All Posts By

BACS Consulting Group

Managed IT Services Case Study – OrangeTwist

By | IT Support, Strategy, Technology

OrangeTwist started life as a single-location medical spa in Costa Mesa, CA, offering treatments such as Botox, facials, CoolSculpting® and more. As the company began to grow, the stakeholders set their sights on a seemingly simple goal: to create a virtual and physical space which would be instantly familiar to both clientele and staff alike. The idea was that clients traveling far afield could enter any OrangeTwist location in the country and feel just like they were on their own home turf. Likewise, staff who moved from location to location, either as transfer employees or simply to cover staff absences would not have to ask questions like, “How do I set up the TV in this treatment room?” or “Where’s the Sonos unit kept?” or “How do I connect to this printer?” 

This, in turn, would provide a streamlined experience for everyone involved, offering both uniformity and the comfort of familiarity, without the associated challenges of learning a new system or physical layout at each individual location.  

To accommodate this goal, OrangeTwist reached out to BACS Consulting Group. Our first step was to meet with the company stakeholders to ensure we understood exactly what was needed and wanted, and to set appropriate expectations on all sides of the table before we proceeded. From these discussions, we were given the following mandates:

  • Creating a single, scalable web portal connecting the various OrangeTwist locations to establish uniform branding and virtual user experience
  • Establishing a cloud-based network which would allow clients and staff to connect to the Orange Twist network at each individual location using a single individual login or access token
  • Providing and deploying UI technology to solidify control, ease of use and assimilation across the corporate constellation
  • Creating “plug-and-play” methodology to allow new locations to seamlessly integrate with the existing OrangeTwist systems across the country
  • Moving forward as OrangeTwist’s IT management partner, providing ongoing IT and cybersecurity services to maintain the integrity and function of the company’s technological and virtual faces

Understanding OrangeTwist’s needs and infrastructure

Armed with this information, BACS Consulting Group and OrangeTwist moved forward, working in tandem to develop an actionable strategy plan around OrangeTwist’s existing interfaces, planned additional locations and expanding technology and IT needs. Once we achieved clear and enthusiastic agreement and consent on the action plan, we proceeded.

The user experience

The first step was to create a web portal which provided clear branding and easy access to their chosen locations for clients. Given the scope and intensity of OrangeTwist’s intended expansion, this required making the portal simple to navigate and easy to port contact parameters for additional locations into as they came online. This realized an immediate time and money savings for OrangeTwist as all their web and contact traffic came through one portal, rather than having to build out multiple portals and tie them all together piecemeal.

Head in the cloud

Next, we created a cloud-based access scheme which allows customers and staff in any OrangeTwist location to access the company’s bespoke music, television and WiFi through an individual password or access token. This cloud migration negated the need for expensive physical servers, reduced the amount of cabling and electricity consumed on each site and amplified ease of use for both employees and clients.

Interchangeable Tech

The next step was to procure and deploy uniform technology to be used in the individual locations. VoIP phones based in the cloud, iMacs set up to OrangeTwist’s specifications and uniform printers, all using the same protocols, were placed to simplify and streamline staff usage, permit real-time corporate oversight and allow for smooth, seamless IT intervention in case of an issue. 

 “Plug and Play”

Next, we shifted our attention to ensuring the hardware, software and access protocols were “plug and play.” By doing this, we vastly simplified onboarding of new and transferring employees, the creation of new locations as appropriate and the replacement of malfunctioning or defective devices when and where necessary. This uniform approach also allowed for superior IT overwatch and made resolving issues simpler, because when a problem develops, we can readily identify where the issue started and how to correct it to minimize downtime and maximize efficiency.

A reliable IT Management partner

Today, four years after that first contact with OrangeTwist, they are quite happy with BACS Consulting Group’s service and responsiveness. With locations in California, Washington, and Texas, and more expansion on the way, they cite the simplicity of a uniform technological approach across the company as a key driver in their success. Having access to a single point of contact for all IT issues who can take ownership and resolve the issue using only one phone number and email has reduced downtime and increased productivity for the company. We at BACS Consulting Group look forward to a long, strong relationship with OrangeTwist moving forward.

How can BACS Consulting Group help your company?

We’re very proud of the work and outcomes we provided for OrangeTwist, and creating bespoke IT solutions which met their needs and exceeded their expectations is a point of pride for us.

With so many cyber threats including phishing, hacking and cracking attacks on the rise around the world, not to mention day-to-day threats and commonplace IT issues, virtually every size company can benefit from having access to dedicated IT professionals. BACS specializes in taking the time to understand the nature of each individual business we serve, and the unique needs, concerns and threats they face. 

Our ongoing commitment to providing excellence for our clients doesn’t end once the full system is functional, either. We deliver quarterly reports and evaluations which allow us to pivot and adjust to the client’s ever-evolving needs, keeping the customer experience our clients deliver to their clientele and expect and receive from us uppermost in mind at all times. Each of our technicians is rated at a level 2-4, which permits any of our people to act as the client’s single point of contact, with the ability to take ownership and work toward resolution of any IT concern or issue. We never consider a case or ticket closed until the client clearly says the issue is resolved.

