Secure Business Mobility with Office 365

Securely Work Anywhere with Office 365
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Mobile and Remote Employees can put business data at risk.

Most businesses have employees that often work away from the office desk. Employees work from home, on the road or even roam the office/retail floor with mobile devices. Businesses also implement BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) to give employees flexibility to work from anywhere. Unfortunately most businesses do not have a security strategy for their business mobility.

Without a secure business mobility strategy, business data and devices are at risk of theft. Businesses also need to provide a consistent work experience for employees in and out of the office. Employee productivity can be impacted when employees have to work with different applications outside the office.

Securely Enable Business Mobility with Office 365

Office 365 provides employees maximum flexibility to work anywhere, while business can maintain control of business activities. It also helps businesses manage and protect company’s devices, data and budget while simultaneously giving companies a competitive advantage.

Employees can use a mix of business and personal devices to access business applications such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook. It also provides consistent experience across Windows, iOS and Android desktops, laptops, phones and tablets

Office 365 Business Premium has built-in security features and fully installed versions of Office apps on employee’s choice of desktop, tablet, or phone. This provides improved collaboration across devices so teams in different locations can work together more efficiently. Employees can also hold “face-to-face” meetings from any location through Skype for Business, improving teamwork and boosting productivity.

Businesses can have more control of their data and devices by using Office 365 E3 and Enterprise Mobility Suite plans.

Office 365 Enterprise E3 includes everything in Business Premium and advanced capabilities for data protection and compliance tools. This helps businesses maintain regulatory compliance while employees work away from the office.

The Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) can protect company assets while enabling workers to stay productive from practically anywhere. It provides capabilities for securely managing mobile devices and applications.

Contact us to find out how we can help your business securely implement business mobility.

Improve Collaboration and Communication with Office 365

Collaboration and Communication
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Poor Collaboration and Communication Reduces Business Productivity

Employees work on teams that are spread across office space, across the city, country or even across the world. Having employees spread across multiple locations means employees need to effectively collaborate and communicate to successfully get work done.

We have all worked on projects that missed deadlines due to lack of proper documentation and communications. The likelihood of this happening increases exponentially when teams are spread across multiple locations.

Lack of good communication tools impact employee productivity. Imagine employees walking across the hall to communicate with other employees. This can easily add up to hour of wasted productivity in a week.

When employees can easily work together and communicate with each other, their productivity increases.

Office 365 Provides Cloud tools to Improve Business Collaboration and Communication

Office 365 provide cloud tools to help employees work together better. The Office 365 Business Essential plan cost $5/user/month. This will help businesses make the most of their IT budget and resources.

This provides each user with Cloud Applications for better collaboration and communication.

  • Exchange Online provides business-class email and calendaring.
    With OneDrive for Business, each user gets one terabyte of cloud storage for file storage and sharing.
  • Businesses also get an intranet site through SharePoint Online so it can easily to host resources and documentation for your team to access and share.
  • TeamSites provide employees with collaboration and communication tools that will enable them to connect to documents and information, collaborate on content with colleagues, and share files virtually anywhere, any time.
  • Skype provide the ability to host online meeting and networking tools that will help employees connect and make decisions more quickly. It also includes instant messaging (IM), audio, video, or web conferencing. Employees can host virtual whiteboard with employees from across the world.
  • To improve communication, businesses can adopt Yammer. This provides an internal social networking platform.

Businesses can upgrade Microsoft Office Applications to Office 365 Business Premium Plan for even better collaboration and communication. This provides features like Modern Attachments, which automatically updates emailed attachments. The plan also provides users with fully installed Office applications on up to 5 devices.

Contact us to find out how we can help your employees collaborate and communicate more effectively.

Always have the Latest Office Applications with Office 365

Office 365
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Upgrade On-site Office to Office 365

Before the cloud and SAAS (Software As A Service), business softwares were acquired via a one-time purchase and installation. When it was time to upgrade to the latest versions, businesses had to go through the same process again.

This was an expensive experience for businesses because of the huge upfront investment for the purchase of the software, installation cost and business downtime.

