31Oct

How Your Business Can Better Prepare for Change Management Challenges

Change management is one of the most written about and least understood aspects of digital transformation for enterprises and small businesses. While different size businesses face the same challenges, small businesses are likely to see bigger rewards with a technology implementation that often sits at the heart of the need for change management.For more details please visit IT Services in Houston.

Although this process seems easy on paper, it’s more of a challenge in practice with less than 50 percent of initiatives meeting outcomes. Planning and execution may appear to be the biggest challenge to change management success. But a closer look reveals it’s always rooted in the lack of employee acceptance. That may not be the easiest thing to turn around for enterprises, but small businesses are often in the best position to empower its people to be the drivers of successful change management.

How People Drive Successful Change Management

According to a Gartner survey of over 6,500 employees, the best organizations rely on their workforce rather than executives to lead change. By putting people at the center of the initiative, your business can be better prepared for change management challenges and ensure successful outcomes.

The right approach is to look at the major roadblocks through the lens of preparing and involving people early and often. This is the surest way to avoid challenges before they become major issues in implementing change in the workplace. By building the process on a foundation of detailed planning, you can minimize problems and navigate unexpected events common to digital transformation.

Lack of Proper Planning for Digital Transformation

Technology like CMS, ERP, Office 365 and others go to the heart of how your workforce delivers positive outcomes and productivity through processes. Proper planning starts with a clear roadmap of current-state workflows to drive the technology implementation and rollout strategy.

This requires a plan for existing environment evaluation and optimization focused on the needs and experiences of the workforce. By involving the people doing the work every day you build the framework for plan development that includes:

  • How new technology and processes will integrate with legacy technology and established workflows

  • Identifying and training internal change management champions to promote the new technology, answer questions, and assist with problems

  • Developing training programs ahead of implementation

Creating exploration teams made up of the people doing the work enables you to map processes and uncover pain points while also forming the roadmap for new workflows. By involving the workforce at all stages of planning and implementation, you can minimize the challenge of resistance to change.

Resistance to Change

It’s natural for most human beings to resist change based on the fear of the unknown. Workflows become engrained over time. Workaround that make up for the limitations of legacy systems are also hard to give up. Without knowing how it will change our workday and responsibilities, our resistance to change becomes the biggest challenge to the business.

Overcoming these hurdles requires being transparent by explaining why and how the change will happen along with the benefits that will be shared by the workforce on an individual level. To accomplish this, you should focus on clear cross-communication using all available channels to make it possible for conversations that value everyone’s input, perspectives, concerns, and ideas.

Failing to Communicate

Success of change management hinges on communication with the workforce, which avoids uncertainty and cultivates buy-in and ownership. Management must center the experiences, knowledge, and beliefs of everyone impacted by the change in the following ways:

  • Develop a communications plan for rollout in the months leading up to the actual change and the months of post implementation

  • Involve all employees as much as possible through meetings or brainstorming sessions to help during the planning, implementation, rollout, and adjustment phases

  • Make the change management process a conversation with the workforce rather than a lecture

  • Create a work environment where employees feel they are driving the change

That means involving each employee in meaningful decisions about their work on a process and departmental level. Many things can go wrong in a change management process, so having experienced support can mean the difference between success and failure.See more at IT Services in Houston

The Merits of Skilled Technology and Change Management Support

It’s expected that everyone within an organization will focus on the business and core competencies. The challenge is this structure leaves little room or experience for dealing with the complexities of digital transformation through change management.For more details please visit IT Services in Houston

Small businesses often lack the IT and change management experience to make all this possible on their own. The ideal answer often lies in having a skilled technology and change management support partner. Their goal is to help the business prepare for digital transformation via project leadership services.Also for more details please check IT Services in Houston

The right support partner brings a combination of deep experience with many transformations coupled with a fresh viewpoint and workforce engagement. This enables them to understand the limits of current-state processes and uncover the needs of the workforce. By engaging the people in all phases of the process, they can drive lasting change that positions the business for future growth and efficiency.

25Oct

The 5 Most Common Cybersecurity Challenges Facing Small Businesses Today

While most small businesses understand that they must balance the costs with the opportunities of technology, they often have a limited understanding of how it presents vulnerabilities. That balance of costs and opportunity often results in IT systems that are interconnected, which leads to cybersecurity vulnerabilities. This common challenge bears out in the report from Cisco entitled Small and Mighty, which shows that interconnection enables cybersecurity attacks to spread from system to system.See more at IT Services in Houston

There’s seldom an adequate budget for internal IT, so it’s difficult to see and address cybersecurity challenges in a cohesive way. To help small businesses to start down the path of a more secure IT infrastructure, here are five cybersecurity challenges they face and options for countering them.

#1. Malware

Malware, which is short for “malicious software” covers a host of threats that consists of programs that enter a computer network to cause damage or gain unauthorized access. Types of malware include viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware and ransomware. Knowing this is important, because it helps you determine what type of cybersecurity software you need.

#2. Ransomware

Although ransomware attacks are a form of malware, their rise warrants separate consideration. With ransomware attackers access your data and hold it hostage until you pay a ransom.

 #3. Phishing

 Phishing attacks involve collecting sensitive information like login credentials by getting anyone within the business network to visit a fraudulent site via an email invitation. Spear phishing ups the ante by using in-depth knowledge of specific individuals and social engineering to gain their trust and infiltrate the network.

Phishing scams are not only as big a threat as ransomware, but the former can lead to the latter when a user clicks on the email and gives the attackers access the network and its data.For more details please visit at IT Services in Houston

#4. Advanced Persistent Threats (APT)

APTs are long-term targeted attacks where hackers break into a network in phases over time to avoid detection. Once the attacker gets into the network (sophisticated trojans, focused spear phishing or other malware) they avoid detection while working to get a foothold in vital systems. The phased approach makes APT difficult to detect since one detected breach won’t uncover other routes the attacker took to gain entry. 

#5. Identity Management

Most small businesses are vulnerable to password attacks due to employees using weak passwords. This invites brute force attacks (guessing at passwords unit the hacker gets in), dictionary attacks (use of specific dictionary word combinations) and keylogging (tracking user keystrokes to gain login ID/passwords.

Guarding Against Cybersecurity Challenges

Although there are many more cybersecurity challenges faced by small businesses, they all stem from a lack of cybersecurity expertise, limited IT budgets and cohesive planning. The best way to begin guarding against these and other cyber threats is to start with a risk/IT infrastructure assessment that looks at your IT systems and identifies the points of vulnerability. 

Most small businesses grow organically based on opportunities like client and customer base growth and new lines of business, markets, products, services and employees among others. Their IT systems often grow in the same way to respond to that growth via server, data, access, storage, networking, and communication needs. This can result in an unstructured approach to building and expanding the IT systems, which often leaves or builds in cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

These cybersecurity challenges can be avoided by developing an IT strategy that anticipates business growth and system growth plans. Many small businesses lack the IT support and cybersecurity expertise needed to develop and execute such a plan. Internal IT teams for small businesses are often swamped just keeping all systems running. They may have the needed expertise but lack the manpower and budgets to get them done.For any query please visit IT Services in Houston

By partnering with the right managed IT services provider, small businesses and their Internal IT gain the needed expertise, manpower needed for mitigating cybersecurity challenges. With their economy of scale, the right provider can become a cost-effective consultant and partner to anticipate, plan, and implement solutions for needs such as:

  • Desktop and server management
  • Patch management
  • Software updates
  • Integration of new technology
  • Network performance monitoring
  • Password management
  • Email encryption: With end-to-end encryption, only the sender and receiver with a decryption key can view the content of the email and any attachments.
  • Secure authentication: Defining password policies and using single sign-on and multi-factor authentication are good first steps.
  • Backup and disaster recovery (BDR): A solid BDR solution will help you restore operations quickly and avoid downtime and recovery expense.

The right provider can help your business develop an overall IT and security strategy that includes employee education, identity management, and security governance. By planning for these and other IT system needs, your small business can develop the proactive and reactive approach needed to meet cybersecurity challenges. This enables a cost-effective way to protect your business and optimizes system performance today and into the future.For Further details please visit at IT Services in Houston

22Oct

5 Cloud Migration Challenges You Hadn’t Considered

According to a recent Spiceworks survey, small businesses expect to run 53% of their workloads in public clouds by 2021. They are all seeking benefits such as reducing operational costs while increasing flexibility, security and agility for growth in the cloud. But achieving the benefits of cloud migration for SMBs is not an overnight journey, and it begins with the inexact science of cloud migration. For further support please visit at IT Services in Houston

Every aspect and step of cloud migration has several known challenges with each cloud provider having strengths and weaknesses when it comes to hosting an application. There are also several migration challenges your small business may not have considered that can stand in the way of reaping the benefits of migrating workloads to the cloud. Here are five challenges you should consider before starting your journey.

#1. The Potential Need for Cloud Repatriation

SMBs moving applications to the public cloud find changing applications, compliance and access needs, and other factors like increasing costs make it necessary to move the application back to in-house servers or to a different cloud provider. This repatriation process is becoming more common as SMBs to enterprises find that not every workload will continue to deliver the same benefits over time in the original cloud location.

#2. Lack of Clarity on What to Move to the Cloud

Although some applications are recognized as ideal targets for cloud migration and others take more work to make them cloud ready, small businesses still struggle with the decision process of what to move to the cloud. This is often because they lack a clear cloud strategy that helps them decide on whether an application is best suited to an IaaS, PaaS or SaaS model. Then there are challenges arising from a lack of experience in the migration process itself, which makes choosing and preparing workloads for migration risky business.

#3. Not Understanding the Migration Process

Many businesses do not understand when, how, and for what workloads are being used. They also lack clear understanding of when applications are interacting with other applications and what databases they rely on. Although there are tools to help with this application dependency mapping, experience in choosing among them and using them can be the difference between success and failure that can cost the business time, money, and operational continuity.

 Lack of proper understanding of application mapping is often tied to a lack of understanding of the different cloud providers and choosing the right instance (preconfigured virtual servers from providers). Other challenges stemming from a lack of experience in the cloud migration process include determining which applications:

  • Can be simply shifted to the cloud (rehosting)
  •  Require a significant amount of code re architecting (refactoring).
  • Cannot be moved at all

#4. Monitoring, Managing and Controlling Cloud Spend

Although businesses anticipate the savings that can come from moving workloads to the cloud, they’re often not quite prepared for the complexity of tracking, controlling and reducing spending. The #1 priority for over 60% of businesses running public cloud services is to reduce wasted spend (2019 RightScale State of the Cloud Report).

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) more commonly referred to as public cloud may be a pay-as-you-go model, but cloud pricing and billing across providers varies and is very complex with countless price points and line items. Once a business migrates applications and workloads to the cloud, they aren’t always prepared to rightsize the instances so they aren’t over provisioning or under provisioning. The former leads to major and uncontrolled cost overruns and the latter can mean applications and workloads won’t run.Please for more visit at IT Services in Houston. 

#5. Overlooking Security or Compliance Needs

Many organizations overlook or misunderstand the shared security mode when they migrate workloads to the cloud. Under the Shared Responsibility Model, the cloud provider is responsible for “security of the cloud” (hardware, software, networking, and facilities that run the cloud services.

Your business is responsible for “security in the cloud” which includes how they configure and use the cloud provider resources. Cloud providers do make security tools available, but it’s up to the business to choose and configure them. In other words, it’s your responsibility to encrypt and secure your own data.

There are tools and methodologies to overcome these and a host of other challenges a small business will encounter with cloud migration. The overriding challenge is that most small businesses have a very steep learning curve to understanding and using those solutions effectively. Most small businesses lack the IT support needed to keep up with the entire migration process while keeping their internal IT infrastructure running. For further assistance please visit us at IT Services in Houston.

The ideal scenario is to have the support of a cloud migration services provider with deep experience in all types of cloud migration projects. This includes having the experience with the best tools and methodologies to handle all the challenges that can come up along the way.

They can also partner with your business through cloud consulting services to develop a cloud strategy vision beyond immediate cloud needs to future needs and opportunities. This will enable the business to reap the benefits of cost savings, scalability, operational efficiency and innovation that will be the foundation for growth and digital transformation. For More please visit us at IT Services in Houston.

17Oct

6 Tips for Putting a Disaster Recovery Plan in Place

Natural and manmade disasters are unpredictable, so every small business must plan for the worst and hope for the best. Disaster recovery has many moving parts intended to keep a business operational, but it essentially comes down to protecting people, processes, technology and data. To effectively start the process, here are six tips for putting your disaster recovery plan into place.For more details please visit at IT Services in Houston

1. Involve Everyone in the Disaster Recovery Plan Process 

Regardless of the size of your small business workforce, it’s important to involve everyone in the information gathering, planning development, implementation, and testing phases of the disaster recovery plan. While internal IT will play a central role, some people will take on specific roles to coordinate plan execution and make sure everyone knows what to do and where to go. Other factors like coordinating with third-party vendors and outside clients will fall to specific people as well. 

2. Conduct an Asset Inventory

Effective disaster recovery planning should start with creating a list of all your IT assets including all computers, servers, storage devices, applications, data, network switches and appliances, and access points. This process requires mapping the physical location of each asset and its interconnection dependencies. 

Although your internal IT would head this process, it will require support from the workforce to expedite it and ensure that no device is missed. This will form the basis for carrying out the risk assessment, which is the next crucial step in the recovery plan.

3. Conduct a Risk Assessment

Once all assets have been listed, you can begin the process of an IT infrastructure assessment/risk assessment to detect technology system abnormalities and provides ongoing monitoring of backup systems for post-disaster correction. You should ideally look to the support of a firm with expertise in this area to manage the process. A managed services consultant with IT risk assessment expertise can bring the crucial objectivity and the experience from countless risk scenarios and real-world vulnerability identification to bear. For further information visit at IT Services in Houston.

4. Prioritize Data and Applications for Backup Management

 While all applications and data are important to the business, it’s not all critical to keeping a business running during a disaster (business continuity) or restore normal operations after a disaster has passed. You’ll need to consider what is vital to getting the business up and running as quickly as possible to identify the high impact items. The 3-2-1 rule has been a foundational approach to backing up data and applications for disaster recovery for a long time. The rule states you should always:  

  • Have three copies of your data
  • Use two different types of storage
  • Store at least one copy of your data offsite

 That’s become less of a challenge in the cloud era where public, private and hybrid cloud storage as well as Software as a Service (SaaS) are commonly used by all types of businesses. A Network Attached Storage system (NAS) can provide onsite storage of critical data, but it should back up to the cloud and be regularly updated. The cloud backup should have enough geographic distance from your business to avoid complications from the same area disaster. Infrequently used or archive data can be stored on tape or disk in an off-site location that provides access and security measures.Now visit IT Services in Houston

 5. Define Your Recovery Objectives

You must decide what applications and data access is needed to keep the business running in the moments, hours, and days after a disaster. This is known as the recovery time objective. Data recovery will also have to stretch back to a specific point in time that it was being produced, which is known as the recovery point objective. To decide on these factors, you’ll have to look at applications and the data to answer the following disaster recovery(IT Services in Houston) planning questions: 

  • How often does your workforce produce new data associated with each application?
  • How fast do you need each application and the data from its use back up and running?
  • What is your tolerance for downtime for each? 
  • What is your tolerance for data loss for each?
  • When are applications and data not being accessed?
  • Would you need to restore data that is more than 90 days old?
  • What are the regulatory requirements affecting your data regarding security and encryption, geographical restrictions on storage and time periods for retention?

The key is understanding business needs  so you can provide a differentiated level of service availability based on priority. 

6. Test, Practice and Refine.

According to a recent Spiceworks survey, nearly one in four companies never test their disaster recovery plan. Once the plan is written, approved and implemented, you’ll need to regularly test it (simulated disaster) to make sure it will work when it’s needed. 

With all the moving parts in a disaster recovery, many small businesses turn to an experienced third party that has the expertise in creating customized backup and disaster recovery services. With proper support, planning and testing, your small business can create a proactive disaster recovery plan that protects the present and future of your business.

14Oct

How to Evaluate and Optimize Your Existing Environment

While today’s businesses rely on information technology working transparently, they must still pay attention to how it is working in their environment to stay one step ahead of obsolescence and ineffectiveness. That means both business people and internal IT must know how to evaluate and optimize their existing environment for effective present and future business outcomes that drive the bottom line.For further Assistance please visit IT Services in Houston.

