Browsing Posts in Biz and Tech

Our last regular Lunchinar talked about Windows 10 and how to prepare for it.  If you’re waxing nostalgic, here’s the online version:

 

Simplex-IT welcomes Microsoft (with Windows 10), the City of Hudson (with more fiber!) and the Malted Meeple (now with more…um…Meeple).

Ok, hopefully you’ve heard about our 8th annual picnic this month (Wednesday August 19th from 4:30-8pm).

(click here to RSVP)

And you know that we always put out some good food, play some strange games and show off some new technology.

This year we’re taking it a step further.  This year you can talk with:

Folks from the Microsoft Store in Beachwood will be joining us with a number of Windows devices (can you say xBox?) to show how the stuff all connects together.  Not dog and pony show, but you’ll get a chance to play with it yourself.

We’ll also be joined by the City of Hudson (not the whole city, not enough room) who will be on hand to talk about the new high-speed fiber initiative (which Simplex-IT has a role, no surprise I’m sure).  If you’re a business owner in Hudson (especially downtown) you’ll want this informal chance to ask questions.

Finally we’re outsourcing our games.  Our neighbors from down the street (The Malted Meeple) will be on hand with some quick games for those so inclined.

Let me stress:

  • No sales pitches
  • No strong arm tactics
  • You don’t have to play if you don’t want to
  • We won’t kick you out if you have an Apple tattoo.

We usually have about 60 or so people attending.  With the additional activities, here’s hoping we attract a lot more!

Invite your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, kids and that one guy who works down the hall from you.  He’s bored.

Of course this is free, like everything else we do here at Simplex-IT.

What is Office 365?

Click here to RSVP for the webinar on this topic on Thursday August 13th from 11-noon (eastern)

Office 365 is a subscription based service to the Office programs you know and love. It’s kept up to date automatically, so there’s no software for you to purchase and install. Your subscription gives you access from up to 5 devices, so you can work from your computer, tablet, smartphone, whatever you need.

 

Office applications
There are a couple different ways to use the Office products with Office 365. You have Office Web Apps, which are basically web based versions of the familiar Office products, as well as the full versions. Office Web Apps have a lot of the same functionality, although not all. And of course you will still have the full versions of the Office products available to install on your computer.

 

Email
Office 365 keeps all your emails in sync across all your devices. It’s also easy to share calendars and view scheduling information for people within your organizations.

 

Instant Messaging
Office 365 comes with Skype for Business (Or Skype depending on the subscription you choose). You’ll have individual and group Instant Messaging capabilities, availability indicators, and calling information. Check out our webinar on Skype for Business for more information on these capabilities.

 

Video Conferencing
Skype for Business also offers individual or group video conferencing. It’s fully integrated with Outlook, so creating meetings with links to Skype calls can be done right from your Outlook client. And Skype for Business isn’t limited to people within your organization, you can also communicate with people outside your organization.

 

Collaboration
Share files and collaborate in real time from any device. Working on a presentation or document with a team? With Office 365 you can edit and track other edits easily in one shared file. Version control is easy because everything is in real time.

 

So which subscription do you need? That depends on if you need email, Office, or both. Below is a more detailed table of the subscriptions:

 

 

 

 

Interested in Office 365? Join us for August Office webinar where we’ll demonstrate some of the basic functionalities and discuss the various subscriptions available.

 

Fiber comes to the City of Hudson, courtesy of…The City of Hudson!

The City of Hudson (home of Simplex-IT) last month announced plans to implement fiber-based high-speed internet connectivity, starting with the downtown area (yes, for those who have not wandered through our fair city we do have a very nice downtown).

Fiber is not only good for your diet and digestion, but also leads to extremely fast internet speeds.  And the price is usually pretty good.

Of course this won’t be implemented overnight, but soon.  As in you’ll have fingers let over if you count down the months on your hands soon.  And it will be phased in (which makes sense) based on geographical areas.

So does Simplex-IT play a part in this?  What do you think?

Join Simplex-IT and some folks from City Hall at our picnic this month.  We’ll be happy to answer questions about the fiber initiative.

If you want to see the announcement, check out this video:

 

“The Post-American World Release 2.0” by Fareed Zakaria

I confess…I like Fareed Zakaria.  He’s a host over at CNN, and he’s a columnist for both Time and the Washington Post.  Yup, he’s got an agenda, but for the most part I like his reasoning and his ability to see the interplay of trends and processes.