Businesses were also stuck with current installation of Office software till the next purchase and installation. This meant they missed out on any new features that were added after the purchase was made.

Get the Latest Office Applications with Office 365

Businesses can always have the latest Office Application with Office 365. Businesses can upgrade from existing on-site Office installation like Office 2010 and Office 2013.

Office 365 is subscription based which means you only pay for what you need when you need it. Since it’s a cloud based software, users will regularly get the latest features regardless of whether they’re using desktop, mobile, or tablet devices.

Office 365 Business plan for $8.25/user/month provides users with full desktop version of Office on up to five PCs or Macs, as well as rights to use Office on virtually any device for up to five tablets and five phones.

This also includes OneDrive for Business to easily share and store documents. It also enables them to share, collaborate and edit files from a computer, tablet, or smartphone

Businesses can gradually move to the cloud by adopting Office 365 applications and keep email systems onsite. When ready, on-site email servers can also be moved to the cloud with Office 365 Business Premium Plans. This includes applications like Exchange Online, SharePoint, Skype for Business, and Yammer at no additional cost.

Users also get a single login for all applications and are able to transition between apps without having to log in with different accounts.

Office 365 enables employees to work more productively because it’s a one-stop shop–all their apps and tools are integrated into a single experience.

Contact us to find out how we can help upgrade on-site Office Applications to Office 365.

What is Microsoft Office 365 for Businesses.

Office 365

Office 365 is a subscription based version of the popular Microsoft Office Software and other productivity tools. It has the added benefit of being cloud based and can be accessed via an internet browser.

Office 365 has a variety of subscription plans from as little as $2/user/month to $35/user/month. The plans are designed to cater to different business productivity needs and different sizes.

Most of the Office 365 plans provide a desktop and cloud based version of the Office applications. The Office applications can be installed on up to five devices (Desktop, Laptops & Phones) per each subscribed user, this makes it possible for users to work from a variety of devices.

Some of the applications included in Office 365 are:

  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Access
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Exchange Online
  • SharePoint Online
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Microsoft Groups
  • Microsoft Yammer
  • Microsoft Delve
  • Power BI


How to Purchase Office 365

Office 365 can be purchased directly from Microsoft website or from a Microsoft Partner. We are a Microsoft Partner and assist businesses in selecting, purchase, installation and support of all Office 365 plans.

How to Access and Download Office 365

You can login to Office by going to the Office 365 Portal. Once you are in you can download Office 365 software like Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint. You can also access the online version of all the available software.

Some Benefits of Office 365 for Businesses:

  • Pay-AS-You-Go: Office 365 is a software as a service (SAAS), this means you pay for it like an utility bill. This frees up cash for other business expense. You can pay on a monthly or yearly basis. Paying yearly is a cheaper than monthly.
  • Up-to-date Softwares: Office 365 is delivered via the cloud so you will have always have the latest features and most up-to-date versions. This is one less IT support service to pay for.
  • Access Data from Anywhere: You have the option of storing your data in cloud via Office 365 and accessing from anywhere via an internet browser. This provides the ability for employees to work from anywhere
  • Advanced Data Security: Microsoft has better data security than any small business could ever implement. Data is stored in secure data centers and encrypted in transit.
  • No Servers to Maintain: You do not need a server to host Microsoft Office, SharePoint or even a file server for data storage. This also saves on server maintenance and electricity cost.

Office 365 Plans

There are different Office 365 plans to suit almost all business needs. Some plans and the scenarios for usage are:
Exchange Online for hosted Business Class Email.
SharePoint Online for Online file storage, Internal Team Site and Project Collaboration.
Kiosk Plans for communication and email access for Desk-less and Shift Workers.
Office 365 Business Premium for Small Business that need online and desktop versions of Office products.
Office 365 Enterprise E3 for businesses that need data security and compliance requirements.
Office 365 Enterprise E5 for businesses that need advanced data security, regulatory compliance, seamless communication in and out of the office.

Contact Us If you are thinking of moving to Office 365 or would like a free Demo to find out how it can benefit your business.

Microsoft StaffHub, a Scheduling and Communication tool for Desk-less Workers.

