All posts by admin

Important Steps to Maintain Business Continuity in the Event of Server Failure

Business servers crash on a daily basis. Unfortunately, many businesses find out the hard way that their continuity plan and system backup hardware is deficient. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to ensure continuity in the event of a server crash. Follow these steps to ensure your business will be back up and running as normal within minutes of a crash:

Step #1 Have a Business Continuity Plan
The most important thing that you can do is to devise a comprehensive continuity plan that can be put into action immediately following a server crash. Compile a file folder containing written documents composed of all the pertinent information your business needs to operate. Store this file in a secure location that can be immediately accessible in the event of a server crash. Include all of your business’s important account numbers and names, important contact information, copies of bills with your account info from all utility companies and service providers, and any other information your business needs for day to day operations and to contact in the event of an emergency.

Step #2 Practice Your Backup Plan Quarterly
Many businesses practice their backup plan annually. We recommend testing your plan on a quarterly basis to maximize its efficiency. Put your backup plan to the test and take time to review and revise it. You may find that the steps have changed and need revision. Downtime means dollars spent and updating your plan during a test will mitigate business productivity loss or worse an entire loss of data. As your business grows and technology evolves, it is important that your continuity plan grows with it. Quarterly testing, reviewing, and revising will ensure your preparedness.

Step #3 Invest in a Backup Appliance with Advanced Capabilities
In the event of a server failure, your backup appliance can be used to replace your main server while your server is being repaired for a smooth transition that will have your business back up and running within minutes of a crash. This device takes your data, encrypts it, and sends it offsite to be accessed in the event of a system failure. A backup appliance with advanced capabilities is able to take backup one step further by backing up your settings and apps in addition to your data. Average devices will store your data, but cannot restore all of your preferred settings and applications which typically will take a day to restore. Some very advanced backup appliances will also test your data on a nightly basis and update you with any issues. An advanced model will store all of your settings and apps to provide a more seamless transition. Investing in the right backup appliance will save you valuable time in getting your system back fully operational.

3 Signs You Should Invest in a Managed IT Service Provider

Thinking about switching to a managed IT service provider to handle your business’s data management and security needs? If any of these three signs apply to you and your business it is time for you to hand the reins over to a professional:

 

#1 You have no idea how reliable your system back-up plan is or how to put it into play when your server crashes.

Many small to mid-sized businesses believe that they can trim money off of their bottom line by opting to handle their own IT services. Unfortunately, these businesses often find that is not the case the hard way and ultimately end up losing out tenfold. Using a subpar backup system could cripple your business. Servers crash every day. How would your business function if your system goes down? Do you have a backup server that can instantly pick up where your server left off? A server crash will cost you thousands of dollars in lost revenue, and it could also severely damage your business’s reputation.

#2 You aren’t sure what the legal and financial repercussions are for a data breach or network hack.

Does your business store customers’ personal and financial information? Even if you are running a small to mid-sized business you have an obligation to keep your customers’ information secure. How confident are you that all of your business’s sensitive data is protected from ever-evolving network hacking? Hackers work relentlessly day and night to obtain sensitive information and to exploit it. Small to mid-sized businesses make easy targets for these criminals because many of them do not employ a comprehensive managed IT service provider to handle their security concerns. Don’t make the mistake of leaving your business’s and your customers’ sensitive information in jeopardy. Get the protection you need from a professional managed IT service provider.

#3 You are devoting too much of your time and resources to IT management and it is taking away from your core business development.

If you operate a mid-sized business, you shouldn’t have to employ in-house IT personnel. By outsourcing your IT needs you can save money and have a more effective IT management service provider make sure all of your business’s needs are being met. The average mid-sized business owner does not know how to effectively manage in-house IT employees and ensure standards are maintained. Using your time and resources to employ and monitor in-house IT personnel distracts from core business developing and restricts your growth. Hiring a managed IT service provider frees up your time and provides 100% confidence that your business’s IT needs are fulfilled so you can focus on your core business.

How a Managed IT Service Provider Can Solve Your Business’s Biggest Problems

Are you considering hiring a managed IT service provider to handle your business’s security, maintenance, and network needs? Many small to mid-sized businesses make an attempt to tackle their own IT needs. This can prove to be a costly and dangerous mistake.

The truth is that it is often too late when a business recognizes that it should not be managing its own IT services. This realization usually occurs after a serious data breach or a total system failure. Don’t make the mistake of trying to cut costs and take on your own IT services. Only a professional managed IT service provider with a proven track record of success can provide you with the support and protection your business needs.

