JMARK is back in our headquarters at 601 North National Avenue

We are back home! A little over a month ago, we temporarily moved our JMARK headquarters due to flash flooding. We were blessed to have such community support as we responded to this natural disaster. A special thanks goes out to:JMARK Headquarters

  • Bixler
  • Enactus
  • Jordan Valley Community Health Center
  • Maid of Honor
  • Ollis/Akers/Arney
  • Pinegar Chevrolet Republic
  • Springnet

Throughout our temporary relocation, our goal was to ensure continuity in services for our clients. We are happy to say we achieved this with a sound disaster recovery plan, our amazing team and assistance from the community.

As of this morning, all of our Springfield employees are officially back at our JMARK headquarters at 601 North National Avenue. As always, if you need to reach your team, create a support ticket, call your team directly or visit us at JMARK.com.

Thank you again for everything!

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Surviving the Storm

Surviving the Storm:
How your disaster recovery plan will determine if you sink or swim

 

According to reports:

  • More than 50% of businesses will permanently shut down as a result of a significant data loss related to a natural disaster.
  • Downtime will cost companies between $50,000 and $5,000,000 per event.
  • More than 60% of businesses don’t have a documented disaster recovery plan and 40% of the companies that had plans actually failed in the recovery process.[1]

jmark

In the technology sector, we are witness to hundreds of unfortunate situations that result in outcomes that can cripple the future of an organization. We know how important it is to have the right plans and the right solutions in place, and how important they are to the survival of a business. Nonetheless, when we put plans in place, we still hope we’ll never actually have to execute on a full business disaster recovery plan. On the night of March 13th, that all changed. The flash floods resulted in rising water which penetrated our buildings. We were helpless. Mother nature had reminded us who was in control.

While it is impossible for any plan to be perfect, we can speak from firsthand experience that a very thorough plan is mandatory for any organization to have a chance in being able to operate in an emergency situation. In our circumstance, we executed our plan at 9:07 PM and continued taking calls and supporting our clients, proudly we didn’t miss a single call or service request. There were many things that transpired throughout the evening that we did right and some things we can improve.

Communications

Beyond having a robust and documented plan (ours is 172 pages and growing…), the primary catalyst to a business recovery plan is communication. We have all come to rely on our mobile devices as a primary method for communicating. In our situation, we were fortunate that we didn’t lose cellular services, but we have witnessed disasters in Joplin and in Norman, Oklahoma where cellular services were either completely down or severely impacted. One of the first major components of our plan outlines all communication paths that may be necessary. This includes primary and alternate phone numbers, primary and secondary email addresses, emergency contacts and specific roles.

In addition to communication with your organization, getting communications to your customers and vendors is also very important. Our recovery plan has an outline of all key contacts to ensure we don’t have to search during a disaster. This includes our supplier vendors, utility and communication contacts, insurance contacts and policy numbers, building contacts and more. Also, as soon as reasonable, it’s important to get a message to your customers to let them know what is actually occurring. In all circumstances, be sure to be transparent. If you are going to be down, be honest about the status of services or products. If you are going to be in business, but with delays, share exactly that. Provide updates as appropriate throughout the process to ensure there is no misperceptions about what is going on. The last thing you want are rumors driving perceptions.

Plan ownership

Like all good plans or initiatives, there must be a responsible party (or parties). The responsible party should know the situation and be able to put the appropriate components of the plan into action. As the CEO, I often feel like I should be the person in charge in a situation like this. The reality that I learned is that I was dealing with too many immediate challenges to coordinate communications and plans for the next day. Having someone else responsible for the plan enabled myself and others the ability to focus on those immediate challenges. While I was dealing with people, emotions, emergency response professionals, and more, they were focused on communications, phone systems migrations, anticipation of what may or not be possible the next day and responding accordingly. This was critical to success for the next day.

floodingOffsite resources

Offsite resources are mandatory for both the technology and helpful for the people aspect of a successful recovery. In JMARK’s situation, we leverage an offsite datacenter facility to house many of our primary systems and connectivity. The degree in which your organization must sustain operations will determine the design of your infrastructure. If you must operate 24×7, then utilizing a datacenter with redundancies is a requirement. If you can tolerate a moderate amount of down time, offsite backups may be sufficient. However, your plan must include arrangements for your recovery mechanisms. This may include a standby system at a secondary location or the means to restore servers and workstations in a temporary cloud or secondary facility. There is obviously a cost analysis that should help drive these decisions.