To learn more about BACS Consulting Group and how we can help your business deliver a superior customer experience with less downtime and greater security, we encourage you to call (650) 887-4601 or email us at today!

Managed IT Services Case Study – Alliance Healthcare Foundation

By | Uncategorized

Alliance Healthcare Foundation (AHF) was strongly dissatisfied with their existing IT services provider. They needed a proactive IT management partner who delivers problem-solving, responsive communication, timely response, and action on tickets/issues. Unfortunately, the firm they were using was slow to respond, taking up to a week or more to reply to tickets and sometimes not at all. This led to unnecessary downtime, decreased productivity, and frustration. AHF had no dedicated point of contact for IT nor technical issues. Tickets were frequently treated as an inconvenience or a waste of time on their provider’s part. Operations Manager, Bryan Fisher, recalls one occasion where he finally reached a live person and having a list of items which took an hour to get through.

After doing some research and with much trepidation, Bryan contacted BACS Consulting Group.

Because of how we operate, and especially because of AHF’s poor experience with our predecessors, we wanted to ensure past errors were not repeated. This meant:

  • Understanding AHF’s needs and infrastructure
  • Determining the best IT programs and technology solutions for AHF
  • Upgrading AHF’s infrastructure
  • Organizing AHF’s cabling and wiring for more efficient troubleshooting
  • Setting up new bespoke tech for AHF
  • Moving forward as AHF’s IT management partner

Understanding AHF’s needs and infrastructure

Bryan says the difference was instantly noticeable. BACS took the time to understand AHF’s specific needs and existing infrastructure. Then, working with Bryan and other key personnel, BACS developed an actionable strategy to create a more robust and effective IT management methodology, letting AHF’s needs guide the process.

Once we had a clear agreement and enthusiastic consent to the path forward, we acted. 

Upgrading AHF’s infrastructure

The first step was to upgrade and update AHF’s IT infrastructure to make it more efficient and save them money in the long term. We started by removing an extraneous in-house server and migrating their operations to a cloud-based scheme, realizing an immediate savings for AHF in power consumption and maintenance.

Redoing AHF’s cabling and wiring

The next order of business was redoing all AHF’s in-house cabling and wiring to allow for updated and more powerful hardware. This included rewiring AHF’s network room and facilitating the installation of an AV system in the conference room and lobby with the latest hardware and teleconferencing technology. 

Setting up new bespoke tech for AHF

We replaced the Windows-based system with Mac computers, which we agreed to maintain and manage. Finally, we augmented their network and data security by replacing AHF’s existing firewall with a hardened enterprise-class firewall.

Moving forward as AHF’s IT management Partner

Today, AHF is very pleased with the service they receive from BACS. Bryan reports drastically reduced downtime, with greatly increased staff satisfaction and productivity. He cites our nimble responsiveness, technical tenure, and professional demeanor as key factors in this change. In addition, the peace of mind having access to a one-phone number, one-email point of contact who has the knowledge and skill to take ownership on the issue from initial ticket to final resolution has made contacting IT a pleasure, rather than a pain.  Bryan states, “The BACS team really understands who we are and how we work.  Select BACS as our IT vendor has been a game changer for our organization!”

How can BACS Consulting Group help your company?

We’re very proud of the work we have completed and currently maintain for AHF, and it was our pleasure to create a bespoke IT solution which worked for their needs.

Like many companies, AHF was beginning to wonder if having an IT solutions provider was worth it. With so many cyber threats including phishing, hacking and cracking attacks on the rise around the world, not to mention day-to-day threats, virtually every size company can benefit from having access to dedicated IT professionals. BACS specializes in taking the time to understand the nature of each individual business we serve, and the unique needs, concerns and threats they face. 

Our commitment to providing a unique center of excellence for our clients doesn’t stop once the system is up and running, either. We deliver quarterly reports and evaluations which allow us to adjust to the client’s evolving needs and the customer experience they both deliver to their clientele and receive from us. Our technicians are all rated level 2-4, allowing any of our people to serve as a single point of contact who can accept ownership of any IT issue. No ticket or case is ever resolved until the client says it is. 

To learn more about BACS Consulting Group and how we can help your business deliver a superior customer experience with less downtime and greater security, we encourage you to call (650) 887-4601 or email us at today!

Cyberthreat BACS Consulting

Phishing: The Uncommonly Common Cyberthreat

By | Security, Strategy

According to, in the period from 2014 to 2018, the average office worker received 90 emails each day. 40 of these emails, or five per hour, were directly related to business operations. This average includes personal correspondence, follow-up emails, requests for information, initial contacts—and potential, attempted or successful cyber attacks known as phishing.

