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

June 2015

In This Issue...


JR Hazenfield

"As a business owner, you don't have time to waste on technical and operational issues. That's where we shine! Call us and put an end to your IT problems finally and forever!"

– JR Hazenfield, Professional Telecommunications Services, Inc.

Are Employees Robbing You Blind One Wasted Hour At A Time?

You know your employees waste some time at work—be it checking their Facebook page, texting or simply goofing off by the water cooler. But how much time is too much? The results of Salary.com's survey show an alarming increase in the hours employees are goofing off at work. In 2013, the survey revealed that 69% of employees wasted time at work. In 2014—just one year later—that number increased to 89% of the over 750 respondents. While the majority wasted 30 minutes to an hour, there were people who admitted to wasting half a day.

If a full time employee with two weeks' vacation wastes just ONE measly hour a day, it equals 250 hours burned or six weeks of paid time wasted on non work related activities. Ask yourself this: How much more could you profit, advance, scale or improve your company if every employee volunteered to work six weeks a year for free? While no employee would ever agree to that, it's become commonplace for employees to do this to their employers—and wasting one hour a day is hardly the worst!

As you might imagine, the Internet is at the core of the problem, with employees keeping their Facebook page open throughout the day or generally surfing the Internet for any number of personal pursuits. Worse yet, when people are distracted watching March Madness or chatting with their friends on Facebook, they're NOT taking care of customers, answering the phone or simply doing their job to the best of their ability. After all, NO ONE can deliver their best work when distracted or constantly interrupted. So what can you do to decrease the temptation to use social media?

First, create and enforce an Internet use policy. If posting on Facebook every 30 minutes is not acceptable workplace behavior, then you need to tell your employees. Next, reinforce those rules with content filtering software or firewall controls that won't allow certain employees to access social media sites during work hours on company devices.

Implementing this will cause pushback—particularly from the worse offenders. But if your goal is to run a profitable, focused and highly competitive business, it's imperative to your profits to nip any waste in your organization. We can help you implement a solid plan and policy that will automatically boost your organization's productivity. Give us a call today!


How To Make Tough Decisions

When facing a major business decision, use the time tested Benjamin Franklin methodology.

Big decisions can be tough to make because we don't own a crystal ball to see into the future and it's easy to go in circles in our own mind. Further, not all consequences—both good and bad—can be predicted. And since most entrepreneurs live in a state of overwhelm already, it's important to have a trusted process for making important decisions quickly.

If you're not familiar with the process, start by creating two lists on a single sheet of paper: Pros and Cons. Next, write down every Pro for making a decision or moving ahead, and all the potential downsides (Cons) as well. Give yourself a few days to process this list and allow your mind to think of new pros and cons as they come to you. Get input on the list from people you trust and add their ideas to your list.

Next, give a weight to each pro and each con—after all, one BIG pro can easily outweigh a few minor cons and vice versa. Then tally up both sides and it will become obvious just how risky your decision is or whether the pros outweigh the cons. If nothing else, this process will force you to get all the questions out of your head and onto a piece of paper where they can be evaluated. In the end you have the information you need to make a final decision. Just remember there is no way any of us can guess all the variable pros and cons to any decision—and since you can't steer a parked car, MAKING a decision is the only way you can truly know if you made the right one or not.

Franklin is credited with the two column pro and con list method of making decisions, and people have used it for centuries. While simplistic, it's an easy and effective technique that works.

When you finally announce your new direction or decision to your staff, just tell them that you talked to your business consultant "Ben," and he is in 100% agreement with what you chose to do.

BEn


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Cloud Managed Security

Cisco's Meraki line of products give you the power to easily control what websites your employees can access. For example, you can allow certain employees in your marketing department to access social media sites but no others employees access to them. Here is a quick rundown of how it works:

Identity based filtering policies:
Granular identity based policies can be tailored to specific groups wherever Active Directory is used, with whitelists providing a means to exclude certain users and websites from all filtering. Policy management of AD groups is handled directly in the dashboard, and direct queries of the AD server enable an intuitive interface without the need for AD based setup or agents, reducing configuration steps and making group based filtering a breeze.

Scalable database with SafeSearch integration:
When a device attempts to access a web page, the address is checked against a database of URIs. Addresses are passed through a series of pattern matching steps so that, for example, access to a specific URL on a website may be allowed, with others excluded. Specific URL addresses can be added to a whitelist to take precedence over the filter. While filtering can traditionally be a complex and time consuming activity, the Cisco Meraki solution provides improved workflows and greater efficiency for the network administrator.

Integration with Google and Bing SafeSearch enables a safe and secure internet environment with a single click. YouTube for Schools and YouTube EDU integration make managing educational content and access easy, and integrated web caching accelerates video and web downloads across the network.

Automatic, cloud based signature updates:
Cisco Meraki's content filtering is simple to administer, with more than 80 categories of websites available to be blocked to all but whitelisted users. Cisco Meraki's MX Security Appliances work behind the scenes with the Cisco Meraki cloud, providing the network administrator with access to this powerful tool from a single pane of glass. Filtering signatures are updated automatically via the cloud, eliminating the need to manually purchase, track, or apply updates, and ensuring policies are always up to date.

Technologies: Content Filtering
Cisco Meraki's sophisticated content filtering enables the users of your network to enjoy the benefits of the Internet while remaining protected from inappropriate or harmful content, maintaining productivity and compliance with applicable business and regulatory requirements.

Call us today (513) 624-5113 for a free demonstration so you can see how easy it is manage your employees with SafeSearch integration.


5 Easy Ways To Eliminate E-mail Overload

1. Set your "send and receive" to only twice a day. If you're like me, you need to access your e-mail to work, whether it's sending tasks to others or looking up communications relevant to a project you're working on. Problem is, it's EXTREMELY tempting to go down the e-mail rabbit hole when you open it up, because there's ALWAYS some new e-mail there tempting you to open it. If you set the "send and receive" to only exchange a few designated times per day, you'll eliminate the temptation of NEW e-mails popping up.

2. Unsubscribe from anything that's not necessary. Over time, your e-mail clutters up like a junk drawer and will cause you to take several minutes a day to process through all the spam to get to important e-mails. Therefore, take a little time every month to just unsubscribe from anything that really isn't necessary, including social media notifications. (Do you REALLY need to be instantly notified every time someone comments on Facebook?)

3. Turn off notifications. If a neighbor was ringing your doorbell every time they had a random question, you'd shoot 'em. So why are you letting yourself be constantly distracted with a "ding" or a pop-up when an e-mail arrives? It's not like you aren't going to go and check it. And if there IS a critical communication you need to be aware of, have that person contact you via phone; if it's THAT important, it will warrant a phone call.

4. Set up rules to presort e-mails. Doing this organizes your inbox into groups of messages so you can focus on clearing and answering all the e-mails related to one subject, making you far more productive.

5. Delete, delete, delete! Once you've answered an e-mail, DELETE it! If it's critical, file it. Here's another tip: Sort your messages by the "From" address. Often looking at your inbox this way will allow you to quickly erase e-mails that are related, answered and DONE.


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