Monthly Archives

January 2021

it planning

Benefits Of Smart IT Planning

By | Networking, Strategy, Technology

In today’s fast-moving business environment, short-sighted IT decisions can lead to costly, inefficient investments and subpar performance. This is especially true in the area of technology and infrastructure. As applications and platforms proliferate and age, problems can emerge, including redundancies, inefficiencies, security gaps, and unplanned information silos.

Businesses will often look to the latest technologies that will deliver the fastest return on investment. This approach can work in the short term, but without proper planning IT teams find themselves struggling to manage an unwieldy IT infrastructure.

Adding to the complexity, many organizations are running on outdated systems and platforms that are not readily adaptable to today’s rapidly changing business demands. Technology modernization efforts not only require upgrading physical equipment and infrastructure, but also the processes and tools that support them.

Understanding what technology your business needs to reach its goals is essential. Knowing how to get it done—how and when to invest, map, plan, coordinate, and engage the enterprise around your technology initiatives—is equally important. That’s where a carefully planned, smartly executed technology strategy can deliver substantial value.

 

Creating a solid technology foundation

Effective technology planning begins with a detailed assessment of your IT environment to determine how well your current infrastructure is performing and how best to leverage existing resources. The assessment will help determine what technologies are being optimized, how they are used, and how well they align with your business needs.

The detailed evaluation will reveal insights into your IT strengths and weaknesses, uncover opportunities for cost optimization, and provide greater clarity for making difficult technology investment decisions. As part of the assessment, technologies and workflows are analyzed, tracking performance to uncover weaknesses, inefficiencies and vulnerabilities.

Data gathered from the assessment is then used to create a plan for performance improvement including actionable implementation steps, timelines, roadmaps, cost estimates, options, and alternatives.

To better assess your IT strengths and capabilities, consider applying similar processes and management techniques used by other organizations to identify areas for improvement and better understand how your business compares to industry benchmarks. Once metrics have been established, recurring checks help ensure the technologies and processes are aligned with the benchmarks.

A results-focused approach to IT assessment and evaluation relies on collaboration between the business and the IT consultant. Make sure your technology partner uses the latest analysis and reporting tools to gather information and determine the health status of each area under review. This will provide a deeper understanding of how well your IT is performing and whether your business strategy is supported by your technology.

With an objective IT evaluation, you’ll better understand the complexities and challenges of technology integration and deployment and gain the insight needed to help ensure your IT solutions align with your priorities and will scale appropriately. The assessment will also help determine if your IT security measure are sufficient for your business needs and allow you to identify opportunities to streamline your operations, optimize resources, minimize risk, and create a competitive advantage.

A comprehensive IT assessment will help your business:

  • Stay current with the latest technologies and security defenses
  • Identify opportunities for cost optimization
  • Meet compliance standards for security, uptime and data governance
  • Improve the reliability and availability of applications and resources
  • Plan for new capabilities based on defined business goals

 

Contact Us for a FREE Security Assessment

 

Reaping the benefits of sound IT planning

 

Technology is advancing rapidly, and your business should focus on leveraging these advances to propel growth, not hinder it. That’s where strategic IT planning can deliver substantial value―providing the expert guidance and optimum internal resources needed to improve efficiency, drive productivity, safeguard assets, and maximize ROI.

A well-designed technology plan has several core functions:

  • Evaluate the capabilities and skills of your in-house IT staff
  • Create a custom, prioritized list of projects and initiatives you need to complete to ensure your technology will support business goals
  • Examine your IT environment, systems, and applications for adherence to best practice standards
  • Conduct an analysis to identify gaps between your business’s needs and the mix and performance of IT infrastructure
  • Understand the timelines, milestones, and estimated costs for each proposed project

A proactive strategy gives you a better chance of preventing major disruptions that can impact your bottom line. The plan prioritizes your management activities to take full advantage of the opportunities enabled by a smooth-running IT operation, whether it’s growing revenue, capturing market share or digital transformation.

Expert analysis and technology roadmap planning help ensure the best approach to migrating your platforms and applications to deliver optimum performance and maximum return on investment. The roadmap includes all of the recommendations and actionable work outlined in the assessment, including a timeline and estimate of the cost of each project and the resources required from both IT and business unit perspective.

With a defined plan and roadmap, technology investments become much more transparent, as milestones and improvements are achieved and tracked along the way. The roadmap will also provide you with a structured framework for planning and managing changes to business and technology priorities as they evolve.

