Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Implementing Managed Network Services in a Law Firm

The first step to implementing any new system is always onboarding. When bringing on an MSP (Managed Services Provider) you will need to deploy a monitoring and reporting management console. This will serve as a window into your business environment so that your network administrator can see and accumulate aggregate performance, security, connectivity and availability metrics, 24/7. For most MSPs, this will be as simple as a remote care application on each PC/Workstation that will allow them to manage all hardware and software assets from anywhere in the world at any time.

While we're on the subject of monitoring. Your new MSP will set up defined thresholds on each device and configure RT (real-time) alerts, notifications, and receipts. This system of alerts will notify them of current (and possible) issues, in many cases before you are aware they happening. These thresholds will also keep them up to date on the status of an issues remediation. 

A short period of time after setting up monitoring, the MSP will take the aggregated data, interpret it, and make recommendations to align your technology with your business needs. This can include anything from security vulnerabilities to licensing or compliance issues. They may suggest new hardware or software, and proper configurations, etc. This phase of assessment will serve as your primary alignment for proactive services and give you valuable insight into the state of tech at your firm. 

Your day to day technology management may be delivered to you in a variety of ways. Some activities will be automated. Any task your MSP is automating, such as preventative maintenance, data backups, virus scans and other updates will lower your costs and free up your MSPs resources to schedule other activities. For anything that is not being automated you should have 24/7 support from the help desk. Any member of your staff can pick up the phone and get immediate remote support. If the issue cannot be solved remotely then, a technician will get in their car and drive to you for onsite support. There are a few activities that require physical onsite support. Some companies, such as TaylorWorks, schedule a technician to be onsite once a month regardless of any issues to check up on the productivity of your network. This ensures that small issues are not being swept under the rug and everything is maintained properly. 

By this point in the process, your network, software and all related processes and integrations should be fully stabilized. So your MSP will now ensure continued stabilization and peak performance by delivering a full line of security services. These will prevent viruses, malware, spam and other malicious content. The services will include hardware and software firewall management as well as uniform antivirus and external spam filtration. Plus any other addition security protocol that may have been evaluated as needed for your business. From one end to the other all of your valuable IT-assets should be safe, secure and protected 365 days a year. 

MSPs perform system, bandwidth, equipment and traffic optimization to be sure that you are getting the best performance and comprehensive security during all hours. Therefore, they should be performing maintenance and continually be monitoring performance. Here at TaylorWorks you will have a dedicated VCIO meeting quarterly to go over personalized plans on optimizing your business's IT. 

The second to last step in your implementation has to be data backup. This ensures your entire network is backed up and rotated offsite. At TaylorWorks we do this using a Datto and optional cloud backup services. In the event of a data loss, comprehensive backup solutions will minimize damage, allowing data to be restored individually at the file level. Your MSP should be developing a custom disaster recovery plan for every level of breach. Whether it be a few misplaced emails, or an "Act of God".

Last but certainly not least, it's not good enough to simply tell you that an MSP is performing for you. We deliver custom monthly performance reports. These reports show you performance and security metrics and give you insight into your business' IT environment. Hand in hand with our VCIO they allow you to plan your next move. What gets measured, gets managed!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Productivity Tips for Office Managers

I think anyone who's worked in an office environment recognizes that Office Managers end up with an awful lot of work on their desk. Whether you are acting as an Office Manager or Executive Assistant, many of the challenges hindering productivity and organization can be similar.  In small businesses the impact can be much larger since headcount may be limited.  However, these challenges can be easily overcome by taking a step back from the day-to-day craziness to "see the forest from the trees."

There are 2 approaches to trying to streamline your own productivity. One can be to create a long list of all the areas where productivity can be improved. That approach will usually leave you with even more work, and frustration. Instead, I suggest focusing on a few areas where increasing productivity will have the largest impact.

Based on my conversations with business owners and office managers the biggest frustrations come from:

  • Overflowing email boxes
  • Prioritization of tasks
  • Delegation & Follow-Up

While Email Inbox Organization can be extremely simple it is also very hard to get started. You need to implement archiving for older messages so they aren't cluttering your inbox, set up strong filters for spam, and then read and prioritize the remaining emails. A good IT company can make this a much simpler process. Bringing in an MSP to manage your email server and put the proper filtering in place can help streamline productivity here, after that though it's up to each individual employee to read through all the remaining emails, and either delete them or create a follow-up task. In reality, each email is asking a simple yes or no question: Is this information pertinent? If it's not, delete it. If the information is pertinent to your business is there an action that needs to be taken? Create a task with a reminder to follow up on that action item. Outlook 365, and it's multitude of plug-ins allow you to easily create and complete tasks daily. 

Prioritizing tasks can be a challenge no matter what industry or position you are in. One of the largest challenges here can be keeping up with tasks across a bunch of platforms. The first step I suggest is to choose one application or service to keep track of all your tasks. Whether you choose to do this in your CRM, email, calendar or third party software/application is up to you. A good IT company can help point you in the right direction for your business. For example, if you're using a CRM (like salesforce) chances are there is a plug-in to push/pull your appointments and tasks from the cloud to your Outlook calendar. A little bit of research on yours, or your IT company's part could save a lot of time and headache down the line. 

