Stacks of bills waiting to be paid no longer sit on your desk like they might have just a few years ago. Today there are emails letting you know when they have arrived as part of a document workflow. Now you can review each one, sign digitally, add electronic sticky notes when needed and approve to be paid. Once you’re finished, the images are gone and you’re off to your next project. All of this was done with digital images as part of a pre-defined workflow process that was paperless, yet started at the Multifunctional Printer (MFP).

 

The printing industry has changed over the last 10-15 years. More importantly, the role of the multifunctional printer (MFP) has changed, starting with its name from copier to MFP. In the early 2000s, the copier really was just that—a copier. It wasn’t until businesses started connecting them to their networks that they became MFPs with users relying on them for printing as well. It was then just a matter of time before people figured out that if you could push printing to the MFP, you could also send scanned documents from it back to the personal computer or network. Suddenly scanned PDF files were everywhere.

 

The evolution of the MFP is really what drove the business community towards document management. With scanning so readily available business owners saw that they could begin digitally filing their paper-based records without the added cost of a dedicated scanner. These early adopters typically tried to emulate their computer file systems by carefully structuring a file system and naming the scanned PDF files. This was great for getting rid of the paper, but as volumes increased, it became quickly apparent that finding these scanned records was not as easy as first thought.

 

A document management solution became the next logical step with many users simply looking for a way to scan, store and retrieve their documents. Nothing fancy, just helps to get rid of the paper while giving a way to put your hands on important information when the time comes. But like most things, technology changes and with it changed the expectations of the business market. More and more, the MFP became less about printing and more about the flow of business information.

 

Quickly document workflow became the driving force and the multifunctional printer not only became the place for documents to be captured, it became the catalyst for triggering a workflow process. In just a few years, paper documents were now being routed to their recipients with notifications of their arrival being sent and rules defining the paths they would take.

 

Most of us can admit that we still love our paper and there are many times we want to print images and flip through the pages as we digest the information. That’s OK—the cost of printing on a MFP is about 10% of what it used to be on a standard printer ten years ago. If the truth were told, we would probably print just as much as we always have since information is so readily available and printing is just plain cheap. The difference is that we just don’t file it any longer, we scan it.

 

It’s only been about 10-12 years since the MFP was just a copier. Today, MFPs are already designed to handle specialty media, like envelopes and labels, easily. Certain MFPs are taking it one step further by turning into a full-functioning mailing center, printing commercial discounted postage directly onto your project—saving you additional time and money. The landscape of a typical office has changed and has never been so smart, or so easy as it is today.

 

The possibilities surrounding a changing business world are exciting and it’s not clear to many exactly where they’ll lead us. What is sure is that where document information is being communicated, it will likely continue to flow through the MFP as an on-ramp to digital information management and productivity.

 

James Walker, Regional Director of Managed IT Services

James oversees the Chattanooga, Nashville and Huntsville markets of our managed IT Services department. In his role he manages service delivery and support of engineers in all regions, does security and compliance auditing, and works with businesses in network design, implementation and troubleshooting. He has been in the technology industry for over 24 years. James is originally from Boston, MA and works out of our Chattanooga office. He joined RJ Young in January 2013 through the acquisition of his previous company, Preferred Computers, Inc.

 

 

 

Office 365 is a widely adopted suite of Microsoft software, with many features to help increase productivity—right at your fingertips. Read below to find ten little known features of Office 365, with links to online tutorials, that will help make progress toward your goals—faster.

 

  1. Document Co-Authoring

Quit emailing documents back and forth and always work from the latest version of a document. Co-authoring in Word, PowerPoint and Excel web apps allow multiple users to work on the same document at the same time. Learn more.

 

  1. Real-Time Document Collaboration

Message with co-workers and collaborate in real-time while viewing documents with the “Chat” feature in the Word, PowerPoint and Excel web apps. Learn more.

 

  1. Document Linking

Quit emailing documents and link to your documents via Office 365 cloud storage in the Outlook web app. The link will automatically allow recipients to edit the document. Learn more.

 

  1. Meeting To-Do Lists in Outlook

Using OneNote, write a to-do list in Outlook and easily convert the list into calendar items with deadlines, reminders and details regarding the meeting. Learn more.

 

  1. Automated Inbox De-Clutter in Outlook

Microsoft has introduced a “Clutter” folder in Outlook. You can teach Outlook to automatically move certain types of messages from certain senders to your “Clutter” folder. This allows you to focus on more pressing messages and get around to the rest at a later time. Learn more.

 

  1. Ignore Reply-All Emails in Outlook

Ignore the infamous (and annoying) reply-all conversations. In Outlook, just click the “Ignore” button in the “Home” tab and you will be removed from the reply-all email chain that’s been quickly taking over your email feed. Learn more.

 

  1. Data to Images in Excel

The latest version of Excel includes a feature called Power Map which helps convert rows of data in to images. If the data involved geography it can turn the data in to a 3D map.  Learn more.

 

  1. Quick Data Analysis in Excel

Excel has rolled out a new feature called “Quick Analysis” that takes the data you’ve selected and presents you with a variety of options as to how to present that data, quickly. Learn more.

 

  1. Auto-Reformat Data in Excel

Excel now has a feature called “Flash Fill” that sees the work you are performing in a new column and does the rest of it for you. For example, if you’re trying to combine data from two columns, you do this once and it will provide you with the option to fill the rest of the column using that example. Learn more.

 

  1. Edit PDFs in Word

You can convert PDFs in to an editable Word document and also save Word documents as PDFs. Open with Word and hit “Ok” when it asks if you would like to covert the PDF. Learn more.

 

These Office 365 productivity tools lets you create, edit and share with anyone in real time.  With the their online tutorials, Office 365 helps guide you in setting up each feature, step-by-step. Making you, well on your way to becoming more productive—and more efficient. If you office needs a information technology upgrade to be more productive, please, give us a call.

 

Brantley Pearce, Director of IT Services

Brantley leads a team of IT professionals whose primary goal is to help organizations use their IT resources in a way that helps them proactively maintain their network and allows them to be more productive.  He joined RJ Young in 2005 but has been in the IT industry for almost a decade.  Brantley is originally from Houston, Texas and works out of our Nashville, TN office. In his spare time he volunteers for multiple organizations. Brantley is married and has two daughters.

 

 

The end of the year is a time of reflection for many business owners, as they reflect on the year past and set new goals with excitement and vitality—all in the name of getting more accomplished in the year ahead to achieve greater success. However, frequently, technology hiccups are hurdles to getting more done, or improving productivity, in small businesses.

These are 6 technology tips to help small business owners improve productivity and achieve more considerable success in the New Year.

 

1. Plan for New Technology—Before You Need It

Often poor planning leads to outdated technology and lack of funds to invest in new hardware (laptops to copiers), software or services to make upgrades to keep pace with a growing small business. During annual planning, create a technology roadmap, outlining anticipated needs for the coming year (or longer) and accrue funds and secure partners accordingly.

2. Conduct Regular PC Check Ups—Run Updates in Timely Manner

Installing updates to central operating systems is key to ensuring your network and personal computing devices run smoothly and to minimizing downtime. Lack of updating these systems often requires a call to vendors or consultants for support. These calls lead to downtime and unplanned expenses that set you back on your goals.

3. Electronic Data is More Efficient—Shift Documents to Electronic Files

The cost of producing paper records and managing paper documents adds up. Consider that printing costs reportedly consume 1-3% of annual revenues for most organizations, and the popular four-drawer filing cabinet is estimated to cost $25,000 to fill and $2,100 annually to maintain. This output in manual form is not searchable, shareable or secure. As document scanning, capture and storage systems are increasingly adopted by businesses of all sizes, look to a system to assist in document information management. Most multi-functional copiers are compatible with basic document management systems.

4. Secure Your Data—Back Up Data Regularly

Electronic data capture is essential to businesses. Securing the electronic data with a reliable, multi-pronged, systematic backup system is critical to ensure business continuity. Nearly half (44%) of the companies that experience a disaster never recover business data and almost as many (47%) go out of business in two years.

5. Seek Expert Help—Inexperience Can Cost You

Experienced IT managers can ensure your network is set-up according to best practices. A network designed to specs outside the IT industry norm can be costly to repair when issues do arise. Should you be forced to switch to another provider, the cost could exponentially grow as that team learns your unique network set-up.

6. Get the Most from What You Have—Office 365 Tips

Leveraging the investments you have already made can help you with productivity. Explore the functionality of the software and technology in which you have already made investments. Microsoft Office 365 is a conventional software package, which packs a lot of functionality in its various programs. Watch tutorials, join online forums or search for blog postssuch as this oneon tips on using this software to help with productivity.

Follow these six tips to help your small business avoid IT hiccups in the coming year, allowing you to focus on jumping the significant hurdles to increased productivity and success. Should you need help ensuring your small business information technology network is set-up for your success, let me help.

Sources: NAPO, Gartner, Cooper & Lybrand, Ernest & Young, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Document Management Research

Read more about Managed IT Services.

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Mike Noffsinger, Director of Sales East

Mike is RJ Young’s Regional Director of Sales, East. Mike is responsible for sales in the Nashville, Chattanooga, Rome-Georgia and Huntsville markets and Managed IT Services, Software Solutions, High Volume/Production Print and Managed Print Services divisions throughout the Southeast. In his spare time, Mike enjoys Kentucky Wildcats basketball and is an avid mountain biker. Mike works out of our Nashville, TN office and is married with two children.

 

At some point unplanned and unavoidable expenses have hit us all. Car trouble on a busy freeway. Leaky roof in a spring rainstorm. Air-conditioning break in the heat of summer? It’s an awful feeling, especially when you discover that you could have invested in preventative measures that would have been less expensive and less stressful all along. These avoidable emergencies happen in business just as they happen in your household and stress cash flow just the same. Often these emergencies begin with the company’s information technology network.

Many small to mid-size organizations are not able to support the investment of a full-time information technology team. In a consistently evolving and increasingly technology dependent business environment, this means that their companies do not receive the strategic technology planning, monitoring, training and help-desk support to prevent issues that lead can lead to network disasters.

Like when your air conditioning quits on a 100-degree day, when your network goes down on a busy workday, it gets your attention. It’s urgent, and you will pay whatever it costs to get your business up and running smoothly again. However, there are programs, called managed network services or managed IT services, that are tailored to provide IT support to small and mid-size businesses  – to prevent such disasters.

Most managed IT services providers charge one flat monthly fee to provide typical IT services to businesses including: strategic IT planning, monitoring, anti-virus protection and help desk support. As with your seasonal heating and air conditioning maintenance plans, most providers charge a set monthly fee to avoid the disasters and take care of smaller matters as they arise.

The chief benefits of managed IT services are:

  • Predictable IT Spending
  • Reduced Downtime
  • Owners Focus on Business Strategy
  • Operations Focus on Daily Tasks
  • Strategic Technology Planning

Just like you know that a cool Fall and cold winter will turn into a hot summer day eventually, you know that the IT needs to support your business will change. You know that you will encounter challenges. The question is, will your IT planning get your attention now, or will you sweat it out when it becomes a crisis for your business?

 

 

Sometimes the easiest way to describe a well-designed network is to describe one that wasn’t. Poorly designed networks are like a house I saw on HGTV – built small by today’s standards, but typical for its era. As more room was needed, the owners built on more rooms; as electrical codes changed, the newer parts of the home received that wiring while the rest of the home was left with nylon-wrapped two-wire copper. The resulting home feels like a labyrinth of wasted space that you can’t plug anything new into.