Microsoft StaffHub lets you create and manage work schedules, share files and communicate with team.

Microsoft recently released a scheduling and collaboration tool called StaffHub. This tool is aimed at businesses with shift employers and/or employees without a permanent desk.

Businesses like retail, hospitality and healthcare can easily communicate shift schedules and important work files through the StaffHub app (IOS and Android) and the online site. Employees no longer have to go to the break room to check schedules or logon to computers to request time off. StaffHub provides a quick way to communicate with employees on their mobile devices. The tool is available with Office 365 business plans K1, E1, E3, and E5.

Brief overview of things You Can Do with StaffHub
All employees will need to have at least Office 365 K1 plan for access to StaffHub app and site. The K1 plan is $4/user/month, the plan also includes 2GB of Email and Office online access.
More details of K1 plan here: Office 365 K1 Plan

1 ) Create and Share Schedules: Managers can create employee schedules. StaffHub has a calendar type scheduling format that can be used for scheduling.

StaffHub Scheduling

StaffHub Scheduling

2) View Schedule and Trade Shifts: Employees can view schedules and easily swap schedules with team members.

3) Request Time Off/Vacation: Managers can create various time off options and employees can use this for vacation, sick days and other time off requests.


StaffHub Time Off request setup.

4) Share Important Information to the Team: You can upload important team files like Employee HandBook, Team Goals and other important documents for easy employee access. You can also upload video and quick notification using this.

StaffHub Team Files

StaffHub Team Files

Microsoft StaffHub is a great tool for mobile communication with employees. As always better communication leads to better productivity in any business.

Contact Us for assistance in setting this up for your team.

Do I Need A Server For My Small Business?


I get asked this questions quite a bit, especially by new business owners. A lot of current businesses also want to get rid of their office existing server and move to the cloud.

Moving an office server to the cloud is always an option with the right internet bandwidth and large enough budget but this post is about exploring the need for onsite server in a small business.

Before deciding on whether a server is needed or not, below are some of the uses/benefits of a server in a small business are:

  • Line of Business Application Requirement.
  • User authentication for computers (Active Directory)
  • File server for business data.
  • Backup location for computers.

A few factors need to be considered before this question can be accurately answered. I will list the factors below and later explain how it impacts the sever or no server decision.

1) Regulatory Compliance
2) Employee Assigned Computers.
3) Employee Size
4) Line of Business Application.

1) Regulatory Compliance: Compliance requirements like HIPAA § 164.308(a)(4)Information Access Management requires each employee have a unique user ID for all Information Systems, so employee activities can be logged and audited on each system. This can be done without a server (Active Directory) but a server makes the management of user IDs and password a lot easier than managing each user on each computer.

2) Employee Assigned Computers: If your employer have permanent assigned computers then you will only need to manage one or maybe two logins on each computer. This becomes more complicated if employees roam between available computers like a Doctor’s office. Imagine managing different credentials for 10 employees on 10 computers, this quickly becomes an avalanche of IDs (100) to manage. An active directory server makes this easier to manage, by  managing all 10 IDs from one server.

3) Employee Size: User authentication is a little easier to managed for a business with five or less employees. Even with regulatory compliance and non-assigned computers, you will be managing at most 25 IDs on five computers for a five person company.

4) Line Of Business Application: If your primary line of business (LOB) requires a Server to function, then you will need a server. There is no away around, you might be able to go with a cloud server but it still depends on the LOB and your internet bandwidth.

After considering all the factors listed above, my answer to question varies from business to business. If your business is not affected by any of the criteria above, then you can do away with an on-site server or at least move to the cloud with a cloud server.

Managing Cybersecurity Risk Using the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.

Who is the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology):
The NIST is a federal agency within the US Department of Commerce. It was tasked in 2013 to develop a voluntary framework for reducing cyber risks to critical infrastructure.

What is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework:
This is a voluntary guidance to better manage and reduce cybersecurity risk in organizations. It was designed to promote risk and cybersecurity management communications between internal and external organizational stakeholders.

