Power Up Project

#20: The Magic of Dashboards

 In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉What are Dashboards?

〉How can dashboards power up your business?

 

 

Transcript:

In this episode of the Power Up Project, we talk about the power of dashboards. Welcome back to the Power Up Project, I’m your host Ben Dampney. Today, we’re going to power up your business with dashboards.

Dashboards are a single page that show key pieces of data in an easy to digest format. They can range from graphs, charts, gauges to heat maps or flashing alerts on a page. This can be a webpage, it can be an online document, it can be an updated Excel spreadsheet, for example. Now, every business can benefit from financial dashboards. They give you a visual representation on a single page of current and historic financial performance. These can be created in most modern financial accounting packages, such as Xero. They can also be generated using Microsoft Power BI connected to older packages that do not include this sort of functionality, things like MYOB or Reckon for instance.

The beauty of financial dashboards is they turn numbers into gauges and graphs that can be read easily and allowing you to quickly understand your financial metrics. However, I’d encourage you to think about the key metrics or performance indicators in your business. For our IT business, outside of financial reporting, we’re actually interested in a couple of different indicators. We have a dashboard that shows client servers if they’re down, service tickets that require attention, and clients that are awaiting a response from us around a service item. Being aware of these items and numbers allows us to ensure that key components of our customer service delivery don’t get overlooked. We actually have a big screen in our office that shows these key metrics, and everyone at any point in time can look up and see exactly where those key indicators are at. Ideally, we’re trying to get to zero, which is green, which means no one’s waiting for us to do work for them, we’re proactively managing our clients and their systems.

Now, another dashboard we have shows us engineer billable time and open tickets. It’s a great way to ensure our engineers are being utilised correctly without being overburdened. We can also use this dashboard to make employment decisions, as we can easily see trends in engineer workloads, if one’s getting too much work for instance, we can then look to employ someone based on some of these metrics.

Another example might be for a transport company who may be interested in average weekly trip times, vehicle service intervals, driver load times, all of which can affect your profitability and ideally let you know what your utilisation is of your vehicles and your staff.

Now, in all instances, I’d encourage you to ensure that the dashboard you use is clean and simple. This is a really important part of dashboards, in my mind, the critical part. They need to show the five or six key drivers that will have the most effect on your business. Now, these should align directly with your business goals. If you follow the trends in the dashboards you have, you have information that enables you to manage your business with precision, rather than feel. You feel busy, but what does the stats and dashboard exactly show you around your staff utilisation, your sales delivery, etc.?

So I encourage you to check out dashboards, they’re awesome. Power BI’s a really simple tool to use, there’s lots of plug-ins and templates you can go and grab it and start straight away. Xero has some great financial dashboards that you can look at and set up. There are many other products out there that will do dashboards according on your data .

Thank you for listening to the Power Up Project, brought to you by Digit IT and Grassroots IT, and please remember to leave a review for us wherever you found this podcast. Until next time, keep powering up.

#019: Three Takeaways from Running a Live Event

Three Big Takeaways from Running a Live EventIn this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

My three takeaways from running our live event, The Small Business Download, in October 2018, including:

〉Being with other people who understand that you “don’t know what you don’t know”

〉The value of collaborative learning

〉Finding the low hanging fruit

〉Join us for a free webinar on 22 November: Office 365 in the Real World

Transcript:

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we recap on The Small Business Download 2018.

Hi. Welcome to this episode of The Power Up Project. I’m your host, Ben Love, and today we’re going to be recapping on a recent live event that we hosted, called The Small Business Download 2018. This was a fantastic event. It was a learning event which we put on for our clients, our partners, anybody else who wanted to come along. We had a panel of five industry experts, covering a range of business and technology topics, who were there to talk to us, to take questions, do a little bit of workshopping, even, at the end of the night there, around some of the problems and questions that our attendees had.

So what I wanted to share with you today is the three top takeaways that I really got out of the entire thing. The first one, you don’t know what you don’t know. Now, this is obviously a truism which we’ve all heard before, but what I’d say about this is that one of the real values of investing time in events such as The Small Business Download is that it gives the gift of being in the company of other business leaders who recognise that, at some level, there are things that they don’t know, so they are consciously making the decision to invest the time, the money, the effort, to come along to events like this and to learn.