A carefully planned technology strategy will help you:

  • Identify the business capabilities that will be needed over a defined period as outlined in your business plan
  • Establish an overarching technology vision that defines the core elements or features of the technology needed to support your business strategy
  • Agree on the execution timeline outlined in the technology plan
  • Determine the business needs that will take priority and assess the gaps between current and required capabilities
  • Identify and prioritize top technology goals as defined through the needs assessment
  • Develop a roadmap detailing the initiatives that will be delivered during the established planning period

 

Keeping pace with the speed of business

Innovation can transform your business and elevate your performance, but navigating technology and managing complexity isn’t always easy. As your business needs change and grow, more focus is needed to ensure that technical delivery functions and IT services are designed, implemented, managed and controlled in a consistent manner.

Changing business dynamics continue to shift the role of IT―from managing and supporting technology to the broader, more strategic objective of driving business value. In this era of rapid change, strategic IT planning takes on greater importance. To position IT as an enabler of success, you need an IT strategy that aligns with your business and will take you where you want to go.

 



network design

Best Practices for Effective Network Design

By | Networking

Navigating the complexity of network design and deployment can be a daunting task, particularly in today’s era of more distributed, interconnected IT environments. Hurried, poorly planned decisions can result in costly, ineffective designs and inferior performance.

With the multitude of different ways to configure an enterprise network, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Adding to the challenge is the task of streamlining network management and monitoring capabilities across disparate, multi-vendor environments that include both wired and wireless infrastructure.

To optimize the value of your network environment, you need a network management strategy that aligns with your business priorities, taking into consideration core infrastructure needs, risk elements, performance demands, and lifecycle costs. As your business needs change and become more complex, more focus is needed to ensure that your network is designed, implemented, and managed in an efficient and consistent manner.

Reactive measures and unplanned upgrades can’t be completely avoided, but you can improve your planning and management approach. A key element of effective network design is creating an environment that will grow with your business. To accurately visualize current infrastructure and future needs, you need a concrete plan and structural map that defines any new hardware and software you plan to add.

You’ll also need to consider how each new component you deploy will impact network performance. As you continue to upgrade infrastructure to support leading-edge technologies like big data, cloud, and the IoT, network bandwidth demand will continue to grow.

While your business strategy needs to be flexible to accommodate changes in priorities and direction, your network design strategy also needs to be agile and adaptable.

A carefully planned, strategic approach to network design and management can help you:

  • Optimize assets and resources, enabling you to redirect in-house talent to more strategic initiatives
  • Minimize risks and protect data through enhanced security and carefully-crafted backup and recovery processes
  • Improve availability and reliability of applications and services and applications for increased productivity
  • Enhance data sharing through better connectivity and tighter integration of resources and systems
  • increase efficiency and reduce costs through automated systems and best practice management processes

To keep pace with the speed of business and technology change, you need a network that is fast, efficient, reliable and secure. At the center of an effective network strategy are several core components.

 

Strategic Network Management

Assessment:

The planning process begins with a detailed assessment of your IT environment to determine how well your network is performing and how best to leverage existing resources. The assessment will reveal insights into your network strengths and weaknesses, uncover opportunities for cost optimization, and provide greater clarity for making difficult IT investment decisions.

 

The assessment can help you:

  • Gain a clear picture of your network capabilities, strengths, weaknesses, and how well your technology plans align with business goals
  • Identify potential vulnerabilities and lapses in system backup, power disruptions, and data recovery processes
  • Create a defined action plan to bolster your network defenses against growing security threats
  • Improve network speed and efficiency while cutting costs through well-timed, strategic technology upgrades

 

 

Monitoring:

Monitoring is the first line of defense against unstable or unforeseen events that affect your network performance. New cloud technologies are assisting in this effort by enabling remote network monitoring without the need for constant onsite support. Proactive monitoring, automated alerts, and continuous insight into usage and performance metrics help quickly identify issues and drive resolution, helping to avoid unnecessary and costly downtime.

  • Network specialists can analyze trends, detect potential threats, and compare performance to industry benchmarks or pre-defined metrics.
  • Expert recommendations on design and configuration improvements help ensure your network is reliable, available and secure
  • Analysis of real-time performance data and usage trends gives managers greater insight into future infrastructure investment needs and ongoing technology recommendations

Security:

Rather than considered as an afterthought, network security should be embedded into your design. Data access and protective measures should include clear policies and procedures for how security is enforced. Additional tools and techniques can provide an extra layer of security to protect against unauthorized access.

 

  • Deploy updated anti-malware to help prevent malicious software such as ransomware and viruses from sneaking into your network, and make sure your anti-malware software is consistently updated with the latest definitions.
  • Keep patches current―make sure your practices include automated patching to help enforce policies and keep systems up to date and enforced with the latest software patching.
  • Make backups of all your data and software on a storage device that is not attached to your network or computer. Confirm that all your backups are operating properly and test them on a regular basis to make sure they will perform when you need them.

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Maintenance:

Network management isn’t only about keeping your operations up and running and maintaining the status quo. It’s also about improving network performance and optimizing efficiency. Preventative maintenance and responsive support capabilities are essential to helping to ensure reliable, secure performance. Advanced analysis, bandwidth optimization, and reporting tools play a vital role in helping network managers:

 

  • Gather information and determine the health status of your network infrastructure
  • Track performance against industry standard benchmarks
  • Identify network components and provide an up to date inventory of connected devices and users
  • Ensure optimum capacity and coverage while extracting maximum value from legacy systems

 

Expertise and support:

Routine network management tasks are vital to helping to ensure maximum uptime and reliability, but they can distract IT from more important priorities. Without sufficient expertise and support resources, your IT team can become quickly overwhelmed, exposing your critical infrastructure to chronic inefficiencies, breakdowns, and hidden vulnerabilities.

That’s where expert planning and insight from an experienced network consultant can provide immense value. Your network consultant will work with you to create a personalized network management and support solution, assist with implementation and training, as well as provide ongoing support through the entire design and installation process.

Whether you are upgrading your existing infrastructure or starting from scratch, with careful planning and the right approach you’ll benefit from:

  • A defined action plan to address any network performance, efficiency, and compliance issues
  • Lower operating costs through more efficient network management and well-timed and targeted infrastructure improvements
  • A plan that will optimize your legacy network systems and better control technology expenses
  • Increased productivity through faster, more reliable network performance
  • Enhance IT security through best practices, intelligent planning, and better awareness of network vulnerabilities and weaknesses
  • A solid foundation to address potential network outages and business continuity and recovery

 

In the age of digital proliferation and widely distributed network connections, maintaining an efficient, responsive network infrastructure t is more critical than ever. It requires a holistic approach that effectively blends proven practices with cutting-edge technologies to create a network that delivers efficient, reliable performance and easy scalability to meet shifting business needs.

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Engineering IT Solutions

Four Costly Misconceptions Many Construction and Engineering Firms Have About IT

By | IT Support, managed It services

Have you started to doubt the value of your IT service provider? Misconceptions about this complex field can arise from a lack of shared knowledge when observations do not present a full picture. If you wonder about your company’s need for information technology (IT) services, your experience as a toughminded decision-maker may contribute to your evaluation. Your depth of knowledge and experience in contracting or engineering may obscure your awareness of IT’s detailed requirements, and misconceptions can form. Some of them may cost more than you imagine.

Misconception #1

My computer network does not need monthly monitoring and maintenance; I only want to pay for repairs or support on an “as-needed” basis.

An erroneous understanding of technical issues creates preconceptions that can make you devalue your IT, and it frequently happens among smaller construction and engineering companies. With the complexity and dynamism of computer technology, the demand for technicians who understand the relationships between software, data, firewall applications, and the total system becomes increasingly important. Computer systems need regular updates and routine maintenance to deter cybercrime invasions and prevent attacks by viruses and hackers.

Here’s a checklist of the necessary IT tasks you can use as a guide to ensure your IT system’s consistent operation.

Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Updating Processes:

  • Check Bentley and Autodesk license managers for critical updates, conflicts, functionality, and potential issues.
  • Check Bentley and AutoCAD for updates and schedule updates with clients.
  • Update all Sage CRE, Viewpoint, Deltek, and other accounting applications.
  • Install security patches and updates as a critical factor in maintaining your system and detecting daily cyberattacks.
  • Update and monitor anti-virus software.
  • Update and monitor firewall applications.

Backup Processes:

  • Check backups daily to ensure that occurrences appear every hour.
  • Manage and monitor all computer networks and connected devices to safeguard against cybercrime, data loss, and sluggish system performance.
  • Monitor and maintain email file size to prevent difficulty with transmitting large files.

Maintenance Functions:

  • Install and update spam filter software.
  • Detect and remove spyware.
  • Conduct monitoring of workstations and server disk space.
  • Monitor hardware to detect any potential for failure.
  • Optimize systems to ensure maximum speed.

Recommended Action

You can expect a reliable IT support company to provide a regular schedule to update, backup, and maintain your system. You have a justifiable reason to replace a service that fails to perform these essential functions that protect your system. Regular service and efficient monitoring prevent the loss of valuable files and protect your system from malicious intrusion by hackers who intend to inflict damage.

 

Misconception #2

My nephew’s/neighbor’s kid/brother-in-law/office manager knows this IT stuff and can care for our computers.

Your ability to save money may account for at least some of your business success, and many other business owners share it. However, a decision to economize by eliminating a highly skilled position may produce counterproductive outcomes. The tasks of conducting maintenance, virus prevention, and updating computer systems demand an experienced professional’s full-time attention. Issues that may occur intermittently require time to observe; reliance on knowledge can help an IT technician identify and correct problems. When you remember that your experience helped you resolve difficult issues, you can understand the importance of relying on a qualified professional.

While interim part-timers may not know how to fix problems, you may find that they can create issues easily. Your IT network and the data that it contains may support the core of your business. Access to it by an inexperienced person can cause almost irreparable damage. The cost of restoring lost files or reversing the effect of mistakes can far exceed the price of a professional IT service.

Recommended Action

Stay with a qualified professional.

 

Misconception #3

All IT support companies offer the same service. You can find your best option with the one that offers the lowest price.

Generalizations can perpetuate preconceptions and help enforce false impressions. While assumptions may make you think that a product has low value because of a low price, the truth may lie elsewhere. In a high demand field, IT support technicians can demand competitive wages just as other professions require. Some may set lower prices to get started in the business, but a low rate may indicate a lack of experience. When you place a minimum of five years in business as a criterion for hiring an IT support company, you can expect a high-quality performance. You may find a closer alignment for your firm’s requirements by searching for a company with previous contracting or engineering firms’ experience.

Some IT service providers may offer a low price, but the quality of work may suffer. Outsourcing to overseas companies can allow access to your firm’s data, email, and personal files, providing a potential risk that can require your time, effort, and resources to resolve. Others may offer temporary jobs to college students or new technicians who accept opportunities to learn the work for low wages. The outcomes of these practices can produce consequences that you may not realize for weeks or months.

An unqualified technician’s improper diagnosis can allow work to proceed on a problem that does not exist. Television reporters have tested computer repair shops’ ability to find and fix a disconnected cable, and many failed. While not producing the same dire effects as a failure to note defects in your computer system, the possibility of an unknowledgeable worker accessing your company’s information deserves some consideration. No low price can compensate for damage to your accounting records, bank accounts, browsing history, client data, or your proprietary business concepts.

When you find a company that seems to fit your criteria, you can fine-tune your selection by interviewing its marketing representative. The best IT service providers spend time asking questions to understand how their services match your requirements. Just like your clients check your reputation with others who hired you for contracting or engineering services, any company that deserves your business can provide many satisfied customers’ references to check if you choose.

Recommended Action

Look for experience and knowledgeable questions as qualifications for your IT service provider.

 

Misconception #4

An honest IT support company can provide a telephone quote.

While the apparent convenience of getting a price estimate over the phone may appeal, your experience in the business world advises against it. Professional technicians need to inspect your system before they can tell you a price for their services, and you do yourself a favor by not asking for a guess. Some unscrupulous IT service providers offer a low price on the phone to get a contract with you, but the price may change with unexpected add-ons that add hours to the bill. Firms that you can trust do not use hourly billing. A flat-rate and a fixed fee quote before work begins can ensure you of reliable service.

Recommended Action

Invite an IT service provider to an interview at your site to review your requirements and provide a written quote for services.

Every misconception has at least a grain of truth in it, and each can provide a heads up to take note of vital issues. While they may mislead you on the importance of choosing a professional IT service provider with reliable references and competitive pay requirements, they serve a valuable purpose. By refuting them and getting to the facts, you gain knowledge that benefits your company.

 

cybersecurity

The Biggest Trends in Cybersecurity We Saw in 2020

By | Security

What were the most significant cybersecurity trends of 2020? As you might expect, they were closely tied to the prominent events of the time. The year 2020 could easily be summed up as one of great stress and anxiety. In early March, the COVID-19 global pandemic caused remote connections to become the “new normal”. There was an immediate pursuit for a vaccine to alleviate the strain on people infected with the virus and the healthcare system caring for those individuals. There was also the presidential election that raised new security concerns as the option for mail-in ballots became a heated debate. What we discovered about the cybersecurity trends of 2020 is that cybercriminals did not let up their ploys. Instead, they increased and even updated their tactics during an uncharacteristic year in which many organizations were simply just trying to stay afloat.

The following are five of the biggest trends in cybersecurity we saw in 2020:

  • The technology used by remote workers became big targets.
  • Email hacks continued to increase.
  • The healthcare industry became the top target.
  • Attacks on cloud solutions based on new strategies emerged.
  • Ransomware attacks increased in specific industries.
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The technology used by remote workers became big targets.

As our learning, working and socializing shifted to remote connections during the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, cybercriminals also shifted their tactics. Meeting applications such as Zoom gained popularity. Shortly thereafter, there were reports of threats related to the increased virtual activity. The Boston division of the FBI issued a warning in March of 2020 for users of video-teleconferencing (VTC) platforms to take measures to protect themselves from teleconferencing hijacking. As fingers continued to point to Zoom as the culprit, the company posted a message on their blog explaining that they “did not design the product with the foresight that, in a matter of weeks, every person in the world would suddenly be working, studying, and socializing from home.” Zoom eventually made some changes to their application. In early January 2021, the company released a new version 5.0 of its application that is supposed to address several of its security issues.

Videoconferencing wasn’t the only remote technology under attack in 2020. The Dark Nexus bot was first revealed in late 2019 but continued to evolve in 2020 and target a growing list (up to 1372 as of this writing) of Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices such as home routers. The bot initially exploited system vulnerabilities and then evolved to most recently using brute-force attacks on Telnet connections that used default credentials. Because the bot has been quickly spreading to IoT devices, cybersecurity professionals are concerned that its threat could extend to 2021.

Email hacks continued to increase.

In addition to remote technology, cybercriminals also continued to focus on a common target—business email. The COVID-19 crisis turned out to be a breeding ground for phishing attacks. One of the most staggering cybersecurity statistics is phishing attacks increased 220% in 2020. In the 2020 Phishing and Fraud Report, the application services and application delivery networking company F5 reports that while the usual tactics related to emotional appeal were observed, cyber criminals that chose this social engineering form of attack discovered new ways of submitting attacks.

One of the most notable email attacks was on the federal government.  As reported by Reuters, the email system of several U.S. government offices, including the treasury and commerce departments, were infiltrated. It is believed that malicious code by a foreign agency was inserted into the government network during the automatic update processes and were undetected for several months. The Trump administration announced the attack in early December 2020, but details about the depth of the attack and the exact nature of the data was taken (if any) have yet to be communicated to the public.

The healthcare industry became the top target.

Healthcare is one of five industries most targeted by cybercriminals. It’s no surprise that since the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare has moved to the number one spot. This became public knowledge in the middle of November 2020 when the American Hospital Association (AHA) reported that the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, FBI and Department of Health and Human Services were concerned about “credible, ongoing and persistent” threats.”

There were several major cyber attacks on the healthcare sector in 2020. The following are the two most notable:

  • The UVM Health Network was forced to lock down their network for more than 30 days due to an attack that infected thousands of their computers. UVM brought in government cyber professionals to assist with restoring their systems. The organization estimated that their losses were about $1.5 million per day and would probably end up costing more than $50 million when the issue is resolved in 2021

 

  • Between February and May 2020, nearly 50 health-related organizations that used the cloud computing vendor Blackbaud to store donor information were impacted by a ransomware attack that resulted in individual records being compromised; the largest impact being the more than 1 million Inova Health System records. The incident, which involved the cyber criminals gaining access to unencrypted data (including bank information, social security numbers, and log in credentials), led millions of the victims filing individual and class-action lawsuits against Blackbaud. The attack originated in early February and wasn’t discovered until late May 2020. Blackbaud is a cloud computing vendor for a variety of organizations. The company paid the ransom once they received confirmation that the exfiltrated (copied) data was destroyed. The company neglected to publicly disclose the amount of the ransom.

Attacks on cloud solutions based on new strategies emerged.