The goal of phishing is to simulate or emulate an email originating from a legitimate source, in an effort to convince the recipient to reveal confidential or sensitive information such as login credentials, bank account numbers, passwords, and credit card information. Some types of phishing require the recipient to click a link or enter information, while other forms only need the email to be opened. 

In nearly every successful case, the recipient is guilty of nothing but poor judgment—but nonetheless, the damage is done, compromising the security of the business, exposing sensitive information and eroding public confidence. 

How Phishing Works

There are several types of phishing. Many of these are designed to look innocent and legitimate. The FBI’s Internet Crime Report says phishing attacks through business email cost organizations $676 million in 2017 alone, nearly double the loss of $360 million from the previous year.

You may get an email from when your actual company domain is Okay, maybe it’s from the UK office. There might be a slight change in the sender’s address, such as “someone” when you usually correspond with “somebody.” Happens all the time, right? Person A changes their email address for security purposes and forgets to let Person B know. The email has a vague or off-topic subject line, but you “know” this person and open it anyway, thinking it comes from a trusted source. The subject line may include your first name, such as, “Bob, here are those documents you requested.” It’s not terribly specific, which would naturally make many users ask, “Which documents? I need to find out. I think I remember that conversation…”   

The email is opened. The attack has begun.

Common attacks of this type include:

Phishing, in which an email purporting to be from a legitimate company asks you to log in to their site to verify your account or manage an issue by clicking a link. These emails look legitimate, but the links they provide lead you to a spoof site. When you enter your login credentials, the attackers now have them, giving them access to your account with that company and allowing them access to further compromise your sensitive information.

Spear Phishing is a more sophisticated form of phishing. This type of phishing uses specifics such as your name, phone number, your company’s name and your position in it to give the illusion of a previously existing connection, making it more likely you’ll click any links or provide requested information because it appears to come from a trusted source.

Whaling uses the psychology of power structures against the unwary. In this sort of phishing, the attacker poses as a high-level company official, such as a vice-president or someone in the C-suite, and produces emails crafted to appear like legitimate requests for information originating within the company. This sort of attack asks for sensitive information such as passwords, login information or financial information like credit card numbers and other identifiers.

Shared Document Phishing uses the ubiquity of the connected, collaborative workplace as its weapon of choice. In this sort of attack, you may receive a legitimate-looking email purporting to be from Google Drive or Dropbox, encouraging you to sign in to view or edit a shared document. As you might have guessed by now, when you log in, you’re actually accessing a spoof site and giving your information directly to the attacker.

Document Signature Scams rely on the rise in electronic signatures to lure in victims. “Hey, Bob, here are those documents. Can you sign them and send them back to me today?” Because of the erroneous belief that e-signing is completely secure, this is the most successful type of phishing scam, with a 7% success rate. If that doesn’t sound like much, consider that phishing attacks in total only enjoy around a 3% success rate—and that relatively small number is enough to account for business losses of around two-thirds of a billion dollars in 2017.

How to Protect Against Phishing Attacks

While it may seem counterintuitive to growing your business, a healthy dose of suspicion and some basic countermeasures can circumvent most phishing attacks before they ever get started. By following the basic steps below, you can help prevent phishing from compromising sensitive information. Always remember: You are the first and most important line of defense against phishing and other cyber attacks!

Quick Secure Contact Form Please Let Us Know If We Can Assist 

  • Never, under any circumstances, share your login credentials or other sensitive information with anyone, especially over email. Assume anyone who has a valid need for such information has access to other methods of obtaining it without using email to ask you for it. No one in your company should ever ask you for sensitive information such as banking details or login credentials over email!
  • Always check the subject line and sender’s address. If anything, no matter how innocuous, doesn’t look right, do not open the email. Contact the purported sender through secure communications such as a known secure website, by phone or in person if at all possible, to verify the email’s validity. If the person denies having sent the email, contact us immediately.
  • Use specific subject lines rather than vague ones. Instead of saying, “Bob, here are the documents you requested,” use, “February Bills of Lading for as requested by Bob Johnson on [date].” This may seem needlessly pedantic, but clearly stated subject lines which include information establishing the sender’s bona fides and offering specifics about the contents of the message can help validate authentic emails. It also helps make emails with less specific subject lines more evident and suspicious by contrast. 
  • If you don’t routinely receive emails from high-ranking company employees, and you receive one, ask your manager or supervisor if it’s a legitimate communication before opening it. Phishing attacks are rarely targeted at only one person, and the more widespread the attack, the greater the chance sensitive information could be compromised.
  • Never click on a link, shared document, image or attachment you were not expecting, regardless of the type of file or how legitimate the source appears, without verifying personally with the sender. Compressed and executable files, such as those with the file extensions .zip or .exe, should be considered especially suspect, but treating all links and attachments as potential threats will help increase security and curb attacks before they have a chance to get properly underway.
  • Look for suspicious or incorrect domain names. and are not the same. In the same way, inspect all domain names or links you encounter to verify they are domains you actually recognize, and check the URLs to make sure they take you somewhere you know to be legitimate. If anything doesn’t look right, no matter how small, or even if you just see something which makes you say, “That’s odd,” there’s a good chance the email might be an attack.
  • When in doubt, assume the worst. Contact your supervisor and/or us immediately, so we can determine whether the email is legitimate or a phishing attempt.
  • If the email comes with a banner warning it originated from an outside source, do not open or click anything within. Report it immediately. Remember, the success of a phishing attempt hinges on making the email look as innocuous and legitimate as possible.