Delegation can be a tough egg to crack for Office Managers who on top of their own jobs and tasks somehow always end up with everything everyone else is struggling with coming to their desk. It's important to ask yourself what is my job description? What is the job description of my colleagues and employees? What needs to be done, and who's job is it to complete it? How many minutes/hours a day are you spending on tasks that aren't really yours to complete? Are you spending time on server maintenance or computer upkeep? What is the value of those minutes and hours? Does it make sense to hire an assistant, an in-house IT person, an outside sales rep, or outsource your IT to a managed services provider? Or, is there someone/something in-house that needs to be fixed so that the employees you already have can be productive? Only you can answer these questions based on your business model, but it can be great to have 3rd parties consult on your ROI (return on investment) concerning specific aspects of your company.

If you have any questions regarding, email, or delegating your IT management, you can reach me directly at

Monday, November 14, 2016

One Tree Hill Couples Ranked ( a work in progress )

1.) Haley and Nathan
Obviously, who else would ever rank number 1? Naley teaches us that love really can last forever. Despite the trials and tribulations of their relationship they always stay true to one another, and in doing so they achieve their dreams.

2.) Lucas and Peyton
I shipped them from episode 1. So... obviously up there on my list. They may have taken the long way around to their "happy ending" but I for one am happy they ended up together. 

3.) Lucas and Brooke
Even though they didn't end up together they were still an amazing couple. 

4.) Brooke and Julian 
Everybody needs somebody to save them sometimes. Even the almighty Brooke Davis. These two were a definite power couple. 

5.) Peyton and Julian
While not the end game for Peyton, Julian was atleast a decent boyfriend.

6.) Mia and Chase
7.) Brooke and Owen
8.) Brooke and Chase
9.) Brooke and Felix
10.) Peyton and Jake
11.) Keith and Karen
12.) Keith and Jules
13.) Dan and Rachel
Mouth and Millie
Skills and Lauren
Lucas and Lindsay
Quinn and Clay
Clay and Sarah
Deb and Skills
Sam and Jack
Karen and Andy
Skills and Bevin
Chase and Alex
Peyton and Anna
Whitey and Camilla
Lucas and Anna
Nathan and Peyton
Mouth and Rachel
Dan and Deb
Mouth and Shelly
Mouth and Erica Marsh
Mouth and Gigi
Jamie and Madison
Karen and Larry
Grubbs and Miranda
Quinn and David
Julian and Alex
Haley and Chris Keller

Why Law Firms and Legal Practices Are Using Managed IT Services

Core Challenges for Law Firms

  • Bottlenecks - Internal bottlenecks are the fault of inefficient IT architecture, where workflow grinds to a halt. Some questions you can ask yourself, and your partners to find your bottlenecks include: 
    • How long does it take to find a client's phone number? If this is more than a few seconds you may want to consider bringing on an IT partner to help streamline this process. 
    • If a case file isn't in your filing cabinet, can you access it immediately online? If not you may want to discuss cloud solutions with your IT provider. 
    • Is it easy to find all relevant emails and correspondence between yourself and your clients, and tie them to the appropriate case? You may want to discuss email archiving, and which product is best for you with a neutral third party, IE your Managed Services Provider. 
  • Lack of Security- The main reason a law firm invests in IT is to keep data safe and secure. While your practice management system may not be particularly valuable on a single day it becomes more valuable over time as you enter more data into it. If you lose that data or experience down-time, your investment becomes moot and can have other considerable financial repercussions. 
  • Talent Retention - In today's modern society employees care about IT solutions that make their jobs easier. You need products and processes that blend well with your employees' personal and professional lifestyles. Young innovators are key to business success and lackluster technology can repel prospective employees. 
  • Waste - From the automation of monitor sleep times to defragging at the right time of day to digitizing your library. We can help you cut down on your offices waste. You need an IT partner that provides creative solutions allowing you to work smarter. 
  • Some other common IT problems you may be experiencing include: 
    • Downtime
    • Exposure to malpractice
    • Chronic IT issues
    • Short hardware lifecycle
    • Integration issues with 3rd party vendors
    • Work-arounds that seem to multiply daily
    • Vulnerability of your network 
    • Complexity
    • Lack of Urgency 
    • Untimely Failures
    • Finger Pointing
    • Internal Collaboration
    • Reactive Buying Habits
    • Etc

So What IS Managed Services and how can we help?

Think of us as the invisible force behind your business. Rarely seen, but always active diagnosing problems that was about to happen, and resolving them BEFORE they turn into monumental issues. The entire basis of the managed services model is that our business is more profitable and performs better the less problems you have. That means that we put 110% of our effort into stopping problems before they even exist. We are an IT management program that delivers proactive maintenance and monitoring alongside management of your software and hardware. You take care of the legal stuff, and we make sure your technology is helping rather than hurting your business. We make it our job to resolve network issues before they affect your firm's productivity.

Some benefits of Managed Services:

  • Highly tuned (faster) network performance
  • Staff productivity increase
  • Increased uptime
  • Predictable monthly IT costs
  • Labor cost reductions
  • Allows you to focus on your business
  • Security risk reduction
  • A wealth of IT knowledge at your fingertips
  • Existing equipment life extension
  • Measurable business value added
This has been an introduction to managed services. There are many different kinds of managed services that are important to your practice and I look forward to focusing on each of them in the coming months to better explain how to choose the best MSP for you. 

If you'd like to see a testimonial from one of our legal offices you can do so here.

While TaylorWorks is not the solution for every law firm, we'd love the opportunity to check out your network, and see if we might be the managed services company for the job. You can request a meeting here

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

10 Times George Carlin Nailed Humanity on the Head

"If it’s true that our species is alone in the universe, then I’d have to say the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little."

"Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that."

"The IQ and the life expectancy of the average American recently passed each other in opposite directions."

"By and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth."

"Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit."