Monday, November 22

Are you Ready for Cyber Monday?

by Ian Holt

With nearly every retailer from Costco to Amazon advertising Cyber Monday, when do you suppose busy employees will get their online shopping done? In 2002 a survey of 2000 US companies nationwide found that half of all employees with online access planned to do holiday shopping from their company computer. We suspect that number has grown over the years as one third of those employees volunteered that they would knowingly violate their company’s Internet use policy prohibiting shopping at work. Another 20 percent of online employees had no idea if their company had a policy or not. And this was before the term "Cyber Monday" was even advertised!

Since the enterprise reaches into the employees personal time, the employee may feel justified in extending his or her personal life into the enterprise. Activities like online shopping, vacation planning, gaming, personal e-mail and social media are considered quid pro quo by the employee.

Your company's Internet Use Policy must be flexible enough to coincide with actual behavior and the flexibility needed to manage your workforce. Something with configurable time controls would allow you to easily restrict the days and hours during which users can access the Internet. You can also allow free access with or without monitoring during specified time periods so shoppers can shop away on Cyber Monday at lunch or after work.

QeH2 can help your company create a company Internet Usage Policy that fits your actual internet usage.

Monday, November 8

Ways IT Can Waste Money

We will look at 6 ways your IT may be letting precious dollars slip away. Some of these may just be common sense but there are a lot of organizations out there that are wasting money in these ways.

1. Wasted energy
The electric bill is still a large cost for companies and the IT department is a big user of energy. By adopting some energy-saving policies, you may be able to save some money. Members of your office stay may leave their computers on when they leave for the day or substituting the use of a screen saver as opposed to turning off the monitor (you should do both). With the advanced technology we have, using power settings available may pay off. Turing off lights in the server room and around the office when you leave for the day as well as using Energy Star rated equipment will help to save over the long run.

2. Spending too much on mobile technology
Mobile phones and devices are great toys, but company-provided equipment may be costing more than necessary. Using policies regarding mobile device use may help to determine what the right levels of minutes are appropriate for your organization.

3. Not allowing employees to telecommute
Management sometimes fails to recognize the cost savings for both the employee and employer associated with telecommuting on a regular base or part-time. One of the biggest issues companies have with telecommuting employees is the security threat it presents. With the advancement of technology, software allows IT departments to ensure remote systems connecting to the company are properly configured and protected and that connections are secure. Allowing employees to work from home can save on areas like office/parking space, heating/air conditioning, etc. It even saves employees on clothes, lunches, and transportation. They even tend to enjoy work more, putting in extra hours and raising the level of productivity.

4. Hiring full-time employees when an outside company could be more cost effective
Bringing on full-time employees to handle a workload that's meant to be temporary leaves employers with idle workers, costing more money due to no economy of scales. When you don't have the expertise for a specific project, it is more cost effective hire the expert. This keeps you from having to pay benefits such as insurance, vacation time, and sick time. Another plus is not dealing with all the paperwork and overhead that's associated with regular employees.

5. Make unnecessary upgrades
It's great to have the latest and greatest technology but can really take a hit to your bank account. Focusing on hardware and/or software upgrades that allow users to do their jobs more efficiently makes sense. Purchasing new hardware/software every couple of years or upgrading to the newest software so many months after it comes out may not be the best use of resources. Evaluating your current infrastructure and how users interact with their equipment allows the company to only replace or upgrade in areas that absolutely need it.

6. Failure to upgrade old, inefficient hardware
On the flip side, some companies are trying to squeeze every last drop out of their current systems. If you continuously repairing old, outdated equipment, putting 'Band-Aids' on your network every time it crashes because of energy inefficiencies, or putting your data at risk with ancient software, it's time to stop. It makes sense to invest some capital to lower operating costs and save money over the long run.

These are only some of the ways to conserve your IT budget. With the economy still trying to bounce back, conserving in areas and investing in other areas will allow you to move your business forward.