Is There More We Can Do to Prevent Phishing?

Following good email security protocols and best practices can stop most phishing attempts in their tracks. BACS has recently partnered with Proof Point Email Security to manage the filtering of such emails—but any automated filtering system, no matter how sophisticated, is still only a tool. You are and will always be the first line of defense against stopping cyber attacks, including phishing attempts before they start.

The BACS Consulting Group Is A Team Of Highly Trained IT Professionals Available To Help At A Moments Notice

BACS has developed training programs specifically designed to help harden your company communications against cyber attacks such as phishing. If we haven’t already, we’d like to speak more to you about these programs and how BACS can help prevent these attacks before they begin—and limit the damage if they’re successful. Email us at or call
(650) 887-4601 for more information on preventing cyber attacks and other threats which can compromise your business’s function and security.

The Bay Area Managed IT Service Provider That You Can Trust

By | IT Support, Security, Strategy, Technology | No Comments

BACS Consulting Group

From San Ramon to Oakland, CA and beyond, BACS has become the managed services provider the Bay Area trusts to handle every aspect of your company’s IT, data security, and cloud computing needs. With your business in mind, we tailor solutions based on your needs and growth plans.  Communication with your leadership is paramount in achieving this. We’re pleased to offer our managed services for flat fee subscription billing in order to bring the best value possible. With our strict “no-robots” policy, when you call us, you’ll always get a real live person and a friendly voice on the other end of the line, ready and willing to help you with all your IT needs to bring the best experience possible.  

bay area managed it services provider BACS Consulting offering better IT - better managed it services 

Comprehensive Information Technology Services to Keep the Bay’s Systems and Data Secure and Running, No Matter What

System downtime is bad for business. A glitchy, slow site, a security breach, or a power outage can damage your company’s credibility and suggest to prospective clientele your business may not be up to the job of safeguarding their proprietary information the way they expect. At BACS, we focus on keeping your systems safe, secure, and running at peak efficiency with the minimum downtime possible, to ensure your business always delivers the sort of performance you want your clients to receive. 

Quick Contact Form

What are your primary goals?

Please select which applies best:

 The Bay Area’s Managed Services Provider of Choice for Hardware and Software 

It doesn’t matter how great your website runs or how robust your cybersecurity is if your infrastructure isn’t up to the challenges of ever-increasing business. BACS’ IT project management capabilities go beyond software to the underlying infrastructure of your business, helping you be ready for whatever the next stage in the evolution of your company might be. Our turnkey solutions are designed to integrate easily into your existing physical support systems, and we won’t be satisfied with our work until you are!

Being A Premiere  Bay Area IT Consulting Company Our Services include:

Cybersecurity, IT support, and data center development, remote monitoring, and hosted exchange solutions powered by Microsoft Project management, backup, and disaster recovery services and much more!

  A Managed IT Solutions Provider for San Francisco and Beyond

BACS’ industry-leading services and capabilities have made us one of the most sought-after IT consulting firms in San Francisco. We bring a “Can do” ethos and attitude to every project we undertake, support new or upgraded infrastructure to cutting-edge remote monitoring and cybersecurity methodologies. We believe every job and client deserves the same attention and care, whether we’re discussing small or medium-sized businesses or multinational conglomerates. From San Jose to San Francisco, Sacramento to Morgan Hill, BACS Consulting Group has you Bay Area Business Covered!

 We Are Proud To Deliver Turnkey Managed Services For Industries And Small And Medium-Sized Businesses Across California And The Nation, Including But Not Limited To:

Biotech and life sciences, document management, HIPAA Security Compliance, Strategic Technology Guidance, Construction Job costing and bidding tools and solutions, Dispatch operations, Bespoke project management tools, Financial Email archiving, Confidential information, security and exchange tools, Mobile, secure access to critical files anytime and anywhere, Small and medium business Assure security of confidential customer information ensure your IT infrastructure is prepared for wherever the future takes your business, Increase productivity, and oversight without busting your IT budget

The Right Computer Solutions for All Your Business’s Needs

As computer technology and the software administering it becomes more complex, it can be difficult to keep your systems in step with the latest advances. BACS creates managed services solutions married seamlessly to the needs of your business, with less downtime, increased productivity and heightened responsiveness. From hardware to software to security, BACS is your one-stop managed IT services solution!  