The original Post American World was written in 2008.  It was updated in 2011 to include some thoughts about the wonderful financial call-it-what-you-will that happened soon after.

It’s an interesting premise.  The 21st century is going to see a lot of changes.  Not all of them are doom and gloom.  But the positioning of the United States is going to be significantly different at the end of the century versus the beginning.  “Developing” countries such as Brazil, India, Russia and China are hardly worthy of the term “developing” any more.  And the relative importance of the US in terms of economic dominance is going to change.  Not because of trouble in the US, but because of prosperity elsewhere.

On the surface, that actually sounds pretty cool.  The free market system is…wait for it…working!  For the most part that brings stability, opportunity and relative peace.  It’s not perfect by a long shot.

But that means that the relative differences in terms of economic, social and political prominence between the US and these other prosperous countries will have to adjust.  We’re going to have to get used to not being the be-all and end-all in terms of the world.

Fareed lays the discussion out with what I think is a thoughtful discourse.  It’s actually a pretty easy read, and although it includes a lot of facts and statistics, the narrative is pretty smooth.

The one complaint is I do think he’s not considering the impact that technology will have in the next 2-3 decades.  The increase in job displacement I think will be significant, and have an impact worldwide.  But you don’t hear a lot of folks talking about that directly.

I recommend this book highly if you’re interested in a great perspective of where this world is heading.

Our 8th Annual Picnic (now with Microsoft and…Meeples?)

Simplex-IT started in August 2007.  In 2008 we celebrated our new offices with a picnic.  And we haven’t looked back (except to see who’s been following us).

We just like to get together with folks and have a good relaxing time.  We usually have some technology out to play with, a couple of games…that sort of thing.  No big deal.

And we’re going to do this again…except different.  We’re bringing in some friends to help us celebrate.

RSVP by clicking here

First of all, Microsoft.  Some folks from the Microsoft Store up in Beachwood are going to bring some toys so we can show off “The Windows Experience.”  It’s hard to realize just the level of integration Microsoft is bringing with Windows 10 (including non-Microsoft devices) without seeing them together.

“Sooooo….is this going to be a Microsoft love-fest, where all is wonderful, and all that?” I hear you cry.

C’mon, you know us better than that.  We only talk the reality of stuff.

So maybe you don’t want to talk tech.  Ok, then.  Games.  Our new friends over at The Malted Meeple (just down the street from us) will be joining us and bringing some interesting games for the willing to try out.  As in board games.  Without consoles, joysticks, wifi or electricity.

Simplex-IT picnic 2013

Simplex-IT’s 6th Annual Community Appreciation Picnic

Don’t want to do that?  Cool.  Just relax, have some burgers and/or brats, and have a good time.

Join us Wednesday, August 19th from 4:30-8pm

RSVP by clicking here

Each week the Cleveland Plain Dealer selects a person and promotes their business and career.

On Sunday they hit a new low and selected me.

Click here to read their folly.

MicrosoftDeals on various Microsoft products expire on June 30th!

Microsoft’s fiscal year ends on June 30th.  Because of this, Microsoft always has promotions and deals for their licensing that expires on June 30th.  This year is no exception.

Offers on:

  • Office 365
  • Project Online
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Microsoft Licensing
  • Migration Costs
  • Open Value Subscription
  • Software Assurance

These offers differ from product line to product line, but they usually end up somewhere between 10-30% off what you would pay throughout the rest of the year.  And many of these offers are limited to only if you purchase the product through a Microsoft Partner (that would be someone like us).

Also, Microsoft has quietly announced that some products will actually see a price increase after June 30th.

So…act now, save money.  Wait until after, price increase.

Interested?

Click us at Sales@Simplex-IT.com, or call us at 234.380.1277.  And you know we don’t do the whole high-pressure approach.  We’ll help you determine the product and licensing plan that’s best for you and your organization (even if it’s not with us).

For June’s Lunchinar we’re going to do a business level introduction to Microsoft’s cloud service, Azure.

Although we’ll go into the technical details (to a point), the key focus is going to be how Azure can be used by Small to Medium Businesses (SMB’s).  We’ll discuss Azure in terms as an alternative to traditional Information Technology (IT) solutions (like servers).  But we’ll also discuss how Azure can be used to extend how SMB’s extend their IT resources to vendors, customers and external employees.  And Azure does this at a fraction of the cost of in-house solutions (usually).