Learn more about how a managed IT service provider can solve your biggest problems below:

1) Hiring a service provider allows your business to focus its resources on developing core business competency
Why waste time and valuable resources handling IT issues and system maintenance when you can let a managed IT service provider take care of all of your IT needs? For a small to mid-sized business, there often aren’t enough resources available to devote to comprehensive IT management. Instead of focusing your time and money on system security and file storage, use your valuable resources on growing your core competency. Spend your time strengthening and expanding your business and let your managed service provider handle anything IT related.

2) Security threats can cripple any type of business and are always evolving
Viruses, malware, and ransomware are very real threats that can affect your operations at any time and cost your business thousands of dollars. A top notch managed IT service provider stays one step ahead of these threats and will work diligently to protect your business from current and future network threats. Your business is responsible for protecting your client’s personal and financial information. Let your managed service provider safeguard your business with innovative tools and software designed to tackle even the most advanced security threats.

3) Only a top notch managed service provider can protect your business’s interests and offer full business continuity in the event of a system failure
System servers crash every day, resulting in lost revenue and sheer panic. Don’t leave your business vulnerable to a system failure. A first-rate managed service provider will ensure business continuity in the event of a server crash. In fact, they will even take preventative measures in monitoring the health of your system and use automation to diagnose a pre-symptomatic failure before it happens. A comprehensive managed IT provider not only backs up your files, but they will install redundant servers that can instantly be activated in for a seamless transition in the event of a system failure. Your company will be back to business as normal within minutes in the event of a system failure.

Top 5 Things Every Small Medical and Dental Practice Needs to Know about HIPAA Audits

While larger healthcare systems have made significant progress in complying with HIPAA rules and in implementing adequate controls to safeguard Electronic Protected Healthcare Information (ePHI) from external and internal threats, small practices are still struggling to achieve full compliancy.

A recent survey of 900 healthcare professionals working in small practices concluded that three out of ten small practices do not have any compliance practices in place yet. For the practices that have made progress towards compliancy, a startling 63% are not confident that their electronic communications with patients are HIPAA compliant.

Compliance audits are resuming as the extension period has ended. Protect your practice by discussing your HIPAA questions and concerns with your technology solutions firm.

Here are the five top things your small practice should know about HIPAA compliancy:

1) Ensuring complete HIPAA compliance is a tedious process that should be handled by a technology solutions firm experienced in dealing with compliance – To protect your practice from security threats and achieve HIPAA compliancy before you get audited, hire a professional IT solutions provider that is experienced with and capable of handling all of your information security needs. Protect your practice and your patients by contracting a reputable firm to achieve and maintain HIPAA compliance. Even if you don’t get audited, the information security standards set forth by HIPAA regulations are designed to protect your practice from external and internal threats.

2) If your small practice has a HIPAA data breach, you must notify your patients – Changes to the regulatory amendments for HIPAA and the HITECH Act require a Covered Entity to notify the patient and Health and Human Services of any breach that occurs. All breaches will become public information and patients must be notified via US Mail or email. Public dissemination of a breach will tarnish your practice’s reputation and hurt your credibility as a health care provider.

3) Smaller practices are a larger target in regards to data breaches and security threats – Many hackers specifically target smaller practices, since they expect them to be easier prey and less astute regarding security processes. A smaller organization is less likely to be HIPAA complaint when compared to a larger healthcare system. Due to financial constraints and a lack of knowledge about all the details regarding data security, smaller practices are a prime target for hackers looking to steal personal and financial information.

4) Noncompliance fines are high and some violations can result in criminal charges – Failing a HIPAA audit carries severe consequences. These penalties could significantly affect your profitability and even send you into bankruptcy. Penalties for noncompliance are based on the level of negligence and can range from $100 to $50,000 per violation, with a maximum penalty of $1.5 million per year. Violations can also carry criminal charges that could result in jail time for anyone found guilty of willful neglect — not to mention the potential legal fees or business disruption.

5) Your IT firm could actually cause you to fail your audit – Hiring an IT firm to handle your compliance and safeguard your data is imperative to passing an audit. However, choosing the wrong IT firm to handle your HIPAA compliance could have devastating consequences. It is paramount to find a well reputed and competent firm with a comprehensive understanding of compliancy rules and regulations. New data security threats arise on a daily basis. Your IT firm needs to work constantly to protect your company’s data and to ensure compliance.

What can you do? And is there any good news here?