 Cyber Security for a Changing World, Delivered by a World-Class IT Consulting Firm

In today’s world, fast and portable aren’t enough. Your data also needs to be secure. At BACS, we use the latest cybersecurity technology, practices and protocols to ensure your data is always where you need it, when you need it—and kept safe from prying or unauthorized eyes. Our solutions are tailor-made to the needs of your business and the ever-changing regulatory, statutory and best-practices landscape, increasing peace of mind for you and your clients and helping make sure your systems are hardened against even the most dedicated infosec attacks. 

Fast, Secure Cloud Services to Ensure Your Data Is Always Where You Need It

When you need access to your crucial data immediately, or when you want to check in and make sure a sensitive project is proceeding as planned even though you’re away from the office, you need the functionality to do it now. Even more frightening than not having access to your data now is not having it at all due to a system attack, glitch or failure. At BACS, we firmly believe in prevention through redundant backup systems and fail-safes to minimize disruption and data loss due to natural or human-caused activity.


 Find peace of mind with our suite of turnkey cloud and backup and disaster recovery services, including:
  • AWS/Azure cloud computing solutions
  • Backup systems and storage
  • Hosting exchange services
  • Remote monitoring 
  • Active and passive cybersecurity solutions
  • Managed client portals
  • And more!

To learn more about why BACS is the only managed IT services provider you’ll ever need, call us at (650) 887-4601!

9 Great Microsoft Outlook Time-savers

By | IT Support, Productivity, Security, Strategy, Technology, Uncategorized

Are you using Outlook to its fullest potential? If not, you’re missing out on a valuable tool that will make your work so much easier. Not only will it incorporate everything you need to do with emails, like make appointments and set “Quick Steps,” it can save you a lot of time. We have 9 great timesavers we want to share with you here.

1. Turn Off Notifications

You know those little pop-ups that appear when you’re trying to concentrate on a project? They are there to let you know that you have new mail. This is great if you’re waiting for an important email. Otherwise, they can be very distracting.

Here’s how to turn these off:

  • Just go to the bottom right-hand side of your screen (in Windows) and click on the little triangle. A check box will come up.
  • You can see here where it says, “Show New Mail Desktop Alert”.
  • Uncheck this and no more annoying pop ups!

You can also do this right from Outlook:

  • Go to the left-hand side of your screen with Outlook open.
  • Select “File” and “Options.”

Under “Mail” you’ll see a bunch of options. Here’s where you can select all the notifications and sounds that simply distract you, and that you don’t need. Ah, peace and quiet for a change!

2. Drag Mail to the Calendar

When you’re in an email, and you want to add a meeting to your calendar, simply go up to the top Ribbon where it says “Meeting” and you can “Reply with Meeting” to all the people on the email stream.

Set up the time and place, and then invite everyone.

3. Block Off Time Slots

Let’s say someone emailed you a proposal and you need to block off some time to read it. Here’s how to do this right from the email and attachment:

Here’s the email with the proposal marked in blue.

Drag the box down to the left where it says “CALENDAR” and it will create a prompt where you can enter the block of time in your calendar, on the day and time that works for you. It will appear as an appointment in your calendar.

When you’re entering time in your meeting time slot, Outlook does some of the work for you.

Say you want to start at 10:00 am. Simply key in 10 and hit TAB, and Outlook will enter the rest (10:00 AM). You can even enter military time. 15:15 TAB and Outlook will convert it to 3:15PM.

You can do the same with the end time as well.

4. The Ignore Button

If there’s an email that keeps appearing in your inbox, but you don’t want to see it anymore, rather than deleting it you can simply go to the Ignore button on the top left, (or Control >Delete) and emails about this subject will automatically go into your Deleted Items.

You’ll get this prompt to ensure that you want to delete the message every time. Check “Don’t show this message again” and click “Ignore Conversation.” You won’t be bothered by the message anymore.

5. The Quick Access Toolbar

Microsoft provides this toolbar in all of their software solutions. You can put some of your most used commands in this toolbar. Simply check the ones that you want to appear. They will always appear at the top of your screen until you remove them.

And you can easily add more commands, as you see below.

Simply highlight the commands to the left and click “Add” and they will appear in your ribbon. To remove, do the opposite. Highlight the commands to the right and click “Remove.”

5. Respond Fast with Instant Messaging

Sometimes you need a fast way to get a message to someone, and email isn’t doing this for you. Right from Outlook, go to the top ribbon to: “Reply All with IM”

Now, you can send everyone on your email stream an Instant Message instead of an email. This comes in handy if you need to get a quick message to your team. However, it only works if your team is connected to you with Microsoft Link. If not, you can do this with Skype as well.

6. Quick Steps

You may recognize this in the top Ribbon. It’s been in Microsoft products since 2010.