We all know that small to large business technology environments must evolve to meet changing business needs. The challenge is that the evolution happens faster for small and mid-market businesses in growth mode. Since the technology environment is only as valuable as its reliability, efficiency, and adaptability, assessing that value starts with gaining true insights into:

  • The level of compatibility between IT systems and core business goals
  • Process pain points
  • Business growth projections/plans

To ensure your IT systems are supporting top business performance across the board, you must evaluate the following environment components:

  • Networking
  • Servers
  • Applications & Application portfolio assessment
  • Operating Systems
  • Client Devices

The goal is to gain a granular view of all aspects of IT infrastructure and the ways it integrates with business functions, culture, and long-term growth strategies. By conducting a highly effective infrastructure assessment, businesses can look at the IT environment through the lens of the present and future needs. This makes it easier to determine the best way to optimize it for improved business operations and the bottom line.For more details please visit IT Services in Houston

 Servers and Network Hardware

 Servers are the backbone of any organization, but it’s easy for business and IT to have a siloed impression of what’s needed from them. Growth beyond a three-person workforce requires one or more servers to fulfill different business operational needs such as:

  • Email
  • Applications
  • Web

These are just three of the common server types in a business network where each fulfills different functions and has different framework-specific requirements. But in the evaluation process they all require gaining answers to the following:

  • Are the compute, processing and storage right for the current and near future needs?
  • Are physical on-site environment needs being met such as cooling, adequate space, etc.?
  • What is the age and efficiency of the server based on current server options and business needs?
  • Should the server be in the office or in the cloud (virtual)?

 Network routers, switches, and firewalls working with servers to fulfill business networking needs must also be evaluated based on current and future needs. This helps determine if there are better options that provide more scalability, flexibility, resilience and security for a business. 

Physical space, IT support, server uses, regulatory compliance (HIPAA and others), and more can all be part of determining whether servers should be on site, in the cloud, or a combination (Hybrid). Businesses must continually evaluate the current and future use and age of the server to determine when changes are needed. Constant operational monitoring can show signs of problems in terms of slow processing or overheating that can lead to slow business functionality.please visit IT Services in Houston

Applications and Client Devices

Applications drive business operations, so their variable scope (costs, users, licensing), security, and management (updates, patching) make them a constant evaluation target for optimization. Determining when or if to move from on-premise applications to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model requires IT and business personnel to clearly understand need, functionality, expected usage patterns, and cost factors.

Desktops have much the same challenges as the applications that run on them as the costs only begin with the purchase and continue through setup, management, updating, repairs and retirement. According to the Spiceworks 2020 state of IT Report, businesses spend the largest percentage of their IT budgets on desktops and laptops (17 percent for each). Moving to desktops, applications, and servers hosted in the cloud via cloud services support can optimize efficiency while lowering Capex and total cost of ownership (TCO).

How Opex, Capex, and TCO Fit Into IT Optimization

Evaluating and optimizing a business’ IT environment can’t happen without factoring in the hardware and software system’s cost to the business. Every aspect of a business’ IT environment whether on site or in the cloud will have one or more of the following expense types attached:

  • Capital Expenses (Capex) requiring a significant outlay of cash for purchase upfront
  • Operational Expenses (Opex) requiring either small or significant monthly costs for use

Many technology investments are a combination of Capex and Opex since they require ongoing management and maintenance. We refer to this total cost of using and maintaining an IT investment over time as TCO. Businesses and IT management must consider these factors to effectively evaluate and optimize an IT environment.

IT spending is a balancing act between hardware, software and services, so evaluating all these aspects within your current environment will help determine how best to optimize them in the most cost-effective way. The goal is to lower TCO, Capex and Opex while raising business operational efficiency, scalability, security and resiliency.

 Optimizing your IT environment is about ensuring optimum connectivity, security and transparent operational efficiency while effectively managing data, systems, services and maintenance. When your business does this effectively, it’s position for operational efficiency, cost-effective growth, stronger customer relationships, and a healthier bottom line.please visit IT Services in Houston