Now, this may sound fairly self-evident to a lot of you out there, but a lot of people do not go out of their comfort zone to put themselves in the situation where they will potentially learn something that they weren’t aware of previously. A lot of people are confident in their own knowledge, a lot of people are quite comfortable that the way they’re doing the job right now is the way that it should be doing, and so they don’t take that next step. So the first lesson that I really learnt out of this is just reinforcing that, that you don’t know what you don’t know, and it’s good to step outside and just expose yourself to some opportunities, cross-industry perhaps, to see what else is happening out in the big wide world.

Lesson number two that I took away from The Small Business Download 2018 is that collaborative learning is powerful. Now, one of the wonderful things about getting all of these people in the room, facilitated by our panel of five experts, was that we had people there across a broad range of industries, across a broad range of organisational profiles of size, of nature. We had some commercial organisations, we had educational institutions, we had non-profits, and everybody was there, sharing in the experience and collaborating together. There was a lot of sharing of stories, war stories in some cases, successes and victories in others. There was a lot of questions that arose from one industry, which interestingly enough, some people were able to map into an entirely different industry, to gain a unique perspective on something that may have been sticking them up for a little while now. So lesson number two was collaborative learning can be powerful, cross-industries, cross-organizations.

And number three, and this is the great one, and this is my important takeaway for you out of this episode, there is plenty of low hanging fruit. So some of the things that we touched on, on the day, in a very tactical sense are, for example, that a lot of people are not using a large part of their Office 365 subscription. A lot of organisations will subscribe to something like Office 365 for a particular component, such as the email for example, but with the money that you are paying every month, there is a vast list of other products and services that you get access to, and a lot of people aren’t even aware of what else is out there and aren’t integrating those things into their business processes or getting any value from them at all. Now, that’s just one very tactical example.

For other people, it was about education. Some of the people I was talking to on the day there, they realised that they already had the tools in place in their business, they already had the technology implemented, they had processes and workflows put in place, but there was a missing piece there, to really drive the organisational change and get the value from the technology, and that was education. They identified that there was a need to bring in some more training for themselves or for their people back at the office on how to use these tools, how to get the most from these systems, and how to really leverage them in their day-to-day operations. So that was another really good piece of low hanging fruit for some people, that a little bit of education and training into the organisation could yield very, very large results.

At the end of the day, though, I think the message that everybody really came away from The Small Business Download 2018 with was that it’s really all about the people. It’s not really about the technology. The technology is just a tool. It’s like giving a builder a hammer. It’s actually the builder who has the skills, the knowledge, the experience, to put together the house. The hammer is just the tool, and it’s the same with all of our organisations. It is all about the people. So we need to not get too distracted by the technology, we need to not get too distracted by the operational metrics we put in place, by all of these other things that we’re told that we need to put in place in the business. Those things are important, don’t get me wrong, but what we really need to do is remember to keep front and centre that everything we are doing here is about the people. It’s about our staff, it’s about our clients, it’s about our suppliers, our industry partners, and our community around us. That’s really what everything came back to on the day.

So thank you for listening to my recap of The Small Business Download 2018. I had three key takeaways for you from that. The one I really want to leave you with as your next action steps out of this episode is that there is plenty of low hanging fruit. Have a look at your subscriptions that you already have in place, such as Office 365, and see if there are parts of that product, parts of that service, that you’re not using and not getting that value from. And the other piece that went there was about education. Have a look at the tools you’re using and your processes, and have a look at your people, and have a think about whether bringing in a little bit of extra training, a little bit of education, mentorship, might actually help your people get a significant amount more value out of the systems that you already have in place.


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#018: Why You Need to Encrypt Your Hard Drive and How to Do It

Why You Need to Encrypt Your Hard Drive and How to Do ItIn this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉Why data encryption is important for data security

〉Simple steps on how you can start protecting your data

 

 

Transcript:

In this episode of The Power Up Project, I’m going to be talking about why you should be encrypting the data on your laptop.

