The top 4 video conferencing solutions for small businesses

Technology continues to influence how we communicate and do business on a daily basis. Along with already established tools such as email and messaging apps, video conferencing is having a profound effect in meeting rooms across the world. Video conferencing is far more engaging than phone calls or text chat, with participants benefiting from eye contact, body language, and face-to-face interaction.

According to a Forbes Insights survey of over 300 global executives, 62 percent of participants thought video conferencing significantly improved the quality of communication when compared to other tools.

If you’re looking for a video conferencing solution for your SMB, there are lots of great options available, from simple free tools to commercial applications with cloud support, unified communications systems, and file sharing. Let’s take a look at four of the best solutions for small businesses.

1. Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is a free and easy application aimed at business users. While it lacks many of the advanced features of other platforms, it integrates seamlessly into Gmail and supports group chat, video chat, and VoIP functionality for multiple participants. Perfect for casual conference calls, Hangouts can be used by up to 100 people for group chats and up to 10 people for video calls.

Google Hangouts is a native web-based solution that is divided into two main products: Hangouts Chat, which focuses on instant messaging with additional features, and Hangouts Meet, which focuses on video conferencing with machine learning for automatic scheduling. Hangouts is free for Google+ users, with a monthly subscription also available as part of the G Suite business package.

2. RingCentral Meetings

RingCentral Meetings is a cloud-based communications tool with a strong focus on video conferencing and team collaboration. Features of this platform include interactive screen sharing, one-click scheduling, and integration with big name products by Google and Microsoft among others. This advanced tool has online conference and screen sharing capabilities for up to 100 participants.

RingCentral Meetings can share files and set up tasks among members, with add-ons available for webinars, large meetings, and RingCentral rooms. You can transition between services with ease, including video, text chat, file sharing, web meetings, and other options. There is a free version of Meetings available for new and agile teams, along with Essentials and Advanced packages for growing businesses and large enterprises respectively.

3. Microsoft Teams

While Microsoft Teams might seem like a new product, it is based on the technology and legacy of the popular Skype for Business service. As one of the originators in this sector, Skype had the time and resources to refine its service for business users. Microsoft transformed this service into Teams, which benefits from the scope and security of the Microsoft banner and integrates seamlessly with existing Microsoft products in the Office 365 cloud-based suite.

Microsoft Teams enables text, audio, video, and web conferences, including large-scale live events. You can communicate and collaborate with anyone inside or outside your organization, and customize your workspace to meet your unique needs. Microsoft Teams is available as a free service, with Office 365 Business Premium and Office 365 Enterprise E3 subscription services also available if you need additional capacity.

4. Adobe Connect

This video conferencing solution is one of the more advanced and expensive options on the market. It’s also one of the most comprehensive, with Adobe Connect offering support for presentations, online training, web conferencing, learning modules, virtual classrooms, and desktop sharing. Unlike most other video conferencing services, Connect allows users to edit recorded videos, which is why it’s become such a useful tool in the education and training sector.

Adobe Connect enables custom layouts for a better user experience, giving you complete control over your content and how it’s delivered. From experience-driven learning through to persistent virtual rooms and custom applications, Connect offers so much more than standard video conferencing. While there is a free trial available for Adobe Connect, a monthly or annual subscription is needed to unlock key features.

According to a study by Transparency Market Research, the global video conferencing market is expected to be worth more than $10,500 million by 2026. There’s never been a better time to adopt these powerful tools for the benefit of your organization.

How to build a disaster management plan

Computers and IT systems are integral to every part of a business, with downtime and disruptions likely to cause productivity losses and economic damage. Whether it’s a natural event, a cyber attack, or simple human error, when disaster strikes, solutions are needed fast. In the context of IT, a disaster management plan is a set of strategies and procedures that attempt to restore hardware, software, and data in order to ensure fast and effective business recovery.

Benefits of a disaster management plan

An IT disaster management plan should always be developed to ensure fast and effective recovery. While data backup is an important part of this process, additional measures need to be taken to ensure compliance and the continuity of critical business systems. When implemented alongside a continuity plan using accurate information from a business impact analysis, disaster management has the ability to reduce data losses, minimize downtime, and promote a healthy business reputation.