Many small businesses have computer networks that are built like that home – a patchwork of reactivity to the need for increased capacity, new compliance standards or repairs to the existing infrastructure. These design choices result in inefficient and unreliable networks that are expensive to maintain due to complexity and lack of future planning. They are what I would label a purpose-evolved network.

An alternative to the purpose-evolved network is a well-designed one. A well-designed network incorporates a plan to address future needs for capacity and performance and is proactively maintained to avoid service interruptions that bring business to a halt. The network expenses are planned and budgeted. Assets – the components that make up your network – servers, switches, routers, wireless access points, PCs, laptops, smartphones and the software they run – are tracked and scheduled for refresh within a timeframe which is reasonable for performance and reliability that fits your IT budget.  Components are chosen which deliver the best performance and reliability for the services your company needs to run while delivering the best five-year return on investment.

Much like you would want to know the methods a candidate for management in your company would employ to achieve their goals – another important design factor to consider is the makeup of your current or potential IT provider’s company itself.  What tools do they have available to design and maintain your network – and what safeguards do they put in place to keep their own network running? This is important because whether you know it or not – an interruption in their network services will directly affect their ability to maintain yours.

You should talk with your existing IT firm or any IT firm you are considering about their design ideas. 

  • What factors do they consider in designing your network?
  • How have they designed their own?
  • What processes have they established in their business?
  • Do they have standards in place that will help you achieve your own goals for performance and reliability?

If you don’t exit the conversation feeling like they are employing a good design, then it’s time to start looking for a firm that does.

 

James oversees the Chattanooga, Nashville and Huntsville markets of our managed IT Services department. In his role he manages service delivery and support of engineers in all regions, does security and compliance auditing, and works with businesses in network design, implementation and troubleshooting. He has been in the technology industry for over 24 years. James is originally from Boston, MA and works out of our Chattanooga office. He joined RJ Young in January 2013 through the acquisition of his previous company, Preferred Computers, Inc. 

 

Most people look at the computer on their desk and think “it’s a computer” and “it does this stuff.” If you pin said person down and ask them what that “stuff” is, you would probably get an answer along the lines of, “well, you know email, and Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office.” If you asked CAD engineers they would say Pro-E or Solidworks, accountants would list QuickBooks, Excel or a tax package, medical workers would reference an EMR or practice management package such as eClinical Works, Allscripts or Athena.

The more you asked the worker about their day, the more you would wonder why you’ve been buying so many pens and pencils because you realized EVERYTHING your workers do is on their computer. The “stuff” your workers’ computers do for them, and for you are called “network services.” We keep those services running with a high-level of availability by managing them, thus the term Managed Network Services (MNS)– much like the janitorial department transitioned to the name of “Environmental Services,” the geeks have come up with a fancy name to say we keep your “stuff” working.

It’s not just Managed Service Providers (MSPs) that build MNS programs – every IT department and computer firm in the world provides MNS.  But just like any department in your company – you need a good manager.  You need a person to manage your services that can comprehend how important they are to your company’s existence, that can see the big picture of your company’s growth and that doesn’t try and run a budget like the US Government.  So whether or not they claim the title, if you hire an IT firm to help your company, you are hiring a MSP. 

So then, if you were hiring a Quarterback would you pick up a guy who loves to play wide receiver, or the guy who has spent his life preparing to be a franchise QB?  Just remember, when it comes to contracting an IT firm, you should hire a company who has been structured entirely to be an MSP.

 

James Walker

Regional Director of Managed IT Services.

James oversees the Chattanooga, Nashville and Huntsville markets of our managed IT Services department. In his role he manages service delivery and support of engineers in all regions, does security and compliance auditing, and works with businesses in network design, implementation and troubleshooting. He has been in the technology industry for over 24 years. James is originally from Boston, MA and works out of our Chattanooga office. He joined RJ Young in January 2013 through the acquisition of his previous company, Preferred Computers, Inc.