How Our IT Support Translates to Helping Charities

At JMARK, we do more than providing IT support. We strive to better the world we live in as individuals and as a company. We see volunteering and helping others as a true honor in being part of our community.

Our “People First. Technology Second” approach to business means we do more than just fix what’s broken; we care about helping our clients build a path for longevity so that they can have more opportunities for growth.

We work closely with several charities and nonprofit organizations simply because we feel passionate about investing our time in people.

Running a charity is no easy business. From choosing the right board members and raising enough funds to file paperwork and manage legal issues – there’s a lot of work that needs to get done.

Here’s why you need IT support delivered quickly and efficiently:

Proactive IT Support Means You Can Dedicate More Time to Your Cause

If you’re still running off the break-fix model of IT, your organization risks costly downtime whenever something in your systems breaks. You also have to consider the large CapEx (capital expenditures) brought on by replacing broken or outdated hardware every time your needs change.

With proactive, around-the-clock monitoring and support, your IT systems stay up-and-running. This means your nonprofit stays up-and-running too. Rather than reacting to problems after they’ve caused significant damage, you can address potential problems ahead of time.

Just as you would take proactive steps for your car maintenance (such as filling up gas, changing your oil, or replacing dirty transmission fluid), you need proactive IT support for a thriving organization.

With a dedicated team of engineers, project managers, and technicians carrying out regular checkups and maintenance on your network, your charity can focus on its goals.

Get in touch with the team at JMARK to find out more ways we can keep you accountable to your mission.

Top 3 Reasons the Right IT Support is a Game Changer for Businesses

Your IT support is probably sitting on the back burner of your neverending list of business concerns demanding your attention.

On top of hiring the right people, eliminating bottlenecks, improving work-life balance, and having to put out fires here and there – you probably don’t have the time in your day to think about your IT.

But technology is all around us, consuming every facet of both our personal and work lives. We must begin to consider how to use technology to drive business in new and innovative ways.

Rather than seeing your IT support as a crutch for your business, here are a few ways you can leverage the top game changers in IT as an invaluable business asset:

Automate or Go Home

Automated machines are becoming smarter than ever. Capable of learning, evolving, and responding to specific user needs, automated machines can transform your workflow.

By cutting down on manual, repetitive tasks such as data entry, filing, etc. – an automated workflow allows you to focus on the aspects of your job you actually care about.

The Growing Internet of Things (IoT)

The “internet of things” (IoT) has become an increasingly popular topic of discussion both in and out of the workplace. But what is it exactly, and why should you care about it? The IoT refers to the connecting of devices to the internet and/or each other.

Organizations of any field can benefit from inter-connected networks by allowing companies to make smarter products, enable smarter business operations, and even change their business model altogether.

For instance, Microsoft uses data-collecting software on what features of their products are being used so they can track which are less popular and focus on the ones that people care about.

Mobility Means Everything

Companies that haven’t encouraged mobile use at work are already falling behind. By giving your entire staff access to their everyday applications on their favorite mobile devices, employees will feel empowered, enabled, and overall happier.

Rethink your business strategy by enhancing your IT. With enhanced and modern technology at your fingertips, you’ll have fewer fires to put out and more time to run your business, manage employees, and achieve a happier work-life balance. Let’s have a conversation.

JMARK Flood – A River Runs Through It

A River Runs Through ItIt is funny how things are sometimes pictured in the news and how rumors fly in the public eye, we saw things like:

  • “Flooding causes evacuation of JMARK.” Actually we couldn’t even get in the building until water receded in the late hours of Sunday night.
  • “I am standing here at JMARK in 3 feet of water.” That one was fun, since the water at the most was 3 or so inches inside.
  • “All the cars were destroyed.” Still waiting on the final assessment, but yes a large number of vehicles were destroyed, but not all. That’s OK, employees have cars and 98.2% of our tickets are solved remotely.

There was more, but we cherish and welcome anything we can hear so that we can get in front of it. We know there are concerns, so that is why we are trying to maintain communication with our clients and employees, as well as the media.