Actionable steps to ensure containment and recovery

Managing an IT disaster is a complex and challenging task, with many issues to consider and lots on the line if something goes wrong. Success depends on organization and management before, during, and after the disaster takes place. While being able to react effectively to a situation is crucial, proactive measures are just as important. From carrying out a business impact analysis and documenting risk assessment through to containment and recovery, let’s take a look at the steps you need to take.

1. Business impact analysis

A comprehensive business impact analysis lies at the heart of every successful disaster management plan. It’s no use waiting until disaster strikes. An impact analysis will allow you to research the potential impact of disaster events. Businesses that understand how much they have to lose are much less likely to fail when a disruption occurs.

An analysis is responsible for identifying critical business functions, measuring impact events, and defining recovery strategies. Generally carried out before a risk assessment, this analysis defines critical systems and quantifies internal and external risks that may affect business data and processes.

2. Risk assessment

Once a business impact analysis has been conducted, it’s time to carry out an IT risk assessment. While these two processes are linked, a risk assessment is more concerned with describing potential threats and measuring their likely impact on business processes and resources. A business impact analysis defines your potential losses, and a risk assessment identifies and quantifies actual disaster events. Successful disaster management requires both of these steps, with businesses able to dedicate resources more effectively when they link specific disasters with specific outcomes.

3. Respond quickly and contain

While planning and organization are all well and good, action is more important than anything else when disaster strikes. Having the ability to respond quickly and effectively is critical before additional problems develop. Check on people first if a natural disaster strikes, review physical damage to computer and network resources, and ensure open communication channels at all times. The extent of data loss often depends on how quickly you respond and contain the threat.

4. Recover and minimize downtime

When the actual threat has been neutralized, it’s important to stay calm and recover quickly according to your established plan. It’s important to stay productive if possible, with some businesses able to carry out manual operations, communicate via telephone rather than computer, or initialize cloud-based backup solutions.

According to Wikibon, enterprise cloud spending is predicted to grow by 16 percent annually between 2016 and 2026. It’s important to distinguish between internal recovery and cloud-based recovery, and get access to critical business systems as quickly as possible. Downtime represents the most significant cost of disaster events, at an average of $5,600 per minute according to Gartner.

5. Protect your business reputation

An IT disaster has the potential to adversely affect your reputation, especially if it’s linked to cybercrime or network security breaches. It’s important to be proactive after a disruption event and do everything you can to protect your reputation. Regular and ongoing communication with customers and other stakeholders plays a big role at this stage, so keep people in the loop and be honest about the situation. With the right preparation and the ability to respond quickly when disaster occurs, any business can face their challenges head-on and emerge with something resembling a smile.

4 solid file sharing options for SMBs

Today’s businesses rely on digital files for storing and organizing almost all of their important information. In order to be truly useful, though, these files must be easily transferable. This is where file sharing solutions come into play.
Here’s what you should know about file sharing and some of the top solutions that can help your SMB effectively manage and share its files.

What is file sharing?

While it can refer more generally to any method used to transfer digital files from one location to another, the term file sharing is usually applied to specific applications that run in the cloud. Cloud file sharing systems can be used to give authorized users remote access to files stored on cloud servers.
While cloud file sharing solutions are excellent for giving your employees easy access to important files and facilitating collaboration, they also have the potential to come with cybersecurity risks.
With less direct control over your company’s data and the risk of unsecured devices being used to access files, the use of these applications requires careful supervision to maintain cybersecurity. With strong encryption standards and adherence to a robust security policy, though, cloud file sharing can be perfectly safe.
For the next several years, it is expected that at least 95 percent of cloud security breaches will be directly caused by failures on the part of customers.

Four file sharing services to consider

There are many cloud file sharing services currently available, but a few stand out as the major service providers in the market. Following are four of the go-to services that SMB owners new to file sharing may want to consider.

Dropbox Business

With 300,000 business teams and 500 million total users, Dropbox is one of the most popular web services in existence today. Owing to its ease of use and user-friendly integration with device operating systems, Dropbox is a service preferred by many consumers and enterprise-level users alike.

Google Drive

Google’s answer to independent services like Dropbox, Google Drive is a file sharing service with nearly 1 billion users. Google drive offers large amounts of storage space for files at relatively low costs and integrates smoothly with a range of third-party applications, making it a good solution for businesses in need of a cloud file sharing service.
Drive also integrates with other Google products, allowing users to save files from services such as Gmail and Google Photos to their Drive accounts.

