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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.

 

CommunicationsEffective Project Communications

Click here to RSVP for the webinar on this topic on Thursday August 20th from 2-2:30pm (eastern)

Communication is critical when working on a project, but how do we best gauge how much is enough? Too much? In person or in writing? By groups or individuals?  Routinely scheduled or ad hoc? The answer depends on the size and nature of the project, the preference of the team, and organizational requirements. And all of this is determined as you create your communication plan.

Your project communication plan can be as simple or complex as you need. It’s purpose is to document how various information within a project will be communicated. Some common methods of communication you’ll see in communication plans are:

Project Reports: Probably the most important communication, reports are usually listed specifically by name. You’ll also want to document the recipients, the sender, and the schedule of delivery. Oftentimes we’ll set variances for reports as well. For example, a standard budget report might suffice, unless the budget exceed 10% of the plan, then perhaps we would want to also include a detailed budget report, and escalate the recipients.

Meeting Notes: You’ll want to determine how to best distribute meeting notes. Options might include saving a document to a shared folder, sending and email, or making an entry in a SharePoint site.

Contact Information: If you are working with a diverse team, especially those outside your organization, it’s great to get everyone’s contact information in one place.

Meeting plan: I like to document a plan for scheduled meetings in my communication plan. I’ll list who should attend, the nature of the meeting, and the options for participation. For example:

Meeting Cadence Attendees Options for attending
Working level meetings Weekly or as needed TBD In person or phone
Status meetings Bi-weekly Resources with active and upcoming tasks In person or Skype call
Project review Monthly Entire project team In person

 

Go to resources: I also like to list resources that are specifically responsible for certain things that might impact my project. For example, who should we talk to if we need elevated access rights? What about after hours supports, is there anyone available for that?

I typically like to have some conversations during the beginning of the project to determine what would work best, and then go over that plan before the project starts (or during if need be). Your communication plan doesn’t have to be formal. It’s purpose is to help document who needs to know what and when. Sometimes it’s as simple as emailing meeting notes and providing a weekly report. And sometimes it’ll be more involved. The most important thing to remember about communication plans is to customize them to meet the needs of the project. You don’t want to over communicate – your team will start to ignore your emails if they receive 50 a day. But not communicating enough can impact the project. So have some conversations about communications needs and preferences and you’ll set yourself up for an effective, well informed project team.

Join us on August 20th for the Project Management webinar on Project Communications. We’ll look at some of the reports available in MS Project and Project Web App and discuss getting the right information to each person on the project team.

Windows 10.  Let the hoopla begin.  July 29th is the release date.  Obviously Microsoft was looking for just the right way to celebrate “National Lasagna Day.”

And the upgrade will be free!  Well, free to a lot of people.  Windows 7, 8.1?  Yup.  Well, except for Enterprise users.  Unless you have Software Assurance.

And of course you need to Reserve your upgrade.

Does that include Windows Phone?  Well, of course.  If the phone OEM isn’t blocking it.  And depending on your carrier.

Are you the IT guy for your company?  It’d be kind of funny if you came in the next day to a lot of workstations upgrading to Windows 10.  Well, funny to us, anyway.

Join us for the last regularly scheduled Lunchinar for Simplex-IT.  Help us say goodbye to an era of bad jokes, ok pizza, decent giveaways and bad PowerPoint slides.

We’re not going to talk about Windows 10 (we’ve already had 2 lunchinars on that).  We’re going to talk about the process of getting Windows 10.

  • When:  Wednesday, July 15th
  • Time:  11:30-1pm (Eastern)
  • Where:  Courtyard by Marriott in Stow (or online)

Click here for more information and to RSVP

 

Access your files anywhere and with any device using OneDrive (webinar)

OneDrive is the free cloud based storage solution from Microsoft. It’s accessible from any device, and much easier than emailing files or using a flash drive. A lot of our devices don’t even have USB ports, and I’d always lose those things anyway.