Hey, welcome to this episode of The Power Up Project. I am Ben Love, your host, coming at you directly from Orlando in Florida. If you can hear ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ playing gently in the background there, please excuse the distraction. Today’s topic is encrypting the data on your laptop hard drive. I’m going to start with the first question around that though is ‘Why would you do that?’ Well, we all know that encryption is basically scrambling the data that you have stored in such a way that only you can read it. If that data gets into somebody else’s hands, they will not be able to read it. Why would you want to do that? Well, let’s say that you lose your laptop. Let’s say that it gets stolen from the office. Let’s say that you leave it in a taxi.

That means if you have an unencrypted hard drive, it means that the person who stole that laptop can very easily take that hard drive out of your laptop, put it in another computer or put it into a little USB caddie, and they will have full access to every bit of information that’s on that hard drive. Now, that’s quite terrifying, particularly if you work with really sensitive information, particularly if you have personal information for your client, such as credit card details or healthcare related information. You can really see it could be a very smart idea to make sure that your laptop hard drives are encrypted.

Now, in Australia, we also have a thing called the Mandatory Data Breach Notification Scheme. This is basically a law that states that if information is lost from your organisation somehow and that information has the potential to cause significant harm for other people, then you must notify the authorities. Now, this can be quite a daunting thing to face for organisations, but one of the great ways to make sure that you don’t have to notify is to make sure that the data on that laptop hard drive is encrypted because in that case, nobody will actually be able to read the data. Now, I’m not a lawyer, that is not legal advice, but that is anecdotally what we’re seeing happening in the industry. We can probably agree by this point that it is a good idea to encrypt the data on your laptop hard drive. How do we do that?

Well, in Windows 10 Professional and Windows 10 Enterprise, there’s a great little feature called BitLocker. On macOS, there is a feature called FileVault. They all do basically the same thing. Basically, they run behind the scenes there and will encrypt every bit of information on your laptop hard drive there so that you and only you can access it. Now, there are various requirements to be able to turn on BitLocker in Windows 10 primarily around the hardware in your laptop. You need a little thing called a TPM chip, but most of the business grade laptops that are out there that Grassroots IT works with will have a TPM chip in there. The macOS hardware already has everything that it needs in there as well, so you should be good to go.

After that, there’s just a few little settings that need to be turned on to enable that file encryption. Now, that can either be turned on manually per computer or if you have a fleet of computers in your organisation where we need to turn on BitLocker, we can do so centrally with what’s called a group policy. We can talk to your IT person. We can just push that out to all the machines in your network and make sure that’s done. It is a very easy process to step through, it is very secure and reliable, and it will potentially save you a whole lot of heartache further down the track. But, the question remains then: ‘Are there some cases where you might not want to encrypt the data on your hard drive?’

Look, I’m going to leave that open and say yes, there are. I can’t think of any of those particular scenarios right now off the top of my head to be honest, but I’m sure there are edge cases there where you don’t want to enable encryption. It would be a good idea to think about it, have a chat with your IT people, and you’ll probably come back and find that the answer is yes, that you do want that enabled. In summary, why would we want to encrypt the data on our laptop hard drives? Well, to keep that data safe in case we lose our laptop or our laptop gets stolen. How do we do it? We simply turn on a feature called BitLocker for Windows or FileVault in the macOS.

Thanks for listening to the Power Up Project, brought to you by Digit IT and Grassroots IT. Please remember to leave a review for us, wherever you found this podcast. Until next time, keep powering up.

#017: Try Out Transcribing in Microsoft Office

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉Transcription tool in Office 365 products.

〉What can the transcription tool do?

 

 

Transcript:

In this episode of the Power Up Project we talk about transcription in office products.

Welcome back to the Power Up Project, I’m your host, Ben Dampney.

Today we’re going to power up your business with transcription in office products. We have the ability in the Modern Suite of Office to transcribe our speech into documents or words in those applications. The applications that are currently waxing is Word, Outlook, OneNote, and PowerPoint, and I think this is a fantastic tool that people should take advantage of and try.