Health-related organizations aren’t the only organizations using cloud services. The benefits of reduced IT costs and increased accessibility are attractive benefits that have led many organizations to move to the cloud. As more organizations choose to move their critical data to cloud solutions, these systems are becoming bigger targets for hackers.

Given the increase in cloud system attacks, organizations are observing data for vulnerabilities. Research by Aqua Security of 16, 371 attacks on cloud systems that spanned June 2019 to July 2020 uncovered a new trend in cyber attacks on cloud solutions. While mining cryptocurrency continued to be the major aim of the attacks, a small amount (about 5%) in 2020 were used for a new purpose—setting up distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) infrastructure. The research by Aqua shows that the miners were deployed as malicious image containers published on Docker Hub. This is a significant development because it signifies that cyber criminals are using more sophisticated means of infiltrating systems and are more interested in financial gain.

Docker defines a container image as “a lightweight, standalone, executable package of software that includes everything needed to run an application: code, runtime, system tools, system libraries, and settings.” It’s like a virtual machine in terms of its self-contained characteristic but differs in that it  virtualizes an operating system instead of OS hardware. This new development environment will likely draw more malicious activity in the near future.

Ransomware attacks increased in specific industries.

A report by the cybersecurity company FireEye may have been wrong about predicting that the 2020 elections would stir up hackers to attack electoral systems, but they were right on the mark about ransom attacks continuing to be a problem. Halfway into 2020, there were about 11 major ransomware attacks that resulted in the victims of those attacks paying nearly $150 million to recover.

According to the IBM Security X-Force Threat Intelligence Index for 2020, ransomware was one of the top methods of attacks in the U.S. Not only were ransomware attacks up in 2020, but the malefactors used more bold attempts to force organizations to pay the ransoms. Global risk consulting firm Kroll reported that ransomware criminals set up websites exposing obtained personal data and, in many cases, sought to connect with the owners of that data directly which forced the organizations to alert customers and respond more quickly. Kroll reported that technology, healthcare, and professional services were the key target industries of ransomware attacks in 2020.

Conclusion

Understanding the trends in cybersecurity can provide some insight into what your organization can expect in the coming year. What is apparent from the uncharacteristic year of 2020 is that it is more important that your organization not only implement cybersecurity measures but make sure those measures are the “right” ones for your organization for a variety of technical situations. One of the side effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on businesses is that many had to scale down their workforce. This included cybersecurity professionals. There was already a great need for these professionals. The 2020 economic outlook meant that companies had to be more creative in how they planned for cybersecurity challenges. Is your organization prepared for the cybersecurity trends of 2021?

BACS is a cybersecurity firm ready to help you obtain an understanding of your organization’s needs and what you need to mitigate your cybersecurity risks in the coming years.

 

Contact Us for a FREE Security Assessment

Why-you-need-an-IT-strategy

Why You Need An IT Strategy

By | managed It services, Strategy

Planning and strategy are key components of any successful business. The best business leaders in the world are constantly looking into the future and planning for what will come. That rings true in all parts of the business, including information technology. IT strategy is more important than ever heading into the second decade of the 21st century.

Organizations with no IT strategy are not prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. If IT strategy is so important for businesses to compete, why doesn’t every business have a comprehensive strategy? Creating and executing an IT strategy is much more challenging than most businesses believe. There are many obstacles that prevent organizations from accomplishing this task.

Often businesses will start the strategic planning process, but then they become distracted by issues and tasks that they see as more urgent. Even if a business creates an IT strategy, they often fail to execute the vision presented in the strategy. Some teams will put the IT strategy on their shelf and will not refer to the strategy again until it is time to update the document.

 

What Is An IT Strategy?

An IT strategy is more or less an action plan that details how an organization can utilize all of their IT resources to support business objectives. IT strategy can also be referred to as technology strategy. An IT strategy is generally detailed in a comprehensive document that describes all of the factors that affects how an organization invests and uses technology. This document is an important piece to a business’s overall strategy to meet its goals.

Your organization can use this document as a strategic roadmap for using IT to create business value and a return on investment. An IT strategy should be designed to be flexible as technology is rapidly changing. Many organizations have to continually adjust their strategies when the unexpected occurs. For example, companies had to scramble during the COVID-19 pandemic and completely move many processes online in order to enable employees to work from home.

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Why Do I Need An IT Strategy?

