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Daniel Gilbert

Digital Hygiene Series: Tips for Optimizing Your Computer’s Performance

We all love working on a brand-new computer because it is fast and responsive. However, over time, our new computers seem to slow down until they eventually become difficult and frustrating to use effectively. In this first article of our Digital Hygiene Series, we’ll share steps that you can take to slow down your computer’s degradation which will in turn improve its performance and your user experience.

1. Remove Unused Applications

Over time we install applications on our computers we need for one reason or another, and then we often forget we installed them. After a while, we end up with many applications we never use. It is easy to forget about these because we no longer see them. However, they are still taking up computer storage and potentially processing power, so removing unused applications is vital. It’s essential to take the time to audit your applications list regularly to make sure you have only the apps you need and use. Immediately uninstall applications when you no longer need them to keep your applications list as short as possible and reduce the amount of computer storage used.

2. Disable Startup Programs

Some programs installed on your computer have components that automatically run when you start your computer and continue to run the entire time, and you may not even realize it. Even though a program is installed because you still use it occasionally, you may have no reason to have those components run at startup. So, it is worth considering which of your startup programs you can disable to reduce your computer’s load at startup. To access your startup programs, open Task Manager and go to the Startup tab. Here, you can see which programs are enabled at startup and choose which ones to disable by right-clicking them and clicking “Disable”. You should become familiar with all the items in your Startup tab, so research any that you don’t recognize immediately to decide whether it needs to stay enabled at startup.

3. Reboot Frequently

This one is pretty simple: Generally speaking, the longer your computer goes without rebooting, the slower it becomes over time. If you have ever worked on a computer that hasn’t rebooted in weeks or even months, you can probably observe a considerable improvement from a single reboot. It is certainly best to reboot your computer once a day. I typically recommend rebooting when you finish the day so you can start work the next day on a fresh boot. Rebooting your computer at the end of the workday instead of the beginning allows you to promptly begin work each day without waiting for a reboot. You’ll also be less tempted to skip the reboot because of feeling rushed to get started working right away.

4. Keep Up with System Updates

System updates are released monthly at the very least and often more frequently, especially patches for security vulnerabilities. It is best to install updates as soon as possible after they become available and have been reasonably tested to ensure they don’t cause instabilities. Both Windows and macOS offer the ability to automatically check for and install updates, which is better than having to remember to go in and check manually every so often. The worst thing you can do is ignore the need for system updates because your computer will likely slow down, could lose functionality, and you may risk exposing yourself to serious security vulnerabilities. It is also essential to ensure you are not only updating your operating system but also your BIOS and firmware. If you are part of an organization, your administrator should have a process for regularly deploying system updates across all computers.

5. Keep Up with Third-Party Updates

Third-party updates refer to any updates for applications and drivers you have installed on your computer. Some programs may require that you check for updates manually, but most programs have an automatic update process just like your system updates. Often you will see programs show a notification in the system tray alerting you that an update is ready to be installed. Like system updates, you should install third-party updates quickly once they have been reasonably tested. If you are part of an organization, third-party updates should be handled by a process run by your administrator.

Conclusion

If you are experiencing slow computer performance, implementing these practices more consistently will help it run more efficiently and help you enjoy an overall better experience.
 
One word of caution is to make sure to double check that there isn’t malware or a virus causing lags or poor performance. If you are already implementing these strategies consistently but still experiencing lags or slow speeds, you should look into what else might be causing these issues. If you’re working with Kite Technology, contact our IT Help Desk to get some help! 
 
If you are not currently working with us and would like to learn more about Kite Technology’s IT and Consulting Services, please get in touch with us to schedule a conversation. We would welcome the opportunity to learn more about your business and how we can help. 
 

Digital Hygiene Series:

Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

Chief Operating Officer
Kite Technology Group

6 Mistakes to Avoid When Selecting an IT Service Provider

When you hit the market to find a good IT Service Provider, you will immediately realize two things. One, there is no shortage of IT Providers. There are countless options worldwide, many of which are appealing for one reason or another. You will also realize that there are so many aspects to consider when making IT decisions for your business that it quickly becomes a very complex and involved decision. There is a lot that can go wrong in the evaluation process, so I have described 6 of the most common mistakes you should avoid making as you go through the process of selecting your next IT Service Provider.

 

Failing to Involve the Right People in the Decision 

IT affects every area of your operations, so choosing an IT Service Provider is a significant business decision. Naturally, you want your top decision-makers in your team to be involved in evaluating your options. But it is essential to look beyond just the top level of your organizational chart because your choice of IT Provider will impact all levels of the organization. Consider whether certain areas of the business will be affected more than others or whether there are mission-critical processes that depend on IT. I would encourage you to include employees from those departments in the evaluation process. 

Another option is to get the input of people in your organization who struggle most with technology because a provider who works well for them will work well for everyone else. You could even randomly select employees at all levels of the organization to give their input to ensure general appeal. It may be more time-consuming when more people are involved in the process. Still, a decision as significant as selecting an IT Provider deserves the extra time. 

 

Not Checking Referrals 

One of the simplest yet most overlooked aspects of due diligence in vetting IT Providers is checking out reviews and referrals. There is much value to be gained from hearing from an IT Provider’s other clients to learn about their experiences. Just like when you buy something online and read the customer reviews, you should seek out customer reviews of all the IT Providers you are considering. Some providers may provide referrals of their own. You should undoubtedly check these and go deeper and try to find contacts of your own (most companies will share referrals they know will be positive). Through LinkedIn, Google Reviews, or other online resources, you should be able to find other customers you can contact to ask about their experiences. Maybe you can even find a former customer and hear their story. Of course, just like when reading customer reviews while shopping online, take care not to be soured by one bad experience if the overall reviews are positive. The point is to gather enough information to become fully informed and make the best decision possible. 

 

Ignoring Core Values 

Many people think core values are only meaningful when hiring your own team members. However, your providers and vendors are an extension of your organization, so finding a provider that aligns with your company’s core values is vital. After all, your team members will undoubtedly be working closely with your IT provider’s employees, so shouldn’t you ensure they will be like-minded and able to work well together? A great way to get a feel for the kind of people you will encounter at any business is to hear about the company’s core values. Suppose one of your most important business core values is treating people well, but the provider you’re evaluating doesn’t have a core value that speaks to how you treat people. In this case, this provider is probably not a good fit. As someone who takes pride in your business, you want to make sure you surround yourself with other business professionals who care about the same things you value. 

 

Measuring Price Without Measuring Value 

One of the first questions that will come up in your search for an IT Provider is how much money you will spend. Like in any big purchase, price is an essential factor, and I would not deny that fact. However, it is vital to consider the value of the offerings from each IT Provider because you are not always comparing apples to apples. If one provider seems less expensive, they may have excluded certain services you need or price their offerings differently. Make sure the total price you are quoted includes everything you need. There may also be a difference in the service level expectation, so make sure that you understand exactly how and how quickly your people get help when they need it. A provider with prompt and excellent service may cost more, but perhaps that is worth the extra spend, especially if you know your business will experience higher productivity because your people will get the help they need when they need it. Do not just perform a cost analysis – perform a cost/value analysis and consider all important aspects of the offerings to ensure a fully informed decision. 