But what is it?  Actually, it’s changing weekly.  Microsoft has created a remote environment that can be configured as servers (so it’s kind of like you having a server, but “out there”), or services (so you don’t have the server, just what you use the server for).  You can use Azure for Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery/Off Site Backups.  You can use it for distributed databases, remote connectivity and more.  You can create a Single Sign On environment based on your Active Directory (network) credentials.  And a lot more.

And you pay only for what you eat.  Increasing or decreasing the amount of resources you need is relatively easy.  So if you’re a seasonal company you can arrange to have beefier (more $) resources available during the busy season, and smaller (less $) resources during the rest of the year.

But there are tradeoffs.  Connectivity speed, full server level access become potential issues.  Security requirements need to be taken into account (well, they should be already, but you lose the luxury of being Pollyannaish about it).

Join us at this upcoming Lunchinar.  We’ll be both in person as well as online.  And we’ll discuss (and demonstrate) this environment, talk both features, functions, benefits, drawbacks and costs.  And one lucky attendee will pick up a copy of Microsoft Office Professional 2013, courtesy of Microsoft.

  • When:  Wednesday, June 17th from 11:30-1pm (eastern)
  • Where:  Hampton Inn in Stow (plus Online)
  • Click here to RSVP

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At Simplex-IT, we specialize in sharing our knowledge with several free webinar and Lunchinar events each month on topics such as Microsoft Office, Project Management and Data Practices.  Contact us at Info@Simplex-IT.com, Twitter (Simplex_IT), LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/company/simplex-it) or FaceBook: (http://www.facebook.com/simplex.it).  You can also check out our YouTube channel with over 100 videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/SimplexITBob

 

Ask a Business Management person “How’s Business?” and you’ll probably get an answer that’s full of anecdotal terms.  ”Not bad,” “Great!” and the like.  Of course, if you don’t measure it, you can’t control or manage it.  With all the metrics that we can measure, it gets easy to be completely overwhelmed.  So it’s important to choose what specific metrics make up the majority of the definition of health for the organization (KPI’s).  Here’s some more information about KPI’s.

Although the idea of the project-based ERP system may not be for everybody, consider implementing some methods of measure your KPI’s, and keep your eyes on them!

 

This article excerpt, by Brian Lamee, originally appeared here: http://bit.ly/1DTQ6A5
In today’s highly competitive market, accounting firms need a way to compare themselves to their past performance, and that of similar companies, as a barometer of achievement.
Successful firms use a common set of strategic and operational key performance indicators, or KPIs, to accomplish this goal. KPIs can include any number of metrics useful to your firm, including billings by client, revenue growth, contribution rate, utilization rate, realization, deal close ratio, customer lifetime value and more.
But the effectiveness of your chosen KPIs depends on your firm’s ability to capture and access related data.
Can you easily access project-specific metrics like days sales outstanding and project schedule variance?
Are you able to quickly view how much billable work remains incomplete? And do you know how much time passes between invoicing and payment?
In a word, you need insight. Enterprise resource planning software can help.
A project-based ERP system allows you to both create and measure your firm’s KPIs by producing consistent, measurable data that can be matched to individual projects. With the ability to take information from every project, ERP software allows for full transparency and more accurate reporting through a central repository.
Using an ERP system, it becomes important to make sure your KPIs are realistic and built around real, measurable data. Make sure your project managers set realistic and achievable targets for the talent used on each project, as detailed in “The Ultimate List of the KPIs Every Professional Services Organization Should Measure.”
Having set their own targets, it’s then easy for project managers to create dashboards for people and projects. The result?  Everyone can see and be accountable for his own KPIs, making them effective and easier to manage.
You can use this data to improve in various areas where you may be performing lower than the industry norm. Plus, having a full understanding of your capacity and available resources will leave you well placed to better allocate them. Soon, you’ll find yourself creating new efficiencies by resolving resource allocation issues.
At the end of the day, accurate and timely data is about more than information. It’s the key to boosting efficiency and, therefore, profit. If you aren’t already, it’s time to invest in a project-based ERP system—and start creating your firm’s top KPIs—today.
Brian LaMee is the head of product marketing at Herndon-based Deltek, a global provider of enterprise software and information solutions for professional services firms.