An IT strategy will help ensure that everyone in your organization is on the same page when it comes to information technology. Technology is more important than ever in the business world. Many organizations are going through digital transformations where manual processes are moved into the digital world. Companies now rely on various technologies to improve service offerings and better serve their customers. An IT strategy will help ensure that all IT technologies will help add business value.

When your organization goes through the process of creating an IT strategy, your team will have a chance to assess all parts of your business that are affected by information technology. Strengths and weaknesses can be identified throughout the organization and action can take place to address them. An IT strategy can help you identify areas in your IT department that need investment. Your team can justify capital investment in key IT areas by showcasing them in an IT strategy document.

Now that we have an understanding of IT strategy and why it is important, let’s jump into how your business can create an IT strategy.

 

How To Write An IT Strategy or IT Assessment

There are many methods that companies employ to create an IT strategy. The way an organization goes about creating the final document will largely depend on the size of your business, what industry you operate in, and several other factors. The final IT strategy document your business creates will likely look different than any other business’s document. However, there are some commonalities that many IT strategies have, which you can base your IT strategy on.

Most IT strategy documents will contain the following elements:

  • A comprehensive list covering all of the personnel and infrastructure that is currently available to the organization, as well as future needs.
  • A forecasting budget that details an estimate of capital expenditures, infrastructure costs, personnel salaries, and other costs for multiple years.
  • A list of important current and future IT projects that will impact the organization.
  • A list of internal and external forces that will affect IT personnel and resources over the next few years.
  • The cybersecurity outlook of the organization and what needs to be more secure in order to prevent data breaches.
  • The current best practices that the IT department utilizes.

There are many more elements that your IT strategy could contain, but these should help your business get an idea of what should be included in your final IT strategy document.

Whether your business operates with little IT infrastructure or robust IT infrastructure, an IT strategy is key to meeting business goals.

Your team may feel overwhelmed with the idea of taking several weeks or months to develop an IT strategy. There may be no one in your organization that has experience developing this type of strategy. Creating an IT strategy that does not accurately portray and assess the IT situation in your organization could prevent your business from reaching its goals. In that case, your organization may need some help creating and executing an IT strategy. Thankfully, the experts at BACS are here to help.

 

BACS Can Help Your IT Strategy

BACS can help your organization develop a comprehensive IT strategy that meets your unique needs. No matter if your organization has one location or 1,000 locations, our team can help you create an IT strategy that will cover all of your bases. We will ensure that your strategy will help your business meet your end goals

Reach out to BACS today to learn more about how we can help you create and execute an IT strategy. Our team can guide you through the entire process of developing an IT strategy and ensure that you have the resources and dedication necessary to execute the strategy. BACS is more than happy to help, as well as answer any questions you may have regarding IT strategy and why you should invest in one.

 

Contact Us for a FREE Security Assessment

 

 

 

 

 

it service provider

How to Solve the Top 4 Complaints Engineering, Architectural, and Construction Companies Have with IT

By | IT Support, managed It services

While you may be convinced that information technology (IT) makes work life easier for professionals who work in the building industry, you and your colleagues have some complaints about how IT is executed within your field. You want to continue replacing manual processes and tools with digital ones that support higher levels of productivity.

However, your work’s precise nature and the tight deadlines you live under leave no room for inadequate IT solutions. In most cases, finding the right IT solutions for your firm is as easy as choosing the right service provider.

Here are the top four IT challenges that slow the progress of digital transformations in the fields of architecture, engineering, and construction. We also give you some tips for securing the right IT service provider to resolve these issues efficiently.

 

  1. Ineffective Data Back-Up and Recovery

You’ve worked for weeks on schematics for a client’s new apartment building that’s scheduled to open in one of your city’s most upscale neighborhoods. The project means lots of money for your client and plenty of prestige for your community. It also means that you and your team are under tight deadlines to get the engineering documents finalized and off to the construction team. Then it happens. One of the critical CAD files that was under review by your team was accidentally deleted.

You wisely anticipated this kind of mishap and have a data backup and recovery plan in place for your firm. However, you’re unsure if your IT service provider can recover the most recent version of the file. If the IT company can’t restore that version of the file, your team will be spending a lot of time redoing work and doing quality checks on the new diagrams.it services complaints

The answer to this dilemma is in your service agreement. Check to see if your agreement supports file-based backups that allow the IT company to back up your data frequently. When in the market for a new IT service provider, only employ one that does hourly backups.