 

Not Performing a Comprehensive Network Assessment 

The single biggest mistake that leads to missed expectations is going “full steam ahead” without first performing a comprehensive audit and analysis of your existing IT environment. Earlier I wrote about making sure you fully understand the value of the offerings from the different IT Providers; this assessment is a vital part of doing that analysis because to understand the value of the offering fully, you first need to understand your gaps and your needs. In tangible terms, a comprehensive network assessment involves looking into all of your computer systems, network equipment, peripherals, software vendors, storage solutions, disaster recovery processes, cloud platforms, security measures, and any other area that is directly or indirectly relevant to the IT landscape. This assessment can either be conducted internally if you have a qualified IT resource or externally either with a third party or else by the IT Providers you are vetting. I will mention that this step should also be crucial to the provider as well because they need to know what they are getting into. Having a clear understanding of your company’s current IT infrastructure enables them to develop a service offering that best meets your business’ needs and objectives. I would be wary of any IT Provider that agrees to partner with you without first taking the time to evaluate your IT environment and ensure a good fit.

 

Only Considering Local Companies

In the early years of IT, most tasks were done in-person. With immense growth in technology over the past couple of decades,, IT Service Providers have been able to drastically enhance their speed of delivery by doing almost all their services remotely via the Internet. This opens up your search nationwide or even worldwide depending on your needs, so you are no longer limited to the providers based in your geographic region. Now you may be thinking, “If almost all services are done remotely, what about the rare times when I do need someone onsite?” Excellent IT Providers should have an answer for this challenge. For example, your remote provider may form relationships on your behalf with companies local to you who can serve as subcontractors and fill in those gaps when needed. It is also worth considering whether someone on staff at your company can fill these gaps; lots of companies with one or more IT staff of their own use co-managed IT services from a provider to supplement the services that their in-house team provides. 

While it is true that IT sometimes requires physical setup or other in-person tasks, you should not limit yourself to those providers local to you, because the right provider for you may be hundreds or even thousands of miles away. A provider with expertise in your industry (insurance agencies, nonprofits, etc) or that otherwise fits your company well is more likely to do an excellent job for you than one you choose just because they are in the same town.

 

Conclusion 

Selecting the right IT Service Provider is no easy task. Before you start comparing providers, you should first understand the most critical aspects you need to consider in your decision. My biggest piece of advice for you is to make sure and take the time to do your homework. Rushing through the decision may get it over faster but can have brutal consequences for your operations. Selecting the wrong IT provider can cause your business loss of productivity, added stress, and wasted money and resources. Take the time to get the complete picture by considering the pitfalls I’ve discussed here. 

If you are interested in learning more about Kite Technology’s IT and Consulting Services, please get in touch with us to schedule a conversation. We would welcome the opportunity to learn more about your business and how we might be able to help. 

Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

Chief Operating Officer
Kite Technology Group

Delivering Extraordinary Client Service

Delivering extraordinary client service is a truly noble pursuit and the cornerstone of every successful business. It is certainly more art than science, but I believe you can follow some simple principles to help you build a company with a legacy of providing your clients with an experience they will remember.  

Phase 1: Build the Foundation 

Before doing anything else, you need to build the foundation in your company that supports consistently delivering extraordinary client service. There are three essential steps in this building phase. 

Establish Core Values 

In my observations, most business outcomes can be traced back to a business’s core value. Customer service is perhaps the closest example of this rule. If you want your company to be known for delivering excellent client service, you need to cultivate this value as part of your team culture. Design your core values to act as the playbook that helps your team know what to focus on even if they forget the exact script, like actors in a play who forget their lines but fill in the blanks because they know the scene’s purpose. For core values to make a difference, they should become second nature and a defining part of your company culture. Then they will guide your team to demonstrate the behaviors your company finds most important.  

At KiteTech, we consistently remind each other that customer service is central to everything we do because “Deliver Extraordinary Client Service” is one of our company’s core values. 

Build a Customer-Focused Team  

Once you establish providing excellent customer service as one of your company’s core values, you are ready to build the team to bring it to life. For your core values to be effective, you need all team members to connect intimately with them. Not only will this ensure that your team builds the reputation you want, but when each of your team members holds the same core values, they will work better together, bring more energy to their work, and ultimately love their jobs more. Your employees will be happier, which will, in turn, show up and be evident in how they interact with your clients.  

Have you ever interviewed a candidate with excellent experience and hard skills but cannot shake the feeling that their people skills or regard for customer service don’t stack up? It can be gut-wrenching to pass over a highly qualified candidate, especially if your team is in dire need. Still, making tough personnel decisions like this is necessary if you want to build a team that focuses on delivering extraordinary client service. Most often, your clients will more easily forgive someone who doesn’t have an answer than someone who doesn’t treat them well.  

Develop Feedback Systems  

The final step of the foundation phase is more tangible: you need to provide your clients with opportunities to give you feedback. If you have built a culture around customer service, feedback systems invite your clients to grade your performance in that commitment. Examples of feedback systems are satisfaction surveys, net promoter scores, and online reviews. The best feedback systems strike the right balance between asking for input often enough that your clients feel you are always listening, but not too often that it becomes annoying. You should consider using internal and external methods for your company, which serve different purposes, and I will cover them in greater detail later.  

For example, each time a KiteTech help desk technician finishes helping a client with an issue, the client receives an email with a simple satisfaction survey. We purposely make it easy and simply ask them to rate their experience as positive, neutral, or negative. They also have the option to provide additional comments if they would like.  

Phase 2: Put it into Action 

Building customer service into your company’s foundation is the easy part of creating a culture that focuses on delivering extraordinary client service. It takes considerable hard work and intentional effort day in and day out to take what you’ve built and get your entire team to put it into practice. Let’s look at what’s involved in the action phase.  

Client-Focused Leadership  

If core values and a customer-focused team are the vehicles, then leadership focused on customer service is the gas. Even when your core values clearly define what’s important and you hire the right people, successful teams still need consistent reminders to stay aligned and focused on providing extraordinary client service. Many companies get hung up on feeling like they need to create catchy phrases or sophisticated team initiatives. However, the best way to keep the team centered on what’s important is to repeat it daily, even several times a day. Your leadership should absolutely obsess over giving these reminders and setting excellent examples for the team. This model set forth by leaders will permeate through the entire team. If you are going to expect extraordinary customer service from your team, you must first expect it from the leaders you appoint. If you say customer service is one of your most important values, your leaders must demonstrate it every single day in all that they do. Otherwise, the spirit of the team will deteriorate over time. Finally, leaders can reinforce a strong client focus by calling attention to good examples of it in action. Providing meaningful recognition and praise when team members deliver extraordinary client service goes a long way in affirming that individual and is an excellent example for the rest of the team. 

Set and Exceed Client Expectations  

Your clients have every right to expect that you will deliver on the promises you made them and will be able to effectively solve the problems that they’ve hired you to solve. But as much as you might try, no one is perfect. Early in my career, a mentor of mine always liked to say, “People just don’t like to be surprised.” It is critical to ensure that the expectations you are setting for your clients are clear and well within your ability to deliver.” 