It’s a way that you can use your voice to get your thoughts and create a document in any of those products. That’s going to lead to increased speed and accuracy of what you’re producing but also maybe give you some options you may haven’t previously been able to do. Things like diary writing, letters, seem to come more naturally, I guess, if you’re speaking them rather than typing them. This feature is built into those products now in the Modern Suite of Office, you’ll see it as a transcribe or dictate button in the top right corner in those suite of products.

You can also add it into, for example, OneNote for Office 2016 and 2013 by going to the garage, the Microsoft Garage gives you the ability to download that product and add it in. Now, another feature that you may be aware of is some of the Office will also have a read aloud option that will read emails out to you. This is a great way to get through content that you may have, if you’re working on other things you can listen to those documents while you’re using your mouse and cursor on other locations on the page.

Now, a really exciting development that’s coming out that I think businesses should maybe consider is the fact that Microsoft is going to add automated transcription capabilities for one draught for business for both video and audio files slated for release later this year. This is a powerful, powerful offering that Microsoft is bringing. The ability to be able to get a video transcript or an audio transcript of content means that you can search for it in one drive, means that you can send message or meeting notes after the fact with details of exactly what’s been said in either a video or a meeting or recording in some fashion.

This is a fantastic service that previously up to now has been unavailable, using human labour, I guess, to the extent that that this will be available. It’s going to be automated, that’s what Microsoft is telling us, and will give us some fantastic insights into our data but also the ability to get more from our data that we have. Keep your ears out for that, that’s all I have today. I’d encourage you to all go out and try, firstly, the transcription services that are available in the Office Suite of products. Also, keep an eye out for the transcription of media content that’s coming later this year. I’m excited about it, I think we’ll to get way more for our content on the this.

Thanks for listening to the Power Up Project brought to you by Digit IT and Grassroots IT. Please remember to leave a review for us wherever you found this podcast and until next time, keep powering up.

#016: Microsoft Stream: Made More Accessible

Microsoft Stream: Made More Accessible

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉Recap on what Microsoft Stream is

〉Amazing news about Microsoft making it more accessible

Transcript:

In this episode of the Power Up Project we touch on Microsoft Stream and how it’s now available to even more Office 365 users. Welcome to this edition of Power Up Project, I’m your host Ben Love.

So we’ve spoken before about Microsoft Stream, which is one of the components of the Office 365 Suite, which so many of you use. Now Microsoft Stream just as a recap, is kind of like your own private … Private, that’s not the right word. It’s like YouTube where you can upload videos but it is private and secure to your organisation, so it’s not a public service, like YouTube is, that anybody can access. It’s part of your Office 365 tenant. It’s really primarily intended for internal use by other members of your Office 365 organisation. So it’s secured, it integrates really well with SharePoint and with Microsoft Teams, and with all the other cool bits of Office 365. But, up until now it’s only really been available either as a standalone purchase or in some of the higher end Office 365 plans.

Well, a recent announcement from Microsoft, finally, they’re bringing this thing down into some of the Office 365 business plans. So Office 365 Business, Business Premium, and Business Essentials, which are just three of the plans that you can choose from, will start to include Microsoft Stream. So this I fantastic news, mainly for those I guess smaller organisations that aren’t on the larger Enterprise E3, Office 365 plans, either because the don’t have the head count requirement or they don’t need some of those more advanced features. Well now we’re seeing Microsoft Stream as part of those plans.

So a lot of what we talk to our clients about, around this piece here, is how fantastic video is and stream is a great enabler of that for internal staff and team communications, for training materials, for documenting processes, huge range of uses there. So great news there. Microsoft Stream if you’re on one of the Microsoft Office 365 business plans, rather than the Enterprise level plans. It’s coming your way.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Power Up Project, brought to you by Grass Roots IT and Digit IT. Please leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts, and until next time, keep powering up.

#015: MS Teams Inline Translation: Testing It Out.

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉What is Microsoft Teams Inline Translation

〉How to enable Inline Translation

〉Does it work and how accurate is it?

Transcript:

In this episode of the Power Up Podcast, we share a little bit more information on Microsoft Teams Inline Translation.

Hey, welcome back to the Power Up Project podcast. My name is Ben Love. I’m your host for today.

