Collaboration in Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 might look like Microsoft Office, but it has many other features that allow you to make your documents and services more accessible and collaborative than the standard desktop application would. This week’s tip is dedicated to helping you get the most out of the features of Office 365–particularly in regard to Microsoft Word.

Anywhere Access

Unlike the traditional way of doing business, today’s workers aren’t going to be chained to their desks in the workplace. They can instead work from multiple locations on myriad devices. OneDrive is perfect for this purpose, as it lets you pull up just about any document in your Drive on another device. Just check your recent history and you should be able to access it on any device.

Putting In Your Two Cents

Collaboration depends on brainstorming and feedback in order for it to be an effective tool to create new ideas and opportunities. Thanks to Office 365, your team can work together on all kinds of documents. You can add comments, share insights, and even annotate sections as needed.

Inviting Collaborators

Word 2016 makes it easy to add collaborators to a document. Through the use of OneDrive, you can share access with anyone who you anticipate accessing the file’s location. This is all done through Microsoft People. You’ll have the option to share a document via email in a variety of ways, as well as share who can edit or access it.

Microsoft Office 365 was created with the intention of working together, so be sure to take advantage of these features!

Enhancements Made to Google Maps

Google Maps is a great service that helps users navigate during their travels and more upgrades are being released all the time to augment their experiences. Some of the most recent updates have provided additional functionality that can provide users with even more ways to use Google Maps–particularly in regard to actually making it to their destination on time and in style.

Arriving On Time

The Commute tab in Google Maps can show the user information about their preferred route, and it can even update itself if any disruptions occur during the travel time. Google Maps can then show other routes free of disruptions that might be helpful for the user. All these features combine to give the user the best experience possible when trying to stay true to a timetable.

Assuming you have two possible routes to your destination–one going through an urban area and another going around the outside–Google Maps could suggest which option is the most efficient based on data collected. If the city traffic is locked up, or if there is an accident, it can indicate which path would be better for your needs.

If public transportation is more your thing, Google has included an occupancy for trains and buses in some regions, including updates for the routes. If you want to grab something quick to eat before getting on the train, Google Maps can tell you if there is enough time to do so.

Music Makes a Commute Better

Google Maps also has built-in support for popular music services like Spotify, Google Play Music, and Apple Music. This lets users improve the quality of their commute without jumping between apps.

Benefits of Managed Services and Remote Monitoring & Maintenance (RMM)

Technology doesn’t last forever; there will come a time when it needs to be serviced in order to keep up with your business’ expectations. You can approach this in two different ways. The first way is the traditional break/fix model, which just asks you to address problems when your device breaks. In this case, you just use it until it doesn’t work the way you want it to. While this approach works at first glance, its high cost compared to the other alternatives due to the immense amount of productivity wasted and maintenance fees associated with fixing broken technology solutions.

The better option is managed IT services utilizing a remote monitoring system. This allows for a preventative system that can address issues with a network before they disrupt your organization’s operations. Since you’re preventing issues from becoming major problems, you’re cutting out unexpected fees in exchange for a much more predictable monthly rate.

How RMM Helps Businesses

Remote monitoring and maintenance is what enables managed IT services to exist in its current form. The premise of managed IT is that the managed service provider is the one responsible for the management and upkeep of your network. RMM allows this to happen without an on-site visit, allowing for less travel time (waiting time in your case) and fewer disruptions in the office. This translates to many benefits for your business, including:

  • Less wasted time: Since you’re not losing productivity due to issues as frequently with RMM, you can keep in-house disruptions–a visit from us included–from creating wasted time for your workers.
  • Faster resolution: If you cut out the costs of travel and the time involved with doing so, you’ll find that issues can be resolved much faster, allowing you and your employees to stay on task.
  • Streamlined maintenance: The best problems to have are the ones that can be resolved without knowing that they’ve even surfaced. This is the main draw of RMM–potential issues can be resolved before they become a problem in the first place, meaning that you’ll experience less downtime overall.

Kite Technology can help your business get started with RMM solutions and MSP services. To learn more, reach out to us at 855-290-KITE.

My Computer Is Slow. What Do I Do?

There is a special kind of frustration that comes from a slow computer. We think it’s a combination of being unable to get something done combined with your computer’s inability to take a hint and register your frustration as you furiously click your mouse. Either way, slow computers are annoying. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to speed things up before you consider throwing it out a window.

Have You Tried Turning it Off and Then On?