Let me be clear: I am not advocating for intentionally setting rock-bottom expectations just to ensure you always meet them. In fact, if you are proficient in your job and consistently deliver high results, your clients will probably come to expect a lot from you. This is a good thing! But you need to persistently set expectations in each interaction, or else your clients may come with an expectation of their own. When this happens, you surrender your opportunity to control the experience and leave too much room for misunderstandings or missed expectations. The trick is to set an expectation high enough to instill confidence and allow you to do the job well, but with some breathing room so that you don’t have to backtrack. This should also allow you to often deliver more than you promise.  

Practice Transparency  

I indirectly touched on this concept when discussing setting expectations, but it is so crucial to excellent customer service that it is worthy of more emphasis. Just as your clients have the right to expect excellent work from you, they have the right to expect that you will be honest along the way. Remember this: being open and transparent should always outweigh trying to maintain a perfect image for your clients. If you make a mistake or run behind schedule, the best thing to do is come clean right away. While it may be a difficult conversation that comes with some disappointment, it helps set realistic expectations, avoid surprises, and develop trust. The alternative would be to hide the truth and hopefully go unnoticed (dangerous and deceitful), or worse yet, to outright lie (a despicable way to treat your clients).  

While transparency is vital, you must maintain a sense of accountability to deliver superior results. Practicing transparency is not an excuse to constantly fail your customers. Be humble enough to admit your mistakes and critical enough of yourself to ensure you continue to do good work that you can be proud of, and your customers will appreciate.  

Give Your Clients a Voice  

Building a system for your clients to give feedback makes a statement that you value their input. But this goodwill is quickly squandered if you don’t do something noticeable with the feedback you receive. Thank your clients when they provide you feedback, and most importantly, take action, and do it quickly. You should have one or more people responsible for reviewing all client feedback. When something needs attention, these individuals should be well equipped to either resolve the issues themselves or ensure they get the feedback into the right hands. The hardest part is that it is natural sometimes to feel defensive when receiving critical or constructive feedback. Making the best of critical feedback starts with a genuine commitment to constant improvement and requires the humility to accept criticism and be willing to learn from it.  

This does not mean that you need to take every single recommendation your customers make; that would not be realistic at all. You should, however, close the loop every time you get critical feedback by following up and at least setting the proper expectation. Done well, even if you don’t 100% satisfy every request your customers make, you at least show a strong effort to let them know that they were heard.  

It is also worth mentioning that a feedback loop is important in positive feedback as well. Hearing from your customers about what your team is doing well reinforces the value of the services that you provide and serves as powerful motivation for your team members to continue doing that good work. Nothing makes a stronger impact on a customer’s experience than when they feel like their voice is heard. Your feedback system is your prime opportunity to do just that.  

Conclusion

If your business serves clients, you owe it to them to deliver the very best experience possible with every interaction. If you don’t work with clients directly, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. The principles of customer service can easily be applied to internal peer-to-peer interactions or those with your vendors.  

Follow the steps laid out here to build the foundation of these principles in your business. They will set you up to deliver the best client experience possible. And keep in mind that the pursuit of delivering an extraordinary client service is never finished. It is something that you and your team should always be focusing on. 

I hope that this article can serve as inspiration for elevating the experience you offer your clients when they work with you. If you are interested in learning more about KiteTech’s other core values, take a look at Our Flight Plan to get a glimpse of what is important to us. You can also check out Our Client Experience page to see what our clients have to say about the services our team provides. and

Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

Chief Operating Officer
Kite Technology Group

6 Microsoft Outlook Features for a More Organized Inbox

Microsoft Outlook has been around for decades now, and in that time has established itself as the most widely used email application in the professional workplace. Anyone reading this article almost definitely either uses Outlook actively at their current job or has used it in some capacity in their career.

Outlook is great for sending, receiving, and organizing emails, and many people use Outlook for years with just these most basic functions, and it serves them well. However, there are a wealth of features in Outlook that can help you save valuable time by better organizing information and automating tasks.

In this article, we are going to review 6 Microsoft Outlook features that you can start using today to organize your inbox and be more productive. Though there are many more features that we could cover, these 6 provide a good starting point in using Outlook more effectively.

1. Categories

This first feature, aptly named “Categories”, allows you to classify messages in your Inbox and other folders into different categories.
When viewing emails in your Outlook list, you’ll notice on the Ribbon at the top of your screen, there is a Categorize button that looks like this.

(Note: You can also access this button if you right-click an email, as well as within a single email if you double-click it to open it in a new window).

By default, Outlook has several Categories already created, named for the colors associated with them. If these work for you, then great! But Outlook allows you to go deeper and customize the Categories. To do so, click on the “All Categories…” menu option.

On the screen that follows, you can click any Category you want, rename it, assign it a different color, and even assign a Shortcut Key, which allows you to quickly set a message to that Category by using the keyboard shortcut you choose from the list. You’ll also notice that you can create brand new categories from this same screen.

In my example, I renamed the Green Category to “Informational”, the Blue Category to “Technical Requests”, and I also created a brand new category called “Blog Articles”. I also assigned a different Shortcut Key to each of my categories so that when I am in my email list, I can quickly press this keyboard shortcut to categorize them accordingly.

Now, once we know how to set Categories, we also need to know how they can be used.

When you set a Category on an email, you’ll notice it appears at the top of the email directly under the Subject line.

If you want it to show up in your list view, go to the View tab on the main screen, click on View Settings, and click the button for “Columns…”.

Then, find Categories on the list on the left (Available Columns), and click the Add > button so it appears on the right (“Show these columns…”).

 

Your screen should look something like this.

Click OK to accept your changes, and when you get back to the list view, you’ll notice the colors corresponding to the Categories you choose will appear in your list of emails.

2. Follow-Up Flags

The next Microsoft Outlook feature called “Follow-Up Flags”, is another way to help stay organized by marking messages, particularly in the case where there is some action needed from you in response. You aren’t always able to answer every email or do every task immediately, so you can use Follow-Up Flags to keep track of when you need to respond. This way you can plan your days and make sure you don’t miss any follow-ups.

Like Categories, you can add a Follow-Up Flag either from the Ribbon under the Follow Up menu, or you can right-click the message and get to the same menu.

From there, you can choose either a preset flag, or you can choose a custom. For example, if I wanted to mark something that needs a follow up tomorrow, I would choose the Tomorrow flag.

When you add a Follow Up Flag to an email, it shows a yellow highlight in the list so that you can quickly visually identify it.

There are additional options you can access if you choose a Custom flag. As you see here, you can choose a Start date, Due date, and even set a Reminder at a certain date and time. These are all intended to help you keep a timeline and not miss any obligations.

The flag feature gets especially useful when you see how it integrates with Tasks in Outlook, which is accessed by clicking the Tasks icon  in the same row as the Mail, Calendar, and Contacts icons.

Every time you mark an email with a flag, it shows up in your Tasks list with the information you specified in the flag. As you process through your emails, if you add flags to the items that need follow ups, you can refer to this Task view for a running to-do list where you can check items off your list. In either the email list view or the Task view, if you click on the flag icon on a particular item, that item will be marked as Complete and will then no longer show on your active Task list.

