How to lead your team during challenging times

Earning respect & crushing the "unreasonable"

Earning respect and crushing the unreasonable as a Non-Technical Manager-ThinqOutLoud

I was asked recently about how to manage multiple and different personalities by a potential client.   The client drew similarities between his days in management with a manufacturer of denim clothes with and mine managing a consulting firm.  Initially I had a tough time drawing a parallel, but as he explained more it became almost glaringly obvious.  I was also asked how I managed those personalities when project expectations are at best “unreasonable”.

He stated managing the “unreasonable” periods were the hardest.  For him this could include tight customer deadlines or a shortage in raw product.  That would cause timelines to compress and the team to become stressed. In his field he has to deal with fashion designers, textile manufacturers, retail buyers, and factory workers.  I remarked that is certainly a varied group of skills and personalities to deal with. Especially in a time of crisis.

6 easy steps to better IT security

Take the keys out of the door for hackers

ThinqOutLoud-6 Steps to Better IT Security

When you leave your house to go shopping I am sure you lock your door on the way out. You may even set your alarm. Once at the mall you lock your car and maybe park under a light if you know it will be dark when you leave. Simple steps to make sure you keep the things you care about stay safe. So the question can be asked, if you keep your personal life safe shouldn’t you follow the same approach for IT Security?

There is an old saying “Security never goes out of style” and no matter what the latest technology trend might be security is always part of the conversation. Your company is responsible for a number of different types of sensitive information. Common items include personally identifiable information about your employees, your organizations financial information, customer data and your organizations intellectual property just to name a few.

Do you know the difference between a CIO and CTO?

For a long time I didn't

ThinqOutLoud-Difference between CIT and CTO

Early in my career I thought the role CIO (Chief Information Officer) and CTO (Chief Technology Officer) were interchangeable positions. It did not take me long to come to understand that each role is different and the importance of each role is rooted in the user community it serves.

While both roles are C-level, it is not uncommon for a CTO or CIO to shift into one or the other over the course of their career. The primary distinction between the two roles is pretty easy to understand.  The correct title is based on the person’s interaction with the business, the technology, and its clients.

Do you Need a Software Sherpa?

A voice from the outside can help save time and money

ThinqOutLoud-Do you need Software Sherpa

One of the most difficult tasks for a company is choosing a new software or SaaS application. Especially when that software is mission critical to the business. It becomes that much harder when you have more than one person involved in the selection process.

This endeavor usually includes a bunch of software demos, many spreadsheets tracking the features and benefits, and sales collateral from all the vendors all over your desk. Very quickly the whole process can become a blur with each software package resembling one another. Opinions come from all sources… family, vendors, and even your close competitors will offer their two cents on the subject.  But do their suggestions even fall inline with your need?

IFTTT.com – Easy to use mobile automation

Automation Made Easy

Ifttt.com simple automationI believe strongly in automation, but it wasn’t always this way. About 10 years ago I had an employee (future DevOps guy) who said he wanted to automate himself out of a job.  I thought he was crazy, but he assured me that there will always be something else that can benefit from automation, thus if anything he was insuring job security. I now understand what he meant, and I look for repetitive tasks I do daily that could benefit from simple automation.

The question is, how do I automate those tasks if I am not a tech savvy individual or have a tech staff I can lean on?

I was introduced by my old business partner, Frank Gesino, to this awesome site. IFTTT.com can help you automate many of the day to day tasks in your life.  Is it going to rain tomorrow?  How abut an email delivered to you letting you know?  IFTTT.com allows you to create simple little “recipes” to create simple “if this, then that” routines to make your life a little easier.

IFTTT.com has a collection of easy automation instructions to connect your home, increase productivity, stay up on personalized news, and keeping healthy.  I am presently using a few of these hacks to simplify my social media posts and to keep up on news alerts that are important to me.  I am looking forward to setting up a few of the home automation “recipes” soon.

Mobile Ready

There are 4 mobile apps connected to IFTT.com and they are available at the Apple App store and in Google Play

  1. IF: This app lets you create automation “recipes” and put them into use. IFTTT mobile apps-ThinqOutLoud.com
  2. DO Button: Allows you to create receipts that cause and action to take place (i.e. press the DO button and turn your home thermostat to 70 degrees)
  3. DO Note: This app lets you save notes.  I am a big Evernote user and this allows me to record simple notes and in one click send them to my account.
  4. Do Camera: Want to send a picture to your email? Save a business card to Evernote? This app makes those easy with the click of a button.

These apps combined with pre-built IFTTT’s automation routines keeps it simple for almost any user.

What would you like to automate?  Any automation success stories?  Please let me know in the comments section below!

 

The first “S” in SaaS should stand for support

Is help available when you need it?

You have taken the plunge.  You have moved a mission critical application to the cloud.  Hooray!  Now its time for ease of use, access from anywhere, anytime and lower total cost of ownership (TCO).  This is going to be great….until its 10 PM and you run into an issue that requires assistance.  Will your new Software as a Service (SaaS) provider be there to help you find your way?

SaaS Support | ThinqoutLoud

The good news is that many of the SaaS providers really understand that when you need help, “YOU NEED HELP”. Support is easy to access via chat,  FAQ’s and support forums, even phone to address the need for immediate support.  Others have gone one step further by creating a video library to show users how to perform a number of the common tasks found in their software, the ultimate in intimate self-service while keeping the do-it-yourself feel.

5 Things You Need to Know About Ransomware

...and what you can do to protect yourself!

Cyber Crime and Ransomware-5 things you need to know

A few days ago I was speaking with a friend of mine who operates a Managed Service Provider (MSP). He shared with me a story about a client of his who was recently hit with ransomware.  In this conversation he told me about the cost of the event (it was heavy) and amount of downtime his client experienced (it was multiple days).  Later I will share one other startling fact.

So, what is Ransomware?

Similar to malware or a virus, ransomware is a malicious software created by blackhat hackers.  Unlike, a viruses and malware that can impact network traffic, install key loggers or Trojans, or potentially delete data ransomware locks out an individual or company from accessing data.  Those users are greeted by a message demanding payment for a release of the restriction.

Three Great CRM Options that Won’t Break the Bank!

There are numerous options for CRM in the marketplace today.  There are a few options that are geared towards small business.  ThinqOutLoud has trialed the following CRM packages and each has its strengths and weaknesses.  Each of these applications are capable of lead tracking, pipeline management and customer life cycle management, but they each bring a different approach to that process…and varying price points per user.

 

Pipedrive 

An easy to use CRM system that allows the user to easily enter and track prospects, tasks, and deals.  The system has easy to use dashboards that are customizable to each user providing multiple data views.  Simple email integration allows the end user to use familiar tools like Outlook, while capturing critical communication in the CRM.

It includes integrations with a number of applications for marketing, email campaigns, analytics and service desk.  An easy to use mobile application puts data at your fingertips when on the road.

Pros: Easy to use, integrates with popular applications, customization options to meet the needs of any company big or small, activity workflow with email and push notifications, goal tracking, company specific domain.

Cons: No Social Media Integration, Basic CRM-customization is required to mirror many competitors’ standard features.

Pricing Starts @ $12/user per month