This age-old proverb might seem a little overused, but it’s easy to forget that sometimes a quick reboot can actually solve a lot of issues. About a decade or so ago, it was common for PCs to start showing signs of instability and slowness after 1-to-3 days of continuous use without a reboot. These days, software is much more efficient and hardware is much more powerful, so users don’t start seeing this for days or even weeks. We’re generalizing a little bit here, but modern PCs tend to be more stable and can typically go longer between reboots. If you are noticing degraded performance on your desktop or laptop, your first step should be to save your files and click or tap on the Windows Key, click the Power Icon, and select Restart.

Determine What is Actually Slow

If restarting your computer doesn’t do the trick, it’s going to be important to try to identify what is slow. Sometimes if you can narrow down the issue, it can help reduce your options. Here are some things to check for:

  • One or two particular programs are slow, but generally, everything else feels normal, indicating something wrong with those programs.
  • Clicking between web pages on the Internet is slow, and content is slow to load, indicating that either the Internet connection is slow, or your web browser needs it’s cache cleared.
  • Things slow down as soon as you start looking at or working on files on your network, indicating it might be network related.
  • The PC slows to a crawl at a certain time of day, maybe indicating that a virus scan or some other resource-intensive task is happening.

Run a Scan With Your Antivirus

If you can’t identify a specific issue above, it might mean your computer is infected. Viruses and malware can utilize a lot of system resources, not to mention cause plenty of other issues. Open your antivirus, make sure that updates have been ran recently, and perform a scan. You might need to let your computer do this overnight, as the scan may slow things down more while it’s happening.

It’s important to run regular scans and keep your antivirus updated. For businesses, you’ll want to make sure you have a centrally managed antivirus designed for businesses of your size, and that antivirus should be properly maintained so it’s always up-to-date and running regularly.

Close Programs Running in the Background

If your computer is still slow, then it’s time to do some digging. There may be services or applications running in the background that are chewing up a lot of system resources. You can check this by looking at the Task Manager.

To do so, right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager or press Ctrl+Shift+Escape to bring it up. Make sure you are on the Processes tab.

You’ll see a few columns labeled CPU, Memory, Disk, and Network, with various percentages.The percentages will tell you how actively utilized that part of your computer is. It’s pretty common for Disk and Network to be at zero percent or close to zero percent unless you are actively doing something like saving or rendering files. Your Memory column will have a percentage in it and it should generally be pretty stable until you open and close applications, and CPU tends to jump around a lot.

If any of these percentages are consistently high, it means your computer is straining to function. If your CPU or Memory is constantly at 90% or higher, that tells us that something is chewing up those resources. You can sort the columns to determine what application is the culprit. Right-clicking the app and selecting End Task will close that application. Keep in mind, you’ll want to save any work you were in the middle of, because ending the task might not prompt you to save.

It’s also very important to remember that some applications are critical to your computer performing properly. For example, if you end your antivirus, you might not be protected from threats. It’s best to consult with IT with anything you aren’t sure about. If there are applications constantly chewing up resources that don’t need to be running, they can be uninstalled to prevent them from coming back.

Upgrade the Hardware

It’s possible that your computer simply isn’t powerful enough to do the work that you want it to do. If it’s an older computer from the Windows 7 or early Windows 8 era, and it’s not running Windows 10, that might be the case. Computers do tend to last longer than they did several years ago, but as time goes on, newer software and operating systems start to demand more computing resources.

Fortunately, there are some fairly low-cost ways to upgrade a PC, depending on how old it is and it’s form factor. Laptops and smaller, thinner desktops may be a little more challenging to upgrade, but there is one trick you can almost always count on.

Switch to an SSD

A solid state drive is a type of hard drive that doesn’t utilize mechanical parts. These drives tend to be faster, more energy efficient, they run cooler, and are less prone to failures. The price for an SSD has decreased dramatically over the last few years, and for most users, it will only set you back one or two hundred dollars depending on what you need.

You won’t find affordable options for high-capacity drives, so if you need to store several terabytes of information, you can expect the price to be much higher than a standard mechanical drive.

Keep in mind, swapping out your hard drive will require some work, as you’ll need to migrate the data from your old drive over to the new one, so that’s something you’ll want IT to handle for you.

New Communications Solutions to Move Your Business Forward

As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to keep an eye on how your staff communicates. Email and telephone have long been staples in this regard, and these solutions come packed with features like file storage and instant messaging. With more organizations taking their businesses on the go, these businesses are trying to take advantage of applications with the ability to integrate with their real-time messaging apps. Enter: Slack and Microsoft Teams, two solutions that hope to change the way business communications work.