3. Arrangements

The next feature, called Arrangements, is a View option that lets you show your list of emails under different organizational headers. To access Arrangements, go to the View tab in the Ribbon. There you will see the top of the list of available Arrangements, and if you click the expand arrow, you will see even more options.

By default, most Outlook clients are set to the “Date” Arrangement which lists emails chronologically by the date they were received, but you can choose any of these other options that might be useful to you like Categories and Flags which we’ve already discussed. The below screenshot shows my list under the Arrangement of “Categories”, and you’ll notice there is a different header for each of the Categories I’ve set. (The top of my list, which isn’t visible in the screenshot, displays all the messages that have no Category applied).

You can quickly switch between the different Arrangements and observe how they change your list to see what might be useful to you.

4. Searching

Another important and robust feature in Outlook is the Search function, which can be accessed from anywhere in Outlook on the very top Title bar. Once you click the Search box, another ribbon appears with many different options for refining different search criteria.


Again, you’ll notice options here for the first two topics discussed in this article: Categorized and Flagged. You can use this to quickly find messages with a particular Category or Flag applied, and you can also combine these criteria together for a more specific search. Maybe you want to find messages with a specific Category that you have Flagged for follow-up, like this message.

Another nice thing about the search function is that you can search inside a single folder, a set of folders, an entire mailbox, and even in all the mailboxes you have open in your whole Outlook. This way, no matter how you choose to sort your emails, you can quickly find all messages with your chosen criteria.


When you run searches, your criteria are saved and able to be recalled later, so you can click the “Recent Searches” button and choose a set of criteria you’ve used recently. This can be useful if need to do the same searches frequently.

There are many other options available in the Search ribbon, so I encourage you to be curious and try different things out.

5. Quick Actions

These last two features are designed to help you save time by eliminating clicks in your workflow, so it makes sense that they both have “Quick” in the name.


The first, called “Quick Actions”, are buttons that appear in your email list when you hover over emails, and offer a quick way to do certain things to your messages. By default, when you hover over a message, you will see a Delete button and a Flag button, like here:

You can use these Quick Actions buttons if you prefer, or you can change them by right-clicking an email and clicking “Set Quick Actions”.

This gives you a few other options to change one or both of the Quick Actions that display, or you can disable one or both of them entirely by choosing “None”. In my example, I chose to keep Delete as #1, but changed #2 to Move (moves message to another folder of my choice)

 

6. Quick Steps

Quick Steps are kind of like Quick Actions but accessed differently and offer many more options for automation. While Quick Actions perform a single action from the short list of available actions, Quick Steps can perform multiple actions of different kinds to the selected message.

From your list view, in the Ribbon you will find an entire section for Quick Steps. Start by clicking the expand arrow at the bottom-right of that section to bring up the Manage Quick Steps dialog box.

I use Quick Steps to quickly move emails to certain folders in my mailbox, so the only ones that appear for me in this screenshot are basic Move actions. To add a new Quick Step, you can click the New button, where you’ll see a list of preset options to get you started, or you can choose Custom to start from scratch.

To dive deeper into Quick Steps, I’ll demonstrate creating a more complex one with multiple steps.

Suppose my goal is to have a button that I can click that will do the following:
1. Apply the “Technical Requests” Category to the message.
2. Set an Importance level of “High”.
3. Create a new Meeting.
4. Move the message to the “Kite Tech” folder.

To start, I choose New > Custom to get a blank Quick Step. At the top, I name my Quick Step “Technical Requests”.
Then, one-by-one, I add the actions I want to take, and click the “Add Action” button each time to begin a new action.
For my first action, I choose a “Categorize message” action, followed by the appropriate Category.
My section action is “Set importance” with the option of “Importance: High”.
My third action is “New Meeting”. Here, there are a lot of options I can choose, like the meeting participants, subject, and location. In my case, I’ll leave all these blank so that each time I get a blank meeting request and can fill in whatever information I want.
And finally, my fourth action is a “Move to folder” action with the proper folder selected, called “Kite Tech”.

If I want, I can even assign a keyboard shortcut to activate the Quick Step, as well as a tooltip to provide a description of what the Quick Step does when the mouse hovers over it.

Once I click Save, the new Quick Step is available in the ribbon, and all I need to do is select one or more message that I want to apply it to, and either click the Quick Step, or press the assigned keyboard shortcut. All these steps would have taken me several clicks and concentrated effort, and by using a Quick Step I have made it effortless.

As a busy professional, it is likely that your inbox gets extremely busy, even overwhelming at times. If this describes you, then I hope you can use these Microsoft Outlook features to help you stay organized and keep your mailbox and busy schedule under control. Outlook is full of features that help with productivity, so as you become more comfortable with the features I discussed here, be curious and find others so that you can continue to learn and improve.

The team here at Kite Technology is passionate about helping users and organizations leverage technology to improve their productivity and operate more effectively. If you would like to learn more about how KiteTech’s Managed IT Services can help you boost your company’s performance, reach out to schedule a call! We look forward to learning more about your company’s needs and learn how we can help you meet your business objectives. 

Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

Chief Operating Officer
Kite Technology Group

Microsoft OneNote: 10 Tips to Level Up Your Notetaking

Play Video about Microsoft OneNote: 11 Tips to Level Up Your Notetaking

Microsoft OneNote, a notetaking application included in the Microsoft 365 suite of apps, has become an essential productivity tool for businesses today. However, many people have yet to take advantage of OneNote’s capabilities and potential value at work. 

As a digital notebook that you can access anywhere, anytime on multiple devices, OneNote can serve a vital role as you gather, organize, and share information needed for your daily work. As the name suggests, it is intended primarily for taking notes, but this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what you can accomplish with OneNote.

In this video and article, I’ll share 10 OneNote features and tips that you can use to help you improve the quality of your digital notetaking and maximize the value and productivity gains you get from this awesome Microsoft tool.

1. Organize Sections & Pages

OneNote files are organized like this: each OneNote file is called a Notebook, inside Notebooks are Sections, and underneath those Sections are Pages. You can open multiple Notebooks and quickly switch between them, so you are free to organize your notes however you see fit.

In the example here, my Notebook is called “Paddy’s Pub”, my Section is called “Personnel”, and my Pages are called “Dennis”, “Charlie”, “Mac”, and “Dee”.

After you decide how your Notes will be structured, there are additional features that you can use to further improve the organization of your Notebook. 

 

First, you can color-code your Sections by right clicking the Section tab and going to Section Color to choose a color. Maybe I want my HR-related stuff to be blue, my operational stuff to be red, and my sales stuff to be green.

Then, you can create sub-pages by right-clicking on a page and choosing Make Subpage.

You may want to do this to group related pages under a common master page, like in my example where I put certain employee-specific pages under that employee’s page.

2. Use Page Templates


OneNote includes several pre-built page templates you can use to introduce formatting to your pages for specific purposes. If you go to the Insert tab on the Ribbon, then click Page Templates, the Templates pane will appear on the right where you can see all the templates available. Click the one you want to try.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you select a template, a new page will be created in the current Section. Play around with different templates to see what is available and what might be useful for you.