Here are a few concerns we heard that we want to address:

  1. Is client data secure? Abso-freaking-utely. SOC, change management, and security is being addressed throughout this recovery process. It is being addresses at beginning and not after. Our security and logging is tight and continues as status quo.
  2. Is JMARK going to have to get a new office? We really don’t know yet until final assessments are made by assessors and clean-up crews. Whether we move temporarily or continue working remotely does not really matter, what matters is that operations continue to function. Today I received so many emails that had absolutely nothing to do with the disaster recovery efforts. This was a sign to me that business as usual is happening.
  3. Is my project going to be delayed? If you have a project that is scheduled with JMARK, we are doing everything we can to make sure things are running as scheduled. This is not an after-thought. The biggest delay will happen if any equipment that was allocated to a project was damaged in the flood. We are working today and tomorrow to determine that with our assessor.
  4. Is service going to be delayed? So far we are not seeing any delays in service. We are working hard from every corner of JMARK to make sure clients are put first, even as recovery efforts are underway.
  5. Is JMARK data about our account damaged or lost? Not a single dot or tittle is lost or in jeopardy. Every core system is operational and working as expected.

We appreciate the well wishes, the patience, and all those supporting us. As a client though, please don’t ever feel like you come second to a disaster, that is just not the case. Let us know how we can serve you and if there are any concerns.

For questions related to the flood, please send an email to JMARK@www.jmark.com with the subject of “Flood.”

Thank you and please let us know if there is anything you want to hear about.

Warmly,
Todd Nielsen
Chief Strategy Officer
tnielsen@www.jmark.com

JMARK Floats on by The Flood

memeIt has been a pretty blessed 24 hours at JMARK. First we had this cool river suddenly appear all around the office. It was like we were in our own little island.

Then water seeped into our island, and ruined most of our furniture. Turns out it was more like a boat with a leak. But it’s like Christmas all over again, we now get new furniture.

Had a few computers get a little water damage, the employees were so sad to hear they would be getting new computers.

We decided that we should do something nice for our employees, so we let them all work from home.

There was so much excitement that we had a “party” at the office all night, the party spread to the people working from home too, how cool is that?

That wasn’t enough, so in the morning we decided to give a gift to our clients, hold time that increased by… zero percent, along with dedicated staff at their beck and call.

You want to know how we turned this lemon into lemonade? We planned for it. JMARK has developed a Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan as part of our SOC II audit, that is updated every 3 to 6 months. In that plan we detail out every scenario, configuration, procedures, people, vendors, contact information, and more… to guide us in any scenario.

Impact to the Operations

Everything is still secure, and our constant focus is still on our clients. We have to replace some equipment and furniture, but our planning and infrastructure make it easy for our employees to work from home, and of course our logging and security is still in place no matter where our employees work, so client security is always a priority.

What Controls are in Place

JMARK has a multitude of policies, processes, procedures, plans and controls in place to ensure that we maintain our business operations. Last night at 9:06 PM I sent an email out to our Executive Team, the Information Technology Steering and Security Committee, as well as a number of individuals that are dictated to be informed of the plan activation. This activation of the DR plan came after certain controls were triggered, which set in motion dozens of people working harmoniously to ensure the continuity of operations.

Anticipated Time Frame to When Normal Operations Resume

Our clients should not experience anything outside of their normal JMARK experience, other than maybe a cat or a dog in the background while on the phone with an employee working from home. I can’t lie and say everything will be perfect, but we are doing everything we can to keep it business as usual. Some clean-up work has to happen at our office and new furniture and other stuff procured. We do not know when this will all happen, but promise to continue to communicate and let everyone know how things are going. Tickets can continue to be put in the same they always have.

We are thankful that 100% of our employees are safe and accounted for. Thank you for the support, and please let us know how we can continue to server you better.

For questions related to the flood, please send an email to JMARK@www.jmark.com with the subject of “Flood.”

Todd Nielsen
Chief Strategy Officer
tnielsen@www.jmark.com

5 Technology Tasks to Start the Year Off With a Bang

New-Year-TechnologyA new year is afoot with new opportunities, new adventures, and new technology challenges… To make sure that your year starts out great, as far as technology is concerned; and that your technology is working for you, here are a few end of year clean-up tasks.

Change ALL Your Passwords

There have never been more security issues in the world, as there have been in 2014. Chances are that you did not change all your passwords when they should have been done, meaning right after the hack. There were at least 10 times this year when experts recommended changing passwords. This is a great week to do it right. Make your passwords as long as possible, use upper case and lower case, use symbols, and use numbers. Try using a password management program so you don’t have to remember so many passwords.