Now a few episodes back, I shared some new features. Well, one particular new feature I want to touch on in Microsoft Teams, which was the Inline Translation. So just to recap, Microsoft Teams is a product from Microsoft, part of the Office 365 family that lets you do, amongst a lot of other things, a text chat so you type chat messages back and forth. So it’s a real head-to-head competitor with Slack, which a lot of people have been using and also Hipchat, which less people have been using, but still one of the big ones.

So what we touched on last time is that Microsoft released a feature which was inline translation within chats in Teams. So what that means is that if somebody in a chat enters some words there, a sentence or whatever in a language that is not your native language, Teams is able to translate that automatically for you into whatever your native language was.

Now, at the time that we mentioned with this, we hadn’t had a chance to play but, I have since had a chance to play and I just want to share a couple of things that I’ve learned. First of all, you need to enable this feature using some funky behind-the-scenes stuff called PowerShell. Now, for an IT person that’s pretty straightforward. For your average user, it’s probably not. So if you do want this feature enabled, get in touch with your IT person and I’m sure they can switch that on for you. I imagine at some point soon they will move that into a nice little on-off button somewhere in the settings. But for now, you need that PowerShell script run to enable this feature on your Teams, on your tenant.

The next thing is that this Inline Translation feature is not available in the newly announced free version of Microsoft Teams, so if you are an Office 365 user, you’re good to go, but if you are not and you’re taking advantage of the free Microsoft Teams version, apparently this inline translate is not part of that particular package. So be aware of that.

The other thing I wanted to follow up onto is how it actually works. So, we’ve done a little bit of testing here. The accuracy of the translation between a couple of different languages into English and vice versa seems really good actually. It’s using one of Microsoft’s cloud translate micro services, so that’s a micro service that is part of the larger Microsoft as your suite of stuff that you can actually use yourself, build it into your own software products and whatnot. It’s very cool.

But Microsoft are leading on that to provide this translation service within Teams, which makes perfect sense if you think about it. That’s what micro services are really intended for. The accuracy of the translation is really, really good subject of course, to some of the vagaries of how people use language colloquially and some of the different grammatical constructs that you can use in some languages to the other, but in terms of actually communicating and getting the message across, it’s actually really, really good. But, what you need to understand too is that in order to translate a line of text in a chat, you still need to click a button so it’s very easy to do. I mean, right next to the actual line of text you wish to translate, you just pop open a little menu and say translate, so it’s very quick and very easy to do, but it does not automatically recognise that a line of text needs to be translated. If that makes sense.

Now, I’m wondering whether they’re going to bring this automatic real-time translation into the product at some point in the future. I imagine they will, to be honest, but for now, it makes sense that this is the way it is, because there will be times when you don’t want this thing to decide that you want that translated, so I don’t see it as a problem the way it currently is. In fact, I had a quick chat with someone from my office whose familiar with WeChat, which is one of the other really big chat platforms on the Internet, but WeChat is very much a Chinese language thing predominantly, and it has offered this inline translation for a little while now.

Primarily between Chinese and English I believe, I haven’t used it myself. This is just anecdotally and with WeChat, you also need to click a button and say, “Please translate this line of text.” So that’s another interesting little thing there, WeChat, which is definitely ahead of Teams and came out with this feature well before Teams is still sticking with the manually translate this line of text option. So, interesting thing for us to learn there.

So, that’s really our recap on the inline translation feature in Microsoft Teams. Look, bottom line is it works bloody well. It’s really super clever. It’s very, very quick and easy to use. And if you do use Teams, which I would encourage you to have a look at, and you do communicate with people who speak another language, even if only just to have a play and test about I’d get in there, give it a go. It’s a fun bit of tech.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Power Up Project brought to you by Grassroots IT and Digit-IT. Please leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts and until next time, keep powering up.

#014: Hosted Phone Systems: are they worth the hype?

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉What are Hosted Phone Systems

〉Is it expensive to have a Hosted Phone System?

〉What the benefits of a Hosted Phone System and why you would you need one

Transcript:

In this episode of the Power Up Project, we talk about hosted phone systems.