Once you land on a template you want to use, you can rename the new page and move it wherever you want.Shown here is the template called “Detailed Meeting Notes”, which I renamed to June 2021 to help me run this month’s staff meeting.

3. Enable Rule Lines

By default, pages in OneNote are completely blank white. But have you ever tried to take notes on a blank white piece of printer paper? It’s much easier to stay organized with notebook paper that has horizontal rule lines, so you don’t end up slanting your writing.

To enable rule lines, go to the View tab on the Ribbon, and click Rule Lines. If you click the dropdown arrow, you will see other options, like wide-spaced and grid lines.

 

 

 

 

If you like using pages with rule lines, you can click the Rule Lines dropdown and select the option Always Create Pages with Rule Lines.

4. Use Docked Windows

Docked Windows is a feature that allows you to keep a certain OneNote page on your screen while you browse other content, like web sites. Go to the View tab on the Ribbon and click New Docked Window.

When you do this, you will notice the page you currently have active will appear on the right side of your screen, and everything else on your screen will be pushed to the left side. You can resize your docked page as you want, up to half of the screen. Then, you can move other windows in and out of the left side of the screen, and they will automatically size to the edge of the docked OneNote page. This is particularly helpful if you are working on taking notes that require research online, or in online meetings where you want to see the video feed while still being able to take notes.

5. Incorporate Outside Data

One of the features of Microsoft Office that has always been highly attractive is the ability to integrate files from its different programs so that they work together. OneNote is no different; you can include other kinds of files directly on your notes page in line with your text. Spreadsheets are particularly useful to include in notes pages because you can use Excel features like formulas and conditional formatting.

To include an Excel spreadsheet in your notes, go to the Insert tab on the Ribbon and click Spreadsheet. You can either choose an existing spreadsheet or create a new one. If you choose to insert an existing Spreadsheet, you will need to choose a Spreadsheet and then you will see the below dialog box, asking if you want to Attach File, Insert Spreadsheet, or Insert a Chart or Table. If you choose Attach File, it will create a copy of the spreadsheet and show that on your page so you can open and see it. If you choose one of the other options, the data will be pulled live from the existing Spreadsheet, so edits you make there will reflect in OneNote.

In this example, the bar uses a spreadsheet for inventory management where they can keep track of items they have in stock and Excel helps them calculate how much they will need to pay to restock.

6. Record Audio and Video

Sometimes you want to include more than just text or numbers. Among many other forms of multimedia, OneNote allows you to record audio and video files and include them on your notes page.

To record Audio or video, go to the Insert tab on the Ribbon, and youwill see the Record Audio and Record Video buttons. Click either to get started.

 

You will notice the Ribbon change to a Recording tab with other controls, and at this point your recording has started (assuming your microphone and/or camera are configured properly). You can pause and resume your recording, and when you are done you can click Stop and then play your recording to ensure you got it right.

On your notes page, the recording will show a timestamped icon that you can double-click and watch or listen. Below is an example of both video and audio.

7. Use Tags

Tagging is a feature in OneNote that lets you assign labels to your notes to classify certain kinds of information. In the Home tab of the Ribbon, you will see Tags has an entire section where there are several controls. I’ll just go over a few of the main ones.

  • To Do tags should be added to tasks that need to be completed, and when added a checkbox will appear to allow you to mark tasks as complete.
  • Important tags display a star next to the tagged data and should be used to draw attention to important items in the notes.
  • Question tags identify unanswered questions in the notes that may need input from others or additional research.

Simply position your cursor on the text you want to tag, then click the tag you want from the Tags dropdown. (Expand the dropdown menu to reveal many other tags).

Here is an example of a list of items that are classified using tags.

8. Share Your Notebook


Of course, you can’t have fun with Microsoft Office if you’re not sharing, so just like all the other apps in the suite, OneNote allows you to share with others inside or outside your organization. 

To share your notebook, go to the File menu (all the way left in the Ribbon) and click Share. You will be presented with the options to add people, decide what kind of permissions you want them to have, and decide how you want to share it. You can also access this menu by right-clicking on the name of your Notebook and clicking “Share this Notebook”.

When you share a notebook with others, OneNote keeps track of a history of changes and who makes them. In this example, you can see the initials of another editor in my company who added an announcement to our meeting notes.

What’s more, if you go to the History tab in the Ribbon, you can click on Recent Edits and choose a time frame to see a timeline of changes on the right side of the screen. Choose the Sort by Author option in the dropdown and you can see changes broken out by who made the change.

9. Password Protect Your Notes

Let’s say you want to share a notebook with a team of people, but there is private information you want to keep in the notebook for convenience but not open it up to the entire team. In this case, you can password protect one or more Sections in your Notebook.

To make this happen, while inside the Section you want to protect, go to the Review tab in the Ribbon and click Password. You can also right-click the Section name and click Password Protect This Section…

Then click Set Password in the right pane and choose a password. After that, anyone who accesses that Section will need the password to access it. (Keep in mind, this includes you, so if you’d rather not need to enter this password, you should keep sensitive information elsewhere).

If you click on the Password Options link at the bottom of the right pane, you will be brought to the Advanced OneNote Options, where you can scroll down and edit some of the behavior of password protected sections.

10. Export Your Notes

Finally, when you are finished building a Notebook, or perhaps have gotten it to a point where you want to publish it and/or share it with a larger audience, you can export your notes to a few different formats. To do so, go to the File menu and click Export. Here you will see that you can export a Page, a Section, or the entire Notebook, and the formats you can use are listed on the right.

Most often, you will probably want to export to a PDF document, so it is in a published, non-editable format. This gives some permanence and presentation to your notes. In some cases, you may choose to export to a Word document (.docx) if you think the recipient will want to continue editing the notes in Microsoft Word.

Choose your settings and click Export, and all you will need to do then is choose a location and file name.

While getting the hang of some of these features may take some practice, once mastered they can really make a difference in your ability to more effectively capture and synthesize the information you need.

 

As you can see, OneNote is more of an Information Organization tool than a simple note-taking app. There are so many ways that you can use OneNote to improve your productivity and the way you collaborate with your team. The tips I shared today are just a few of the many game-changing features OneNote has to offer.

To learn more about how Kite Technology can help you leverage everything Microsoft 365 has to offer, please reach out to us to schedule a conversation. We would love to learn more about your organization and discuss your business technology needs.

Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

Chief Operating Officer
Kite Technology Group

Strategies for Leading Your Remote Team

For most businesses, the year 2022 marks almost two full years of operating remotely in at least some capacity. Some leaders couldn’t wait to open their offices again, while others embraced the new trend and still run their businesses entirely remotely today. Whether your team members work remotely all the time or just occasionally, it is important to recognize that leading a remote workforce requires intentional effort to keep your team highly engaged and productive.

For the past two years, our entire team at KiteTech has been working almost entirely remotely while also helping most of our clients across the country make the transition to remote work as well. As a result, we have learned a lot about what it takes to lead a remote workforce effectively. Below are four strategies that you can leverage to help you lead your remote team to its maximum potential. 

Invest in technology.

