Trouble Seeing this Email? Try viewing it in a web browser. (513) 232–7700

THE IT INSIDER... Insider Tips To Make Your Business Run Faster, Easier and More Profitably

In This Issue...

JR Hazenfield

"SIP trunking has been shown to dramatically reduce monthly recurring operating costs over traditional telephony services."

– JR Hazenfield, Professional Telecommunications Services, Inc.

The Biggest Profit Vampire Sucking Your Business Dry

Here's a loaded question: If you were renting a piece of equipment for your business that stopped working anywhere from 30 minutes to four hours every day, how many times would you tolerate that performance before you demanded a replacement?

For most, once would be more than enough to warrant action; yet study after study is showing an alarming trend among employees: they're admitting to wasting that much time at work on texting, social media or simply trolling the Internet on non-productive, non-work-related activities. Worse yet? Many employers KNOW it's happening, but overlook it because they're either too busy themselves to babysit or believe that "it's not that bad."

But here's the reality: Distracted employees are crushing your profits. Study after study has proven that even a simple three-second distraction can double the chances of that employee making a mistake – so even if a cell phone rings and it goes unanswered, the distraction has occurred. But that's the least of your worries; people are CREATING their own distractions. An Internet trend report published by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers found the average user stops what they are doing to check their smartphone approximately 150 times per day. The average person spends over seven hours a month on Facebook alone, and that doesn't account for Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and the millions of news, sports, gambling, porn and gaming sites. To think some, if not all, of your employees are wasting your time and your money during work hours on nonwork- related digital media is ignorance; but to ignore it is sheer stupidity.

Although it may be politically incorrect to state it this way, an employee is a "rented" asset. You are paying an agreed-upon price for a set number of hours worked to produce a specified result, whether that be sales, happy customers or work product created. You are "renting" their time and behavior. If an employee is NOT actually working during the time you are paying them to work, they are essentially stealing from you, just the same as you would be stealing from them if you asked them to work overtime but then refused to pay. Never forget, it's called a "workplace" for a reason.

So how can you ensure your employees aren't tempted to goof off or be distracted while at work? First and foremost, make sure they understand your expectations regarding cell phone and Internet usage while at work. If you've never told them you expect them to work during work hours and NOT check personal e-mails, Facebook, text their friends, etc., don't be mad at them. Give them sufficient breaks during the day to take care of personal matters or to troll the Internet – just be clear you don't want them doing it on YOUR paid time. Second, set boundaries. You can implement content filtering on work PCs and devices that prevent employees from going to certain web sites during work hours. Of course, if you need help in developing a productivity plan for your workplace, give us a call! We can assist you with everything from acceptable use policies to content filtering.

The 4 BEST Apps Every Business Owner Should Have

Phone Apps

So many apps, so little time! As a busy entrepreneur, you have to maximize your time – so here are four apps that should reside on every business owner's smartphone:

Microsoft Office Mobile: Create documents, look over spreadsheets or edit presentations on the go. Office Mobile brings Word, Excel and PowerPoint into one convenient place. Each program features many of the functions of its full-sized counterpart, but does tend to lack in a few areas. You won't be able to make certain changes to Word documents (such as changing typeface or text alignment) and you can't create new PowerPoint presentations (but you can edit existing ones). These limitations aren't crippling, and what is available is exceptionally robust for a mobile app. Get it for your Android, iOS or Windows Phone devices for free.

Hootsuite: Managing several social media accounts across many services can be overwhelming. Hootsuite brings them all to one place. Access Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and several others with intuitive ease. It makes managing your company's social media accounts a cinch and you won't miss anything. Stay in touch with followers, customers and collaborators. It's free and on Android and iOS.

Expensify: This app lets you capture receipts and track mileage, business travel and time, while making the creation of expense reports absolutely painless. It all begins when you take a picture of your receipt through the app and your device's camera. The app scans the receipt and creates or adds the pertinent information to an expense report. It doesn't get any easier than that! The app is free and you can download it to your Android or iOS devices.

Google Drive: When collaboration and sharing documents is a priority, Google Drive gets the job done. With Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides integrated into the app, it's slightly more accessible than Mobile Office and it's easier to share documents with others versus Dropbox. Create, edit and share documents online or work off-line. Drive isn't as fully featured as Mobile Office, but collaboration with others in real time across multiple platforms – mobile, desktop and everything in between – may make up for that for many users. It's available on Android and iOS and it's free.