Microsoft OneDrive

Like Google, Microsoft has jumped into the cloud file sharing market with its OneDrive service. OneDrive interfaces seamlessly with the Windows operating system and comes standard as part of the latest versions.
Microsoft Office 365, a favorite suite of tools among enterprise-level businesses, is also integrated with OneDrive, allowing users to easily move files out of tools in the Office 365 suite and into storage in OneDrive.

ShareFile

Rounding out the list of the top file sharing options is ShareFile. With ShareFile, business users can protect their files with a range of security precautions that include 256-bit AES encryption, virus scanning and even a remote file deletion feature in the event a company device is lost or stolen.
Thanks to its 100GB maximum size, ShareFile is also a good solution for storing, sharing and accessing large files.

A final word

These are just some of the many file sharing options in the marketplace today. When using these services, it’s important to remain aware of possible cybersecurity vulnerabilities on your end.
Used correctly, though, these file sharing services can help your company remain secure, efficient and flexible in an increasingly data-driven business landscape.

The down & dirty guide on developing a backup strategy

People who run small businesses have a huge number of tasks to attend to every day, from hiring decisions to customer service to budget reviews. So, preparing for data loss can get lost in the shuffle.

After all, the notion that your company could lose all of its data might seem far-fetched, especially if you have defensive security precautions like antivirus software in place. You might conclude that your time is better spent focusing on products, services and day-to-day management duties.

However, data loss afflicts companies of all sizes, including those that seem secure. And, once your customer, employee or business information is compromised or lost, restoring it can be nearly impossible. Daily operations and transactions can immediately come to a standstill, and you could go out of business in a short period. In other words, disaster planning is critical.

There are quite a few scenarios that can lead to data loss, so understanding the most common ones is an important first step. Let’s look at a few.

Physical server destruction

A natural disaster like an earthquake or hurricane could demolish your server environment, wiping out your data in the process. Furthermore, even without a natural disaster, the building it’s located in could suffer a fire, flooding or roof collapse, damaging the hardware that carries your critical files and systems.

Ransomware

Ransomware is becoming more and more common. When malware strikes a company’s digital infrastructure, it encrypts all of its data, rendering that material unusable. To get the perpetrators to unencrypt the data, the business must pay a sizable ransom, most likely with a cryptocurrency. Even if the payment is made, however, there is no guarantee the criminals will make good on restoring the seized data.

Errors and malfunctions

Employee error is a major cause of data loss. It’s all too easy for a worker, especially someone who’s tired or whose mind is elsewhere, to accidentally delete or overwrite a crucial file. A staff member could also physically damage a file by, say, spilling coffee on a laptop, exposing a machine to a power surge, or dropping an important computer.
In addition, hardware can fail. Software can be corrupted. A system could crash. The power could go out before a certain file is saved. Even if you ultimately recovered your data after such an event, you’d still have to face a costly stretch of downtime.

Choosing a data backup strategy

With all of these dangers lurking, it’s good business practice to develop a data backup plan as soon as possible. Your backup data could be stored in the cloud, a vast system of secure virtual servers. And, as you’re sending your private information to the cloud, it can be encrypted to prevent outsiders from viewing it en route.

Another possibility is copying your data to onsite hard drives, which would remain locked in a climate-controlled, restricted-access storage facility. This option is economical and makes your data easily accessible, but you’d still have to worry about a natural disaster or other calamity striking your storage unit.

Of course, you don’t have to choose between these courses of action. The best strategy is to ensure redundant backups across different locations and methods, including the cloud and a secondary, on-premises server. Depending on your priorities and needs, you can update your approach based on latest trends in backup.

Moreover, you needn’t make this decision on your own. Instead, IT managed service providers can analyze your network and your business needs, walk you through your various options, ensure that your disaster plans don’t have any major flaws and help you determine the best backup solution for your company.

In the end, there are many reasons to develop a strategy for data backup, including regulatory compliance and simple peace of mind. The information you collect and curate over time makes all of your business operations possible. No entrepreneur should ever have to discover that, in an instant, it’s all disappeared.

Crafting the perfect voicemail greetings (examples inside!)