It sounds like a pointed statement for me, a leader at an IT Services company, to start with the importance of technology. But it is not an exaggeration to say that our team and our customers’ teams would have collapsed without the proper technology in place. Now more than ever before, it is vital to your organization’s success to have the technology infrastructure in place that supports your business objectives and empowers your users to do great work no matter where they are working.

A few categories of technology to consider that will make or break your remote team’s effectiveness are: 

  • Personal Workstations: This most basic need includes all the hardware equipment your staff will use to do their work, such as a sufficient computer, multiple monitors, phone, headset, and webcam. We share additional home office recommendations in this recent post.
  • Collaboration Software: Your team needs a place to meet and collaborate. There are many, but we love Microsoft Teams because it integrates well with other pieces of Microsoft’s complete productivity suite like SharePoint. 
  • Cloud-based Work Management Platform: Your company may already use a line-of-business application to store your customer records and track your work activities. Hopefully the application you use is accessible remotely because this will be an essential tool in driving accountability to keep your team productive from afar. 

Emphasize your company's values and mission.

Have you ever walked through the front door of a corporate office and seen a plaque on the wall stating the company’s values? Often, these plaques are mounted to every office and cubicle wall throughout the building as well. Organizations do this to constantly remind their employees and customers alike what the company stands for. Additionally, leadership consistently talks about their company values to help drive the point home even more. 

The challenge with a remote team is that you are not in charge of everyone’s home interior design, and you don’t have the luxury of having everyone in earshot of you all day. With a remote team, you have to be creative about other ways to drive your company’s values and mission to your people. At KiteTech, we created small calendar-like flip boards that our employees can put on their desks to remind them of our core values. You can also brand your digital space by adding your values and mission statement in places like desktop backgrounds, screensavers, intranet home pages, and email signatures. Think of as many places as possible to sprinkle these reminders, and it will be hard for your people to forget. 

It is also helpful to be intentional about mentioning your values in as many conversations as possible, especially team- or company-wide meetings. In a remote workplace, you may only have your team’s attention for a few minutes, so take advantage of all the opportunities you can get. If your people have not gotten sick of hearing you talk about your values, then you have probably not talked about them enough. 

Create time for employee touchpoints.

Every team should have regular team-wide meetings no less than once a week. We found that we needed a much more frequent rhythm in a few cases now that we are all working remotely, so some of our teams meet for a brief huddle once or even twice a day. If you are leading a team, consider implementing daily huddles to keep your people connected and rowing in the same direction. 

But this is just the start. As a leader or manager, you need to stay connected to your people in more ways than just the regular mandatory meetings. Be intentional about getting time with each of your people individually or in small groups throughout the week, outside the context of a typical meeting. If your work doesn’t naturally facilitate these informal touchpoints, you need to be extra-intentional about creating them yourself. Keep a mental note of when you last talked to each person on your team, and when it feels like too long ago, give them a spontaneous call just to check-in. People feel more supported and more engaged when they get these frequent touchpoints, and without them, they can feel isolated.

Build quality reporting.

With an in-person team, some managers feel satisfied just from seeing their team busy. Is everyone on the phone? Is anyone congregating by the water cooler? Is anyone missing from their desk or the office? When everyone is working from home, it creates obvious challenges in managing a team simply by looking or listening. 

The fortunate truth is that you really don’t need to see or hear your people to know they are doing a good job. In fact, even if your team is in-person, you should not settle for “look and listen” leadership; don’t mistake activity for results. Instead, you need to create reporting systems that tell you the entire story. 

Start with your team’s goals and then consider ways you can measure and report on results. For example, when our help desk technicians work with our customers over the phone, it is not enough for us to simply know that our technicians are on the phone; we also need to know if they deliver extraordinary service. To get this, we implemented a customer feedback system that allows our customers to grade their experiences, and the results are then reported to our team. This measure is immensely more valuable than just looking at a given moment and making sure our people are busy. Other examples of measurements we get from our reporting are phone hold times, ticket response and resolution times, and the number of issues solved. 

We use some reporting tools that are proprietary to our industry. Look into whether there are any industry-approved solutions for your line of business. Power BI by Microsoft is a data visualization tool that can be customized to create solutions for any industry. 

Although leading a remote workforce may feel more challenging, it doesn’t have to be. While it does require you to be more creative and intentional in your leadership and management approach, with the right strategies and tools in place, you’ll discover that remote teams can be just as, if not more effective than in-office teams. 

Here at KiteTech, we take pride in providing IT services and technology solutions that help the organizations we work with operate more effectively, whether they are in the office or working remotely. Over the last few years, we have helped thousands of users across the United States seamlessly transition to remote work. To learn more, please reach out and schedule a conversation. We are here to help!

Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

Chief Operating Officer
Kite Technology Group

Resolutions for Leading Your Team Better in 2022

Leadership is no easy task and requires considerable ongoing effort to get it right. With 2022 on the horizon, now is the time to identify how you will be intentional in your leadership growth next year. Here are some simple yet powerful suggestions to help you become a more effective leader. 

Lean into difficult conversations. 

When we are faced with a difficult conversation that we expect will be uncomfortable, it is natural to want to avoid it for as long as possible, hoping that it will go away or somehow resolve itself. When we do this, we run the risk of never actually solving the problem (in fact, it will probably get worse), and we also dread the conversation in the meantime. 

This year, embrace the discomfort and have these conversations right away. You will find that issues will be resolved more quickly, and you will avoid the stressful anticipation of a conversation that probably won’t be as bad as you think. 

Focus on the little things (make it personal). 

The big things in business like strategy, staffing, training, sales, and performance are crucial. These are what enable our businesses to thrive. However, while the big things are vital, people remember the little things. For example, something as simple as inviting a different team member to lunch every week or saying some words of recognition at a team meeting for a job well done. 

I would challenge you to go even further by adding a personal touch whenever possible. People find it especially thoughtful when you do something for them that is clearly tailor-made just for them. Rather than giving someone a generic gift card, pay attention to their interests or hobbies and give gifts that solve a problem or enrich their life.

Adding a personal touch isn’t limited to just gifts; the key is to show you care. It doesn’t cost anything to tell someone that you hope they enjoy their upcoming trip and make recommendations or ask a team member how their child’s team did in the big game over the weekend. These are no-cost ways to connect with and energize your team in a big way. 

Give trust a chance. 

I don’t just mean trusting that someone will do something that they say they will do. On our team, trust means an open flow of communication without fear of unreasonable repercussions, belittling, or exclusion. Without trust, people may feel they need to bend or hide the truth to protect themselves or their peers. Some team members may hold back great ideas for fear of judgment. 

It may seem soft but give it a chance. I will not pretend that managers don’t sometimes need to be tough, but these qualities don’t need to be mutually exclusive; in fact, being direct is much more effective when there is already a foundation of trust in the relationship. The key to building trust is first demonstrating that you care for each of your team members. Then, make sure that they understand that you are committed to helping them reach their goals and that you believe they are an important part of that team effort. This way, if problems arise later, your team will trust that you truly do have their best interest at heart. 

Ask for criticism. 