Be wary of companies that only offer incremental, hourly backups. While incremental, hourly backups are better than no hourly backups at all, they give users a false sense of security that their data can be completely and quickly restored at any time. File recovery from incremental backups requires administrators to piece together data from different sources of backed-up files. Missed data is common.

Ideally, you want a service agreement that supports full backups of files on an hourly basis. These types of data backup plans normally require larger storage spaces and higher bandwidths. Look for a well-known IT service provider with the capacity to offer this level of service.

 

  1. Email File-Sharing Limitations

Collaboration among team members on design-build projects can become quite intense. You create floor plans for multi-story buildings and want to get immediate feedback about them from your team. Your first move is to open up your email program, compose a note to multiple recipients, and attach your files. You hit send. After moving on to a dozen more critical action items, you check your inbox for your colleagues’ anticipated responses. Instead of getting marked-up files from your design team, you’re greeted with an ambiguous bounce message.

The message tells you that the email you sent either exceeded the system’s size limit or the recipient’s mailbox is full. For many email providers, the standard size limit for messages is 10MB. However, some internet service providers (ISPs) that offer mailboxes limit incoming mail messages to 5MB. This issue is hard to manage because you have no control over the amount of space left in a recipient’s mailbox, and you don’t know for sure the size cap for incoming messages that his or her service provider sets.

To avoid bounce messages and dreaded email program freezes, you’ll want to talk to your service provider about getting higher limits for the amount and size of emails you can send through your company’s account. You may need an upgrade.

Even if they have the highest limits that ISPs offer, some people still exceed their mailbox spaces. If you’re working with an internal team, it’s a good idea to set policies in place to archive old emails periodically and remove them so that they don’t impact mailbox space.

Experts offer best practices for emailing large CAD files that work well whether your recipients have generous email size limits or not. They recommend placing your files in a folder, compressing the folder into a zip file, and attaching the zip file to your message.

If your files aren’t particularly sensitive, you can always encrypt the documents and upload them to a cloud storage platform. You’ll then be able to email multiple recipients a link to the documents, which drastically cuts the size of the sent email.

 

  1. License Error Messages

Engineering software tools that are produced by Bentley Systems are the gold standard in the building industry. While nearly every architecture, engineering, and construction firm is familiar with Bentley tools and uses them regularly, users’ concerns about unexpected license fees go mostly unaddressed.

Consider this scenario. A small architectural firm has agreed to buy four licenses for Bentley’s Microstation software. As engineers check out the licenses one by one, the decremented amount of licenses shows up on a management platform that Bentley offers its clients. However, Microstation programs are still available to other company users who access them by signing up for a trial. At the end of the billing cycle, Bentley Systems charges the architectural firm extra licensing fees for using more licenses than the initial.

Several engineering firms have requested that Bentley Systems cap their license usage so that access to programs is blocked for members of their companies whether these programs are associated with trial subscriptions or not. Bentley hasn’t yet come up with a satisfactory solution to stop the surprise bills. The problem is so pervasive that new competitors such as Autodesk highlight Bentley’s billing flaw to boost their marketing campaigns.

Suppose you have no plans of migrating to new engineering tools any time soon. In that case, you’ll want to invest in a 3rd-party asset management platform to help you and your team manage Bentley software licenses, track license usage, and stop these billing errors.

 

  1. Poor Customer Service From Outsourced IT

While every IT company claims to have exceptional customer service, the reality is that not all of them live up to their marketing claims. You’ll find data backup and recovery experts who can’t give you access to a backed-up file that was mysteriously corrupted. If the company can retrieve your file, it will make sure that you know that it’ll take a week for its representatives to get the file and send it to you. You’re upset because all that you can remember about your agreement with this company is that it promised that its services would result in minimal downtown to your firm’s operations.

When working with IT service providers, the solution is to document the service needs of your organization, find a company that can fulfill those requirements, and get their performance claims in writing. If a company claims that it can quickly retrieve and restore your backed-up CAD files, get it to quantify a time frame for this task, such as within 24 hours. Before selecting an IT service provider, you’ll want to check out its marketplace reputation. If it has been unresponsive or incompetent with previous customers, it’s unlikely that it will change its operating style for your company.

Continuing to modernize your architectural, engineering, or construction firm with powerful IT products and services offers many benefits. Some of them include improved collaboration and better construction site safety. In fact, you can’t remain competitive without the help of IT. Partnering with a highly-responsive IT service provider with the same values as your company is a great way to solve these top four IT issues and keep your firm moving forward.