Proper insurance coverage

Having the proper level of insurance coverage may seem like a given, but the only reason that JMARK had the proper coverage in place was because of the review we do with Ollis/Akers/Arney on an annual basis. This included the proper types of coverage at the proper levels for our current business. Having this in place truly provided piece of mind while we were dealing with the challenges of the night and the following week. We could move forward without concern that we were going to be able to get back on our feet.

Team & Culture

One of the most important mantras at JMARK, is “people first, technology second.” I can’t emphasis enough the significance of having the right team and culture to deal with adversity. There were many people within our organization that were up all night, dealing with many unpleasant areas, handling planning, communications, moving systems and dozens of other priorities. Without a true team of professionals that were focused on Jmark’s commitment and success, that evening would have been a disaster in more than one way.

On the note of people, training around the plan is required for the plan to be successful. Taking the time to share the details of the plan with the appropriate people in the organization is the only way the plan has value. In our case, we were fortunate because we had recently completed the internal review of our plan and determined how to store and distribute the plan in the various emergency scenarios.

Technology planning & recovery

Identifying the key components of technology, specific to your organization; and determining the available means of sustainability, recovery and the priority for each application is one of the fundamental portions of a healthy plan. Each of the applications used to run the organization should be prioritized and evaluated for the necessary uptime or recovery time. As an example, the order processing system would be critical, a Voice-Over-IP phone system is critical, but in most circumstances a system that only does accounts payable can be offline for a day or two. The priority management list will determine how to design the technology solution and in what order to recover each component. This is very helpful for an external IT Management company to fully understand the requirements of the business.

Cloud solutions have dominated the technology news sector recently. Many of these solutions have actually been around for many years. However, in the last few years the cloud enabling technology has matured and the cost of communications have become much more reasonable. It is because of this that almost all organizations can now justify the expense associated with an offsite solution of some type. Whether that is a secondary office, a redundant cloud based solution or fully operating from a data center, there is an option available to all organizations. Taking the time to evaluate your entire infrastructure, prioritize, deploy and test the technical design is the only way to ensure that your organization doesn’t end up on the wrong side of the statistic of those businesses who succeed or fail.

There are obviously many more items that should be considered and discussed for a business recovery plan to be complete. I hope you never have to deal with a disaster, but if you do, I hope you have a comprehensive plan to follow.

Thomas H. Douglas

President/CEO

JMARK Business Solutions, Inc.

[1] Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council’s 2014 Annual Report

We Can See Clearly Now

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The rain is gone… for now…. and our work to return 601 North National to our hub of operations continues.  Since our update last week, we have spent a great deal of quality time with a variety of insurance adjusters!  Richard Ollis and his team from Ollis/Akers/Arney have helped coordinate all the entities involved and have made the process as painless as possible.

While our parking lot always has had a love-hate relationship with precipitation, the flash flood on Sunday, March 13 invaded our building for the first time. Most Springfield employees have been working remotely since then, however, that changed this morning as we opened shop temporarily in the Enactus building (former SIFE building near the Cracker Barrel on Glenstone) at 1959 East Kerr Street in Springfield.  As with our last transition, we believe our clients will not notice any interruption in service or response times (although you may notice a bit more background noise when calling in). Our other JMARK offices in Fayetteville and Tulsa have also stepped up to handle additional calls and tickets during the situation.

jmark_logo_your_completeWe cannot thank our clients and community enough for the outpouring of well wishes and offers of donated space, items and people.  It always has been a priority for JMARK to give back to our communities and once again that has been reciprocated in amazing ways. We have a long list of people and businesses that have helped a tremendous amount that we will share about very soon.