Sometimes you do things manually. Or you may set up Rules. For example, “If the email is from Molly Dempsey save it to Project Falcon.” Or something like this. You can also save commands like this in Quick Steps. Here’s one we set to move the message, mark it as read, tag it, and put a follow-up flag on it.

Quick Steps moved the email, categorized it and marked it as read, just as we specified.

There are multiple actions you can choose from in Quick Steps. Start with “Create New” and your selections will pop up. Click “New Message.” Then preset the email that you think you’ll use over and over.

Here’s a Quick Step to create an invoice right from Outlook.

Click the invoice you want (we have one called Tailspin already set up). Outlook will take you to your contact list where you can choose who to send it to.

Then we set the importance level as “High.”

And we simply fill in the information in the preset template, send it and it’s done!

7. Out of Office in Advance

Now you can set your “Out of Office” messages in advance. Remember when you had to do this right before you left town? No more.

Here’s how to set it up:

Go to the “File” menu.

Click ” Automatic Replies (Out of Office)

Then set up your parameters.

Click “Send Automatic Replies” and type in the start and end date, along with the message you want to send when you’re away.

Check the box that says, “Only send during this time range”. Outlook will remember to send the Out of Office message beginning on the date and time you set and stop on the end date and time.

You can also set Out of Office emails for those emailing you from inside or outside your organization. How easy is that?

8. Search Your Email

The search box is right above your emails.

Say we want to find messages from Garret Vargas. All I have to do is type “Garret” and his messages came up.

But as you can see, some other messages popped up here. They probably contain Garret’s name.

Yes, you can see below that Garret’s name was in Katie Jordan’s message. Outlook search capabilities go that deep into your emails. Outlook will even look in attachments in your emails for what you’re searching for.

You can also search the Current Mailbox or All Mailboxes.

And, notice that when you’re in Search you have all kinds of options in the top Ribbon.

9. Look for ? or press F1 for Help

The ? is on the top right of your screen if you ever need help in Outlook or any Microsoft program.

Or, simply click F1 and the Help prompt will appear.

Microsoft Outlook has many other great features. Keep watching this space for more ways to get the most from Outlook and other Microsoft products.

Published on 4th April 2018 by James Berger.

Hiring an IT Company? Make Sure You Ask These 25 Essential Questions!

By | IT Support, Productivity, Security, Strategy, Technology, Uncategorized

Selecting a company to maintain your technology is one of the most important decisions you can make for your business. You must find the most competent and reliable IT support provider in your area.

Hiring an IT Company

How do you know if the IT company you’re considering is right for your business?

Some technology companies call themselves the best, but they haven’t kept up their certifications. This is important because the latest certifications validate the skills that their techs learned in their training. With all the cyber threats and new IT solutions today, it’s critical that your IT provider is up to date on their skills.

Don’t just pick a company off the Internet because they’re the closest one to you. Do your research to find out if they are truly qualified to protect your data and meet your organization’s unique IT needs.

The following are some key questions that you should ask any IT provider you’re considering for your business.