In a world of unified communications, video conferencing, bring-your-own-devices-to-work policies and other cutting-edge communications, the voicemail message remains essential. It’s a unique calling card.
If your greeting is engaging, callers are liable to be impressed, perhaps at a subconscious level. If, however, you come across as fuzzy or long-winded, you may plant seeds of doubt about your professionalism.
With that in mind, here are some tips and scripts for voicemail excellence. You might even make voicemail recording lessons part of your standard employee training.

Be concise

Make your message crisp and to the point. Say hello, and state your name, your business name and, if you want, your job title. Relay that you’re out of the office or away from your phone. If you choose, provide your email address or another company phone number for urgent requests.
Then request any information the caller should leave for you. Most likely, you’ll want the person’s name, phone number and their reason for calling.
You might give the caller an idea of when you’ll return the call, but you don’t have to. It would be worse to provide a time frame you aren’t able to meet, so don’t overpromise.

Be warm

It’s best to avoid a monotone. Although you’re presenting basic facts, try to sound genial and somewhat enthusiastic. As you’re reciting your message, you might smile and think of something that makes you happy – a recent skiing trip, for example – or pretend that you’re speaking to an old friend.

Be serious

Going for voicemail humor is rarely a good idea. To those who call you repeatedly, your message will quickly lose its charm. A caller with a different sense of humor may misunderstand you. And for someone calling you in an emergency, your attempt at wit could seem dreadfully out of place.

Speak clearly

Before you record your voicemail, practice your lines a few times so the words are familiar. Find a happy medium between rushed and drawn out. And, if you trip over your tongue as you record, just start over.
When you’re done, play your message back. Is each word audible? Better yet, ask a few colleagues or friends to listen to it if you are unsure. Can they hear everything you say easily? Do they have any other useful feedback?

Sample scripts

  1. Hello, you’ve reached Jim Jimby, vice president of customer success at Winning at Life Industries. I’ll be out of the office until [date returning]. Please leave your name, number and reason for calling at the beep, and I’ll be happy to return your call when I’m back. For anything urgent in my absence, please contact our main call center. Thank you!
  2. Hi, this is Sarah Sarahson at Awesome Technologies. If you leave me your name and phone number, I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. And, if you need assistance right away, please call our main helpline at 1-800-555-1234. Have a great day!
  3. Thanks for calling. This is Willie Williams at Sweat It Out Fitness. I’ll be away from my desk today but please feel free to leave a message with your name and number. You can also email me at Willie@hugemuscles.com. We look forward to serving you.

Whether your work phone is a mobile phone, a landline or a wearable, your voicemail recordings are important. If you can do relatively simple things like voicemail messages professionally, consumers will be more likely to consider trusting you with more important things – like securing their sensitive data. Every voicemail becomes part of your brand.

Backup Madness is Back

Let’s Defeat Downtime in 2019

Backup Madness in 2018 was a slam dunk. We touched base with over 300 IT professionals and business owners all across the nation about getting their disaster recovery plans in game shape. And this year, we’re doubling down on our efforts to help you and your organization put downtime where it belongs – on the bench.

Here’s the Game Plan

Content and events brought to you in partnership with Veeam Software

We’re going to connect you with the best business continuity professionals in the Midwest at a series of Watch Parties on Thursday, March 21st & Friday, March 22nd. These are come-and-go events that promise to be a good time. Stop by, watch the games and have a drink on us. Check out details for each party.

Wichita
Chicken N Pickle
Thu, March 21, 2019
11:00 AM – 5:00 PM CDT
Get Registered

Oklahoma City
Topgolf Oklahoma City
Thu, March 21, 2019
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Get Registered

St. Louis
Syberg’s on Dorsett
Fri, March 22, 2019
11:00 AM – 5:00 PM CDT
Get Registered

Kansas City
Coach’s Bar & Grill – Overland Park
Fri, March 22, 2019
11:00 AM – 5:00 PM CDT
Get Registered

But that’s not where the madness ends.

5 reasons why you need a backup service, even if you’re using Office 365

Enterprises around the world continue to move key applications to the cloud. But the speed and scope of migration presenting new challenges regarding data protection, service delivery, and compliance.

While most organizations have developed robust on-premises backup solutions, the failure to protect cloud data and ensure the availability of key services is widespread and incredibly alarming.

