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Technology

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. 


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 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 Salesforce.com 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.
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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