Welcome back to the Power Up Project. I’m your host, Ben Dampney. Today we’re going to power up your business with a hosted phone system. A hosted phone system is a phone system that is hosted, funnily enough, on a remote service via in the cloud. We recently moved a client of ours from an old, digital, on-the-wall phone system to a new hosted phone system using the existing cabling infrastructure. We deployed a mix of IP handsets, which is a traditional desk phone. You are using your IP cabling or managed cabling. Also, soft phones. Now, a soft phone is a phone application on your desktop or laptop. It can also be on a tablet or a mobile phone.

Now, the beauty of this is that you can be connected through those devices using a headset or through the speaker and microphone natively to make and receive calls, which can actually dramatically reduce the cost of deploying these sort of solutions, without putting a handset on a desk so to speak. It also allows for hot-desking and travel, meaning you don’t need to be tied to the phone that’s on your desk. You’re actually able to use your device wherever you have your laptop, or potentially tablet or mobile phone with the application.

These hosted phone systems can lead to reduced call costs. They’re often traditionally very much cheaper than your big tier-one phone system guys, particularly the big T and others. It also gives you flexible provisioning, so you don’t have to buy 30 handsets if you have 30 staff. You can only deploy what you need at that time that you need it, particularly on the soft client side or the soft phone side. You just run up an extension when you need to use it.

Also, as I alluded to earlier, it gives you remote access to your phone system. A fantastic example of this was the phone system we recently deployed for someone. The business owner was overseas in Thailand for work, and he was able to work using the soft phone client on his iPhone and the hotel wifi where he was staying. He had the ability to make calls as though he was sitting in his office, which is incredibly powerful, but also his staff had the ability to see his presence. They knew if he was on the phone or available to take calls, so they could transfer incoming calls from the phone system on their main number, through to his soft phone client on this mobile phone. As far as his clients were aware, he was working and available as though he was in the office, which is a really powerful tool.

Hosted phone systems also are incredibly easy to programme these days. They give you so much variability in call flows, as in how a call moves through your business. One of the key factors we find people taking them up for is that they would like to more directly get calls to the people that need them, rather than going to reception and then through the accounts and then to one particular person. Automated systems can be used to get calls directly to the people that need them answered more quickly and more efficiencies and cost-savings in your business.

Voicemail to email is another fantastic feature of hosted systems or virtual PDXs, in that you can receive a voicemail via email, meaning you get the voicemail immediately on whatever device you have. If you’re out of the office, it gives you some powerful ability to more easily and quickly react to someone’s query. We all know these days people like to get information or be able to contact you as quickly as they can.

Call presence I also talked about earlier, but it’s a powerful feature as well. It gives you the ability to know where your staff are and who’s on or off a call, if they’re in a do-not-disturb status. Some of these features are in traditional systems, but certainly widespread across hosted phone systems.

Listen, I’d encourage everyone to explore the opportunity of a hosted phone system. There’s trials out there that you can take up. They’re very easy and simple to deploy. You can have your existing, traditional, primary phone number be diverted through or ported across to a phone system so you don’t lose any of your existing customer base due to a phone number changes. Look, I think they’re great for cost savings, great for efficiency, and I would recommend you go out and try it today.

Thanks for listening to the Power Up Project, brought to you by Digit IT and Grassroots IT. Please remember to leave a review for us, wherever you found this podcast. Until next time, keep powering up.

#012: Backing Up Your Xero Data is Probably a Good Idea.

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉What is Xero?

〉Why should you back up your Xero data?

Transcript:

In this episode of the Power Up Project, we’re going to talk about whether you should be backing up your Xero data.

Hi, welcome back to the Power Up Project. I’m your host for today’s episode, Ben Love. Today we’re going to be touching on the topic of whether you should be backing up your Xero cloud accounting data. Now, I’m going to touch specifically on Xero in this case but the same discussion holds true for any other cloud accounting system you may be using. You might be using MYOB Online, you might be using QuickBooks Online, FreshBooks. There’s a few of them out there but Xero is definitely one of the more popular ones around at the moment. It’s the one we use here, at Grassroots IT, so it’s certainly something that I can talk about and that I’m familiar with.

