Waident will now be providing technical support for iZale Financial Group, a boutique firm specializing in executive benefits, business continuation planning, life insurance and estate planning.
With main offices in Schaumburg, Illinois, iZale Financial Group offers deeply respected industry experience that spans four decades. The firm provides clients with extensive pre- and post-purchase services, and takes pride in the depth of its analysis and emphasis on building long-term client relationships.
“We selected Waident because we have had significant growth over the past two years, with more expected in the next several years, and need a technology support solution that can flexibly grow with us,” said R. Scott Richardson, JD, President and CEO of iZale.
The Waident team will be providing day-to-day helpdesk support and proactive network management. Additionally, Waident leaders will lend strategic guidance to help identify the right technology to support iZale’s growth.
A Forbes blog entitled “3 Reasons Why Great Companies Stop Growing—And the Solution” said it well, “When companies grow, they come to certain places where the things that used to work, the things that created that level of success, don’t work anymore. We call these inflection points.” In my experience, there are at least two different technology-related inflection points in small to mid-sized companies. The first is in the 10-30 person range, and then again around 150-200 people. In this blog, I’ll talk about the first, and will tackle bigger companies in my next blog.
Small companies often rely on "Two-fers"
We have worked with more than one small company where all the tech support defaulted to the one person who was most technically able (often the owner or a senior partner). This person ends up doing two jobs at once, eventually spending as much as 30-40% of their time on tech support, which eats into their ability to do the job for which they were hired. This multi-tasking works (and may even be necessary) when the company is small, but it can hobble the company’s growth. The two-fers seem like a good deal until you take into account the opportunity costs of focusing on secondary activities like helping a colleague deal with a computer virus, or deciding what server to buy, or identifying how technology can drive more efficiency. What is the two-fer neglecting to work on technology – strategic planning? creating new products? selling? marketing? What debilitating technical issues are beyond their skill set? How is productivity for the larger organization suffering?
This is a growth inflection point.
I've seen companies respond in several different ways:
There is a better way.
There are a number of companies like Waident who provide outsourced technology managed services. Of course, we think we are better than most. At the end of the day, your IT support has to feel like an integral, trusted part of your team – committed, knowledgeable about your business, and on your side. Take a look at what our clients say about us, and you’ll see that we are among the best in the business at what we do.
Task: It seems I often lose my default printer, and need to reset it manually each time I print.
Solution: Simplify my printing tasks by making my most frequently used printer the default.
Change default in Windows 7:
Change default in XP:
Once you have set a printer as the default you can still print from other printers you have access to on your system or network. To print from a different printer other than your default: Click on the File menu and select Print. The print dialogue box displays all installed printers. Select the printer you wish to use and click OK to close the dialog box.
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Change is never easy, even if you’re getting out of a relationship that’s no longer working for you. We know this from experience. Nearly every time we bring on a new client, they’ve recently broken up with their old IT firm or had employees quit or get fired (here’s a list of 100 possible reasons why). Causes aside, the real concern is how to best manage the transition as seamlessly as possible.
Over the course of dozens of client onboarding experiences, I’ve learned a few things about managing change in technology:
Whenever we start a new relationship, we recognize that the first few months are an investment. We have to spend time to uncover and clear away the baggage from old relationships, communicating like crazy all the while. We’ve found our onboarding process helps builds a stable, enduring partnership. After all, we don’t like to break up any more than our clients do.
Cybercriminals have launched yet another spam campaign, impersonating LinkedIn, in an attempt to trick its users into clicking on the malicious links found in the bogus “Invitation Notification” themed emails. Once they click on the links, users are automatically exposed to the client-side exploits served by the Black Hole Exploit Kit. We realize several of our clients use LinkedIn so we wanted to share this threat information. Click here to see more details, including a sample screen shot of the email.
While we do everything we can to protect our clients' systems, the single biggest factor in preventing a malware infection on a PC is an individual's behavior. Each one of us needs to be vigilant to avoid downloading and installing anything we do not understand or trust, no matter how tempting, from different sources. The LinkedIn threat is one of many major sites that they spoof, so always be cautious when clicking a link or opening an attachment. This article from PCWorld.com offers good suggestions for smart online behavior.
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Task: Edit, print, send or save documents efficiently without errors or delays related to protective mode. Several documents keep opening in “Protected View” with the yellow bar across the top and cause delays in my work when I try to process these files and I receive errors trying to open, edit, print or save.