RSVP for the webinar by clicking here

OneDrive comes with your Microsoft account, and you get 15GB of space. If you need more, you can purchase more – anywhere from 100GB for $1.99/month to 1 TB for $9.99 per month. In Windows 8 and later you can access OneDrive from the One Drive app tile.

OneDrive for Business comes with most Microsoft Office 365 accounts, and you get 1TB of space. It’s very similar in function to the personal OneDrive (in fact it gets downright confusing sometimes).

When you save something in OneDrive it gets stored “in the cloud” (namely servers belonging to Microsoft).  If you want to, you can install a client app that will also copy all the files locally (extremely handy).

To get started using OneDrive, just save a file to One Drive instead of your local computer. It’s as easy as selecting the OneDrive option from your list of locations. If you have many files on your local computer, you can either move or copy those to OneDrive. If you chose to make a copy for OneDrive, be sure not to get the versions mixed up. They’ll be named the same thing, so you’ll want to pay extra attention to the location in which you’re accessing them.

You can change the default location for saving files to OneDrive as well. In Settings, and PC Settings, you’ll see some options for OneDrive. Under “Save Documents to OneDrive by default”, select “On.” You can also control which folders are kept in sync as well. In settings, select the Chose Folders to select specific folders to sync and not to sync.

You can access OneDrive through Windows Explorer, where it can be configured just like any other storage location. And, you can create a folder hierarchy for file management, just like you would in your hard drive, or My Documents folders.

But is it secure??  We are always concerned about the security of our data, right? With OneDrive, your files are only accessible by you, unless you choose to share them. To keep safe from hackers, be sure to use a very strong password and add security information to your Microsoft account, such as your phone number, email address and a security question.

There are apps for Android, Apple, and Windows devices too. Just install the appropriate one on each device you wish to use OneDrive with. It’s handy to have the ability to work on file at the office, and then pick back up from your tablet at home or on the go when you want to make changes.

Are there problems with OneDrive?  Yup.  Uploading large numbers of files can corrupt your local copy, plus there are some limitation.

Interested in seeing OneDrive in action? Join us on July 9th  from 11-12 for this month’s Office Webinar, where we’ll demonstrate OneDrive and talk in more detail about the benefits and capabilities.  We’ll also be giving away a copy of Microsoft Office 365 courtesy of Microsoft.

 RSVP for the webinar by clicking here

Microsoft Project is really great for managing one project schedule, but what happens when you have more than one project to manage? Sure, you can view the project indivually, but did you know Microsoft Project Online has views to show consolidate project information? Sorted, grouped, sliced and diced however you’d like!

Click here to RSVP for the webinar

Project Online is a cloud based solution, similar to Microsoft Project Server (the on premise solution). It’s designed to help you manage multiple projects, resources, budgets, etc and get an overview view of all your projects.

You can still start off by creating a project in MS Project or Project Online. Project Online has the capability to create new project schedules, so if you don’t have the full version of MS Project, it’s no problem. Think of it as a scaled down, web based version of MS Project. It has the basics to get you by, but if you’re doing a lot of schedule development, you’ll want MS Project Professional.

Once you have your Project schedules created, you can view their status on your main Project Online page, called Project Center (shown below).

 

 

 

You can also process task status updates from your resources in one place. So if you are managing several projects, you have one central screen to accept and reject all status updates.

 

 

 

 

Remember our PM topic last month, Risk Management? Using Project Online, you can manage risks (and issues) in multiple projects.

 

 

 

 

One of the key metrics we want to track when managing multiple projects, are resources, right? Resource availability and utilization to be exact, across all projects. Using Project Online, you can clearly view and report on project resources quickly and easily. One the mage below, I’ve collapsed Bob’s project so it shows a summary, and I’ve expanded my tasks so it shows all the detail.

 

 

 

 

 

The Resource Availability graph is also great – It has four options for viewing Resource information:

  1. Assignment Work by Resource
  2. Assignment Work by Project
  3. Remaining Availability
  4. Work

Below I’ve selected the third option, Remaining Availability:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s very clear which one of us has availability in this demonstration :-)

If you’re interested in diving deeper into managing multiple projects, please join on July 16th for this month’s Project Management Webinar. Plus, you’ll have an opportunity to win a free copy of Microsoft Office 2013!