Purge Files

Empty the deleted items folder, and generally just purge documents you no longer need. Many times, there are revisions and revisions of the same file – no need to keep v1, v2, v3… v12. Simplifying your files and reducing them to only what you need will make it easier to find things. If you are worried about needing those files, archive them to an external disk or ask your system administrator where they could be stored.

Organize Your Desktop and File Structure

Throughout the year many people save files in random places, (I’m guilty) often it is the computer desktop. When files are in the wrong places, it makes it hard to find them. Putting them in the right place and saving them with proper and standard naming conventions will make it easier to find things.

Uninstall Applications

I often download and install an application for testing and then don’t get rid of it after I am done. If you have any programs you are not using, uninstall them.

Update & Upgrade Applications

Aside from Microsoft updates and other common programs, which should always be updated, the beginning of the year is a great time to catch smoking hot deals on upgrades to various programs you use, as well as online services. Take stock of what you use and search out the deals.

Summary

There are a lot more things that could be done to help spruce up your technology and make sure you are starting the year off on the right foot, but those five tasks will provide tremendous benefit, and well worth the time to implement. Contact us if you need any help or have any questions, and we will be happy to assist.

IT Stress – Felt In Many More Ways Than One

IT-Stress-Service-SupportIT Stress – probably not something on the top of most organizations’ annual planning agenda, but it’s a topic that can contribute to individual stress, political maneuvering, cultural dysfunction, and poor morale. If you think I might be melodramatic about the impact of inadequate IT, then consider the following that I have seen and experienced:

  • I’ve seen a company almost fold after a severe server failure, because they were unwilling to put in an adequate backup solution. Staff was stressed to the hilt for months as they re-entered data, and some left the organization. The cost of the solution paled in comparison to the cost of restoration, stress, morale, lost customers (revenue), and much frustration that ensued.
  • I’ve seen sales people struggling to produce proposals for deals worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Training, as well as better and more reliable infrastructure for the CRM system and database wasn’t important to the organization. The result was competitors got their proposals to their prospects first; sometimes they were not as professional, RFPs that were missed, etc… The real result was lost sales, a frustrated sales staff, poor morale, and more.
  • I’ve seen department heads in an organization participating in political maneuvering to get greater access to budgets in order to fix ailing technology. The real result was departments began using distributed, open-source or cheap non-approved technology in order to accomplish their job. Unfortunately, this opened up security issues. The culture and morale problems ended up being one of their biggest challenges.
  • I’ve seen employees at organizations have to spend 20 to 30 minutes on hold with their IT Support, in order to get help to fix a problem that was preventing them from producing. The result was stress, frustration, decreased sales and customer service, and poor morale.

A global 2013 study by intellitrends on the impact of technology performance sheds some further light on the impact of poor technology and poor IT support in an organization.

  • 45% of respondents experienced a loss in market share or brand equity as a result of technology performance issues
  • When considering any type of technology failure, the average short-term impact of an isolated technology performance issue was $10.8 million
  • The top areas in business that poor technology performance impacted, according to respondents: Customer Service, Staff Time/Resources, Sales, Customer Traffic, Production Time, Competitive Ability, Shipping Receiving, Security, Market Share and Brand Awareness. (*Note – That’s a lotta IT Stress)
  • 24% of respondents indicated a loss of market share following a technology failure, 21% indicated a loss of brand equity, 15% indicated a reorganization had to occur, and 9% reported legal issues and costs

No matter which way we slice this, IT stress costs: time, money, morale, sales, and much more. The cost of implementing a solution is almost always far less than the cost of recovering from a major technology failure.

Contact JMARK today for an analysis of your technology frustrations and let’s make 2015 the year of eliminating IT Stress for you and your employees.

The Ship Has Sailed for The Jack-of-All-Trades

IT-Support-Technologu-Jack-of-all-tradesWhen the world of computers started, fixing them was often a hobby of the tinkerers of the day. When computers became more mainstream, these hobbyists started forming IT Support companies in start gaining from their passion.

There are a lot of IT Support companies out there, some big, some small. Almost all them, founded by a technical guru that is passionate about their trade. As these companies progressed, they had to start catering to many different types of technologies and companies. They had to become a jack-of-all-trades in the technology realm. Businesses could rely on them to fix all their technology woes, and more companies and jacks-of-all-trades came into existence.