Contrary to popular belief, Office 365 and other software as a service (SaaS) models provide no real internal backup solutions. While Microsoft has sound internal security and is capable of managing Office 365 infrastructure, third-party services are needed to ensure comprehensive data protection and compliance. Let’s take a look at 5 key reasons why you need a dedicated backup service when you’re using Office 365.

1. Protection against internal accidents and threats

Content and events brought to you in partnership with Veeam Software

Regardless of how careful you are with your data, accidents can and do happen. Whether it’s the accidental deletion of a user, the incorrect merging of fields, or the failure of a key service, accidental deletion can be replicated across an entire network and lead to serious problems.

Simple accidents have been responsible for serious damage over the last few years, with an outage on Amazon Web Services costing up to $150 million dollars in 2017.
A backup service can restore data and services quickly and with minimum disruption, either to the on-premise Exchange or the Office 365 cloud network. In addition, dedicated backup services can protect you against internal security threats and manage the risk of malicious data loss or destruction.

2. Protection against external security threats

Along with internal security threats, many businesses have experienced a rise in malware, viruses, data theft and other security threats from the outside. Kaspersky blocked almost 800 million attacks from online resources across the globe in the first quarter of 2018 alone.

While Microsoft 365 and other cloud suites do have some security controls, they’re not robust or reliable enough to handle every case scenario. Having access to a high-grade, third-party backup service is the best way to reduce your exposure and manage the risks associated with data loss and destruction.

3. Retention and recovery management

Cloud-based services are popular for many reasons, with Office 365 and other solutions featuring better integration between applications, more efficient data exchange and delivery, and the ability to utilize transparent services regardless of location.

Many of these benefits come at a cost, however, with enterprises losing control over data retention and recovery. While Office 365 does have its own retention policies, they are ever-changing and difficult to manage. In fact, confusing and inaccessible data retention is one of the reasons why so many businesses refuse to move to the cloud.

You can have the best of both worlds with backup solutions that provide you with complete control over data retention and recovery management.

4. Legal and compliance obligations

In addition to running a business and ensuring access to key data and services, organizations have a responsibility to meet certain legal and compliance obligations.

A cloud backup service allows you to retrieve important data instantly and with minimal disruption to critical business systems.

Whether it’s retrieving user data for law enforcement, accessing your mailbox during a legal action, or meeting regulatory compliance standards, dedicated cloud backup makes it easier to meet your responsibilities.

5. Managing the migration process

With more businesses moving to the cloud all the time, the migration process is often presented as a seamless and natural transition.
While the benefits of SaaS are valid and well-known, managing hybrid email deployments and other critical services during migration can be more challenging than Microsoft would have you believe.

Whether you want a dedicated cloud solution or a mix of Office 365 and on-premises services, backup solutions like Veeam (our recommended solution) allow you to protect and manage your data during and after the transition in a way that makes the source location irrelevant.

5 reasons why you need a backup service, even if you’re using Office 365

Enterprises around the world continue to move key applications to the cloud. But the speed and scope of migration presenting new challenges regarding data protection, service delivery, and compliance.

While most organizations have developed robust on-premises backup solutions, the failure to protect cloud data and ensure the availability of key services is widespread and incredibly alarming.

Contrary to popular belief, Office 365 and other software as a service (SaaS) models provide no real internal backup solutions.

While Microsoft has sound internal security and is capable of managing Office 365 infrastructure, third-party services are needed to ensure comprehensive data protection and compliance. Let’s take a look at 5 key reasons why you need a dedicated backup service when you’re using Office 365.

  1. Protection against internal accidents and threats

Regardless of how careful you are with your data, accidents can and do happen. Whether it’s the accidental deletion of a user, the incorrect merging of fields, or the failure of a key service, accidental deletion can be replicated across an entire network and lead to serious problems.

Simple accidents have been responsible for serious damage over the last few years, with an outage on Amazon Web Services costing up to $150 million dollars in 2017.

A backup service can restore data and services quickly and with minimum disruption, either to the on-premise Exchange or the Office 365 cloud network. In addition, dedicated backup services can protect you against internal security threats and manage the risk of malicious data loss or destruction.

  1. Protection against external security threats

Along with internal security threats, many businesses have experienced a rise in malware, viruses, data theft and other security threats from the outside.

Kaspersky blocked almost 800 million attacks from online resources across the globe in the first quarter of 2018 alone.