If you consider yourself a great leader, but your team does not, are you really a great leader? Even if your team does consider you a great leader, don’t you owe it to them to become even better? The best way to do this is what is also the most uncomfortable way for many leaders – ask your team for criticism and humbly accept their response. Notice I did not say ask your team for feedback. What if the only feedback they give you is positive because that’s all they think you want to hear? If you want honest critical feedback from your team, you need to be crystal clear that you’ll take positive feedback, but what you’re really after is constructive feedback, the stuff you can act on. 

It isn’t enough to ask just once – you will need to ask repeatedly for the rest of your career as a leader. After your team gets used to being asked and finds that they can answer without fear of danger (this requires trust), then you will start to get really great feedback that opens your eyes to improvements you can make that you may never have known about otherwise. 

Have more fun. 

You are entitled to have fun at what you do. After all, you spend most of your waking time doing it! If you are not having fun with your job, and specifically with the team you are leading, this is the year to ask yourself what you need to do to make it so. Leaders have more energy and a better attitude when they are enjoying themselves, and teams with energetic leaders tend to perform better. 

If you are already having plenty of fun, you are not off the hook yet! Is your team having fun too? If your answer is no, you should make it your mission to help them find ways to better enjoy their work. Chances are that if you do this, you will get better results as a team. 

Every team is different, but I am confident that these practices can help you become a better leader and vastly improve your company culture. If you already practice some or all of them, that’s great! If not, I hope that you’ll accept the challenge to begin working these practices into your leadership style in the new year. 

Here at KiteTech, we are passionate about developing leaders and a team culture that thrives no matter the circumstances we face. One way we do this is by keeping our core values at the forefront of everything we do. We call them Our Flight Plan, and they guide our day-to-day interactions internally and with our clients. As a team, we are also committed to taking advantage of the many resources available to help us grow and improve our leadership skills. Below are some great books that have inspired me to lead my team differently in the ways mentioned above.

Lean into difficult conversations: Crucial Conversations – Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Second Edition: Patterson, Kerry, Grenny, Joseph, McMillan, Ron, Switzler, Al: 8580001040288: Amazon.com: Books

Focus on the little things: Tiny Noticeable Things – Amazon.com: Tiny Noticeable Things: The Secret Weapon to Making a Difference in Business (Audible Audio Edition): Adrian Webster, Liam Gerrard, Gildan Media: Books

Give trust a chance: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable: Lencioni, Patrick: 0352713295663: Amazon.com: Books

Have fun: The Humor Advantage – Amazon.com: The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank eBook : Kerr, Michael: Kindle Store

Ask for criticism: Thanks for the Feedback – Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well: Stone, Douglas, Heen, Sheila: 9780143127130: Amazon.com: Books

Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

Chief Operating Officer
Kite Technology Group

Best Microsoft Edge Productivity Features

Close your eyes and think back to the early 2000’s. What was your web browser of choice?

According to major sources, if you browsed the web in the early 2000’s, there was a 75% chance you were using Microsoft Internet Explorer. The next decade would dethrone Microsoft as other browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari reduced Internet Explorer’s market share to less than 10%.

Microsoft needed to act – and fast!

In 2015 Microsoft introduced a new browser called Edge, which they hoped would help them earn back their spot at the top. This move was a clear indication that Internet Explorer did not have much of a future; Edge is the new future.

Luckily, Microsoft learned from their mistakes, and virtually everyone agrees that Edge is a huge improvement over Internet Explorer. This proves true in many aspects, such as better performance, enhanced security, and wider website compatibility.

But perhaps the most noteworthy improvement is the added productivity features now available in Microsoft Edge. By using just two of these new features which I will describe, I am confident that you can improve your workflows so you can get more done in less time with fewer headaches.

Vertical Tabs

The first feature is called Vertical Tabs. The term “tab” in web browsers, which has been around for a long time now, simply refers to an open web page; we can use multiple tabs to open several different web pages and keep them inside a single window.

Vertical Tabs is a new mode in Microsoft Edge that you can toggle on or off, and it offers a highly organized view of all the tabs you have open in Edge at any given time. You can even group tabs together into a “Tab Group”, which helps you keep related tabs under a common header. 

In my example, I have created three Tab Groups because my pages fit well into three distinct categories: Microsoft, KiteTech, and Microsoft Edge Article. You can collapse a Tab Group to hide its pages if you aren’t actively using them, like I did with KiteTech in my example.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To enable vertical tabs, click on the icon in the top-left corner of the window and then click “Turn on vertical tabs”.

Collections

The second feature, called “Collections”, adds a unique way of organizing not only web pages, but also other media like images and notes. A Collection is almost like a scrapbook for your ideas. You can combine all the different kinds of pieces that make up your idea and store them in Microsoft Edge where you can continue working on it.

Take this article for example. To write it, I needed a few things: a guide to help me remember my purpose for writing and target audience; a few general requirements to keep in mind; several web pages for research; and of course, the article document itself. Rather than try to keep all this information on a place like my desktop (or worse, inside my head), I added all the relevant content into a Collection which I titled “Microsoft Edge Article”. I did not write this entire article in one sitting, so my Collection helped me pick up right where I left off when I came back to my computer and opened Microsoft Edge. When I am done, I may delete that collection, but it surely is serving me well now while I am still working on it.

 

 

To access Collections, click the 3 dots menu  in the top-right and click on Collections. You can also choose to right-click on the Collections option and choose “Show in toolbar” to keep it visible in your Edge window at all times (see screenshot to the right).

 

Finally, while each of these features offers massive value on its own, I am particularly fond of how they combine to help you work better.

If you are browsing the web and opening several related web pages, you can click the Vertical Tabs menu and choose “Add all tabs to Collections”. This will create a new Collection containing all open web pages, and from there you can continue to fill that Collection with other related materials.

 

 

After you fill a Collection with web pages, you can right-click that Collection and choose “Open all”, and all the web pages in that Collection open under a Tab Group. Again, this may be useful if a project will take multiple sittings; by combining related web pages, you can easily continue right where you left off.

 

To tell the truth, the research that went into writing this article has even opened my eyes to some functionality I didn’t know existed in Microsoft Edge. I am hopeful that you will be able to include some of these techniques in your workflows and improve your productivity.

To learn more about KiteTech’s Managed IT and Consulting Services, please don’t hesitate to reach out and schedule a conversation. We’d love the opportunity to get to know you and your business and discover how we can help you meet your technology needs. 

Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

Chief Operating Officer
Kite Technology Group

8 Benefits of Outsourcing your IT Support

Have you considered using outsourced IT support for your business?

There is no question that having high-quality IT support gives your business tremendous advantages. Technology touches almost every facet of your organization. As such, you should take every measure possible to ensure that your systems work smoothly, securely, and continually. The key to running superior IT systems is to employ a highly skilled team that is well-aligned with your company’s unique business objectives.  

But should you do this on your own, or should you rely on the help of an outside source? 

In any case, there are several advantages to partnering with an outside firm that specializes in IT strategy and support (commonly known as Managed Service Providers). If you don’t employ IT staff of your own, you can outsource it entirely. Still, if you do have your own IT, you can find a Managed Service Provider to partner with your in-house IT to give your team the best support possible. Whichever path you choose, you can reap the benefits of using outsourced IT 

In this article, we’ll cover 8 of the main benefits your business can gain by outsourcing your IT support to a Managed IT Service Provider.  