But what about now? Is a jack-of-all-trades still a feasible solution? With most people having 2 or 3 computing devices; government regulation such as SOC, SAE16, PCI, HIPAA, Sarbanes Oxley; thousands of different types of software applications; a multitude of hardware devices, operating system, vendors, certifications; and just as many ways to connect and configure them… is the day of the IT Jack-of-all-trades gone?

YES, the ship has  mostly sailed.

These days a good IT Support company must have people that understand the types of companies, the regulations, and so much about the host of technology solutions out there. Business owners want one hand to shake. They don’t want to have one company for their networking, another for their computing, another for their security, another for helping with auditing of regulations, another with storage, and another with cloud. The thought of that would give most people a headache.

It’s impossible to hold all that vast knowledge in someone’s brain, and even if it were, the risk of that person would be enormous. If they were in an accident, or stuck at another one of their clients, the risk of the business would far outweigh the relationship to an individual.

Instead business owners want to shake hands with the person (company) that will be able to handle it all, from beginning to end, from top to bottom. That’s what JMARK does. We have teams that focus on different industries and technologies. We have dedicated Virtual CIOs that work with all our clients to make sure their technology is helping them achieve their strategic initiatives. Contact us to learn more about how we can help grow your business.

5 Reasons Why Companies Are Flocking to Outsourced Helpdesks

Helpdesk-Help-Desk-Outsourced-Outsourcing-JMARKOver the last couple of years the financial spend on outsourced helpdesks has steadily increased, especially in the midsize market. Companies are realizing that the many benefits to why they started an internal IT department, are often the reason to now get away from it, at least partially, and go to an outsourced company.

Here are the 5 reason why companies are moving to an outsourced helpdesk provider. Every company has different needs, so these might not be in the order for every company.

1. Lacking Internal Customer Service

This is usually the main reason that we see at JMARK for why companies outsource their helpdesk. Generally an internal IT department is started for a very specific need, and over time the scope of work gets broadened so much that they get spread thin and this results in poor internal service to their staff, or projects just not getting accomplished. One client we brought on board had an average internal wait time of 19 minutes when placing a call to their IT department for assistance. After onboarding the client at JMARK, that wait time went to an average of 4-6 seconds – WOW!!! The average time to resolution went to under 3 minutes. The company was literally losing thousands of dollars a day in lost revenue from their revenue generating employees.

2. Technical Aptitude

As I mentioned before IT companies generally start for a specific reason. As the company grows, their scope grows; and usually to a point that they cannot stay abreast of all the technology acumen they need to properly support the company, or cannot afford to hire the myriad of technical talent for the advanced technologies that they need. Outsourcing helpdesk support to a company that has that technical acumen, saves a significant amount of money, resources, and time. Additionally it allows the internal IT department to focus on specific strategic initiatives that really help the company grow.

3. Management Pain

Let’s not beat around the bush here, it takes a specific skill and culture to foster the development of technicians. Outsourced IT companies have this skill, and they continually work hard at it, it one of the primary focuses. When an internal IT department grows from 1 to 10, to 20, to 50 technicians and more, it becomes increasingly difficult and to manage the myriad of skills and personalities, along with the dispersed priorities. Often times more and more managers have to be brought in to manage different teams or aspects and it just becomes a costly headache that distracts companies from their core objectives.

4. Price

I am not mentioning the promise of price lightly, as is often done with less than stellar IT companies. Each of the 3 points above end up with a question of cost savings. Sure there may be specific projects or needs that require a costly investment, but the reason to outsource it, is because it is an “investment,” and companies need the projects or support done fast and right, in order to meet strategic targets.

5. Diversity

Few mid-size to large companies, outsource every part of their helpdesk. That is the beauty of an outsourced helpdesk, the scope can be very, very specific. Here are some finite specific things that companies have outsourced to JMARK as part of an outsourced helpdesk arrangement:

  • Domain password resets
  • Account lockouts
  • Support of a specific software application
  • Handling password resets for specific software applications
  • Patch management for workstation
  • Patch management for servers
  • Exchange Management
  • SQL Management
  • Firewall Monitoring
  • Lync Management
  • Alerting and Monitoring of Servers
  • Office 365 Migration
  • Office 365 ongoing support
  • Much more…

Outsourced helpdesk services is something that JMARK does extremely well. Due to our aggressive internal training, highly skilled workforce, and geographic location, we can handle companies of all sizes anywhere in the world. Contact us to learn more about how we can help your IT department achieve greater success.

