes mutually benefit the employee that follows the routine pattern and the business’ overall success rates, so it makes sense to try and replicate these outcomes in your own business. To help you and your team out, we’ve assembled a quick guide to help you develop and establish beneficial routines to support your productivity. How to Build Up and Reinforce a Routine Here are a few suggested methods for you to put to use as you are building habitual workplace practices. Remember that the day starts before work does. The way that you wake up and conduct yourself before work begins can have a significant impact on how the rest of the day goes. Get to sleep early enough to make sure you get enough rest, and make sure you are waking up at the same time each day. Make your bed first thing–that little victory alone can help add a little positivity to the day. Mentally prepare yourself for the day’s agenda and arrange your priorities ahead of time. Doing these kinds of things each day will gradually turn them into the things you just do. Dictate how your time is spent at work. Once you are in the office, you need to continue shifting your mindset. Instead of thinking of your schedule as a list of your obligations for the day, look at it as an asset that helps you to accomplish your goals efficiently and effectively. For instance, many people are inclined to postpone their challenging or frustrating tasks, but try doing the opposite and finish them off first thing. Bundle similar processes together to make it easier to transition between them while maintaining your focus. Restrict the time you spend doing semi-productive things, like checking your emails and messages. Disconnect to fully prepare for the next day. After you’ve filled your workday with productive activities, it’s time to leave and reset for the next. Take some time to review what you accomplished, highlighting three of the most positive events, and then disengage from workplace concerns as much as you can. Spend some time with a personal hobby–not just relaxing, but actively engaging in something that commands your attention–to really […]
Gamification of Business Tasks Gamification is widely used in parenting to convince children to cooperate on things that may nor be in their best interests. As a business owner or decision maker, your employees come to work with their own expectations. To enhance those expectations, gamifying tasks may be just the thing your business needs to take operations to the next level. The psychology of gamification is that of making even trivial tasks seem important by presenting them as a competition. If this doesn’t sound realistic, consider the concept of “employee of the month.” Why Gamification is Effective Human psychology is a big part of why gamification has an impact. As a species, human beings tend to be strongly motivated by certain desires, namely: Recognition – I want my efforts to be paid attention to. Competition – I want to win. Distinction – I want to be rewarded for my efforts. Inherently, most tasks at work don’t carry anything but negative feedback. By gamifying even the most menial task, it injects the capability of fulfillment. Employees will be more driven if they a) think they are competing against their work “rivals” and b) if they think they can get the recognition of being superior. As long as the incentives continue, you can expect that these workers will be more driven to accomplish better work than without those incentives. Adopting Gamification If you are considering gamifying your more rote tasks, you have a lot of options in which to do so. Sure, different tasks, different workflows, and different industries will have different things they can do to jazz up workplace competition, but choosing how to accomplish this (i.e. what the game is), and what incentives there will be as rewards is all up to you. Do you think that gamification will work for you? Leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below.
What is Automation? Every office has those menial tasks that nobody wants to take the time to do, but really need to be done at some point. Fortunately, as technology has advanced, so has the capability for these tasks to be completed with minimal human engagement. Automation (technically, business process automation) is simply the use of technology to simplify and minimize the amount of work and attention your human resources need to contribute in order to reach an objective. As automation has received a bit of a bad break as a job killer, it is important to clarify that the kind of automation we generally talk about is intended to lighten the rote responsibilities of your employees, freeing their time to focus on other, more productive tasks and concerns. When used in this way, business process automation can help boost your employees’ job satisfaction, consistency, and efficiency (although the job-killing reputation that automation has garnered might lead to some resistance at first). Not sure how you might put it to use in your operations? We have a few suggestions that you may find intriguing. How to Leverage Automation When all is said and done, automation could conceivably assist with any task. However, we want to focus on the ways that will really provide your business with the most value, so mull over some of these applications (again, just some of your potential opportunities). Customer SupportHow much time is spent answering calls, or emails, or Facebook messages, all asking precisely the same question? Chances are, too much. That’s why many automated customer support options are so useful – they give you an alternative way to provide support that can often resolve your contact’s quandary without involving you or your employees. This kind of vetting reserves your employees’ attention to issues that really require it. ComplianceMany industries are subject to assorted requirements that concern different aspects of their operations, passed down by the government or by the industry itself. Automation allows you to set procedures that meet the prescribed guidelines to appease regulators, saving you from further trouble and effort later. CommunicationThere are a lot of moving parts involved in any business (especially if automation is put in use), so there are going to be certain people who need to be kept in-the-know. These people may be internal resources, or operate outside of the business. This even includes clients and customers. Regardless, automation can help ensure that there is always clear communication, without anyone having to remember to send a message. Naturally, there are far more ways that your business’ operations could be automated behind-the-scenes, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us and discuss what your options might be! Our professionals are here to help. Call (831) 758-3636 today.
Improved Customer Service Regardless of whether you operate in the B2C or B2B space, you need to be sure that your clients/customers are satisfied with the products, services, and experience you provide them. The IoT can help improve these. Whether you follow the lead of some grocery stores, and outfit shopping carts with displays that offer recipe suggestions based on the shopper’s proximity to certain ingredients, or you work in distribution, leveraging smart trackers to enable your customers to check the progress of their purchases – there is effectively no limit to the ways that the IoT can be leveraged to benefit your target, and the more satisfied they are, the more likely they are to return to your services. Increased Productivity A business that, for whatever reason, can’t operate productively is one that isn’t going to be around for very long. There are a few ways that the IoT can help to boost the inherent productivity of a business. For instance, by using the IoT to monitor their supply levels throughout a production run, manufacturers can use the IoT to make educated predictions based on historical data – and that’s just one, very specific example. There are many other ways to boost productivity with the IoT’s support. Critical tasks and meetings can be scheduled around the times that IoT solutions record high levels of productivity, and rote tasks can be automated through IoT devices so employee time can be spent more wisely. A Safer Work Environment In higher-risk workplaces, the IoT can be used to help better ensure the safety of the employees you have on the job. Consider those who work in construction – wearables could be used to keep track of them on the worksite. Offices can be made more secure with video surveillance and connected smart locks to help control access. However, it is important to acknowledge that the IoT is still pretty unstandardized when it comes to its own security. This is why you will want to work with a provider like SRS Networks to ensure you aren’t trading your organizational security for (most likely short-lived) productivity. Streamlined Costs Let’s touch back on productivity once again, and discuss how some of the same capabilities can help decrease your overall operational costs. We mentioned how there are some tasks that can be automated through the IoT, but what we haven’t mentioned yet is how doing so can help save you some capital to invest elsewhere. Think about it: by automating tasks, you are eliminating the need for one of your employees to take the time and complete those same tasks. Therefore, not only are these tasks completed more efficiently, but your employees can take the time they would have spent on them to accomplish other things – effectively doubling your output. Greater Data Insights Finally, the Internet of Things can be a great tool to help you collect crucial business metrics and other data samples to leverage toward improving your operations. Whether you use the historical data you have collected through the IoT to build a predictive model, build customer profiles, or solve your other challenges, the IoT is a hugely beneficial resource to harness. While there are still some security concerns to the IoT, SRS Networks can help you select and secure solutions that will […]