The framework was designed to be used by organizations of various types and sizes. Each of the framework components (Framework Core, Profiles, and Tiers) can be used in a variety of ways to address the needs of an organization. Some of the ways are:

  • Communication with stakeholders within an organization.
  • Sharing of cybersecurity expectation with business partners and suppliers.
  • Mapping of the framework to current cybersecurity management processes.
  • Using the framework as a planning tool to assess risk and current practices.

Framework Components and how they are used.
Framework Core:
This is a set of cybersecurity activities, desired outcomes, and applicable references that are common across critical infrastructure sectors.These activities are grouped by five functions:

  • Identify assets in the organization.
  • Protect identified Assets in the organization.
  • Detect anomalies and events.
  • Respond appropriated to detected anomalies.
  • Recover from anomalies.

The framework core give organizations an overview on how cybersecurity risks should be managed from the beginning to the end.

Framework Profile:
These are the cybersecurity goals an organization is aiming to achieve based on their business needs selected from the framework categories and subcategories. The profile allows an organization to determine its current cybersecurity risk level and develop a way to reduce the risks.

Framework Tiers:
These provides an organization a way to assess how it views cybersecurity and the processes in place to manage cybersecurity risks. The tiers range from Partial (Tier 1) to Adaptive (Tier 4). The tiers assist an organization in determining how closely their cybersecurity risk management processes are aligned with their business.

Overall the framework provides a plan for an organization on how to address cybersecurity risks.

Is Your Small Business Ready For EMV Chip Cards?

In an effort to counter credit card fraud, US credit card companies are transitioning to credit cards with embedded chip. These chip cards are based on a global payment standard called EMV (Europay, MasterCard, Visa). Most foreign countries are already using these cards so we are a little late making the switch.

The difference between an EMV chip card and a magnetic strip card is the embedded chip in the EMV cards. Payment data is stored on the chip instead of the magnetic strip, this makes the payment data more secure compared to magnetic strip cards. We have all heard stories of credit card information theft at gas stations via the magnetic strip. EMV chip cards are currently secure from such. EMV chip credit cards are also globally accepted.

The major impact to small businesses is the liability shift starting on October 1st 2015. This means liability in card-present credit card fraud shifts to the least EMV-compliant party. If a magnetic-strip credit card is fraudulently swiped at a business, then the business is liable for the charges and no longer the credit card company.

Most small businesses should have received replacement EMV terminals from their credit card merchants. The new terminals look similar to the old except with an additional slot for the EMV card insertion.

There are no additional steps to install an EMV terminal compared to a traditional terminal. Moving to EMV credit card terminal protects small businesses and it’s customers from credit card fraud.

5 Steps For Protecting Patients Data (PHI).

According to Health IT Outcomes security breaches cost healthcare $6 billion annually. Patients medical records are now 10 times more valuable than credit card numbers to hackers. Hackers monetize patients medical record in different ways and the market is for it is growing. Protecting your patients’ data should be a high priority at your practice. We have listed some steps below to get you started.

Assign a security officer. Most businesses, especially small ones do not have anyone in charge of IT security. The security officer handles all the security related issues or works with a contracted IT firm. A security officer also provides the employee with a resource for any security related questions.

Perform a Risk Analysis. Details of a Risk Analysis can be found here. A risk analysis reveals potential holes in your IT infrastructure hackers can use to steal patient data. Once the holes are revealed you need to take steps to address these holes.

Employee Training. Employee blunders is the second leading cause of HIPAA breaches. Employees need to be trained on the right way to handle patients data and the impact if its not handled with the highest security.

Inventory of Equipment/Software Storing Patient Data. Most business do not know all the places patients data is stored. You can only protect patient data if you know where its stored. You should also restrict access to the data based on job responsibilities.

Install Technical Safeguards. You need to technical safeguards in place that prevents hackers from gaining access to your network. Most businesses have some in place but they are either not monitored, reviewed or updated. This responsibility can be handled by your assigned security officer or outsourced to an outside firm. Some technical safeguards are listed below:

  • Firewall.
  • Antivirus.
  • Software Patches.
  • Backup and Recovery.

The steps listed above should you get you started. Achieving HIPAA compliance is not as hard when you prioritize protecting your patients’ data.

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