Click here to RSVP for the webinar

 

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

 

Skype for Business logo

 

Lync is now Skype for Business!

If you’re a Lync user, you may have noticed a change already – Lync is now Skype for Business! Join us on June 11th (see below to RSVP) for our monthly webinar where we’ll talk about Skype for Business and demonstrate some of the collaboration capabilities. We’ll be giving away a free copy of Office 2013 to one lucky winner too!

Skype for Business can be used to increase communication and collaboration in a number of different ways:

Voice Calling (VoIP) – Audio calls are easy in Skype, and you don’t pay for long distance or airtime. And Skype for Business integrates with your previous contacts from Skype, so you’ll have one tool for your business and personal calls.

Video Calls – One-on-one video calls can be much more personal when you can talk face to face, even if it is virtually. With Skype for Business, you can have those discussions and be able to see facial expressions and body language, or just check out your colleague’s new haircut.

Video Conferencing – Similar to the one-on-one video calls, but with more than two people. This is great for bringing teams together with a more personal feel. Who’s wouldn’t prefer to look at their colleague’s instead of staring at a conference speakerphone the whole time?

Screen Sharing – It’s easy to share your screen during a call. Whether you are working on a project with a co-worker and need to share your screen on the fly, or leading a scheduled presentation, Skype for Business makes it easy to share your screen with your participants.  You’ll see Simplex-IT using Skype for Business for our webinars too!

Online Meetings – Integration with Microsoft Office makes creating online meetings easy! In Outlook, instead of creating a “New Meeting” just select “Skype Meeting” instead. A link to the Skype meeting will be created for you in the body of the meeting invitation. From there, it’s the same as creating a meeting. Your recipients can then use the link provided to join the meeting.

Skype for Business

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instant Messaging – For a quick message, who has time for email? The instant messaging capability in Skype for Business makes it easy to send a message to your contacts. It’s also great for back and forth conversation type communication, rather than the one-sided email that’s easy to lose in your Inbox. Conversations are saved in Outlook, so you can go back and reference them at any point, with no email clutter. You can also see your contacts availability, and let other’s know yours. Leaving for the afternoon or on an important assignment and can’t be bothered? Change your status to Off Work or Do Not Disturb to let everyone know. You can create groups, favorites, and much more.

Skype for Business Instant Messaging

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to learn more about Skype for Business and see it in action? Join us for our monthly Office Webinar!

What: Skype for Business
When: Thursday, June 11th 11am – noon EST
Where: Online
Click here to Register!

 

So you’ve finished creating the project schedule, congratulations! You’re done and don’t ever have to look at it again, right? Wrong!

(At the end of this article you’ll see how to register for a free webinar on this topic later in May!)

Your project schedule is a constantly changing document. Changes occur all the time throughout the duration of a project. Tasks are added, removed, and reordered. They finish and start earlier and later. The resource assignments change. Issues happen.. And our schedules need to reflect that.

The project baseline is the starting point – this is where your original plan and intentions are stored. Think of this as “this is what we planned to do.” After that, when the project has started and is in execution, changes to the project schedule need to be made. Think of this as “this is what we actually did.” The value of capturing the actual information is in the variance analysis. Now you can show the variance in your original plan from what actually occurred. Also, when a schedule is updated with actual information, MS Project automatically adjust the future start and finish dates of all linked tasks. This ensures your resources always have the most up to date task information.

There are two ways to keep the project schedule updated, the project manager can manually enter to the actuals or the resources can.

  • MS Project only: If you are using MS Project as a standalone installation (without Project Online) you’ll have to enter the actuals manually.  The best way to do this is to gather the actual information from your resources, using a variety of methods including one-on-one conversations and emails, or team status meetings. Once the actual information is gathered, the PM then enters that information into the project schedule.