Contact your IT provider and ask them to perform a HIPAA compliance audit, covering your technology systems, processes and communications, especially data security, back up disaster recovery (called BDR) and business continuity – all key elements of a HIPAA audit.

The good news is that the same assessments covered in a HIPAA audit can shed valuable insight on your systems and process efficiencies, which can help you determine ways to not only better protect you from a data breach, but also speed your internal processes to improve staff productivity and patient satisfaction.

Making a Business Case for Managed IT Services in Small Businesses

SMBs are faced with a myriad of challenges on a daily basis:

  • Generating revenue
  • Servicing clients
  • Managing employees and other physical assets
  • Navigating an ever-increasing regulatory burden

Technology is moving forward at an incredible pace, adding heightened expectations from customers who compare the technologies employed by SMBs against their larger rivals or other industry leading organizations with which they interact. SMBs need technology to operate efficiently. They need it to match the expected uptick to worker productivity, and to increase sales.

As reliance on technology grows, the resources available to support an increasingly complex technology environment may not. Internal or part-time technology resources can be quickly overwhelmed with the responsibility of keeping day-to-day infrastructure up and running – let alone able to keep up with the learning curve required to add new technologies, manage security threats and provide insights to grow the business and increase customer satisfaction.

What are the options?

1)DIY – In a very small business, the owner may feel they can adequately handle the daily tasks of system maintenance and development. The risks with this approach are business interruption and missed opportunity costs. When you’re spending time on technology, you’re missing the opportunity to do what you do best – service your clients.

2) Break/fix – Most people know “a guy” with substantially more knowledge than them. Bringing this resource in periodically as events occur is often perceived as the least expensive route. If an external IT resource is the only person with knowledge of your systems, the business owner will pay a premium for their services. Availability and predictably of costs are also concerns (how can you budget for unknown problems?), but the greatest one is that ‘break/fix’ does not provide a proactive, forward-looking solution. Your technology will be stuck at a single moment in time, one that recedes into the past as the calendar moves forward. New opportunities and threats will appear and you will have to deal with them reactively, further impacting your ability to grow.

3) Hire a technology FTE – Depending upon the nature of the technology environment, a full time specialist can be considered. This can be cost prohibitive for an SMB, as trained, talented IT professionals can command $90K salaries plus benefits, along with onboarding and ramp up costs associated with an employee. In addition, these FTE’s need training to stay on top of new opportunities and technology issues. For more midsized firms, an FTE is great solution, but these people are quickly relegated to break fix & support roles, which is often a poor use of their time. The business would also need to purchase tools for their FTE such as: a ticketing system, monitoring and remote access, automation and scripting, antivirus, and antispyware.

4) Hire a Managed IT Service Provider (MSP) – MSPs act either as your outsourced technology staff, or as an extension of an existing internal IT department. Think of them as an IT department as a service. (ITDaaS) In either case, the MSP is charged with taking care of routine IT infrastructure monitoring and management around the clock— freeing the business owner to concentrate on running the business with fewer interruptions due to IT issues, or the IT staff to focus on higher-value projects. Top tier MSPs come day 1 with ticketing systems, standard operating procedures, internal training, antivirus software, and multiple staff including management. They are expected to remain ahead of technology issues and get ahead of opportunities for increased compliance, improved productivity and customer technology expectations, and reduce your risk by keeping you on top of compliance issues in your field. Whether a standalone solution or as support to your internal IT team, an MSP is a monthly fixed cost you can budget for and, quite easily, create an ROI model to show value and impact to your bottom line.

Start by outlining your technology and growth needs.

MSPs offer a wide range of services to manage specific areas and functions, such as storage and related management services, or desktop management and help desk services. Some provide management services for server hardware, operating systems and support for applications such as e-mail. Many provide onsite services as required, but may have limited regional or local coverage areas. Many deliver security and compliance services specific to your industry and, in this regard, can provide peace-of-mind and decreased risk well above their monthly fees.

When considering an MSP, think first about your needs. What are the gaps, pain points and inefficiencies in your technology environment? How much do you want to own and manage? How do downtime, outages and other complications impact your business? What are your compliance and security risks and fears? Where can new technologies support growth and improved customer satisfaction … leading to increased sales/usage and referrals?

With your requirements top of mind, evaluate all the above approaches to determine where your IT needs fit and how and where technology can help you meet your business goals, both present and future, with a proactive approach to your IT infrastructure.

If you’re looking for help creating a business case for outsourcing your IT – simply contact your BCS representative. We’ll help you identify the value and ROI for hiring an MSP.