8 Benefits of Outsourced IT Support

1. Increased Expertise and Resources

Probably the most immediate and valuable benefit of using outsourced IT is the sheer concentration of talent your business can access. IT firms continually recruit highly talented engineers to build teamwho work well together to deliver excellence to their customersWhen working with an IT provider, your organization will benefit from the expertise of an entire team of technology professionals. Not having the responsibility of hiring additional IT staff also frees up resources that you can now use for filling other positions in your company. 

2. Round-the-Clock Monitoring

A good Managed IT Service Provider deploys systems to their customers to constantly monitor for problems and automatically remediate any issues found. This automation can prevent many issues that would otherwise disrupt your employees and hinder productivity. You can think of these monitoring systems as an employee who works 24/7 at no extra cost! 

3. Faster Response Time

Some problems just can’t be avoided. When something goes wrong, or if one of your employees has a question and simply wants to talk to a person, it is crucial to have an excellent Help Desk at the ready. With only one or two technicians in-house, you may find that the demand for help quickly overgrows the size of your team. With a larger help desk support team in an outsourced firm, you can have more immediate access to the help you need. 

4. A More Focused In-House Technology Team

Maybe you want your in-house IT team to focus more on another area of your business, such as customer service systems or strategic planning. By supplementing your internal team with a Managed Service Provider, you can free up your team to spend time in other areas where they are more productive or providing more value to your company.  

5. Scalable IT Services with Predictable Costs

As you grow your company, your need for IT support grows with it. With an in-house IT team, how do you know when it is time to hire? When you do hire, are you prepared to perhaps double your IT expenditure overnight? With an outsourced firm, your provider does the hiring, so you should never have to worry about your company outgrowing your IT team. Furthermore, you won’t bear the entire cost of an additional employee all at once, allowing you to spend on resources elsewhere. While your IT costs may increase over time as your business grows, the increase is gradual and more predictable.

6. More Easily Leverage New Technology

Managed Service Providers typically stay tuned to the latest knowledge of modern technologies. This can enable you to adopt new technology quickly and confidently. If you want your team to be cutting-edge, using the most effective productivity and customer service tools and techniques out there, you can benefit from the help of an outsourced IT firm. They can help deploy the systems and train your employees to get the most value from them. 

7. Increased Security and Compliance

In a world where cybercrime is rising and compliance regulations are getting stricter, it is vital to enlist expert help in securing your company’s dataWith the right IT partner, you can ensure that your team is well-equipped to keep your systems in compliance and as secure as possibleAdditionally, you can respond quickly to new dangers by working with an accredited IT provider who knows the current threat landscape. One of the most respected accreditationof security is the CompTIA Security Trustmark+.

8. Focus on Core Business

Finally, offloading some or all of your IT support to an outside firm allows you and your team to focus more on your core business. Spending less time worrying about technology issues means that you have more time to focus on doing what you love – providing your customers with excellent service and growing your business. 

Choosing the Right Technology Partner for Outsourcing your IT Support

If the idea of outsourcing all or part of your IT support intrigues you, your next step is to find the provider who is right for you. Look for an expert with proven success in your industry and whose values align with yours. At KiteTech, we strive to be the Premier Trusted Technology Partner for independent insurance agencies, nonprofits, legal and medical practices, and other professional organizations. If you’d like to learn more about our services, please reach out to us to schedule a conversation. We are here to help!

Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

Chief Operating Officer
Kite Technology Group

The Latest Microsoft Teams Features to Try

When the pandemic hit, a few things became instantly clear: our commutes will be almost non-existent; stocking up on toilet paper is a priority; and, of course, we were all going to have to learn to use one or more of the tools for remote meetings. For many of you (as well as KiteTech), that tool was Microsoft Teams.

As the world’s workforce rapidly embraced Teams, Microsoft started investing heavily in bringing improvements and new features to the Teams experience to help its users work smarter and more efficiently. Now that your work depends on Microsoft Teams, it is essential that you stay current with all the new additions to Teams as Microsoft releases them.

Arguably the best resource for staying knowledgeable about the new features in Teams is the “What’s New in Microsoft Teams” monthly newsletter on the Microsoft Teams Blog website. Each month, an article is released in a standard format outlining all the new features and updates from that month and includes detailed descriptions of each change.

Below are some notable improvements made to Microsoft Teams over the past several months.

Dynamic View (May)

This feature makes elements in a meeting move and resize automatically to optimize the viewing experience. For example, when certain participants in the meeting are having a conversation while someone is presenting, their faces may appear larger alongside the content being presented.

Attendance Dashboard (June)

A new tab in meetings that will report all attendees as well as the time they join, the time they leave, and the total time they spent in the meeting.

Spotlighting (June)

When you spotlight a meeting participant, their face shows as the most prominent element of the meeting until they are removed from the spotlight. Now, you can spotlight multiple participants at the same time.

Chat Bubbles (June)

You can now allow meeting chats to show in the form of chat bubbles above the content of the meeting. This allows for quick viewing of chat messages without the need to open the chat pane.

Lock Meeting (July)

Meeting organizers can now lock a meeting in progress, which prevents any further participants from joining the meeting.

Automatic Recording (July)

We have had the ability to record entire meetings and automatically store them in the cloud for quite some time. With this update, we can configure meetings to record, so we don’t need to remember to automatically press the record button at the start of the meeting.

Transfer Calls Between Desktop and Mobile (July)

For those who use Teams on their computers and mobile devices, sometimes the need arises to switch from one to the other. Now, we can transfer calls in progress between a desktop and mobile device without the call disconnecting.

New Presenter Modes (August)

When presenting content in Teams, you can choose different presenter modes that control where the content you present appears and where your video feed is shown. There are now two additional modes to choose from: Reporter Mode and Side-by-Side Mode.

Live Transcription and Captions (August)

This accessibility feature lets you display live captions to your meeting, translating the participant’s spoken word to text displayed at the bottom of the screen. (Learn more about Live Captions and Live Transcription).

Present Directly from PowerPoint (September)

There is now a button conveniently located in the PowerPoint ribbon which allows you to share your presentation directly through Teams.

CarPlay Support for Meetings (September)

If you drive a vehicle that uses Apple CarPlay, you can now join meetings and use some basic controls, similar to how you already use hands-free calling while driving.

The availability of these new features can depend on software updates and configuration policies. If you are interested in any of these features but cannot find them in Teams, ask your IT Provider to help you take advantage of them.

The updates presented above and many more are discussed in detail in the articles below. You can access the Microsoft Teams Blog regularly at the end of each month to make sure that you don’t ever miss a feature! 

If your organization is looking for help with adopting Microsoft Teams or other Microsoft solutions, please reach out and schedule a conversation with our Technical Consulting division. We would love the opportunity to learn more about your organization and help you accomplish your business objectives.

Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

Chief Operating Officer

adam atwell

Adam Atwell

Cloud solutions architect

Adam is passionate about consulting with organizations across the country to help them develop and execute a cloud adoption strategy that meets their business needs and future objectives. Adam oversees and manages our company strategy for Microsoft 365 adoption and is responsible for future growth and development inside Microsoft 365 and other cloud technologies.