  • Project Online/Project Server: If you are using Project Online or Project Server, resources can enter their actual information in the Tasks view. These updates are then submitted to the Project Manager for approval. If the PM approves the updates, the changes are automatically incorporated into the project schedule. If rejected, the schedule is not updated and notification of the rejection is sent to the resource.

Once your schedule is up to date, you’ll have great reports and view to show your variance information. One of my favorites is the Tracking Gantt. It shows the baseline and actual data in an easy to view Gantt Chart layout as shown below:

If you’re interested in learning more about keeping your schedule updated and analyzing the variance reports, please join us for the next PM Webinar on May 21st. We’ll take a deeper dive into each of the update methods and explore some of the views and report available.

  • When:  Thursday, May 21st from 2-2:30pm (Eastern)
  • Where:  Online
  • It’s free!
  • Click here to RSVP

(attend one of our webinars and you might win a copy of Windows 8.1 from our friends at Microsoft)

 

 

 

*Update*  The correct date for this event is Thursday May 14th!

In this free session, we will look at creating Vlookup formulas – since most tables are created vertically, you can look up values from a table to populate another worksheet, then when you update the main table, it updates the other worksheets.   We will create name ranges to use in formulas and when selecting large areas of a worksheet, work with IF statement functions, the Sumif and Sumifs formulas, and the DGET function (grabs one record from a large database).

We will also look at working with comments and tracking a workbook so you can send and then review changes and accept or decline those changes to update workbook. Learn how to protect a workbook and worksheet so others can only change cells you choose.

Will also look at creating a simple macro in Excel and learn more about the Personal workbook which is a hidden workbook that stores macros.

We look forward to you participating in our next Office webcast.

One attendee will win a copy of Microsoft Office Pro 2013, thanks to Microsoft!

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).  Also, watch any of our over 100 videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/simplexITBob.

Questions?  Email us at Events@Simplex-IT.com.

Corporate data is important.

Most corporations keep track of their operations.  How they service their customers.  How they work with their vendors.  Cash flow.

We usually gather this data through applications, and the data is “structured,” meaning it’s contained using a technology like SQL, Oracle or the like.

Our topic for our Lunchinar this month is “Keeping Corporate Data Healthy.”

Data is critical to your business.

It needs to be healthy and reliable.  It needs to be there when you need it.  And it needs to provide you with answers to questions that assist in your operations, both strategically and operationally. In other words it needs to be ‘good’ data.

Do you have confidence your data is good?  Do you proactively deal with issues involving your data and have confidence that it is healthy?  That it will ‘be there’ when you need it – accurate, secure and ready to be used?

Having comfort and confidence in your data is a simple matter of addressing the ‘3 pillars’ of good data.

  • Health:  your data can be used when you need to use it.
  • Performance: your data is available quickly enough to be useful.
  • Usefulness: your data serves its intended purpose, but can be readily used for others as well.

This month, we’re going to focus on “Health.”  This includes:

  • Backups – proven to be usable should the need arise
  • Integrity – your data is not corrupt and can be relied upon for decision making
  • Security – your data is available only to those you choose to have access
  • Availability – it is able to be used when you need it

Doug Tombow (who heads up our new Simplex-dba practice) and Bob Coppedge will be demonstrating some of the tools and tactics we’re using to manage and maintain the health of some of our customers.

Join us!  It’s free, there’s going to be food (unless you join us online, in which case you’re on your own), we’ll give away a copy of Windows 8.1 and who knows what else?!

Click here to RSVP and more information

When:  Wednesday April 15th, 11:30-1pm (eastern)

Simplex-dba is part of Simplex-IT, which is an award winning IT services organization located in Hudson, Ohio (between Cleveland and Akron).  Simplex-dba is aimed at maintaining the health, security, performance and usability of corporate data (focusing on Microsoft SQL Server) in the Small to Medium Business world.  Our offerings include monitoring, management, training, proactive maintenance and strategic guidance.  We do so at a fraction of the cost of a full-time dba (DataBase Administrator) or those “big” consulting firms.

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