While Microsoft 365 and other cloud suites do have some security controls, they’re not robust or reliable enough to handle every case scenario. Having access to a high-grade, third-party backup service is the best way to reduce your exposure and manage the risks associated with data loss and destruction.

  1. Retention and recovery management

Cloud-based services are popular for many reasons, with Office 365 and other solutions featuring better integration between applications, more efficient data exchange and delivery, and the ability to utilize transparent services regardless of location.

Many of these benefits come at a cost, however, with enterprises losing control over data retention and recovery.

While Office 365 does have its own retention policies, they are ever-changing and difficult to manage. In fact, confusing and inaccessible data retention is one of the reasons why so many businesses refuse to move to the cloud.

You can have the best of both worlds with backup solutions that provide you with complete control over data retention and recovery management.

  1. Legal and compliance obligations

In addition to running a business and ensuring access to key data and services, organizations have a responsibility to meet certain legal and compliance obligations.

A cloud backup service allows you to retrieve important data instantly and with minimal disruption to critical business systems.

Whether it’s retrieving user data for law enforcement, accessing your mailbox during a legal action, or meeting regulatory compliance standards, dedicated cloud backup makes it easier to meet your responsibilities.

  1. Managing the migration process

With more businesses moving to the cloud all the time, the migration process is often presented as a seamless and natural transition.

While the benefits of SaaS are valid and well-known, managing hybrid email deployments and other critical services during migration can be more challenging than Microsoft would have you believe.

Whether you want a dedicated cloud solution or a mix of Office 365 and on-premises services, backup solutions like Veeam (our recommended solution) allow you to protect and manage your data during and after the transition in a way that makes the source location irrelevant.

The post 5 reasons why you need a backup service, even if you’re using Office 365 appeared first on ISG Technologies.

Source: my isg

Disaster recovery drill best practices (2019 edition)

A disaster recovery plan (DRP) is a great way to stay proactive about your data security. But a DRP is no good unless you test it—you have to make sure it actually works, after all.
There are some things you can do during your drill to ensure you get results—good or bad—that are reliable. The goal is to test whether the plan is effective as drafted or if something specific needs to be changed to improve it.
There are a lot of factors in play with a DRP, so it pays to be methodical.

Define your goals

First, before you conduct a test, you should define your goals.
We’re not talking about goals like “Have the server back up in 20 minutes.” For the tests they will be more like “How good are communications between departments?” or “How does stress make the IT team interact with each other?”
Your goal is to answer those questions, whatever they may be. Strategic questions that give you an idea of how prepared you really are. You want to test different variables to see how they influence your DRP’s execution.
Your IT crew will be trying to get the server up quickly, but you’ll be observing their performance through the lens of “communication.” Do they ask for help when they need it? Do they keep the other departments in the loop? Can they document what they’ve done and what worked?
You need to think of all the angles that could cause problems and test for each one.

Related: 7 typical disaster recovery plan mistakes (and how to fix them)

Get the team together

This may seem like a no-brainer but get the team together and on the same page.
If anyone is out of the loop, it creates a point where communication could break down. If everyone is on the same page from the beginning, everything will run more smoothly.
You may also want to include backup personnel, just so that they have an idea of what they are supposed to do. Running a disaster recovery plan 100% from the documentation can be difficult even without the pressure that a disaster provides.

Run different types of tests

There are all kinds of tests to you run, ranging from a simple conversation walking team members through the process to a fully simulated disaster.
Don’t rely on just one kind of test. You want a variety.
This is important because it will give you a more well-rounded idea of how your DRP  will actually function. Sometimes what makes sense in one test doesn’t make sense in the another. Or what the technicians might do to provide a hasty fix might violate compliance regulation.
You can use the culmination of all that data to make your DRP as solid as possible.

Related: Disaster recovery testing: A vital part of the DR plan

Run tests often

If it’s been more than a year since you’ve run a test, do you know if it’s still applicable? How much could change in your company in a year? Or six months? In one month?
You don’t have to test every day, but decide on an interval that makes sense based on how you do business and how often your network configuration, staff, tech tools and compliance requirements change.

Take good notes

Good documentation of these tests is a must. Not only will it help you remember what exactly happened when, but it will help anyone else who reviews the test see the results, which keeps everyone on the same page.