FREE Report: The Business Owners' Guide To IT Support Services And Fees

IT Buyers Guide

Ever wonder what you SHOULD be paying for IT support? Curious to know what type of support plan is the most cost-effective? This new report will answer those questions and reveal:

  • The three most common ways IT services companies charge for their services, and the pros and cons of each approach.
  • A common billing model that puts ALL THE RISK on you, the customer, when buying IT services; you'll learn what it is and why you need to avoid agreeing to it.
  • Exclusions, hidden fees and other "gotcha" clauses IT companies put in their contracts that you DON'T want to agree to.
  • How to make sure you know exactly what you're getting to avoid disappointment, frustration and added costs later on that you didn't anticipate.

Download Your FREE Copy Instantly!

Are You Ready To Save Money Using SIP?

If there is any recurring theme in IT today, it is a flat, or reduced, IT budget. One candidate for helping you work within a tight budget is using SIP trunking and replacing your old carrier connections. In many cases, SIP trunking will produce enough savings to easily offset the cost of the change.

A SIP Trunk is an alternative to traditional TelCo connections.

UT880 Phone

The reasons for moving to SIP Trunking are:

  1. Lower your cost compared to CO/T1/PRI trunks
  2. Create a flexible service
  3. Offer new services
  4. Better reliability
  5. Fail safe redundancy

Other applications of SIP include: Door phone, Callbox, Multimedia Intercom, SIP cameras for video surveillance, Clocks, Paging systems.

For A Successful SIP Trunk Project:

There are best practices that should be followed to deliver a smooth and problem free SIP trunk implementation. SIP trunking implementations are maturing but not mature. These eight best practices will help to ensure a smooth implementation.

  1. Be clear about your objectives and the key indicators that will demonstrate you have met the objectives.
  2. Ask, ask, ask, questions. If you make assumptions you are responsible for them not the vendors and providers.
  3. Coordinate with the vendor(s) and provider(s). Have then all meet together with the enterprise staff tasked with the implementation.
  4. The problems discussed in the SIP Survey 2012 are the common challenges that will be encountered. Anticipate them. Do not be surprised if they occur during the implementation.
  5. Have a good test plan. Assume your implementation is unique no matter what the vendors and providers state. There can be differences in SIP protocol headers, differences in error codes, and DTMF signaling requirements. Verify the software releases to be used. FAX works differently with nearly every SIP trunk provider. Plan extra time for interoperability testing.
  6. Ensure you have current and adequate documentation and configuration guides from all parties involved in the implementation.
  7. Look for management tools from the vendors and providers that support reporting for capacity planning, voice quality, service levels, and security.
  8. Do not expect the time allocated will be enough. Add some time for unanticipated issues.

Are you ready to save money today using SIP?
Call Professional Telecommunications Services, Inc. at (513) 232-7700.

Success with SIP

Beyond SIP Trunks and Phones

To the right is an excerpt of a white paper by Gary Audin Titled: Success with SIP. It will take you through what you need to know about SIP before you invest in SIP-supported products and services. You'll learn the various functions of SIP and the advantages.

Read the entire report "Success with SIP".
The download is FREE.

Should You Trust The Cloud?

Cloud Security

It seems like everything is stored on the cloud these days. Photos, documents, applications and much more. In early November, an Amazon Web Services executive, Adam Jassy, stated, "The cloud is the new normal." He said this after discussing the move many major companies are making into the cloud computing realm.

This brings in the renewed question of reliability--and trust. If major companies put trust into cloud systems, and some even move a bulk of their web services and applications to the cloud, what does this indicate for smaller businesses?

Many cloud services, such as those offered by Google, Microsoft and Oracle, have proven cost-effective for these and many other companies, big and small. Not only that, businesses say it makes them more "agile" and they can connect with customers much quicker. Of course, some companies, such as Google, are making it diffi cult to avoid the cloud, putting emphasis on it with the popular Google Drive and Gmail.

But with seemingly constant security breaches, is it worth the risk? There are several questions that need to be asked, centered squarely on security. Is anything you put in the cloud truly secure? Or what happens if the cloud-hosting company goes under?

In reality, what you have in the cloud is just about as secure as anything on your computer's hard drive at home--if not more so – as long as you choose a reputable provider to store your data. As cloud services become more prevalent, companies are putting increased emphasis on security. Their clients are demanding it, and when your clients are multibillion-dollar companies, you listen. As for the likelihood of a company going under, this again decreases to negligible rates when you choose larger and more widely known companies. While it might be tempting to go with a small start-up whose offering or price differs from their big competitors, it can be risky. So this risk must be weighed against the benefi ts of the provider to determine if it is worth it for you and your company.

The bottom line is the cloud isn't something to fear or avoid. From a small business perspective, it comes down to what you feel comfortable storing "out there." If you have concerns about your cloud usage or are thinking about expanding your cloud services and are looking for advice or suggestions, we would be happy to help.

Note to Self