  • What are your staff’s qualifications and certifications?
    The right IT company should be able to provide you with information regarding the certifications held by their staff and relay how these will meet your needs.
  • How long have you been providing technology services? They should have a minimum of three years of experience in the service, support, and solutions you require.
  • What Partner Certifications and Technical Specialties do you hold? Ask, for example, if they are certified on Apple devices and Microsoft solutions. Also, ask if they can provide you the latest hardware and software products at the best price.
  • Do you require continuous training of your IT techs? This is the only way to ensure technicians have the most recent certifications.
  • What industries have you worked in?
    Find out if they’ve worked in industries similar to yours. If not, determine if the work they’ve performed for others aligns with your needs.
  • How well do you understand the business applications we use?
    Your business may have specially-built applications to handle needed workflows. Your IT provider should understand how your business technology works and be able to support it.
  • How large is your IT company?
    If they are a small company, you’re more likely to be high on their priority list. However, larger IT companies typically offer a broad knowledge base and capabilities. Plus, their available resources may be more expansive. You must weigh the benefits of each and decide which is best for your business.
  • What kind of customer service can we expect? Do they offer 24/7 service with a live person on the other end of your call, chat or email? Is their help desk staff qualified to address your issues immediately?  If they can’t resolve your problems over the phone or online, how long will it take for a tech to visit your business?
  • Is your onsite service response time backed by a written Service Level Agreement (SLA)? A certified, professional IT company will put what they offer in writing. They should offer managed services with service-level guarantees. What is their “on-time” guarantee? Their SLA should include this as well as information about how you’ll be compensated if they continually show up late, or if they don’t meet the standards detailed in the SLA.
  • What is and isn’t covered by your service contract?In addition to what they do provide, find out what they don’t.  Do they provide fixed-fee services? Are there extra costs, and if so, what are they? Avoid using IT companies that are only interested in fixing what breaks and selling you equipment.  You deserve an IT partner who will work diligently to give you and your employees an IT infrastructure that is secure, reliable, and enhances productivity.
  • Do you offer outsourced CIO Services? Having an Outsourced CIO means your technology will meet your business needs now and into the future. Their CIO should be able to:
  • Develop an understanding of your business and technology infrastructure.
  • Provide recommendations for IT solutions that will promote your success and grow with your business.
  • Construct a Strategic Plan that aligns with your budget.
  • Conduct ongoing evaluations and provide IT performance metrics on a monthly basis.
  • Will you monitor our IT system around the clock? This prevents downtime because they will detect problems early before anything fails.
  • What security services do you offer? How will you protect my interests?Cybercrime is on the rise, and your data must be safeguarded. They must provide up-to-date cybersecurity solutions to protect your computers and network from unauthorized access, malware, phishing, viruses and other forms of cybercrime.
  • Can you monitor our network for cyber intrusions and threats? With all the security incidents today, 24/7 security monitoring is essential.
  • Do you provide Mobile Device Management? When you or your employees use your laptops, tablets or smartphones for business outside of your workplace, they are vulnerable to theft and malware from public Wi-Fi and more. You need the assurance that your data can be remotely wiped from any device if necessary.
  • Do you perform Risk Analyses and Vulnerability Assessments? Your business may require this to stay compliant with government or industry regulations. Plus, this will detect any “holes” in your computer and network security that hackers can take advantage of.
  • Do you provide Backup and Recovery Solutions? You need both an onsite removable backup solution and an offsite one (in the Cloud) to ensure you will have access to your data if it’s stolen, corrupted, accidentally deleted, or damaged due to a flood, fire or another emergency.
  • What’s included in your Disaster Recovery Plan?
    This is extremely important. Be sure to ask about site visits and audits to estimate the recovery time and the impact of a potential failure. Do they have a reliable process in place? How often do they test the disaster recovery plan? Is their staff knowledgeable and ready to react under the worst possible conditions? Also, make sure they can regularly provide the results of disaster recovery tests.
  • Will you provide ongoing Security Awareness Training for our employees? Cybercriminals are constantly developing new techniques to trick your users into downloading malware or releasing confidential information and credentials. It’s critical to conduct recurring and updated security training to ensure your employees recognize these threats and know what to do to prevent exposing your data.
  • Will your IT professionals communicate with our staff in “plain English?” They should be able to relay information in a way you and your employees can comprehend.
  • How do you stay informed about evolving technologies? Do they attend industry events to update their skillsets?
  • Will you migrate us to the Cloud and help us understand how to use cloud solutions? Make sure your IT provider can help you and your employees understand the Cloud, it’s benefits and risks. They should be able to help you find the right cloud services for your unique business needs.
  • Can you offer us different types of cloud solutions? Do they provide:
    • A Public Cloud, so you can securely share space with other clients?
    • A Private Cloud that is dedicated only to your use?
    • A Hybrid Cloud which is a combination of a private and public cloud?
  • How much will cloud migration cost? Migrating your workflows and data to the cloud can provide many benefits, including cost savings, and increased productivity. However, you should ask how much cloud migration will cost, including associated expenses such as maintenance and support.
  • Do you have any case studies or testimonials from existing clients that I can read? Can I contact them? Would you hire a new employee without checking their references? Of course not. So, you should do so with your IT provider. Contact some of their existing clients to find out what you need to know.


Published on 20th March 2018 by James Berger.

Get Into the Flow Of Things… Automate Tasks and Eliminate Workflow Waste!

By | IT Support, Productivity, Security, Strategy, Technology, Uncategorized

Cloud-based file storage is an amazing convenience, giving users the ability to access files from anywhere and share them with colleagues. When users have more than one cloud-based storage solution, needing the same files stored in each can be tedious and confusing – but not anymore!

Microsoft Flow

Technology is a wonderful thing; it’s given us electronic communications, shortening the life cycle of a project significantly. Shorter project timelines equate to increased project volume completion within the same time frame, thus generating more revenue. Technology has allowed for business processes to be automated, reducing costs and increasing productivity.

The key to productivity is in the approach. Increasing productivity requires the output to be greater than the input, which is why automation is a must. Technology enables expedited business processes, therefore increasing productivity. Any time a process can be automated, the result is reduced cost for the business in questions. If not managed properly, from design to deployment, automation can have disastrous results. Avoiding this requires a thorough understanding of each step of the process involved, preventing anything from being overlooked.

Business Process Automation is big business. Integrating applications to work seamlessly with each other can have a major impact on organizations, and often results in a dedicated and loyal customer base for a business that offers applications and platforms to meet these needs. In this regard, one of the biggest players in both the technology world and the BPA circle simultaneously is Microsoft. Microsoft can be — and wants to be — the manufacturer of the desktop or laptop computer your workforce is using, of the software application through which your professionals are communicating and documenting tasks, as well as the platforms in which these files are being stored. From their Surface product line to their Office 365 Suite to SharePoint, Microsoft is keen to deliver and provide for your every professional need.