Chocolates, an iPad, or a 50” LCD TV – What’s Your Choice?

IT ServicesWe’re so confident that we can provide you better IT Services for your business that we’re willing to back that up with a win-win guarantee. If your IT Support Services contract is coming up for renewal in the next few months, why not consider some help from the most trusted and respected IT  Support Services Company in the area? Here is the deal, if you sign-up for a NetCare Managed IT Services 3 year agreement, we will give you a choice of a free: iPad, iPad Mini, or 50” LCD TV.

That’s not all, just for talking to us, and even if you decide that our services are not right for you, we’re going to give you a big box of chocolates from the famous Candy House Chocolates in Springfield, MO. It’s a win-win scenario.

There are some conditions though:

  • You have at least 15 computers and 1 server in your business.
  • You must disapprove of mediocre IT Support.
  • You require value in return for your hard-earned money.
  • You want your technology to be an asset instead of a burden.
  • You want IT Support from a company whose sole purpose is to make your business successful.

If you meet those criteria, then don’t wait. Fill out the form below and learn why JMARK is the #1 Managed IT Services Company in the greater Springfield Area. We’ll get back to you quickly, and you’ll end up with at least an awesome box of chocolates!

 

ICBA

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

IT Consulting – Untangling The Mess of Technology to Create Business Success

IT Consulting

I was talking to one of our brilliant technicians today and I asked how IT Consulting things were going. He told me about a major mess of a project he was working on to clean-up the infrastructure of a client. He jokingly called himself the “turd-cleaner.” Amusing, but untangling messes in technology and making “turd” networks more efficient and secure, is something we do very well, and something we pride ourselves in doing. Technology is not just a vehicle to an end, it is a way of thinking and operating businesses to make them more successful.

To me, a mess of technology is when I cannot do my job. When I cannot send an email, or browse to a website I need to get to, or if my Internet speed is weak, or a program on my computer will not open; then it is a mess that prevents me from helping other people. People within our company, and the people we serve –  our clients, possibly even YOU! If you are anything like me, then you probably get a little grouchy when this happens. People are really what technology is about: enlarging lives, helping business operate better, increasing profits, expanding markets, securing critical information, and reaching new customers… or in other words, helping people. 

What is your technology mess?

We all have technology messes in our lives, were are a few things we hear from prospective customers:

  • “I’m worried that my data is not secure.”
  • “I’m worried that  my business is not in compliance with industry and government regulations.”
  • “I don’t know how to take advantage of the 1-to-1 initiative in our school.”
  • “Our wireless is spotty and slow.”
  • “Our applications are always disconnecting.”
  • “We are out of storage space.”
  • “Our current IT Consulting is hard to reach.”
  • “I need advice on new trends and how it effects my business.”
  • “I need to secure all the employee devices that come into our company.”
  • “Our server is 5 years old and I am not sure what we need.”
  • “We need remote access that is more reliable.”
  • “Our Internet is slow.”
  • “Our server room looks like a tornado went through it.”
  • “Our medical practice needs better mobility.”
  • “I need a secure way to transfer sensitive information from my accounting firm to our clients.”
  • “My computers all have Windows XP and we need a plan to get onto better hardware.”
  • “What is the cloud?”
  • “If my business had a fire or theft, we would be done, help!”
  • “What is the best backup for my business?”
  • “I need a business continuity plan.”
  • “Our IT Support guy is leaving and we have no idea what to do.”
  • “I’m tired of managing technology people, how can you help?”
  • “I’m tired of buying computers and servers, and infrastructure, is there a better option to help decrease my capital expenditures?”
  • “What is new in telecommunications that could help my company collaborate and communicate better?”

I could go on and on, but the point is that everyone has their own mess. I’m sure you have some technology mess that you would like to solve as well. We are barely into 2014, now is the time to set ourselves, our staff, and our businesses up for success. Lets make this a “No Turd” year! This is what JMARK is here for. Give us a call to learn how we can untangle your mess and help you create better success for your business, your employees, and your customers.