We anticipate it could be up to a month before we return to 601 North National in order to ensure the clean-up process is thoroughly completed, and while our carpet and a large portion of furniture and some equipment is replaced.  We will have limited staff at the National location in the interim, including our Bench team if you have a computer or other equipment that may need to be dropped off.

Our JMARK Team has been tested even more than usual on every single one of our core values (Honesty, Passion, Teamwork, Excellent, Accountability, Fun) over the past week, and we couldn’t be more proud of their dedication to JMARK and their focus on making sure our clients continue to get what they need. They worked incredibly hard to ensure calls were routed, tickets were managed, SLA’s were maintained and obviously the massive amount of work at the main office was being handled very well. We are very fortunate to have such an amazing and sharp Team.

Thank you for your support and patience as we have and will continue to handle this adjustment.

If you have any questions, including which location to come to, feel free to call us at (417) 863-1700 or email us at JMARK@jmark.com with the subject of “Flood”.

Technology and New Year’s Resolutions

IT Services – Computer Services – Technology

We are now just past the point of when most people break their New Year’s resolutions. If that describes you, don’t be discouraged. When it comes to doing things that make your company successful, it’s never too late to start or to begin again. This is especially true when those resolutions are to utilize technology to make your company more successful.IT Services

Technology and IT Services

The proper use of technology, computer services and IT services can increase collaboration, productivity, communication, clarity, accountability, and yes… profitability. Technology should not be considered an expense. Can you imagine going back to the days of doing accounting on a paper ledger, hand writing and then mailing communications to employees, suppliers, and customers. Would you want to go back to the days of needing to retype a document from scratch on a typewriter if you found a mistake? I could go on and on, but this is why technology is not an expense, it is an asset, and an investment for the future.

JMARK offers services for businesses that want to maximize their investment in technology. We implement, as well as service, all of the technology and communications needs and wants of an organization. Having “one throat to choke” gives our clients the confidence that we understand the whole picture of what an organization needs to get out of their technology, and that we will do what is necessary to achieve success. We work to ensure that you have all of your needs met, without you needing to take the time and effort to service your infrastructure yourself. You and your employees can concentrate on making money in your business.

Software and integration of software is a huge component of an organization’s ability to optimize their operations. Additionally there are mountains of Apps available for Tablets, Smartphones and computers that will help increase collaboration, project management, business intelligence, and productivity. Many of these applications can have an immediate impact on your organization. JMARK can help your company setup these software applications to make them work for you, instead of the other way around.

Businesses usually exist to make as much money as they can. Of course the goal might be defined differently, but how do they do this? Of course, it is by having clients and customers. So, just as you want customers for your business. Our business would not make money without your business. Businesses have to have computer services, servers and different technology equipment. This is where we come in and service all of these things to keep your business running smoothly.

So what can your resolutions be? Here are some ideas:

  • Replace aging computers and servers so employees can be more productive.
  • Increase collaboration through the use of new tools and systems.
  • Transform your organization to OPEX instead of CAPEX (Another post coming soon on this topic) for your technology needs.
  • Improve decision making and strategy through better analytics tools.

There are many more, but if you are looking for a company that can help with all your new year’s technology resolutions then you have come to the right spot. JMARK has some of the most trained and certified technicians in the entire industry.

You may know how to run a business, but do you really want to have to learn everything about networks, servers, software, and everything that is running in the background? This is why JMARK is rated as one of the top technology and computer services companies in the United States.

Let us help you achieve your technology resolutions with our IT services. That will leave you with the time to achieve all the others.

Tech Tip: Ninite and Adobe Flash

Tech Tip – Ninite and Flash Player

There is a great website called www.ninite.com that techs and home users alike use to install tools like Google Chrome, iTunes, Java, and Free Anti-Virus tools like Microsoft Security Essentials.  It is a one stop shop for freeware programs.  The best part is that it installs these programs with just a few clicks — without the toolbars, adware, spyware, and other unnecessary additions that often accompany free software.  Another great feature is that if you already have these programs it updates them to the most current levels with just a few clicks.  I personally have used this site countless times over the last two years, and sing its praises every chance I can get.

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