Xero is a cloud-based accounting package. We put all of our financial information in there. Some us invoice from there. Some of us, it’s our CRM, where we keep our client information, supplier information. It’s pretty fundamental to running our business. So are we confident that that data is safe up there in the cloud? Look, I’m confident that the data is secure, that Xero themselves are doing a fantastic job of making sure that their platform is reliable and no one can access my data without my authorization. I also am confident that they’re doing a good job of backing up that data, right. So they take their own backup, so if they have internal failures within their system, they know that they’ve got copies of that data everywhere.

But you know what? I still want a copy of my Xero data for myself, because what does happen if Xero themselves do have a catastrophic failure? What happens, perhaps, if maybe some of that data in there gets corrupt? What happens if it’s human error, even? Perhaps I have a trainee bookkeeper come and join my organisation here who makes a heck of a mess of my books and we don’t discover that for a day, or a week, or a month later. How do I roll back to a previous backup or how do I look and see what the books are meant to look like? Interesting question, isn’t it?

Well, the good news is that there are options for backing up your Xero data. I actually had to reach out to some of my professional peers on this one. I’ve got friends who specialise in the world of cloud accounting, and the answer they came back with was a little product called ControlC. You’ll find it if you Google it, control-c.com. It’s a New Zealand-based company and they provide a product which does exactly this; it backs up your Xero accounting data.

It does some really interesting things, too. So it’ll take the daily backups, it gives you full access to historical data, so it keeps all of that history of those backups so if you need to go back and reference a particular point in time, you can. It gives you the option of local storage so you can actually store it in New Zealand data centres, and they also have other options in other countries if that’s of interest to you. But one of the really interesting things here is actually about the restoration or the restore if you actually need to get into one of those backups to get some information out. The way ControlC works is that they have an app and it gives you full access on your computer, in your office there, totally offline, you don’t need an internet connection once you’ve obviously got the backup down, to go through your historical accounting information and get access to what you want.

It’s also very cheap. It starts at about $5 a month, so for a little bit of peace of mind around your Xero accounting data, if that is something that interests you, I’d encourage you to go and have a look, control-c.com, but obviously, Google it, or of course, talk to your IT people. See if they’ve got any other products they suggest to do this job.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Power Up Project, brought to you by Grassroots IT and Digit IT. Please, leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts, and until next time, keep powering up.

#011: Schedule a Skype Meeting Directly in Outlook

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉How to set up virtual meeting in Outlook.

〉How Skype helps in making a scheduled video conference call happen.

Transcript:

In this episode of the Power Up Project we talk about turning your Outlook meetings into video conference calls.

Welcome back to the Power Up Project. I’m your host, Ben Love, and today we’re going to power up your business by using Outlook, and those Outlook meetings that you’re already using there and with one click turning them into video conferences for all of your attendees.

So, there is one assumption that I’m working from here and that assumption is that you are using Microsoft Office 365 for your email and as part of your Microsoft Office 365 subscription that you have Skype for Business. Now, in most cases, you’re going to have all those bits of the puzzle and so many people are using Microsoft office 365 these days for these pieces of their IT infrastructure it’s almost a given.

So let’s get straight into it. We’re going to be short and sweet today.

We all know Microsoft Outlook, and we all know that Microsoft Outlook has got the calendar section in there. This is where you can keep track of all of your upcoming meetings but what you can also do is you can create new meetings in there and invite other people. Now you probably already know this, so you would go to your calendar in Outlook, you would click on the area you want and click on new meeting or new appointment and up comes the little appointment window. You can type in the subject and location, you can invite attendees.

There is a button at the top there that says invite attendees. This is where after you click that, you type in the names, or the email addresses of the other people who you would like to join you at this meeting, and they will get an email in their inbox with all the details of this meeting. And on that email they can click on accept or decline, whatever the case may be.

