Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Implementing Tech Projects (Part III)

Part III - Pilot

(no, not this kind)

Implementing any technology project can be challenging in that technology itself changes so quickly and your employees may have different expectations with the solution. A pilot phase is very effective to "test" the solution and confirm all expectations are met.

1. Once your vendor has been identified, you can request a pilot or trial solution be put into place for limited use to test results.

2. Establish a set of metrics that will be used to validate your ROI and overall effectiveness of your goals.

3. After the pilot solution is implemented, be sure to measure the effectiveness and verify that the problems in phase I are being solved.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Implementing Technology Solutions (Part II)

Phase II - Budget & Scope

In Phase I we qualified our potential solution within the realm of technology and now we need to define the scope of the solution. Without defining scope, you will run the risk of your project growing out of control in both time and money. This is the phase where you should spend the time to clearly document the business requirements or "what" will be implemented.

1. Bring all the necessary players together to discuss the objectives of the project.

2. Determine how the problem that was identified in Phase I affects all key players.

3. Discuss how the problem can be solved with technology and be specific as it relates to your current business practices and workflows.

4. Document your findings and discussions.

5. Once the solution has been identified, you can present your documents to your preferred vendor(s) and obtain proposals or quotes.

Part III will discuss how to make sure you are setup to gain enough benefit for your project.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Implementing Technology Solutions (Part I)

As your business grows, you will likely find more ways to use technology to increase production (and hopefully, profits). Making the decision to enhance your technology environment in order to achieve your business objectives is a necessary milestone, but it is equally important to identify the scope and budget of your project before jumping into implementation.

This article explains a phased approach that will help you maximize your budget and provide the greatest results when considering a technology enhancement.

Phase I - Business Need

This initial phase is designed to help you determine if you have answered the "why" questions as it relates to your objectives. You should be able to clearly identify the business benefit (return on investment) for your potential project after completing this phase. Here are the steps that will guide you through this phase:

  • What is the problem/deficiency that needs your investment in time and money to be solved?
  • Does your business challenge absolutely require new or enhanced technology?
  • Do your employees require additional training with existing systems?Can the challenge be solved by changing the workflow or business practices?
  • Once the problem is clearly defined and the solution points to technology improvements, a preliminary budget can be established.

Phase II will discuss how to define the scope of your project.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Six Ways To Hacker-Safe Computing

Six easy ways to protect your personal information online:

  1. Shield your PC and wireless router with firewalls and software to catch viruses and spyware. Be sure to turn on automatic updates.
  2. Create difficult passwords and change them often. Don’t let websites autosave them.
  3. Ignore and delete emails urging you to click on a link to verify account information when you know you haven’t requested verification.
  4. Connect to your valuable accounts from your own computer and never a public computer or hot-spot.
  5. Avoid unknown sites offering free music and game downloads; much spyware implanted there.
  6. Do not open email attachments (showing the paperclip) from senders you do not know.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Who's the best domain registrar?

It's almost to the point where it's literally, a dime a dozen. Domain registrars are the companies that hold a database of domain names and the detailed information about the domains. For example:

"domainname.com" would have the following attributes in the database:

-website IP address (can be the registrar or a third party hosting company)
-A records (friendly name, i.e. www.domainname.com)
-MX records (email server address)
-CNAME records (other friendly name, i.e. office.domainname.com)
-SOA (start of authority)
-domain owner (you)
-domain administrator (could be different than owner)

When you purchase a domain name, the registrar will have you supply this information so that the new domain can be found on the Internet. Typically, it takes 24 hours or less for the domain name to be "live" once this information is provided.

All in all, it's a fairly simple process to register a domain since most registrars make the process very easy to understand. Every registrar will provide a search feature that let's you find a domain name and insure that it's unique. If the name is already taken, they will likely suggest a list of similar names that are available.

So, who are the best registrars? Well, there are thousands of them and they all provide the same service, but there are a few that stand out.

  • $5/yr. for each domain name (one of the cheapest)
  • very simple registration process
  • easy navigation
  • good options for hosting the website
  • a few limitations for mail routing
  • $29/yr. for each domain name
  • simple registration/easy navigation
  • lots of extra services that can be bundled (search ads, website templates, etc..)
WSMdomains.com (part of hosting.com)
  • $15/yr. for each domain name
  • simple registration/easy navigation
  • very cool spf feature for reducing spam
So who's the best? Well, they are all so very much the same that you really can't go wrong with any of them. However, wsmdomains.com has every feature you will need and the spam reduction configuration is worth the extra $10/yr. over Yahoo.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Google Apps Draw Converts

Some early adopters like the price of Google's online suite over packaged bundles such as Microsoft Office.Amen brother! I believe that most small businesses can convert their back office to Google Apps without much pain. Sure, everyone knows how to use Word and Excel, but the collaborative nature outweighs the learning curve.

read more | digg story

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Seth's Blog: Memo to the very small

Advice on how very local businesses can use Web 2.0 to build business.

read more | digg story

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A word or two about data backup

Every company, large or small, should use some kind of backup for essential records and database files. More times than not, a company will have an automated back up schedule on a daily basis for important records. They may also perform complete system backups on a weekly basis or biweekly basis. These backups are also normally stored on site or on a network for easy access, although they may occasionally send copies to a more secure offsite location.

Your back up schedule ultimately depends on what your business does and how important your data is. Therefore, you should ask yourself -- are you backing up your data enough? Be sure to discuss your back up schedule with your IT professional by following these four guidelines below:

  1. Back up your most important files at least once a day. In some cases, such as vital database files, you may want to back them up even more often.

  2. If you back up files to a Zip drive or other portable media, rotate your backups between two or three different disks. That way, if a disk fails you still have additional (albeit slightly less recent) backups.

  3. Move backup media to a secure location, such as a fireproof safe or cabinet, on a regular schedule.

  4. Use software to manage your backups. Good backup software can save individual files that you choose, it can automatically save all files that have changed since the last backup or it can back up the entire system on whatever schedule you select. Many online backup services offer scheduled backups - an especially convenient feature if you're using a slow modem connection to upload your backups at night or on weekends.

  5. Finally, there are some online services providing data backup that are proving to be an ideal solution. Mozy (http://www.mozy.com) is a free service (up to 2gb) and has a very simple interface and robust solution.
Any way you choose, backing up your data is like changing your socks. After a few months of ignoring it, you will have issues.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Free Alternative to Microsoft

Most of the software from Microsoft is rock-solid, also expensive. Here are some alternatives that are also robust - and FREE:

Firefox Browser (alternative to Internet Explorer)

Thunderbird Email Client (alternative to Outlook Express)

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Online Tools/Resources

Here is a list of online tools that will help your business.

  • http://www.blogger.com
  • Create a blog like the one you are reading. It's very easy and free. Share your knowledge with your collegues and customers.
  • http://www.digg.com
  • Digg is a resource to find popular articles that probably won't show up in major media. You can view Top 10 articles by categories. This blog will have a digg link eventually.
  • http://www.constantcontact.com
  • Constant contact is a email newsletter service. It has many rich features to create text or html emails for your customer base. The best feature is email address management. You can create multiple lists based on your audience. Cost is about $15/mo. for up to 500 email addresses.