What is Slack?

SLACK is an acronym for “Searchable Log of All Conversations and Knowledge.” It takes all of the great features of enterprise email solutions and combines it with an instant messaging program for a single comprehensive interface. This type of combined solution is great for making communication much more efficient and manageable. Slack is hosted in the cloud, so it is available on any device that can access it, as well as drag-and-drop file sharing.

The bottom line is that Slack is used for collaboration amongst your employees. A user can set up a chat feed (think forums) determined by their responsibilities within your organization, complete with custom notification settings for each chat they are involved with. This gives a single worker a custom interface for each of their roles, allowing them to be productive on multiple fronts. Project management is also a major part of using Slack, as each project can have its own feed. Individual departments can be equipped to work on individual parts of each project, streamlining processes considerably.

Perhaps the biggest part of what makes Slack so effective for productivity is the countless productivity apps that Slack can work with. It can connect with Google Hangouts, Google Drive, Twitter, Asana, WordPress, Mailchimp, and so much more. Slack can give your organization the ability to work faster than you’ve ever imagined. Slack can be used for free, but an enterprise edition is also available for a small cost per user.

What About Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams is a chat and collaboration platform that can help your organization streamline communications and project fulfillment. Compared to Slack, Microsoft already has a major foothold in the business productivity environment with their Microsoft Office 365 offering. Teams basically ties all of these apps together, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint, Power BI, all in one easy to use interface.

Since Microsoft Office 365 is already used so much, this central hub can be a great way to change the way your organization manages itself. You can streamline access to files, take advantage of internal sites, and leverage dashboards, all controlled through Office 365. There are over 70 connectors that can help your Enterprise Office 365 offering provide value, including GitHub, Evernote, Mailchimp, and Salesforce.

Does your business need a communications management system? KiteTech can help. To learn more, reach out to us at 855-290-KITE.

 

Traveling with Technology

Packing for trips can be frustrating because there’s always the chance that you’ll pack either too much or too little. This is especially true if you have multiple devices that you might be tempted to bring with you. It’s important to remember that you don’t always have to bring each and every device you own every time that you leave the office or go on a trip. We’ll help you make sure that you don’t overpack technology whenever you go on a trip.

Devices

It’s no question that employees can be far more productive when they travel than any time in human history. This may involve bringing the technology they depend on to airports, train terminals, bus stops, and hotels. Sometimes they take their eyes off of their bags momentarily only to find them misplaced or stolen. This also means that any data stored on their devices is stolen as well.

To keep this from happening, it’s critical that business professionals try to limit how much technology they take with them on business trips. Tablets and laptops can help individuals get more work done while on the go, but can be a big target for thieves. Many devices, like Netbooks, smaller Chromebooks, and the Macbook Air can be both portable and powerful solutions to your organization’s flexibility needs.

Beyond these solutions, many smartphones also are great for staying in communication and being productive, as well as for entertaining yourself in the interim. Even phones that have been around for a couple of years are loaded with features that let you get more done in a smaller,more compact device. In fact, the average smartphone in 2018 has just as much computing power as the average laptop, so you will have no shortage of ways to get work done.

The latest Samsung smartphones include a device known as the Samsung Dex, which is basically a dock that provides computer-like performance for your smartphone when it’s hooked up to a monitor. While it makes for an exciting concept, Microsoft has also tried to achieve this to save their smartphone development. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough, but the point remains that these devices are far too strong and flexible to be limited to just social media.

Connectivity

Some of your staff might travel for work, so it’s extremely important that they have access to technology that helps them with work. Thanks to locations that have wireless access like Internet cafes, connectivity is less of a problem than it’s ever been. This doesn’t mean that the networks are secure as you need them to be, though. Data is easy to steal while it’s in transit, so you’d best be thinking about implementing a virtual private network to shield data from prying eyes. Basically, a VPN provides an encrypted tunnel to send and receive data, making it the most secure way to stay productive while out of the office.

There are also conferencing applications available that can be utilized to keep teams connected while out of the office. Your staff can remote into a meeting so that they don’t miss a beat, and there are all sorts of cloud-based collaboration environments available for file sharing. It might be the traveler’s responsibility to ensure they can remain secure, but you can at least provide them with the tools to help them stay productive.

Does your business need help with remote access technology or collaborative solutions? Give us a call at 855-290-KITE.