And Outlook with all of its magic will track who has accepted your meeting invitation and who has not. Now, what we are going to do today is take that one step further though, and what we’re going to do is we’re going to use that meeting or that appointment invite and Outlook to coordinate a Skype meeting. And when I say a Skype meeting I mean a video conference. So if you’re trying to coordinate a meeting here between multiple people who are not in the same office, but they’re all sitting at a computer and ideally they’ve all got a web cam on their computer, then what you can do is you can click the little button at the top of that meeting request page that says Skype meeting.

It’s literally as simple as that. Now there is a whole lot of magic that’s happening behind the scenes right now when you click that button but what you will actually see is that within your meeting invite there, some blue text is going to appear there, which is actually a link, which says join Skype meeting.

Now, really simply, when the time comes for this meeting to actually occur all of your meeting attendees will be able to open their meeting invite from their calendar, and they will click on the blue link. A whole lot of tech-o magic behind the scenes is going to happen. Skype for business is going to open on their computer and on your computer and you will all be automatically joined into the one meeting with one click of that little button.

So, that’s it. It really is as simple as that. If you’ve ever struggled to coordinate multiple people, getting them all in the one video call, inviting other attendees, losing the original attendees, you know the song and dance, then try doing this. Use Microsoft Outlook, create a meeting and in that meeting click the button at the top that says Skype meeting and Outlook will automatically do all the coordinating behind the scenes to coordinate that video conference call.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Power Up Project brought to you by Grassroots IT and Digit IT. Please leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts and until next time, keep powering up.

 

#008: Network Issues Cause Nationwide Closures at Coles

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉What lesson can we get from the “minor” network error on Coles that kept the supermarket chain closed until late morning?

 

 

Transcript:

Welcome to the Power Up Project. In this episode we talk about Coles’ nationwide outage.

Ben Dampney: Welcome back to the Power Up Project. I’m your co-host Ben Dampney, here with Ben Love. How are you, Ben?

Ben Love: Mate, I’m really well. But I tell you what, I’m glad I was not planning on doing the shopping this morning.

Ben Dampney: That’s right. So, it’s a Sunday morning here in Australia. And we saw, came across a news article that was quite interesting about one of the very large supermarket chains having some problems. Tell us about it, Ben.

Ben Love: [00:00:30] Well mate, this is directly from the ABC News homepage, “Coles supermarkets open after early morning technical glitch kept stores shut across Australia.” So, Coles supermarkets across the country were unable to open on time this morning due to a network error. Ouch.

Ben Dampney: Indeed, ouch indeed. Yeah, that’s a massive outage for every store in the country to be closed. It obviously shows the widespread effect that their particular network outage had. What’s the lesson here for us, Ben? As business owners and IT consultants?

Ben Love: [00:01:00] Mate, the lesson here I think, is that outages can and probably will happen, even if you’ve got the resources behind you of Coles, bad stuff can still happen. So, in our businesses, we certainly don’t have the resources of Coles to keep everything running and nor do all of our clients, but there are ways to be ready for when this does happen, and that’s called business continuity.

Ben Dampney: [00:01:30] Yes, indeed. So having a plan in place to make sure your systems are functional to some degree. Whether or not that’s … hey, even back to paper. Having something that you can rely on to do your business and your trade is really important.

Ben Love: Absolutely. Hey, I’ve got a quote here from a Cole’s spokeswoman. And I love some of the lessons this brings to us. “Earlier this morning we had some minor IT problems, in some of our supermarkets, which were out of our team members control.” So just think about all those key words that that spokeswoman has put in there. This was not a major problem. This was not a catastrophe. This was nothing in their control. But look at the flow an effect, their stores have been closed for a period of time. Can you imagine the money that did not go through the cash registers for Coles. And this was ‘minor’ IT problem that caused that. Anyway, we’re talking in circles here. The lesson for your listeners though, is that bad things do happen, no matter how prepared you might be or how many resources you throw at this. So, move your thinking a little bit sideways, away from purely technology and think more about business continuity planning. If or when your technology does fail, how are you gonna keep your business running?

Ben Dampney: [00:02:30] Good question. Something worth thinking about. All right. Thanks Ben. And thanks for listening guys, we’ll catch you on the next episode. Bye.

Ben Love: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Power Up Project, brought to you by Grassroots IT and Digit IT. Please leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts and until next time, keep powering up.