Solution: Exit or Turn off Protected View, which is a default feature with Microsoft 2010. Protected View is a read-only mode in which most editing functions have been disabled. Files default to protected view for several reasons, most commonly as a precaution in case the file is unsafe. When opening the file a yellow bar will appear at the top stating something like:
Protected View This file originated from an Internet location and might be unsafe.
Protected View This file originated as an e-mail attachment and might be unsafe.
If you just need to review the document you can leave it in Protected View. Otherwise you have the follow 2 options:
To Exit Protected View for a document:
To Turn off Protected View:
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My laptop is about 3 years old, and is small and light enough to easily carry around. I like it overall and had no desire to get a new one – except for its lagging speed, which was becoming worse over time. It would take close to five minutes to boot up and be fully functional (i.e., the time it takes to be able to actually use Outlook). Not only was my machine getting slower, it was also having multiple Windows “ghost” issues that I couldn’t shake (you know, the strange error messages and random odd things that happen intermittently). I had learned to live with the slow booting, but once I started having other problems, I had to act.
I opted to reinstall Windows. I have written in the past about how as Windows gets older it slows down and doing a rebuild can help speed things up. Since I was already emotionally committed to a rebuild, I decided to also check out the option of replacing my hard drive with an SSD (solid state drive). They are lighter, multiple times faster than a traditional hard drive AND use less power so battery life is better. The drawbacks? Historically they have been more expensive and have less capacity.
So I did a little research. Turns out that I could pick up a new SSD drive for less than I thought. Also it was easily large enough to handle my needs (my laptop drive was 400 gigs and after 3 years I was only using about 60 gigs). I took the plunge on a new SSD drive and I am SO glad I did! My laptop now boots up in about 30 seconds. Opening up applications like Outlook with all of the add-ins used to take about 15 seconds and now it takes about 3 seconds. Generally everything I do now is much faster and it’s like working on a brand new computer. Yes, it did take me a few hours one afternoon to reinstall Windows and set it all up again, but it was well worth the time.
If you are looking for an SSD, there are a lot of options. Many of them are really inexpensive, but the performance might be lacking. For $180, I picked up the Cosair 180 gig SSD since it had the latest technology, great read/write speeds, and very good performance reviews. I’ve seen other good options that are 250 gigs and less than $150, so there are some good deals to be had.
If you have an aging computer that is slowing down, go out and get yourself a new SSD hard drive and invest the time and effort to reinstall Windows. Any new laptops I purchase in the future will be sure to have an SSD hard drive. They are worth the slight cost premium, especially since cloud file storage is more viable than ever, reducing the need for huge hard drives.
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You remember that moment in the classic movie The Wizard of Oz when Toto pulls back the curtain on the blustery man behind “the great and powerful Oz”? The moment when you think, really, he’s not so scary after all? Like the Wizard, too often IT companies fuel versus dispel potential clients’ ignorance and fear. Why? To increase their importance and power, of course.
Lack of Transparency: The most recent example I saw was an IT Director telling me that his current IT support firm could not share their technology management tools with him. There was some mysterious software licensing restriction and they were not allowed to give the client access to the useful information. I called B.S. -- it turns out that one of their tools is the same one that Waident uses. Not only do we routinely share the tool with clients, but the manufacturer in fact recommends this kind of sharing.
If that’s best practice, why in the world wouldn’t that IT support firm deploy the tool to the client user? My gut tells me that there are two selfish reasons. First, they would need to redo the security since there is currently none in place (i.e., all of their tech guys have access to everything – not a good thing). Second, sharing the tool would allow the client to hold them accountable for everything they do since they can see it all. Waident recommends that our clients’ IT employees have access to our tools. This kind of transparency empowers the clients to hold us accountable.
Expertise Creep: Here’s another example. Beware the vendor that claims a broad range of expertise – just because they’ve done it once, it becomes a bullet point in a laundry list of capabilities on their website. They may SAY they’re experts, but it doesn’t mean they are. Often this projection of phantom expertise is driven by an attitude of “I’ll do anything for a buck.” My experience is that somebody who claims to be good at everything is great at nothing.
Be willing to ask your vendor how often they have done something, when they last did it, and how many people have the expertise. Ask for references of happy clients. If you get bluster, re-direction or silence, you have your answer.
Pull Back the Curtain: Does your tech team have an approach that focuses on education, transparency and accountability? Or do they work to keep you ignorant and fearful of asking questions? Do you feel that your team is honest about their capabilities and willing direct you to outside experts if necessary? Or are you feeling gamed and played?
Be willing to get a second opinion. It’s free. Call or email me for some no-B.S. advice on any issue you’re facing or a technology decision you’re making. Get past the sleight of hand and bluster. Get the information you need to make the best decision for your company.
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