Now, Microsoft is taking this one step further with automated workflows in Flow. A workflow is a multi-step repetitive task, and Microsoft Flow is a workflow management tool that automates these workflows even across multiple applications and cloud-based connections for files and services. Microsoft’s goal with Flow is to simplify the lives of professionals, period. The fortunate byproduct of this goal — and of Flow itself — is for Microsoft to be in every aspect of users’ lives: cloud data storage, electronics, email, word processing, and reliance for every element of productivity.

A popular user feature of Microsoft Flow is templates, of which there are many – and users can create workflow templates as well. Given the number of integrated applications is over 200, the relative number of workflows is seemingly countless.

  • If you don’t already know how to use a template in Microsoft Flow, take a “two-minute tutorial” and acquaint yourself with the straightforward process in their step-by-step guide.

You’ll see immediately how you can establish a multi-step workflow, with these being some of the most-used templates in Microsoft Flow:

  • Get a push notification when you receive an email from your biggest customer
    • Perhaps your biggest customer demands immediate responses from you to remain happy. Happy customers stick around longer, spend more, and are much more likely to refer business to you based on their positive experience. Setting up a push notification for these emails could make you money!
  • Save all Outlook email attachments in OneDrive or to a SharePoint document library
    • Time is money! Never lose time hunting down a specific email from an undetermined date for an attachment again – set up a workflow that automatically saves all email attachments.
  • Save all tweets that include a specific hashtag to an Excel spreadsheet
    • Track your social media footprint with the metrics that matter!
  • Save Dropbox files to SharePoint files
  • Send an email survey and save all responses to an Excel file
    • Better yet – save all responses to a Google Spreadsheet that can be shared and each user’s changes documented
  • Copy your Outlook task list into a Trello board
  • And so many more!

The Browse Templates page in Microsoft Flow is your new best friend. The most commonly-used workflows, some designed by Microsoft and others designed by people who think just like you, are shown in categories. Our favorite category is the Productivity tab – and we’re pretty sure yours will be, too. Microsoft Flow is a virtual assistant that only needs to be told what to do one time, and then never forgets!

One of the more mundane features is the ability to add conditions to a workflow. Much like a “Rule” in Microsoft Outlook treats incoming email messages a certain way when specific conditions are met, Microsoft Flow applies prerequisites or conditions to repetitive tasks before enacting the workflow.

  • Conditions can include timetables, as well. You can establish a workflow to save all comments on an Instagram post after one day to an Excel file to track these metrics.

We saved the best for last… Microsoft Flow has a mobile app! Users can download the app to their mobile device — phone or tablet — and access from anywhere. The mobile app not only allows the creation of an on-the-go workflow but also monitors workflow activity to see how often a workflow is applied or if it needs to be edited for improvement.

Automation is a beautiful thing. Microsoft Flow offers a free tier for users with unlimited workflow creation and up to 750 runs per month, with a “run” being an application of a workflow and an automated check to see if a workflow can be applied, every 15 minutes. Paid plans offer a higher run volume with greater frequency at shorter intervals, and also connects with premium platforms including and Adobe Creative Cloud.

  • Do you use LiveChat on your website? You can establish a workflow to send you a push notification when a LiveChat message comes in, eliminating the need to sit at a machine and watch and wait for an indicator or alert.

If you haven’t already reviewed the Service Toolbar to check out what applications can be integrated for workflows, what are you waiting for? Microsoft Flow is waiting to help you stay organized, manage your time more efficiently, and nearly eliminate downtime.

Published on 6th March 2018 by James Berger.

Update on Multifactor Authentication Methods

By | IT Support, Productivity, Security, Strategy, Technology, Uncategorized

Each year seems to bring even bigger and more expensive data breaches. It’s become commonplace to hear that your favorite retailer was just breached and millions of records were lost to hackers somewhere on the other side of the world. In spite of our best efforts, cyber crimes are now the number one leading crime worldwide. Every organization is vulnerable on some level.
Read More

How To Master Microsoft Word’s Advanced Features

By | IT Support, Productivity, Security, Strategy, Technology, Uncategorized

Are you still using Microsoft Word the old-fashioned way? Upgrade your skills from amateur to awesome today!


From the time a business is established, the goal is growth and revenue. In the professional world, revenue and growth are hand-in-hand, but rare is the opportunity to accomplish growth or generate revenue quickly as a one-person operation. Read More

How to Tell If You Need a New IT Service Provider

By | IT Support, Productivity, Security, Strategy, Technology, Uncategorized

Outsourcing your IT services can lower your expenses and give you access to today’s most advanced technology. These are common reasons why businesses large and small choose outsourced IT providers. However, there are pros and cons of outsourcing. For instance, while you can definitely lower your costs, you also lose control of one area of business that can significantly affect your daily operations. Read More