Post-test assessment

Of course, you want to take any new insights learned during testing into account to make your disaster recovery plan better. Valuable data does no good for anyone just sitting in a drawer.
This is especially important when things go wrong during a test.
If the downtime is double what was expected or if a new aspect comes up that no one saw before, then it is important to determine what caused the holdup and how you can overcome it in the future.
What if the disaster that you’ve been planning for happens tomorrow?

In conclusion

Communication is paramount.
Whether that means meetings with the team or solid documentation. A good DRP drill should be about setting everyone up for success so you’re well prepared for whatever the future holds.
We’ve covered a lot of ground, but everything really just boils down to the scientific method: Ask a question, perform a test, observe the results, refine your understanding.
Disaster recovery is a lot like science in many ways, so treat it like science. Reach out to experts in the field and ask for guidance if you need it.

Why VoIP is absolutely worth it for SMBs

So you’ve been thinking about upgrading some of your infrastructure, but where to start?
If you think your team could collaborate better, one of the best returns on investment is a VoIP phone system. It’s got all of the functionality of a traditional phone system with an emphasis on increased utility.
Maybe you haven’t switched over yet because the break-in period seems a bit daunting. We’ve compiled a list of reasons why the benefits will outweigh the costs for your business quicker than you think.

Installation and setup

Fortunately, the first time setup is often cheaper (because there may be less equipment to buy) and simpler than installing a traditional phone system from scratch.
When it comes to planning things out, there are a couple of factors that you wouldn’t usually have to think about with traditional phones. You have to figure out how much bandwidth you’ll use, and whether that will change your internet service needs. If everyone needs to make a call at once, will that make everything else grind to a halt? How soon will we need to expand the number of users? Is our connection fast enough to utilize the new system?
Once configured, however, your VoIP network is good to go. Most hardware comes with plug-and-play functionality, as VoIP phones are smarter than your average bear. If you find that you need to add more users it’s just as easy as extending your Wi-FI network: you just need to add another router to the network.

Related: VoIP implementation best practices

Flexibility

Here’s where the investment starts to pay off in spades.

Conference calls

They’re nothing new, but you’ll be surprised at how different they can be with VoIP.
Conference calls can get started right on time with minimal effort. During the initial installation of the network, you or your tech professionals will set up hub numbers. When it’s time for a conference call, it’s as easy as calling that number when it’s time to start. Everyone is in with no trouble.
This can make rescheduling less of a hassle and make impromptu team meetings possible, even if everyone’s not in the same building. This means your team can be much more agile – you don’t have to drop everything to go to a meeting scheduled ahead of time, just send out an email to get on this 15-minute call after lunch. Everyone’s on the same page because they are better connected.

Remote use

One of the best things about VoIP is that the network doesn’t care how you are gaining access. You can use a traditional phone with an adapter, a VoIP enabled phone, a computer configured to use VoIP, or even your personal cell phone. It’s all about unified communications.
VoIP makes it easy to set up smart call forwarding. Not only can you transfer a call if the original extension is busy or doesn’t answer, but you can preemptively forward calls at any time. If you know you’re going to be out of office, you can set up your number to automatically forward any calls to your cell phone or to a colleague.
Furthermore, if you have any team members that are entirely remote you can configure their extension to automatically forward to whatever device the remote worker chooses. Even though the original call started in your phone system, it’ll end up where it needs to be seamlessly. It’s the best thing next to being there in person.

Call recording

Let’s say that a couple of team members couldn’t participate in a conference call. Perhaps a fire came up that they had to go put out immediately. They can still get the full scoop on whatever they missed with a feature that almost all VoIP networks utilize (and yours definitely should): call recording.
How exactly it works depends on what software you choose to go with, but a VoIP network allows for the recording and archiving of any phone call with ease. Whether it’s for the benefit of an absent team member or for the team in question to be able to go back and review exactly what was said during the call, this is an invaluable feature that isn’t impossible with traditional telephone technology, but significantly easier to implement with VoIP technology.

In conclusion

With cloud technology becoming the norm across industries, these will not be the only advantages for switching over to VoIP for your phone network. New techniques and technologies will be sure to make VoIP even better in the future.
Research your options. If you ever get lost or need a second opinion, don’t hesitate to reach out and see what our experts have to say.